Cos (cos) wrote,
Cos
cos

How to avoid the Dock

Much as I like OS X's user interface in general, I don't like the Dock.

  • It's a clunky way to start programs, hunting up and down with your eye through a bunch of similar icons until you find the one you want ... or accidentally click one whose icon is similar.

  • As a way of seeing what you currently have running, it's quite an eyestrain - not only do you have to identify the icons, but the only difference between what's running and what's not is the presence of that little dot.

  • When you want to select a running program using the dock, it's really easy to accidentally click a few pixels off and start some other thing you didn't mean to start.

  • It's a waste of screen space.

If use OS X and you're dissatisfied with the Dock too, here are my simple tips for conveniently avoiding it:
  1. Start applications using Spotlight

    Spotlight is the full text search you get when you click the magnifying class at the top right. If you start typing the name of a program, the program will by default be the first match, and highlighted. Hitting enter opens whatever's highlighted. And the keyboard shortcut to get to Spotlight without clicking on the magnifying glass is CMD-Space.

    Put all these things together, and the easy way to start any application is: appname

    Usually you don't have to type the whole name. For example, I start Safari with saf

  2. Application Menu Switcher

    A really simple utility that restores a piece of the Mac OS 9 interface that OS X did away with:
    http://www.vercruesse.de/software/asm

    Costs a little bit to register, but well worth it.

    Once you install it, I recommend changing one of the defaults. Go into System Preferences, and in the ASM pane, change the "Menu Title" setting to "Application Name".

    You'll get a menu at the top right, just to the left of the spotlight icon, that lists all currently running applications - and no others, just the ones that are running. The currently running app will be the menu name. Select any other app from the menu to bring it to the foreground. Unlike the dock, you can't accidentally start something unintentionally from here.

  3. Hide the dock.

    Now you have:
    - An easy way to start any application with a few keystrokes.
    - An easy way to see what's running.
    - An easy way to switch to any of the running applications.

    Who needs the Dock now? Go to System Preferences, and in the Dock pane, check "Automatically hide and show the Dock". It'll still be there, but only appear when you push the mouse pointer to the edge of the screen where the Dock is. Now you can ignore it most of the time, and easily pop it up if you happen to want it.
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