Add Any App You Wish to the Mac's Dock

Keep your favorite applications just a click away

The Dock is one of the most recognized user interface elements on a Mac, in both OS X and the newer macOS. The Dock is a convenient 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.

Apple released the Dock in 2001 in the first version of OS X, but it took until 2008 before the company was awarded a patent on it.

The Dock doesn't have to live at the bottom of the display; 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 an app launcher, where a single click opens a favorite app. However, it is also a convenient way to access frequently used documents and manage currently running apps.

Information in this article applies to Macs running OS X 10.0 Cheetah through macOS 10.14 Mojave. The earliest versions had only minor modifications to the pop-up menus.

Add apps to the Mac's Dock
Icons in the Dock get out of the way when you add a new app. Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Apps in the Dock

The Dock comes populated with several Apple-supplied apps. In a sense, the Dock is configured to help you get going with your Mac and easily access popular Mac apps, such as Mail, Safari, a web browser, the Mac App Store, Contacts, Calendar, Notes, Reminders, Photos, iTunes, and more.

You're not limited to the apps Apple includes in the Dock, nor are you stuck with apps you don't often use that take up precious space in the Dock. Removing apps from the Dock is easy, as is rearranging the icons in the Dock. Simply click and drag an icon to the location you prefer.

One of the most-used features of the Dock is the ability to add additional apps to the Dock, which supports two methods of adding apps: drag and drop and a Keep in Dock option. Beginning with macOS 10.14 Mojave, you can also add documents to the Dock on the right side of the Dock separator line.

Adding an App to the Dock Using Drag and Drop

To add an app to the Dock:

  1. Open a Finder window and select Applications in the left panel to locate the application you want to add to the Dock. You can also open the Applications window by tapping Go in the Mac menu bar and selecting Applications.

  2. In the Applications screen, locate the app you want to add to the Dock. Place the cursor over the app and then click and drag the application's icon to the Dock.

  3. You can drop the app's icon just about anywhere on the Dock as long as you stay to the left of the Dock separator, a vertical line that separates the app section of the Dock (the left side of the Dock) from the much smaller right side of the Dock with the trash icon.

  4. Drag the app icon to its target location in the Dock and release the mouse button.

    Dragging an application to the Dock

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 on 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 Dock's hidden features — 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 menus.

    keep in dock
  3. When you quit the application, the icon remains in the Dock.

Moving Dock Icons

You don't need to keep the added app's icon in its current location. You can move it anywhere on the Dock left of the Dock separator line. Click and hold the app icon you want to move and then drag the icon to a new location on the Dock. Other Dock icons move out of the way to make room for the new icon. When the icon is positioned where you want it, release the mouse button to drop it in position.

When rearranging the icons on the Dock, you may discover a few items you don’t need. Click on the icon and select Options > Remove from Dock in the pop-up menus. Removing application icons from your Mac's Dock cleans up the Dock and makes room for new Dock items.

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