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How to show only active apps in your OS X Dock

Obviously you can customize your Dock to show whatever apps you'd like, but if you're using the Dock as a quick way of navigating between open apps, this can help.

In truth, I use the Dock for less and less each day.

I rely on Spotlight to open apps that I need. A quick press of the command key and the spacebar, type first couple of letters of the app, a quick return and the app launches. Switching between apps requires nothing more than pressing command and tab.

So having a very minimal looking Dock is a great benefit to me. It's less screen clutter to get in the way of my work.

You can customize the Dock with as few apps as you want, but my way is more fun — and keeps a way to retain your old setup if you're ever ready to go back.

How to show only active apps in your OS X Dock

  1. Open Terminal.
  2. Type defaults write com.apple.dock static-only -bool TRUE; killall Dock and press return. (Save yourself time: Copy and paste that text into the Terminal command line.)

  1. You may see your screen change momentarily as the Dock app is restarted.
  2. Exit out of Terminal.

Here's what it looks like before and after:

If you ever want to restore the Mac to its original state, open Terminal again and type defaults write com.apple.dock static-only -bool FALSE; killall Dock.

13 Comments
  • Peter, Thanks for this! I'm one of those who uses spotlight to search for apps, but wanted to give a better use for my Dock and now I have it, thanks to you.
  • Delighted to help!
  • Or, simply drag all your Apps out of the dock.
  • As I said, "You can customize the Dock with as few apps as you want, but my way is more fun — and keeps a way to retain your old setup if you're ever ready to go back."
  • Cool tip Peter! Thanks for sharing! :-)
  • I was thinking the same thing
  • You're a star mate! Thank you!! Sent from the iMore App
  • :thumbsup:
  • I noticed Messages lost its notification badge. Is that a feature of the command, or did you just read your messages in between taking the screenshots?
  • Well this looks really far out, and I'm quite tempted to give it a shot if it weren't for one small detail... The App Store App resides in my Dock and a notification always shows up down there notifying me whenever there is an update to an app I use. Knowing how forgetful I can be I'm afraid that if I go down this road of only keeping active apps in the Dock I might very well not notice whenever a new update has been made available and by the time I do think about it I could have accumulated upwards of 10 apps that require updating! It's an awesome tip Peter, but I'll probably have to use the suggestion that someone else made and that is to just remove out of the dock all of those apps which I seldom (if ever) use.
  • Killing the dock worked great! Restoring the Dock, not so much. "No matching processes belonging to you were found". Hmmmm Any idea how to get the Dock back?
  • i had the same issue. the option above to reset the dock didn't work for me. i had to use the following command (warning, it resets the dock to factory defaults):
    defaults delete com.apple.dock; killall Dock
  • Can't seem to UN-DO this. Tried the exact terminal commands above. Any ideas on how to get it back to normal?