Show Only Currently Active Apps in the Mac OS X Dock

Apr 28, 2011 - 13 Comments

Show active apps only in Mac OS X Dock

Here’s a great trick if you prefer a minimalist Mac OS X desktop and Dock: set the Dock to only display currently active apps. Launch the Terminal and enter the following command:

defaults write static-only -bool TRUE

Now you have to kill the Dock for changes to take effect:

killall Dock

If you use the Dock as an app launcher, this probably won’t be that useful for you. I almost always use Spotlight to launch apps and have my Dock automatically hide, so I’m going to try this out for a while and see how well it works in my day to day workflow.

If you want to revert back to the default Dock behavior, use this command:

defaults write static-only -bool FALSE

Don’t forget to kill the Dock again for the changes to take effect.

killall Dock

Note: if you try out this tip and don’t like it, you won’t lose your previous Dock icons or arrangement, just use the FALSE command and everything will be back to normal.

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Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Murphy says:

    I’m definitely going to try this one – great find ! I hide the Dock on my Macbook too – not enough vertical space.

  2. JaiG says:

    Sweet, I might start using my dock this way! Now, if I could only get one icon for each instance of the application loaded.

  3. Ian says:

    Great tip, but you could also just drag everything out of your Dock to achieve the same result


    • Jens Ericson says:

      Not quite. With this command your applications will not stick in the Dock. If you log out or restart the Dock with be clear of everything but the Finder and the Trash.

  4. qka says:

    @Murphy – hear you on the vertical space. That’s why I put my Dock on the side, and use auto hide. That can be done from System Preferences.

  5. […] lovely tip this week from OS X Daily that might help those who have a Dock that is overloaded. There is a way to show only active […]

  6. James says:

    @Ian – That was my thought immediately as well. If you don’t want apps on your doc, why would you put them there? Just empty your doc and only active apps will be shown.

  7. benjamin says:

    very…very… veryy good tip. I tried this and is very usefull.

  8. Alberto says:

    As I use the dock to launch the applications that I more often use I am not sure that I like this trick :)

    But I am curious, so I will try.

  9. Alberto says:

    Well, I tried it…
    It could be nice if it could let all the folders in the right part of the Dock (Applications, Download, and other personal folders)

    Is there a way to do that?

  10. Ross says:

    I tried it and it worked.That was several months back but now when I try to reverse it.. it doesn’t work.

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