Get a Transparent Dock in OS X Mavericks by Disabling the Frost Effect

Nov 15, 2013 - 28 Comments

Transparent Dock in OS X

The Dock received a visual overhaul in OS X Mavericks which defaults to removing a minor transparency effect. It’s a subtle change that many users won’t even notice, but the difference is that now the content of windows, images, and items moved below/behind the Dock are no longer visible through what looks like a frosty window. With Mavericks, the frosty effect is stronger and there is no transparency at all, so anything behind the Dock becomes invisible.

Some users won’t care about this or even notice the difference, but for those who prefer the old look of a slightly transparent Dock or who use the auto-hiding Dock feature, it can make for a pleasant if not minor change. You should have some comfort with the command line to do this.

Enable Transparency for the OS X Mavericks Dock

Launch Terminal through your preferred means (it’s in /Applications/Utilities/) and enter the following command string followed by hitting the return key:

defaults write com.apple.dock hide-mirror -bool true;killall Dock

Hitting return will cause the Dock to quit and relaunch, forcing the change to take effect. You’ll probably notice the defaults string alters a setting called ‘hide-mirror’, but despite that name, it has no effect on the mirroring appearance of the Dock. Instead it enables the minor transparent look.

It should be emphasized how minor this transparency change really is, and you really have to enable the feature, then place something behind the Dock itself to the difference. The image below shows the before and after, with a terminal window behind the Dock. Note that in the topmost Dock, the frost effect blocks any of the terminal text from being visible when placed behind the Dock. On the lowermost Dock, the frost has transparency, showing terminal text of the window placed behind:

Transparent Dock in OS X before and after

Note this transparency effect is completely different from making the icons of hidden apps transparent in the OS X Dock, which is also great trick, and a bit more noticeable. The two can be enabled concurrently with no issues.

Disable Transparency Returning to Mavericks Default Frosty Dock Appearance

Tried the transparent look out and decided it’s not for you? Like all other defaults commands, they’re simple to reverse by executing another defaults write command string into the Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.dock hide-mirror -bool false;killall Dock

As before, this will forcibly reload the Dock and cause the change (reversion) to take effect. In this case, that will be a default Mavericks Dock appearance, sans transparency.

Thanks to Dylan J. for sending this little-known defaults trick in, it doesn’t seem to be well documented though some users on Apple’s Support Forums seem to feel it makes a bigger difference on the Docks appearance than it actually does. Try it out yourself and you’ll see it’s quite subtle, whether the Dock is placed at the bottom or sides of the screen it is more or less the same, and though it will adjust slightly to colors, it doesn’t take nearly as significant of a cue from the background image as the Dock in iOS 7 does, which shifts dramatically based upon the wallpaper.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Customize, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

28 Comments

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  1. nikolas says:

    thanks for sharing!
    is it a way/script that we can get the 2d dock in the bottom of the screen?
    you were able to do it with this script up to OSX Snow Leopard

    “defaults write com.apple.dock no-glass -boolean YES; killall Dock”

    thanks!

    • OSXDaily says:

      There does not seem to be a way to get a 2D dock appearance in OS X Mavericks, if there is one it hasn’t been found yet anyway

    • sylvain says:

      That is the first thing that did bother me, plus the new finder window, but it’s still not transparent enough, it’s just gross, since apple is aiming for bigger public, I think they loosing on practicity, snow leopard was way better

  2. Nils says:

    I like it!

  3. nikolas says:

    thanks for the replies!
    nice, so we will wait if anything comes up.

  4. David says:

    Applies in Mountain Lion, too.

  5. TangerineFloyd says:

    In Mountain Lion, there was a bug that when you created a new user, and went straight to it using Fast User Switching, the glass Dock sometimes became completely transparent, leaving only the icons. I found that amazing, and you can see that on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilXtepSIM-0, a video I’ve put up.

    Do you know if there would be a way to force this behaviour with a Terminal command?

  6. Eddy says:

    Why is there an x over the App Store icon?

  7. Leethray says:

    thanks a lot, the new blurred dock bothers me a long time, I really miss the glass-look dock in Lion

  8. Thanks for this. Not transparent, which is what everyone (except Apple, it seems) wants, but definitely an improvement.

  9. Rwexler says:

    That command string doesn’t work. Got a better idea that does work?

  10. lykoz says:

    I think you mixed up the command strings… I think the second one is the transparent command line? or am i just confused…

  11. Kerle says:

    The bottom Dock is ok. But people who prefer there Dock on the side are complaining all over the internet, because the Dock looks horrible. The new “low-contrast” look of OSX and especially iOS7 is object of many complaints.

  12. Walid says:

    not working since 10.9.1

  13. RJ says:

    Doesn’t work on 10.9.2

  14. Gamer says:

    Ah many thanks for this. The OSX Dock looks at least a bit better and clearer with this hack.

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