Add Any App You Wish to the Mac's Dock

Keep your favorite applications just a click away

Add apps to the Mac's Dock

Coyote Moon, Inc.

The Dock may well be one of the most recognized user interface elements used by the Mac and OS X, as well as the newer macOS. The Dock creates a handy app launcher that usually hugs the bottom of the screen; depending on the number of icons in the Dock, it may span the entire width of your Mac's display.

Of course, the Dock doesn’t have to live at the bottom of your display; with a bit of tinkering, you can customize the Dock's location to take up residence along the left or right side of your display.

Most users consider the Mac's Dock a very handy app launcher, where a single click or tap can open a favorite app. But it can also be used as a convenient way to access frequently used documents, as well as manage currently running apps.

Apps in the Dock

The Dock comes prepopulated with a number of Apple-supplied apps. In a sense, the Dock is preconfigured to help you get going with your Mac, and easily access popular Mac apps, such as Mail, Safari, a web browser, Launchpad, an alternative app launcher, Contacts, Calendar, Notes, Reminders, Maps, Photos, iTunes, and much more.

You're not limited to the apps Apple includes in the Dock, nor are you stuck with apps you don’t use often and end up taking up precious space in the Dock. Removing apps from the Dock is quite easy, as is rearranging the icons in the Dock. Simply drag an icon to the location you prefer (see the Moving Dock Icons section, below).

But one of the most-used features of the Dock is the ability to add your own apps and documents to the Dock.

The Dock supports two main methods of adding apps: "drag and drop" and a special "keep in Dock" option.

Drag and Drop

  1. Open a Finder window and browse to the application you want to add to the Dock. In most cases, it will be in the /Applications folder. You can also get to most applications by selecting Applications from the Finder's Go menu.

  2. Once the Finder window shows the /Applications folder, you can browse through the window until you find the app you would like to add to the Dock.

  3. Place the cursor over the app, then click-and-drag the application's icon to the Dock.

    Screenshot showing Tweetbot being dragged from the Applications folder to the macOS Dock
  4. You can drop the app's icon just about anywhere within the Dock as long as you stay to the left of the Dock separator, which separates the app section of the Dock (the left side of the Dock) from the Recently used app section (macOS Mojave and later) or the document section of the Dock (the right side of the Dock with the trash icon).

  5. Drag the app icon to its target location in the Dock, and release the mouse button. (If you miss the target, you can always move the icon later.)

Keep in Dock

The second method of adding an app to the Dock requires that the application is already running. Running apps that haven't been manually added to the Dock are temporarily displayed within the Dock while they're in use, and then automatically removed from the Dock when you quit using the app.

The Keep in Dock method of adding a running app permanently to the Dock makes use of one of the slightly hidden features of the Dock: Dock Menus.

  1. Right-click the Dock icon of an application that's currently active.

  2. Select Options > Keep In Dock from the pop-up menu.

    Screenshot of macOS Dock showing Options, Keep in Dock right-click menu for Tweetbot app
  3. When you quit the application, its icon will remain in the Dock.

  4. When you use the Keep in Dock method to add an app to the Dock, its icon will be found just to the left of the Dock separator. This is the default location for the icon of a temporarily running app.

Moving Dock Icons

You don’t need to keep the added app's icon in its current location; you can move it anywhere within the apps area of the Dock (left of the Dock separator). Simply click and hold the app icon you wish to move, and then drag the icon to its target location in the Dock. Dock icons will move out of the way to make room for the new icon. When the icon is positioned where you want it, drop the icon and release the mouse button.

In rearranging the Dock's icons, you may discover a few items you don’t really need. You can use our article on how to remove application icons from your Mac's Dock guide to clean up the Dock and make room for new Dock items.