How to Reset the Mac OS X Dock to Default Icon Set

May 12, 2015 - 9 Comments

Reset the Dock to default icon set in OS X

The first time you login to a new user account, boot a fresh Mac, or a clean Mac OS X install, you’ll be presented with a default Dock selection without any customizations, which includes a variety of apps depending on the Mac hardware and what software is installed.

A common default Mac OS X Dock icon set would include apps like Launchpad, Safari, iTunes, Calendar, Contacts, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Photos, iMovie, Mail, Messages, and the other pre-bundled apps the Mac comes with.

Users usually are quick to customize their Docks with their own app choices, but if you ever want to reset the Dock to the default state and start anew, you can do that at any time by using a defaults command.

Reset the Mac Dock to Default State & Default Icons in Mac OS X

  1. Launch the Terminal and enter the following command syntax:
  2. defaults delete; killall Dock

  3. Hit the Return key and you’ll discover the Dock will quit and relaunch itself into the default state with default icon choices

Now that you have the default Dock again, you can customize it as you wish and start from scratch.

Default Mac OS X Dock

Essentially all this is doing is deleting any Dock settings you have, which includes everything from the app icons included in the Dock itself, to the icon size, to the positioning of the Dock on screen, whether or not it auto-hides itself, and of course, any other Dock contents.

If you’re doing this, you may also be interested in resetting Launchpad on the Mac too. That also requires a defaults command string, as Mac OS X does not offer the same “reset Home Screen layout” option that iOS does, which would perform the equivalent of both of these tricks on the mobile side of things.


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


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  1. Nick says:

    This doesn’t work.

  2. sarcastically says:

    My puppy likes to jump on people when they arrive. Some think it’s cute while others do not. Can you help?

  3. Lalit says:

    Dear mac desktop icons color changed to blue , how could i solve it.

  4. Peggy vandyke says:

    iPhoto has vanished from my Mac and been replaced with Photos(in the latest update I presume) but I HATE it. I’ve tried to get iPhoto back and no luck. Can you help?

    • TN says:

      Peggy, this will reset your DOCK on your MAC to the default. Like when you first boot up your Mac. This has nothing to do with your iPHOTO! iPhoto is still there, Photos is in your Dock!

      Since you’re off topic, do you know where I can buy the most authentic tortillas? Can I put those on my Mac?

    • Roger Roger says:

      Resetting your Dock will have no impact on iPhoto or Photos app. iPhoto is in the /Applications/ folder, and so is the Photos app as well as all your other applications, that’s where apps are placed in OSX, the Dock is simply a placeholder of what amounts to aliases to quickly launch those apps. But iPhoto is no longer supported by Apple, so using the Photos app is recommended – it can be a little confusing at first, but you’ll get used to it. Or you can keep using iPhoto, just drag it into your Dock for easy access.

  5. Cindy says:

    I recently visited the Genius Bar and had my 6 year old Mac Book cleaned off. The new format no longer has ‘music’ on the hard drive. I had saved my itunes to an external drive, and don’t know how to get them back on the computer. Any suggestions?

    • Roger Roger says:

      Well Cindy I can tell you that you can type this at the terminal to reset your Dock to the Default:

      defaults delete; killall Dock

      As for your iTunes(!?) library, copy it to your computer I guess? That has nothing to do with the Dock!

    • pablo says:

      Connect the external drive with iTunes, and go to iTunes > Preferences > Advanced > iTunes Library Location > and choose the music folder on the external hard drive. That drive will need to be connected to access the music. Otherwise, import all the music to your Mac (copy it over to the drive).

      And indeed, you won’t need to reset the Dock at all

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