Reduce Dock Clutter in OS X by Minimizing Windows Into Their App Icons
If you minimize a lot of app windows while using a Mac you’ve probably noticed that the right side of the Dock in OS X quickly becomes cluttered with tons and tons of those minimized window thumbnails, and as they build up the size of the visible Dock slowly starts to shrink and adjust the size to accommodate them. Other than being cluttered, the reduced size becomes so small the thumbnails are largely useless anyway. Here are the minimized window previews we’re talking about, sitting alongside the Trash in the OS X Dock:
The best solution to reduce this Dock clutter is to toggle a little feature in Dock Preferences that sends all minimized windows to shrink into it’s application icon rather than into the Dock, thereby preventing those little window previews from appearing in the Dock entirely:
- Open System Preferences from the Apple menu and choose “Dock”
- Check the box next to “Minimize windows into application icon”
With this feature enabled, use the normal minimize button or commands and you’ll notice the window gets sent into the respective application icon, no longer immediately visible in the Dock at all.
If you’re now wondering how to find those minimized app windows, all you need to do to show them all is right-click (or control-click) the applications icon to reveal a list of that apps minimized windows, shown as the name of the given document or window titlebar:
Select anything from the list and it will open up as expected.
The right side of the Dock remains blank and uncluttered, and you still have access to all of your windows.
You can also continue to show all windows of an app, including the minimized windows, through Mission Control with a three-fingered downward swipe gesture when hovering over the app icon.
This minimize-to-icon feature used to only be available through a defaults string, but it’s been included in all newer versions of OS X for quite some time through System Preferences.