Sunday, June 01, 2008

using Stacks to keep many apps on Leopard's Dock without crowding

For as long as I've been using Mac OS X, which is since the non-beta version of 10.0 was released, I've wished for a way of grouping applications on the Dock, and, as I acquired more apps, I've also begun to wish for a way of shoehorning more icons onto the Dock than it could comfortably accommodate.

Those in the know may immediately point to you to third-party software like QuickSilver or DragThing, or to scripting solutions. Not having tried any of these, I can't comment on them.

My approach is utterly simple, involving nothing more complicated than setting up a group of folders, creating aliases to applications or other folders (Command-L), moving them to the appropriate folder, and dragging the folder icons from a Finder window to the Dock, where they become stacks. The way I've set it up, these folders all live within a folder named Stacks, which is just inside my home folder. They are each named for a category, like "Media" or "Programming" which describes their contents.

Here's the list of stack folders I currently have, in the order they appear on the Dock left to right, and the contents of each (note that the actual filenames of the contents all end in ".alias" or ".app.alias").

  • Browsers
    • Camino
    • Safari
  • Network Apps
    • Adium
    • iChat
    • Transmit
  • Databases
    • AddressBook
    • Bento
    • Data Guardian
    • iCal
  • Getting Things Done
    • Bento
    • iCal
    • OmniFocus
  • Writing Tools
    • MarsEdit
    • OmniOutliner Professional
    • Pages
    • Scrivener
    • TextEdit
  • iWork & Pro Apps
    • Keynote
    • Numbers
    • OmniGraffle Professional
    • Pages
  • Web & Widget Design
    • BBEdit
    • Dashcode
    • iWeb
  • Media
    • GarageBand
    • GraphicConverter
    • iDVD
    • Image Capture
    • iMovie
    • iPhoto
    • iTunes
    • Photo Booth
    • Preview
    • QuickTime Player
  • Programming
    • Automator
    • Xcode
    • /Developer
    • /Developer/Applications

The last two items under Programming are folders. In some cases I have altered the names in order to control the alphabetical sort order, and thereby control which icons appear on top of the stacks on the Dock. Doing this has no effect on the application or folder to which an alias points.

Note that a few items appear in more than one stack. Pages, for instance, is both a writing tool and part of iWork, and Bento is both a database program and an application that's useful in getting things done.

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