Add, Remove or Rearrange Items On Your Mac’s Dock

Would you like to add frequently used applications or documents to your Dock? Would you like to remove rarely used items from the Dock? If so, below are instructions on how to do this. The Dock is the row of icons that’s typically located across the bottom of the screen, though it can be moved. Apple populates the Dock with items that they think, or want, you to use, but you can customize it to suit your own needs. You can add applications, documents or folders to the dock. 

Dock Basics
  1. The Dock is divided into two, disproportionately sized sections. Look for the dividing line which appears a little bit to the left of the Trash. The left-hand section can contain Application icons. The right-hand section can contain icons for files, folders or web sites.
  2. When you’ve opened an application on your Mac you’ll see its Dock icon displays a small black dot below it. (Older versions of the Mac operating system displayed either white horizontal bar or a bluefish white circle, both of which are hard to see, if you ask me.)
  3. Apple populates the Dock with some of its applications. You can rearrange or remove these icons using the instructions below.
  4. When you open an Application whose icon is not already on the Dock, this application’s icon will temporarily appear on the Dock. When the application is quit its icon will vanish from the Dock.
  5. The Finder icon, which appears at the far-left end, and the Trash icon, which appears at the the far right-end, can not be moved around or removed. They are locked in place.
  6. Clicking and holding an icon on the Dock produces a menu of choices. For example, if you click and hold on the Trash icon its menu lets you choose to either open the trash or empty it (if you have files in the trash).
Rearrange Items On The Dock
  • To rearrange icons on the Dock, click and drag an icon to either the left or right.
Remove Items From The Dock
  • Click and hold on a dock icon to display its menu.
  • Select Options
  • Select Remove From Dock (If you want to remove a Folder icon, hold down the Control key and then click and hold its icon to see it’s menu.)
Add Applications To The Dock
  • There are a few ways to add Applications to the Dock but this one is the one I use most often.
  • Click on the Finder icon on the Dock to open a Finder window
  • Click on the Go menu, at the top of the screen, select Applications.
  • Locate the application that you want to add to the Dock.
  • Click and drag this application’s icon to the left-hand section of the Dock. (Make sure you don’t drag this icon on top of another dock icon. Instead, make sure that you see the dock icons scoot to the side to make room for this new icon.)
Add Files or Folders To The Dock
  • Click on the Finder icon on the Dock to open a Finder window
  • Navigate to the file or folder that you want to add
  • Click and drag this application’s icon to the right-hand section of the Dock (Make sure you don’t drag this icon on top of another dock icon. Instead, make sure that you see the dock icons scoot to the side to make room for this new icon.)
Change The Dock’s Location
  • Click on the Apple menu and select System Preferences
  • Click on the Dock icon
  • Locate the Position on screen section and select, Left, Bottom or Right.

You might also be interested in Apple’s Dock overview article.


  1. All suggestions say to drag out of dock and when says remove let it go. Every time I do that it goes straight back to the dock. I have held it for a few minutes to see if it takes time, but it goes straight back to the dock.

  2. You’re asking how to remove an item from the Dock. You have two options. The first option is to click and drag an icon from the Dock towards the top of your Mac’s screen. Once you drag the icon past the half-way point on your screen then you’ll see the word “Remove” appear on your Mac’s screen. At this point, release the icon and it’ll vanish. The second option is the option that I describe above. It entails clicking and holding on the Dock icon for a second or two. At that point a menu appears. Select Options from the menu and then Remove From Dock.

  3. After I have used an application it disappears. Where does it go to? Example – I have used Messenger. Now I cannot find it. How do I find it when I want it?

  4. Anne, all of your applications can always be found in the Applications folder. Here’s one method you could use to navigate to your Applications folder. Locate the Finder icon on the Dock. It’s typically on the left end of the Dock, if you have your Dock appearing across the bottom of your screen. Once you locate the Finder icon, click on it. This will open a Finder window if one isn’t already open. Now, at the very top of the screen, locate the Go menu and click on it. Select Applications from the Go menu. Your Applications folder will now be displayed in the Finder window. You can then scroll through it to locate the Messages application. If you want to permanently add Messages to the Dock, drag it’s icon from the Finder window to the Dock.

  5. I’m running 10.4.6 and am no longer able to move rearrange items on the dock. It used to work the way you state above, but no longer. Can you explain?
    Thank you.

    • Didn’t work for me too (11.6.2).
      I removed all apps from the dock. Then opened the ones I always use, the way I normally do, utilizing Spotlight (command+space). Then Settings > Keep. This way I managed to have all apps in my preferred order.

  6. Wow! Best Instructions I’ve ever found when googling Computer questions. So nicely laid out and soooo easy to understand. Thank you !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.