On That Dock Placement Thing

Earlier today, I posted a rather tongue-in-cheek piece about where I prefer the Dock to be on my Mac.

Then the Internet exploded. All day, I’ve gotten a flood of tweets and emails explaining why I’m an idiot for putting my Dock where I have it. Many people have asked that I explain why my Dock on the right, pinned to the bottom, so I thought I would explain.

Before I do, however, it’s important to remember that Dock placement is all about personal preference. There’s no real right or wrong way to do it, no matter how strong your personal convictions may be.

Lots of factors should be considered when thinking about Dock placement. Number of screens, screen resolution and real estate and number of apps in the Dock are just a few of the things that should be weighed when making this apparently life-changing decision.

To understand why I have my Dock on the right, you have to understand how I use my Desktop. I — like many Mac users — keep very little on my Desktop. In fact, the only thing there right now is “Macintosh HD,” my Time Machine drive and a file server in our office, named “Pack Mule.”

I do, however, use my Desktop to store files and folders on temporarily through the day. These are items that I might open and close several times in the course of just a few hours, so I want them handy.

Having my Dock on the right side (pinned to the bottom) creates an area where these icons can live and I can see them, as I don’t allow application or Finder windows to cross behind the Dock. (This isn’t as true when I’m using my 27″ Apple external display, but when just on my MacBook Pro, it works great.)

2017 Update: Sadly, pinning the Dock has been removed from macOS.

I also just like the way it looks on the right side. I feel like having it on the left (with Desktop icons on the right) makes everything feel far away from everything else. The Bottom Dock is a waste of precious vertical space, no matter how handsome the new Mountain Lion version is.

The number one thing I heard today about it being pinned on the bottom is that as additional apps are opened, the Dock slides up, meaning my apps aren’t stationary targets. As I bounce between using my laptop and using it with an external display, I’m already used to the Dock being slightly different sizes (relative to the entire display), so it’s not a big deal. What’s far more important to me is the order in which my applications live in the Dock. I’ve spent years perfecting the order for how I work, and I can easily find what I’m looking for, no matter what else is going on.

I keep my Dock visible because I use it as an application launcher and as a way to see what’s running. I really dislike it being hidden — I feel lost without it.

When it comes to Dock placement, the key is understanding. I won’t hate the stupid way you do things, if you won’t hate the stupid way I do things.