Mac 101: Make a More Useful Dock

The Dock in your Mac was supposed to make finding your most used programs easier. I do a couple things to make it more useful.

Tip 1: Add Spacers to your Dock

First, as you can see in the image above, I add spacers to make finding certain types of programs easier. On the left, I’ve got 4 Adobe programs I use regularly. I’ve got TextMate, a text editing program, separated out on its own. Then to the right of that, I’ve got everything else, MailPlane, iTunes, etc.

Onyx Icon How do you add spaces? It’s certainly not obvious how to do it, but it’s actually built into the OS. To access it though, you’ll have to download a free utility called Onyx. You can get it more information on’s page about Onyx or directly from the developer’s web site.

After you install it, it will ask to do a check of your disk before proceeding. It also suggest that you make a backup of your drive. These are good things to do. You’ve already got a backup of your computer, right?

Once you’re in the program, click the Parameters button on the right. Next click the Dock from the row of buttons that appear. Both are marked with a yellow box in the image below. Finally, near the bottom of window, you’ll see a button labeled Applications. I’ve marked it “Click here” which is how you add the spacer. Your dock will relaunch and now have a spacer which you can drag and drop around your dock. You can also erase it by dragging it out of your dock. Sweet!

How to use Onyx

Tip 2: Making Multiple Docks

I use a free utility called Dock Spaces to make multiple Docks for various tasks I focus on at different times. Visit the Dock Spaces home page for the free download.

How to use Dock Spaces

Once you have it installed, you can switch between Docks by using a pull down menu, which you can see here. You can also open the Preference in this drop down menu to integrate it with Spaces, giving each Space a specific Dock. If you’re not familiar with Spaces, check out for a good overview of Spaces. Basically, it lets you set up a separate “space” to work in for different programs. Very handy.



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