How to add spaces to your Mac's Dock using Terminal

On OS X, the Dock gives you a handy way of launching applications that you use the most frequently with a single click. To organize them, you can click and drag them around however you like. What you can't do, at least not directly from within the Dock's preferences, is divide up the apps using an easy visual separator. Fortunately, there's a workaround — if you're comfortable using the Terminal command line.

I've set up spaces to separate the apps I use: My Internet apps are all grouped together, as are my writing tools and creative apps, all with spaces in-between them. The other apps I still want access to are there, but out of the way.

Spaces break up the apps I use visually by function and makes it easier for me to locate them at a glance. As a result, I spend less time scanning through the Dock and more time working.

How to add a space to your Dock to separate your apps

This handy little Dock organizing trick requires the use of Terminal.

  1. Click on an empty space on your Home screen to ensure that no program is selected.
  2. Make sure that Finder is displayed in the far left corner of the menu bar.
  3. Click on Go.

To bring up Terminal on your Mac, click on an empty space on your Home screen, then click Go on the Finder bar. Select Utilities, then double-click Terminal. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Select Utilities.
  2. Scroll down and double-click on Terminal when the Utilities window pops up.

To bring up Terminal on your Mac, Select Utilities, then double-click Terminal. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Type defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-apps -array-add '{"tile-type"="spacer-tile";}'; killall Dock and press return.

Terminal

(You can copy the text above and paste it into Terminal if you'd prefer not to type it out.)

That'll create a single space in your Dock. Click and drag that space wherever you'd like it to go, just as if it were a standard app icon. (But notice that if you click on that space, nothing happens — it's truly just a space.)

If you want additional spaces, just repeat the same command in Terminal. Each time you do, another space will be created.

If you decide you don't want the space, just click and drag the space out of the Dock in one fluid motion; after a couple of moments, you should see a "remove" popup appear. It's the exact same process if you were removing an app from your dock.

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).

12 Comments
  • Sweet! Thanks PC!
  • Thanks, Peter "The Magnificent" Cohen, for bringing this to your readers' attention. I began adding blank spaces to my Dock a few years ago, and it makes organizing and locating icons easier.
  • It's good.
  • Thank you for this useful how-to! I recently got my first Mac (well since the IIe lol) and first iPhone and I like them pretty well overall. I love that I can run Windows via boot camp on the Mac for those days I miss MS. :) I am new to iMore and have noticed you have some of the most helpful articles here. Another writer here drives me insane with all his fanboy nonsense and android bashing. I use an android tablet and like that too. There are pros and cons with every platform. Thanks again for the Mac help articles! Sent from the iMore App
  • It's not working when I repeat the command to add a second one. Help! Sent from the iMore App
  • I just tried it again and it worked fine. Maybe try logging out and logging back in, or restarting?
  • Thank you for this. My dock is now more visually appealing.
  • Hey! Simple but useful!!! Now my dock looks better!!! Thanks!
  • Good to know. Thanks.
  • This is awesome. Thanks Peter! Sent from the iMore App
  • Nice tip! Thanks Sent from the iMore App
  • Nice. Thanks