Tweak Mac Dock for More Screen Area

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Open Apps with Spotlight

If you’ve cleaned up the Dock to display only frequently used apps, you need to be aware of the best ways to launch infrequently used apps. My favorite app launcher is Spotlight. In fact, I sometimes use it to launch apps that are in the Dock. Indeed, that’s all the more reason to get the Dock off the screen.

Spotlight is Apple’s search tool. You can launch Spotlight by clicking on the magnifying glass on the top right. Enter the first few letters of the app. Usually, only one or two letters are needed. Once your app is at the top of the search results, press the return key to launch it.

There’s an even easier way to launch Spotlight. Simply hold the command key down while pressing the space bar. Spotlight will launch immediately. This is how I launch most of my apps — even the ones that are in my Dock. It’s just faster. I also use Spotlight to launch apps on my iPhone and iPad.

Open Apps with Launchpad

Launchpad is another great tool for opening infrequently used apps. You can add the Launchpad icon to your Dock, but I don’t recommend it, as it will take up valuable space. Apple has a few easy shortcuts to start Launchpad.

If you have a Magic Trackpad or MacBook trackpad, simply pinch the trackpad with 4 fingers. Launchpad will appear. If you use an iPhone or iPad, Launchpad is very familiar. It works just like the Home screens on iOS devices. Simply click on an app to launch it. The app will launch and Launchpad will fade away. You can also exit Launchpad by expanding 4 fingers outward on the trackpad, in a reverse-pinch gesture. Pressing the esc key will also exit Launchpad.

You can rearrange apps in Launchpad by dragging them around. Simply click and hold on an app and move it to its desired location. Dragging an app on top of another app will create a new folder. It’s exactly like the Home screens on your iPhone or iPad.

I don’t use Launchpad very often. It’s useful for browsing apps, but Spotlight is my go-to method for launching apps.

Open Apps with Siri

If you have macOS Sierra, you can use Siri to launch apps. Siri can be launched by clicking on the Siri icon on the Dock or on the top right of menu bar. Siri can also be launched by holding down the command and space bar. When Siri is activated, simply say “launch [app name]” and the app will launch automatically. I use Siri to launch apps on my Apple TV, but not on my Mac or iPhone. I still think Spotlight is faster on the latter two devices. Apple TV doesn’t have a keyboard or touch screen, making Siri the quickest way to launch apps on that device.

Switch Between Open Apps with Command + Tab

The Dock may be your preferred method to switch between open apps. You can still do this after you have moved the Dock to the side. Any app you open, regardless of whether it is in the Dock by default, will appear in the Dock. If you open it using Spotlight, Launchpad or Siri, it will appear in the Dock until the app is closed. (continue…)

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