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Customize the Dock in Tiger [Mac Tip]

monitorOne of the first things recent Mac switchers complain to me about is the lack of a ‘Start’ menu. Well, Zaphu to the rescue! Today we’re going to customize the Apple Dock. The first few changes I recommend for all users is to turn off that pesky zoom feature and move the dock to the left side of the screen – allowing your windows to scale to the full height of the screen. With wide screen displays there is naturally extra space to the sides. But hey, that is just my personal preference, let’s begin really customizing the dock.

Leopard UsersIf you are looking to modify Leopard’s new 3D dock, go here.

Mac Version of Start Menu

Notice the small break in your dock just to the left of the trash? Well to the right of this line you can add frequently used folders and files to the dock allowing for extremely quick access. First, navigate to the ‘Main’ or ‘Machintosh HD’ folder in your sidebar. From here we can drag the /Applications/ folder down onto the dock as seen below.
Now if you right click (control-click) on this folder with your mouse you’ll get the Mac Start Menu shown below.
Continue to add as many folders and files as you like here. Leopard’s Stacks make this feature even easier, simply drag the Applications folder in the same manner as above and you’ll have easy access to Applications.

Next we’ll use a command line trick to make hidden applications slightly transparent in the dock.

Transparent Effect for Hidden Programs

For this trick you are going to need to launch the /Applications/Utilities/ program. If you aren’t confortable at the command prompt don’t worry this will be super simple. Once the terminal window comes up type the following command in window and hit enter.

defaults write showhidden -bool YES

To undo: change YES to NO and re-enter the command. Now, log out and log back in to make the changes take effect. Now all of your hidden applications will have a transparent look to them. See the before and after pictures below.

Hidden ‘Suck’ Effect

In System Preferences – Dock there are two different minimization effect available, ‘Genie’ and ‘Scale’. Well, there is actually a third one which is hidden and only accessible via the command line. Bring back up the window and enter the following command to access the hidden ‘Suck’ effect.

defaults write mineffect -string suck

To undo: change ‘suck’ back to either ‘genie’ or ‘scale’ and re-enter the command. Once again you will have to log out and back in to make the change take effect. Advanced terminal users can skip this step by using the killall Dock command.

CPU Usage Icon

This tip provides a simple way to monitor current CPU usage via the Dock. First, open /Applications/Utilities/Activity , then right click on the Activity Monitor’s Dock icon and select Dock Icon – Show CPU Usage (see below). If you like this feature make sure you right click on the Dock icon again and select Open at Login.

Congratulations! Enjoy your ‘Advanced Mac User’ dock.

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