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How to add recently used apps, docs, and more to your Mac's Dock

You can drag any item from the Finder into your Mac's Dock to access it quickly. But this will quickly clutter your Dock with a lot of stuff that you may still access infrequently.

Instead, check out this quick tip for the command line that lets you access recently opened documents, apps, servers, and other items.

If you've never used Terminal before, you'll find it in the Applications > Utilities folder on your Mac. As OS X is a Unix-based operating system, Terminal provides you with command-line access to the system. The majority of Mac users won't ever need to access Terminal for any reason. But Terminal gives you access to a wealth of system features and functionality that you don't get using the OS X graphical user interface.

How to add recent used apps and documents to your OS X Dock

  1. Open Terminal.
  2. Type defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-others -array-add '{"tile-data" = {"list-type" = 1;}; "tile-type" = "recents-tile";}'; killall Dock, then press return. (You can copy this line of text and paste it into Terminal to avoid having to retype it.)

  1. Close Terminal.

Your Dock will now show a new icon on the right hand side (near the Trash can). This stack displays recently used applications by default. If you control-click (or right-click) on that icon, you can change that list to recent documents, recent servers, favorite volumes, or favorite items. You can also change the view style — I prefer Grid, myself.

If you want to get rid of this new Dock item, just click and drag it out and hold it for a couple of seconds; a popup will appear that says "Remove." (Alternately, you can select "Remove from Dock" by control-clicking/right-clicking the Dock item too.)

21 Comments
  • This is a great trick, Peter. I actually use a program called Cdock that does this for you (as well as a host of other dock related things). Only problem is that it broke with the 10.10.4 update. Btw, looks like you lost a ton of weight! Grats!
  • Thanks!
  • That is an awesome tip, thanks Peter! It's actually something I've long wanted for my dock! Sent from the iMore App
  • Awesome tip, Peter. Thank you very much.
  • Excellent, i was always afraid of the Terminal but now i'll look for more things i can tweak from there. Thanks.
  • Works great, but is there a way to change the icon? Right now it displays the last App I was using and this annoys me.
  • +1
  • Another vote.
  • Great tip and it works fantastically! Thanks Peter!
  • It doesn't work on mine. I tried to copy and paste but I'm getting: "No matching processes belonging to you were found". Please those of u who know better, where am I missing it? Some of us we are new to mac
  • Same here, "No matching processes belonging to you were found"
  • Delete coma in the end. Helped me.
  • Peter...thanks for a great tip!
  • very cool, thanks!
  • Great tip. Thanks!!
  • Brilliant tip. Should be on every Top 11 Mac Tips lists. Just one question - how can I do it so I have two - one for Apps, one for Docs?
  • Doesn't work for me. It's missing the dock icon and clicking on it does nothing. I can right click and see the options. Restarting doesn't fix it and re-doing the Terminal command doesn't fix it either.
  • I have the same problem. :(
  • Re-enable Recent Items back. It worked for me. Once you launch a new app, it will populate in the stack. Go to System Preferences > General > Recent Items and set to 5 or more. Hope it helps :)
  • Yeah that makes perfect sense. Thanks for that!
  • Très intéressant, une façon de concentré les applis ouverte dans un seul endroit du dock, merci beaucoup Peter