Problems with the Dock on the Apple Mac? Here are the fixes

Some people have been having problems with the Dock after updating their Apple Mac to the latest version of macOS. Cannot rearrange icons in the Dock? Cannot delete icons? Fix the Dock!

The Dock at the bottom of the screen on an Apple Mac has several functions and one is to launch apps. You can add your most used apps to the Dock and then running them is a one-click process. You do not need to hunt for them in the Applications folder using Finder.

What if you cannot add any apps to the Dock? What if you cannot remove apps from the Dock that you no longer use? What if you cannot rearrange apps in the Dock? It is rare, but sometimes these problems arise with the Dock.

Rearrange icons in the Dock on the Mac

You might want to rearrange icons in the Dock so that your favorite apps are next to each other or near the left or right side. It can make finding them and clicking them easier and quicker.

Move an icon in the Dock on the Apple Mac
Click and drag icons to rearrange them

To move an icon from one place to another in the Dock, just click and drag it. As it is moved, icons below scoot out of the way to make room for it and it can then be dropped where you want it.

Some people have found that this does not work after updating to the latest version of macOS. An icon can be clicked and dragged, but the other icons do not move and they do not make space for it to be dropped.

Remove an icon from the Dock on the Mac

Apple puts lots of icons in the Dock, but not all of them are useful to everyone. Occasionally used apps should be removed to make space for apps that are run more often.

Remove an icon from the Dock on the Apple Mac
Remove an icon from the Dock

Click and hold on a Dock icon until a menu appears above it. Stop holding it. Move the mouse over Options in the menu and then click Remove from Dock. The selected icon disappears from the Dock. It is not uninstalled and only the Dock icon is removed. The app can still be run by opening the Applications folder.

Problems with the Dock may prevent icons from being removed.

Add an app to the Dock on the Mac

Suppose there is an app that is used a lot. Do not waste time running it from the Applications folder each time it is needed, add the icon to the Dock to make it a one-click process to open it.

Add an app to the Dock on the Apple Mac
Run an app and add it to the Dock

Run an app and then click and hold on the icon in the Dock until a menu appears. Stop holding and move the mouse to Options in the menu. Click Keep in Dock in the sub-menu that appears to the left or right. Dock problems can prevent this action.

Let’s look at some possible solutions that will fix these problems with the Dock in macOS.

Use/don’t use a modifier key

To move an icon in the Dock, just click and drag it. No keys need to be held down. However, some people have solved the problem by holding down the Cmd key, Option or Shift while clicking and dragging icons. Try it and see if it makes a difference.

If you are using a MacBook that has a force-touch trackpad, try clicking lightly and dragging an icon. If that does not work, try clicking harder and dragging, using the force-touch option.

Enable/disable dragging in Accessibility

Open System Preferences and click Accessibility. Select Pointer Control in the list on the left and click the Trackpad Options button. Try dragging icons in the Dock with the Enable dragging setting enabled and disabled.

System Preferences on the Apple Mac
The default setting is Off, but try it On

The default setting is off, but try it both on and off to see if it fixes the problem.

Change the Dock settings

Problems may be temporary and changing the Dock settings may refresh it and fix it. There is a vertical bar near the end of the Dock on the right. Move the mouse over the bar and it turns into a double-headed arrow. Click the trackpad/mouse and push up and down to make the Dock bigger or smaller. Resizing it may help.

Configure the Dock settings in System Preferences on the Apple Mac
Configure the Dock settings

Open System Preferences and click Dock & Menu Bar to show all the Dock settings. Change the size, change the magnification, enable or disable magnification. Try changing some of the other effects and settings. Disable the option, Show recent Applications in Dock.

There is no reason why doing any of this should fix the Dock, but you never know and it is worth trying. It fixed it for some people.

Restart the Mac

Restarting the Mac can fix all sorts of problems, including those with the Dock. Some people do not switch off the Mac for weeks or months and a restart clears out memory, apps and other things and restarts everything. It may fix the Dock issues you are experiencing.

Reset and restart the Dock in Terminal

If you do not want to restart the Mac then it is possible to restart just the Dock by entering a command at the Terminal command prompt.

Stop and restart the Dock on the Apple Mac with a command in Terminal
Stop and restart the Dock

Open Terminal in the Utilities folder and then type:

killall Dock

This stops the Dock from running. A second or two later, macOS automatically starts it. A more powerful alternative to this is to delete the Dock’s settings and then restart it:

defaults delete
killall Dock

With no settings, the defaults are applied. If you have customized the Dock in any way, you might need to go into Settings, Dock & Menu Bar and set them again.

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