What to Do If Dock Disappeared on Mac Featured Image

Dock Disappeared on Mac? Try These 12 Fixes

Restore your Mac’s Dock with these simple steps.

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Last updated: December 21, 2023

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TL;DR

If your Dock disappeared on Mac, try one of these fixes:

  1. Exit full-screen mode to reveal the Dock​​ and disable the auto-hide feature in System Settings under Desktop & Dock​.
  2. Force quit and restart Dock using Activity Monitor.
  3. Use the killall Dock command in the Terminal to restart the Dock​​.
  4. Delete com.apple.dock.plist in the Preferences folder and restart the Mac​​.
  5. Create a new account with default settings​​ to get rid of corrupt user files.

Recently, I ran into a problem: my Mac Dock disappeared. This was really frustrating because I use the Dock all the time to open my daily apps. So, I started looking for ways to fix it. After trying out different things, I found some really quick and easy methods to get the Dock back. In this guide, I’m going to share these tips with you, so you can easily restore your Dock if it ever disappears.

Before We Begin

Corrupt apps and infected programs can affect your Mac’s performance and interfere with other programs, causing issues like disappeared Dock. Download MacKeeper and use its Smart Uninstaller to rid your Mac of any faulty apps or programs causing performance issues.

How to Fix Disappearing Dock on Mac

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If your Dock disappeared on Mac, there are several ways to get it back. Below, I have shared some tried and tested troubleshooting tips to restore the Dock on your Mac.

1. Exit the Full-Screen Mode

The first thing to do is exit the full-screen mode if you’re using it. A window in full-screen mode covers your Dock. Due to this, your Mac Dock keeps disappearing visually from your screen.

To exit full-screen mode and restore the Dock, follow these steps:

  1. Move your cursor to the top of the screen.
  2. A navigation bar will appear and you’ll see the red, yellow, and green buttons.
move your cursor to the top of the screen to see the red yellow and green buttons
  1. Hover your mouse over the green button, and a drop-down menu will appear. Choose Exit Fullscreen. Simply clicking the green button also exits the full screen.
hover your mouse over the green button and choose exit fullscreen

This will exit the full-screen mode, and your Dock will reappear.

2. Try the Hotkeys

If you accidentally press the hotkeys Option ⌥ + Command ⌘ + D, it can cause the Dock on your Mac to disappear. This is because this hotkey toggles the Dock’s auto-hide feature.

To make the Dock visible again, simply press Option ⌥ + Command ⌘ + D once more.

macbook pro option command d keys

This action will revert the setting and ensure the Dock remains constantly visible on your screen.

3. Check Dock Settings

The next thing to check is the automatic hiding setting if your Dock disappeared on Mac. Move your mouse to the bottom of the screen and see if the Dock appears. If it does, it means your auto-hide settings are on.

Follow these steps to check Dock settings on Mac:

  1. Click the Apple icon and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Select Desktop & Dock in the Settings window.
click desktop and dock in system settings
  1. Toggle off the Automatically hide and show the Dock switch.
toggle off automatically hide and show the dock
  1. This will make your Dock visible on your screen.

You can also access the auto-hide settings by right-clicking the Dock. Right-click the Dock and select Turn Hiding Off to stop the Dock from hiding automatically.

right click the dock and select turn hiding off

4. Force Quit and Restart Your Dock

If your Dock has disappeared on your Mac, it could be due to a temporary error in the operating system. A quick solution to try is to force quit and restart the Dock.

Follow the steps below to force quit and restart your Dock to fix the Dock disappeared on Mac issue:

  1. Press the Command ⌘ + Space keys to open Spotlight. Type Activity Monitor and press Enter.
type activity monitor in spotlight search
  1. Choose the CPU tab in Activity Monitor.
click the cpu tab in activity monitor
  1. Search for Dock in the search bar.
search for dock in the search bar
  1. Select the Dock program and click the x icon in the top toolbar.
select the dock program and press the x icon
  1. Choose Force Quit in the pop-up to quit the Dock app.
choose force quit in dialouge box to quit the dock app
  1. Lastly, restart your Mac to enable the Dock again.

5. Restart Your Mac

Restarting your Mac can often resolve issues like a disappearing Dock because it resets the system’s state, clearing temporary glitches and system errors. Here’s how to restart your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select Restart.
click the apple icon and select restart
  1. If you have any open applications with unsaved work, you’ll be prompted to save your changes. Close any open apps or save your work, then click Restart.
click restart on the confirmation pop up
    1. You can also restart your Mac using a keyboard shortcut: Press Control ^ + Command ⌘ + Power Button (or Eject/Touch ID button) simultaneously.
    macbook pro control command power

    This will immediately restart your Mac without saving your work, so use this method with caution.

    1. If your Mac is frozen or unresponsive, you can force a restart. To do this, press and hold the Power button for about 10 seconds until the Mac turns off, then press the Power button again to turn it back on.
    macbook pro touch id

    6. Look for Software Conflicts

    Software conflicts on a Mac, particularly when multiple apps compete for the same system resources, can cause the Dock to disappear on your Mac. This happens because the operating system may become unstable under such conflicts.

    If your Dock disappeared on Mac, check for software conflicts by following these steps:

    1. Open Activity Monitor via the Utilities folder in your Applications.
    open activity monitor in utilities
    1. Look for apps with high CPU usage or memory consumption in the Activity Monitor. Click the CPU tab to find resource-intensive programs.
    click the cpu tab in activity monitor
    1. Select the app(s) you don’t need or the ones causing conflicts, and quit them by clicking the small x in the top bar.
    select a program and click the small cross in the top menu
    1. This should free up RAM on your Mac and resolve the Dock disappearance issue.

    7. Update Dock and macOS

    If your Dock disappeared on Mac, it might be due to not having the latest software update. Apple regularly releases updates to improve system performance and fix bugs. Missing these updates can sometimes lead to issues like the Dock disappearing. So, its best to update your Mac to the latest macOS version.

    Follow the steps below to update your macOS:

    1. Navigate to the Apple menu > System Settings.
    click the apple icon and select system settings
    1. Click General and select Software Update.
    click general and select software update
    1. Wait for your Mac to check for any available updates.
    2. If updates are available, click Update Now.
    click the update now button
    1. Restart your Mac when the update process is complete. The Dock should reappear on your Mac screen.

    8. Restart the Dock With Terminal Command

    Another efficient method to restore your Dock is by restarting it using a Terminal command. This approach is particularly useful for addressing temporary glitches and restoring the Dock to its normal functionality.

    Here’s how to use a Terminal command to restore Mac Dock:

    1. Click the magnifying glass icon in the menu bar to open Spotlight Search.
    click the magnifying icon in the menu bar at the top
    1. Type Terminal to launch the Terminal app.
    type terminal in spotlight search
    1. Type the following command and press Enter:
    killall Dock
    type the following command and press enter killall dock
    1. Your Dock should restart, and the issue should be resolved.

    9. Reset the Doc’s PLIST file

    If the Dock on your Mac has disappeared due to corrupt files, one solution is to reset the Dock’s preference file. Keep in mind that doing this will remove any customizations you’ve made to the Dock, such as added apps or size adjustments. This step sets the Dock back to its default state.

    Follow these steps to reset the PLIST file of the Dock:

    1. Navigate to Finder, click Go in the top menu, and select Go to Folder.
    open finder click go menu and select go to folder
    1. Enter the following path in the window that appears and press Enter.
    ~/Library/
    type library in the box
    1. Open the Preferences folder.
    open the preferences folder in library
    1. Look for a file named com.apple.dock.plist and drag it to the Bin. Alternatively, you can right-click the file and select Move to Bin.
    right click the com apple dock plist file and select move to bin
    1. Restart your Mac for the changes to take effect and Dock to reappear.

    10. Clear Cache and Temporary Files

    Over time, your Mac collects cache and temporary files, which can lead to system issues, like the Dock disappearing. When you remove the cache and delete temporary files on your Mac, it frees up space and system resources. This makes your Mac run more smoothly and avoid software conflicts, potentially fixing issues with the Dock.

    Follow the steps below to clear your Mac’s cache and temporary files:

    a. Clear Your Mac’s Cache

    1. Launch Finder on your Mac.
    click finder in your dock
    1. Click Go in the menu bar and choose Go to Folder.
    open finder click go menu and select go to folder
    1. Type the following path in the text box and press Enter.
    ~/Library/Caches/
    type library caches in the window
    1. Select all files present in the Caches folder. Right-click the selected files and select Move to Bin.
    right click system folders and select move to bin
    1. This will clear the cache on your Mac, and if the cache is interfering with the Dock’s performance, it should resolve.

    Alternatively, you can use MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup feature to remove junk files on your Mac. Here’s how to use it:

    1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
    2. Open MacKeeper and click Safe Cleanup in the left sidebar.
    click safe cleanup under the cleaning section
    1. Tap the Start Scan button.
    click start scan in safe cleanup
    1. This will scan your Mac for junk files. Select the files you want to delete or click Check All.
    select junk files to remove or click check all
    1. Tap the Clean Junk Files button.
    tap clean junk files
    1. The junk files on your system will be deleted, and you’ll get a Cleaning Completed notification. Click Rescan if you want to repeat the process.
    click rescan to scan the system again
    1. Check if your Dock appears after cleaning cache files.

    b. Remove Your Mac’s Temporary Files

    1. Open Finder, head to the Go menu, and click Go to Folder.
    open finder click go menu and select go to folder
    1. Type the following path in the text box and press Enter:
    /private/var/folders
    type private var folders
    1. Now, locate the folder labeled com.apple.dock and drag this folder to the Bin or right-click it and select Move to Bin.
    right click the com apple dock folder and select move to bin

    11. Create a New User Account

    Creating a new user account on your Mac can fix a disappearing Dock issue. A new account starts with default settings, which helps eliminate conflicts or corrupted settings in your old account.

    Follow the steps below to create a new user account on Mac:

    1. Click the Apple icon in the top-left corner of your screen and choose System Settings.
    click the apple icon and select system settings
    1. Click Users & Groups in System Settings.
    click users and groups in system settings
    1. Click the Add User button
    click add user in user and groups
    1. Enter your administrator’s name and password and tap Unlock.
    enter your admin id and password in user and groups pop up and click unlock
    1. Enter the required information, including the user’s name, account name, and password, and click Create User.
    fill in the details and click create user
    1. Log out of your current account and log in to the newly created account to see if the Dock reappears.

    12. Reset the PRAM or SMC

    Resetting the PRAM (Parameter Random Access Memory) or SMC (System Management Controller) can resolve the Dock disappeared on Mac issue. They reset certain hardware and software settings that may be causing the issue.

    The process for resetting the SMC and PRAM varies depending on the model of your Mac, but here are the general steps to follow:

    To Reset the PRAM

    1. Shut down your Mac.
    2. Press the Power button to turn it back on.
    macbook air touch id
    1. Immediately press and hold the Command ⌘ + Option ⌥ + P + R keys.
    macbook air option command p r keys
    1. Hold these keys for approximately 20 seconds or until you hear the startup sound twice.
    2. Release the keys and let your Mac finish starting up.

    To Reset the SMC

    1. Power down your Mac.
    2. Unplug the power cord, and wait for at least 15-20 seconds.
    3. Plug the power cord back in, then wait approximately 5 seconds.
    4. Press the Power button to turn on your Mac and see if the Dock problem is resolved.
    macbook air touch id

    6 Reasons Why Your Dock Disappeared on Mac

    There are several reasons why the Dock might disappear on your Mac:

    1. 🔄 Software Conflicts: Multiple applications trying to use the same system resources can cause the Dock to vanish.
    2. 🕒 Outdated macOS: Not updating your macOS can lead to bugs, including the disappearance of the Dock.
    3. Temporary System Glitches: Sometimes, temporary errors in the operating system can cause the Dock to disappear.
    4. 📂 Corrupt Files or Apps: Corrupted files, especially in user account settings, or malicious apps can lead to the Dock vanishing.
    5. 🗑️ Cache and Temporary File Accumulation: Over time, accumulated cache and temporary files can cause system issues, affecting the Dock’s functionality.
    6. 🔧 Corrupted Dock Preferences: Sometimes, the preference files for the Dock can become corrupt, causing it to disappear.

    Tips to Prevent the Dock Disappeared Mac Issue

    To prevent the Dock from disappearing on your Mac, follow these tips:

    1. 🔄 Regularly Update macOS: I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your macOS and apps updated. These updates often include fixes for the bugs that can cause big problems, like your Dock disappearing.
    2. 🚦 Monitor Software Conflicts: Be cautious of installing too many apps that might conflict with each other, especially those that heavily modify the system. If you notice your Dock acting up after installing a new app, there might be a conflict.
    3. 🗑️ Manage Cache and Temporary Files: Regularly clear cache and temporary files (using MacKeeper as I do) to prevent system overload and potential glitches.
    4. 💾 Backup Regularly: Maintain regular backups of your system. This ensures you can restore settings in case of major issues.
    5. ⚠️ Avoid Tweaking System Files: Refrain from modifying system files unless you’re sure about the changes; incorrect modifications can lead to system instability.
    6. 🔒 Use Reliable Software: Only download and install apps from trusted sources to reduce the risk of malware and software conflicts.
    7. 🛠️ Regular System Checkups: Perform regular maintenance checks using Disk Utility and other macOS diagnostic tools to keep the system running smoothly.

    Problematic apps can often cause the Dock to disappear on your Mac. When apps or software conflict, they can disrupt your computer’s normal functioning, sometimes making the Dock disappear. The quickest way to get rid of such apps is by using MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller. It helps quickly remove faulty apps and their leftovers, preventing system issues.

    Here’s how to uninstall faulty apps on your Mac using MacKeeper:

    1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
    2. Open MacKeeper and click Smart Uninstaller in the left sidebar.
    click smart uninstaller in the left sidebar
    1. Click Start Scan.
    click start scan in smart uninstaller
    1. This will scan your Mac and show you a list of apps. Find and select the unused or conflicting apps and tap Remove Selected.
    select the applications you want to remove and click remove selected
    1. Click Remove again to confirm the deletion.
    click remove on the pop up window in smart uninstaller
    1. This will delete the selected apps and display a Removal Completed message on your screen. Click Rescan to repeat the process.
    click rescan in smart uninstaller

    What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

    Besides clearing the cache and uninstalling corrupt apps, MacKeeper can scan your Mac for virus, remove login items, and delete duplicate files on Mac. Check out my MacKeeper review to learn more about its features

    Bring Back macOS Dock Disappeared

    If your Dock disappeared on Mac, it can be an inconvenient experience. Here are some tips to keep your Mac running smoothly to prevent similar issues in the future:

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. What can I do if my Dock disappears frequently?

      If your Dock disappears frequently, check to see if any of your settings have been changed. You can also use Terminal to reset the Dock which may fix any settings errors. Resetting your PRAM and SMC can also help. If nothing else works, reinstall macOS.

    2. How can I tell if software conflicts are causing my Dock to disappear?

      You can tell if software conflicts are causing your Dock to disappear by checking for apps with high CPU or memory usage in the Activity Monitor. Quitting unnecessary apps or those causing conflicts can resolve the issue. You can also boot your Mac into Safe Mode to load only the essential system components.

    3. Can I personalize the appearance of my Dock?

      Yes, you can personalize the appearance of your Dock in System Settings > Desktop & Dock. You can modify the Dock’s size, position, and more to make it look and function the way you want. You can also add or remove apps and files by dragging them on or off the Dock.

    4. How do I add an app to my Dock?

      To add an app to your Dock, simply drag its icon from the Applications folder to the Dock. Alternatively, you can right-click an app’s icon in the Applications folder and select Add to Dock to add it.

    5. Can I change the Dock’s position on my screen?

      Yes, you can change the position of your Dock to the left, right, or bottom of your screen in System Settings > Desktop & Dock. Experiment with different positions to find the one that works best for you.

    Hashir Ibrahim

    Author

    I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

    Ojash

    Reviewer

    Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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