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I’d be willing to bet that Dock is one of the many (and probably the first) thing a non-Mac user would find most fascinating on OS X. When I first got my Mac, I was obsessed with it. At that time, I was running Tiger and I found myself constantly resizing the Dock, setting the optimum amount of magnification and making sure that the applications I had on it deserved to be on the Dock.

Over time, things have changed. I couldn’t be bothered with how it looks, I took it for granted and purely used it to launch and switch between apps. Oh how the love has died.

But recently, I’ve found a couple of tools that seems to have rekindled my child-like infatuation which I once had for my Dock. And now, I’m back to customizing it all over again, tweaking it to look its best and function at its prime. Here’s what I used.

Dock Library

Dock Library is an application which changes the theme of Leopard’s Dock. By default, it’s a regular grayish reflective surface. The problem with the default Dock is that it makes the glowing dot (of applications which are running) very hard to see. Not to mention, it’s boring. With Dock Library, you can change all that.

dock library

To get your themes, head on over to leoparddocks.net, they have some juicy-looking Dock themes. Download the theme you want, import it into Dock Library and activate. I got my new Dock running in less than a minute.

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Dock Dodger

Especially on my MacBook, Dock real-estate is no laughing matter. I have to really make sure that the applications which I place on my Dock are useful. If I put too many applications there, everything gets too small. Also, applications which are currently running are placed on the Dock, taking up precious space.

dock dodger

Dock Dodger can alter any selected applications to run without an icon on the Dock. How does Dock Dodger do it? Don’t ask, it’s magic.

Dockables

Dockables is a collection of system events like Shut Down, Restart, Lock Screen, Empty Trash and Sleep Display just to name a few. They’re configured to run with just a single click and so very convenient to use when placed on the Dock.

dockables

I used to leave my MacBook on at night and since I can’t shut the lid, the best I could do was turn off the screen by going to System Preferences-> Energy Saver-> Put display to sleep after 1 minute. With Dockables, all I need to do is click on Sleep Display and that’s it. The screen switches off immediately. One-click convenience.

SuperDocker

SuperDocker is a little gem of an application. It allows me to tweak the settings of my Dock, customizing various aspects from position of the Dock, alignment, reverting it to the 2 dimensional Dock, it even allows me to lock the items on the Dock so that nobody can tamper with my perfect setting.

Besides that, I can also change the background colour of Stack’s grid from the regular translucent black to something more exciting. Blood red, perhaps?

SuperDocker is not only about the Dock. It can also tweak some Finder, Safari, Dashboard and System settings. If you’re worried about messing up your Mac, don’t. There’s always a “Restore Default Settings” button which you hit it anything goes horribly wrong.

Honorable Mention

Dock Spaces didn’t quite make it on my list. It’s a Spaces equivalent, only it’s the Dock that changes. You can configure up to 5 different Docks. Have a go at it, see if it convinces you.

Like all applications covered by MakeUseOf, these are free but donations towards the developers’ efforts are always appreciated.

If you happen to be a Windows user and would like to have that Mac-ish eye-candy, check out these posts by my collegues:

  1. Peter
    April 17, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Hi guys

    Does anyone know how to make dock appear faster when using hiding dock?
    I am struggling with it a lot.

  2. Kai Green
    September 15, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Dock Dodger. Yes it will get rid of your open app on your dock but.. it will disappear from Application Switcher. That sux. Admittedly I have both Dock Dodger and Dock Spaces running at once and haven't tested to see if turning off Dock Spaces rectifies the lost Application Switcher feature.

    Dock Spaces. This is great. But it's very slow in combination with Spaces until it caches. This should've been a feature in Spaces all along. I vaguely remember seeing a pre-release promo on Leopard where it showed this feature in action.

  3. Harvey
    September 15, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Jason Chung said, "the best I could do was turn off the screen by going to System Preferences-> Energy Saver-> Put display to sleep after 1 minute. With Dockables, all I need to do is click on Sleep Display and that’s it."

    There is an easier way than either of those two alternatives. In Leopard, you can put the display to sleep instantly with SHIFT+CTRL+EJECT.

    • Jackson
      September 16, 2008 at 1:17 am

      I just learnt something new! Great! Thanks for the tip. The wonderful thing about OS X is that there are a lot of hidden shortcuts that they don't publish... We learn from each other.

      Thanks pal. Keep 'em coming :)

  4. Jake Widman
    September 15, 2008 at 2:22 am

    I found the menu bar icon, but I couldn't figure out how to make a different Dock for each space. And when I was in my "home" space--space 1--the checkmark was next to Default, even though it was my own custom Dock. So I thought that later when I chose Default, I'd just be undoing everything I'd done with Dock Spaces, but instead it went all the way back to the stock Dock. Oh well.

    And yeah, I finally remembered the Display As Folder command, thanks.

  5. James Katt
    September 14, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Dear Jackson Chung,
    I am a full-time physician with two jobs, family, and the future.

    If you are struggling now, then things will get worse.

    I study more now than in medical school. It is par for the course when you want to be better than world class in your field.

    So keep working.

    • Jackson
      September 16, 2008 at 1:14 am

      James,

      Thanks for your advice. No, I'm not really struggling right now although I know what you mean. Studying while working is tough.

  6. Jake Widman
    September 14, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Dock Spaces sounds useful, but I couldn't figure out how to use it--it seems to not have any documentation, either with the app or onine. After playing with it for a while, all I managed to do was reset my Dock to the default standard Dock--definitely not what I had in mind. Now I have to figure out what I did to get my Applications and Downloads folders to just look like folders rather than the contents.

    • Jackson
      September 15, 2008 at 12:52 am

      Sorry about what happened to your Dock. Dock Spaces actually gives you several NEW default docks but you can always revert it back. There is a menu bar icon which allows you to change between docks.

      To make your App and Downloads stacks look like folders, right click on them and choose 'Display As... Folder"

  7. Ken Burkes
    September 14, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    For those of you out there who are using windows, I highly recommend using ObjectDock. I use it, and with a few customizations, it's become just as good or even better than the Mac dock.

    • Jackson
      September 15, 2008 at 12:52 am

      Better than the Mac dock?? Really??

    • Ken Burkes
      September 15, 2008 at 8:06 pm

      With the right plugins and configurations, I feel that Object Dock is a lot better than the dock that Macs ship with. Of course, I'm sure many other disagree on that matter.

  8. James Katt
    September 14, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    You forgot about xMod. This is the ultimate Dock customizer - better than SuperDock.

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