What to do when the Dock has disappeared on your Mac

For Mac users, the home Dock is your go-to location for frequently used applications, currently open documents, and more. 

But what do you do when the Dock has disappeared or starts acting up?

Here, we’ll explain what to do if your Mac Dock disappears or moves when you don’t want it to and a few quick tips and tricks to help you become more organized and more productive than ever before. 

What is the Dock?

The Dock is a toolbar on your Mac where you keep your favorite applications (whether from Apple like Messages, Calendar, and Siri, or third-party applications such as Spotify, Adobe, or Slack). In addition to the applications you choose to display on your Dock, a few other icons will be visible, depending on which applications you’re currently running. 

Here’s what a typical Dock might look like:

In addition to Apps, the Dock also displays your Downloads and the Trash bin for convenient access. 

Why is my Dock disappearing?

You’ve organized your Dock with your favorite apps, but now it’s disappearing. Now what? 

If your Dock keeps disappearing, you can make it visible again in a few different ways.

Turn “Hiding” off

If your Dock disappears and reappears, you might have set it to be hidden.

First, try moving your cursor to the bottom of your screen. Then continue moving it down until the Dock reappears. In most circumstances, it should quickly reappear as usual. 

To keep your Dock visible and prevent it from disappearing again, you can go to System Preferences > Dock and then check or uncheck "Automatically hide and show the Dock." Or, use the keyboard shortcut Command-Option-D to show/hide the Dock. You can also right-click on your mouse or trackpad and select Turn Hiding On or Off. This should prevent the Dock from disappearing off-screen each time you move your cursor away from it. 

Check whether you’re in Full Screen Mode 

Another common culprit for a disappearing Dock is Mac’s Full Screen mode. You can enter Full Screen mode in any application by selecting the green icon at the upper left of the window. 

When in Full Screen, the current window will cover your Dock and the Top Navigation bar. (This view may seem more familiar for Windows users, so double-check whether you’re in Full Screen, especially if you are new to using a Mac.)

To exit full-screen mode, move your cursor up to the top of your screen. The top Navigation Bar will reappear, along with the red and green buttons for Close and Full Screen. Simply click on the green Full Screen button to go back to the standard view, and your Dock will reappear. 

Fix your disappearing Dock with Maintenance Scripts

There’s a tool in your macOS called Automated or Maintenance Scripts. It helps polish system performance by erasing outdated entries and performing many other optimizations. It can even help fix minor errors, as well. 

Users who run Maintenance Scripts regularly report that their Macs begin to run more smoothly. What's more, Maintenance Scripts may also help fix a Dock that occasionally disappears. How does it work? Very simple with a specialized tool CleanMyMac X that does just that. You can download a free version of CleanMyMac X here.

To run Maintenance Scripts with CleanMyMac X:

  1. Install the app.
  2. Click on the Maintenance tab.
  3. Check Maintenance scripts.
  4. Press Run.

That’s it! CleanMyMac X will run Maintenance Scripts for you.

Maintenance Scripts in CleanMyMac X

It may also be good to check the other helpful tools in this menu, especially Repair Disk Permissions. It might help fix various disk-related glitches on your Mac. 

How to customize your Dock

Customizing your Dock is a great way to keep all your favorite and most frequently used apps at your fingertips. You can also move your apps around and decrease clutter by removing apps you don’t use as much from the Dock.

Add apps to the Dock

Here's how you can add apps to your Dock that aren’t currently there. 

  1. Open Finder (which is always on the far left of your Dock).
  2. Select Applications from the left Favorites menu.

From here, you can browse all the applications on your Mac. Click on the desired application and drag it down to your Dock where you’d like to place it. As soon as you hover the application icon over your Dock, the existing icons will shift to make room for your new application. 

Remove an application from the Dock

If you would like to remove an application from your Dock, simply right-click or two-finger click on the icon, hover your cursor over Options, and deselect Keep in Dock. 

Moving applications around in the Dock

Adjusting the applications on your Dock is a simple process. If an application is already in your Dock and you would like to change its location, simply click, hold and drag the desired icon into a new position on the Dock. 

Dock preferences 

In addition to adding, moving, or removing applications on the Dock, you can customize your Dock even more. 

Right-click on the area near the vertical line of your Dock. A menu will pop up, allowing you to toggle hiding, change the position of the Dock on your screen (bottom, left, right), modify the visual effect of applications, and manage other Dock preferences. 

Use Dock with an external display

This one is quite a convenient feature (but also a possible culprit of a missing Dock) is the ability to place your Dock on an external monitor. 

Here’s how to fix the orientation of your Dock if you’re using an external display:

  1. Launch System Preferences and select Displays. 
  2. In the Displays tab, select Arrangement. From here, you can view all your available monitors and change their layouts and orientation. 
  3. On one of your monitor icons, you’ll see a white bar that resembles the Dock. Click and drag this white bar to the desired screen location. 

Macs perfectly combine simplicity with functionality. It's evident in nearly any Apple device you pick up. You can use the device like you’ve owned it for years in a few short minutes. 

Still no success? Check your Mac for malware agents

Malware programs are known to hijack certain parts of your Mac, including the browser and the Dock. They often display covert banners that obscure elements on your screen to make you click on their advertised content.

While this may not necessarily be causing your Dock to disappear, it’s still a good idea to check your Mac for adware. After all, if your Mac is acting strangely, something might be up.

But now the question: Which antivirus to use? Some users recommend Malwarebytes, but in our experience, CleanMyMac X has proven to be just as good (plus, it deals with macOS-specific threats). 

  1. Get a free edition of CleanMyMac X (fully notarized by Apple).
  2. In the app, go to Malware Removal and click Scan. You’ll see something like this.
  3. Malware removal module of CleanMyMacX
  4. Now, simply let CleanMyMac X do the cleanup. Restart your Mac to see if that solved the problem.

We hope your Mac is now back to business as usual! Come back for more Mac tips and troubleshooting.

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