Dock Folder Shortcuts: How Do They Work?

For today’s article, I thought it’d be a good idea to give tips on putting folders in the Dock and customizing their appearance and behavior. So as you may know, you can create a shortcut by dragging any folder onto the right side of your Dock, in between the small dividing line and your Trash.

(Curious about how I gave my TMO folder a custom icon? Check out Sandro Cuccia’s wonderful article on that.)

These shortcuts can be added and deleted whenever you want, and doing so doesn’t affect anything within them. To remove one from your Dock, click and drag it out. You’ll see a little puff of smoke appear, and then you’ll just let the item go:

Now here’s where the stuff you can configure comes in. If your Dock folders reveal the items inside them instead of looking like, well, folders, then they’re set to be viewed as Stacks. 

See how my Applications folder is showing one of the programs within it rather than the default folder icon? That’s what a Stack does. Now, your mileage may vary, but I hate this feature. To me, it’s disconcerting for a folder to change depending on what’s in it, so I always set mine to work differently. To do that (and to access many other settings, too), right- or Control-click on the Dock folder in question.

Under that “Display as” header, we’ve got the choice of viewing the item as either a folder or a Stack. If I change that for my Applications folder, the organization of the Dock suddenly makes a lot more sense to me.

Additionally, there are a bunch more options under that right-click menu. At the top, the “Sort by” section is handy; I like to sort my stuff by name, but “Date Added” is also useful, especially for your Downloads folder—it’ll make the last thing you downloaded the easiest to get to. “Date Modified” would be a good setting for your Documents folder, because that way, your most recent files would be grouped together.

Under the “View content as” header, things start to get even more juicy. This preference controls how the contents appear when you click on each folder. Here’s how the “Fan” choice looks:

And here’s “Grid”:

“List” is my personal favorite:

Finally, the “Automatic” option under “View content as” is pretty cool, too. That’ll magically adjust how the contents of your folders appear depending on how many items are within them.

And here are a few other tips for you guys on working with the Dock. Hey, it’s Friday, I’ve had too much coffee (as usual), and I’m feeling magnanimous. First, if you Commmand-click anything in the Dock (including programs), that’ll show the item in Finder rather than opening it. I use this as a quick way to jump to my Applications folder all the time.

Secondly, if you right- or Control-click on the dividing line near the right side of your Dock, you’ll get a contextual menu for changing the Dock’s preferences.

Lastly, if you hover over that same dividing line for a second, you’ll see your cursor change to a double-sided arrow.

Then you can click and drag to manually adjust the size of your Dock, from huge-as-crap icons to itsy-bitsy ones.

Those are some tiny icons! Am I the only one who thinks that they’re really quite adorable at that size? Awww, lookit widdle TextEdit! He’s so cuuute, isn’t he? Isn’t he?

No, I don’t know what’s wrong with me either.