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How to Show Running Apps Only on Mac Dock?

Updated on Thursday, May 16, 2024

iBoysoft author Ciki Liu

Written by

Ciki Liu
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee


 How to Make Mac Dock Show Running Apps Only?

As an essential part of macOSMac Dockacts as the hub to help you interact with applications in the macOS, including FinderLaunchpadTrash, and even Documents folders. While some apps are installed on Dock by default, more apps are added by users without removing unused apps on the Dock.

Over time, your Dock may be filled with various apps and becomes hard to navigate. How to have a clean and tidy Dock? You can make this happen by showing active apps only on Mac Dock. Read this post and you'll see how to show running apps on Dock in three possible ways.

how to show running apps only on Mac Dock

How to manually remove unused apps on Dock

Although it may take some effort, you can organize the Dock by manually removing unused apps from it and leaving necessary ones. To get rid of an unused app from the Dock, simply right-click on the application and choose Options. Uncheck the option, Keep in Dock. In some macOS versions, you should choose Remove from Dock.

Unfortunately, this method only works well if you have a few apps to organize. For those who have a bunch of software on the Dock, check the next method to show only running apps on your Mac Dock.

Successfully cleaned up Mac Dock? Share the helpful tip with your friends!


How to use Terminal to show running apps on Dock

The Terminal is one handy tool to perform multiple tasks on your Mac by running command lines. You can use it to show only active apps on Mac Dock by following the steps illustrated below.

Step 1. In case you don't know where to launch Terminal, go to Launchpad > Other > Terminal. Alternatively, you can click on Finder from the Dock and go to Applications. Click on the Utilities folder to find Terminal. Spotlight is also one more way to find Terminal.

Step 2. When you enter the Terminal panel, type in the following commands and hit the Enter button on your keyboard.  Wait for a couple of minutes to let your Mac refresh with a cleaner Dock.

defaults write com.apple.dock static-only -bool true; killall Dock

show active apps in Termina

As you can see, your Mac now only shows active apps on Dock and the rest will be automatically removed from it.

It's possible that you don't like this way of using Mac Dock and want to undo the changes. To reverse the change and get back to the previous state, you can try the following.

Step 1. Open and launch Terminal as mentioned above.

Step 2. Type in the prompts below and hit Enter as well.

defaults delete com.apple.dock static-only; killall Dock

revert changes in Terminal

Your Mac will refresh itself and shows you the original Dock management.

If you find this method useful, please share it with more people!


How to use Dock preferences to show running apps

Sometimes, what matters is not the running app but the app you are frequently using. It would be a time-consuming job if you have to open a program from Finder every time other than from the Dock. To make things easier for you, Mac Dock allows users to show recently used apps on Dock. Here's how to set it up.

Step 1. Locate the top-left corner of your screen and click on the Apple menu.

Step 2. In the drop-down context menu, click on System Preferences… to enter the settings panel of your macOS.

Step 3. Find and click on Dock & Menu Bar to manage your Dock settings.

Step 4. You should see a list of settings under Dock. Find Show recent applications in Dock and check this option.

show recent applications on Dock

With one click, you can see all frequently used applications shown on the Dock.

Finally, if you wanna make the Mac Dock disappear from your screen, you can open System Settings or System Preferences to hide the Mac Dock with ease. If you want the Mac Dock size changes following the connected display size, you can give Mac HiDock a try.