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Mac hints and tips

Get easy access to your applications

The Dock at the bottom of the screen is one of OS X's most useful features and it is more than a simple toolbar with attractive icons that provides access to a few common built-in applications. It can be used to provide access to all your applications and not just a select few.

The contents of the Dock are not fixed and you can add your own items (or even remove ones you don't need if you choose to). You may have installed applications that have added an icon to the Dock. Why not add your own?

Dock items don't have to point to applications and they can point to a folder instead. All you need to do is to open a Finder window and then drag the folder down to the dock and drop it on the right-hand side of the separator. The separator is a line near the right side of the Dock - it's a bit hard to see in OS X 10.5, but it's there alright.

When you click the folder, the contents are displayed and just one more click opens the selected item whether it is a document, file or folder. Now you have probably never thought of this, but you can add the Applications folder to the Dock. Just open a Finder window and select the Mac's hard disk drive. You'll see the Applications folder displayed. Drag it to the Dock and drop it to add it.

Now you can display the contents of the Applications folder at any time just by clicking it in the Dock. One click on an application will then run it. It's a useful shortcut to your applications.

You can Ctrl+click the Applications folder in the Dock and choose the view settings. There are Fan, Grid and List views. The best one is partly a matter of taste and partly dependent on the number of applications you have. List view is best when there are a large number of applications because they are displayed in a vertical list and you can scroll up and down to view them all. Grid view is good if you have a moderate number of applications and fan view is probably the least useful because only a small number of items are visible when the icon is clicked.

Resize the Dock directly

The Dock can be customised in several ways and the default settings can be improved upon. Of course, the Dock can be customised via the System Preferences, but there is also a way to customise it directly. Find the separator that is near to the right-hand end of the Dock (it separates the applications with permanent icons from running apps with temporary icons). The mouse pointer turns into and up/down arrow and you can click and drag up and down the screen to make the Dock bigger or smaller.

Related tips...
Add folders to the Dock in OS X 10.4
Menus in the Dock in OS X 10.4
Remove unnecessary Dock items
Shrink the Dock

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