The Mac OS X Dock is something that has garnered controversy, accolades, and criticism since its introduction at MACWORLD San Francisco 2000. I myself donit like every aspect of the Dock, but I love it as a whole. This is a tutorial that shows you the various aspects of the Dock to help you become familiar with it and use it to its utmost. First of all, letis take a simple look at it.
The Dock is a place to store the apps, documents, and folders you want easy access to, and it is also a place to manage your open apps and windows. Each open app has a black triangle underneath it. The divider you see on the right side with the funky @ symbol-thingee is the divider between your apps and the documents and folders you are storing. Apps go on the left, while file, folders, and windows go on the right.
One of the things Apple wanted to do was make the Dock intuitive. For instance, when an app launches, its icon bobs up and down in the Dock. Below is an example with the Internet Explorer "e" icon near the apex of its upward movement. It may look slight in this screen shot, but it is quite plain in action. Notice too that there is no triangle under the "e" icon because in this screen shot, it is still launching. In the screen shot above, it had already been launched.
Bouncy, Trouncy, Flouncy, Pouncy, Fun, Fun, Fun, Fun, Fun!
The IE icon bobbing up and down while launching.
Another thing that Apple did was to make it easy to see the icons in the Dock, even if you have many items stored there, or a lack of screen real estate. Their solution was to make it so that icons can be magnified just by running your cursor across them. This makes it easy to find exactly what you are looking for. One warning, though this is a great effect, it can be a RAM and CPU hog. For those with the bare minimum of RAM or a slower machine, you may want to consider turning this feature off. You can do so in he Dock Prefs which are in the Apple Menu or your System Prefs.
Now letis add something to the Dock. You can add apps, files, and folders. Windows are added by double clicking on the title bar or clicking the yellow widget on the left-hand side of the title bar. As I mentioned above, apps go on the left side of the divider line (click on the thumbnails to see the divider line), while files and folders go on the right. When you drag an icon to the Dock, the other icons make room for the new icon for you! Very cool, and very intuitive.
Removing something from the Dock is just as easy. Simply click on it and drag it off. It turns into a puff of smoke and goes away. Note that this does NOT affect the actual file; it only removes the icon from the Dock itself! I was not able to time a screen shot to include the puff of smoke, but this is a shot of removing the Late Breaking News, something you should do once you have read it unless you like extra stuff cluttering up your Dock. :-)
Your trash can is on the Dock as well, and it looks great. Better yet it fills up with paper when you put something in it. You can empty the trash by Control-Clicking the trash can icon or clicking and holding down the mouse button. A little popup window appears with "Empty Trash."
Speaking of Control-Clicking, there are lots of things you can control from the Dock. You can manage your open windows, turn apps off, and even control some aspects of your Mac like monitor resolution and AirPort. In the following screen shots, I have added my Mac OS X hard drive to the Dock, a great way for burrowing into the contents of your Drive since Apple eliminated the great Spring loaded Folders that was added during Mac OS 8. Donit get me started...
Apps can also be managed from the Dock. In this case, we have Control-Clicked on the Finder and Internet Explorer. The Finder includes all the open Finder windows. The IE popup window includes the three browser windows we have open. This means that you can choose whichever open window you want to bring to the foreground directly from the dock. The option to "Quit" is also available. Believe me, this is VERY handy. The other choice available is "Reveal In Finder," which opens the folder in which your application is stored.
Your dock comes with two new control-strip replacements too. An AirPort icon appears if X detects an AirPort card. The Dock allows you to use it by Control-Clicking (or clicking and holding) on the AirPort icon. The same goes with the Displays Control Strip. These were added by Apple because people using the Public Beta complained about the lack of a Control Strip. Some third-party apps have begun to show up that allow you to control other aspects of your Mac too.
Some final tips for you:
- Option-Clicking on an app icon in the Dock hides the current open application and brings the clicked-on app to the front.
- Option-Command-Clicking on an app icon on the Dock hides all other open applications leaving the clicked-on app as the only visible app. VERY handy at times.
- Command-Clicking on an app in the Dock reveals that application in the Finder. Again, this can be handy at times.
Do you know of something I left out? Let me know in the comments below!