Dock Positioning

In the default setting, the Dock lies at the bottom of the screen, and contains 18 applications, a folder and the trash can. In this state, icons are clear and bubble numbers are easy to read. However, this default placement robs the user of vertical screen height, which is the axis that the user has least of. On a large iMac screen, the Dock can get away with living at the bottom, but consider the laptop user; space for them really is at a premium, and so it doesn’t make sense for the Dock to live at the bottom of the screen. This lack of vertical space is compounded by the various toolbars that applications have, almost all of which are displayed as an extra horizontal bar across the top of the application.

By default, on laptops, the Dock should be attached to either the left- or right-hand side of the screen.

OS X El Capitan 10.11.6.


Illegible Number Bubbles in the Dock

Unless you’ve got a lot of screen space, the number bubbles on applications in the Dock can be hard to read, particularly if you have a 12″, 13″ or 15″ laptop. With the Dock in its default position at the bottom of the screen, it’s easy to read the number in the bubble.

Default Dock with Horizontal Number Bubbles
Five and six items, easy to see.


Keeping the number of items in the Dock the same (the default count is 18 applications, a folder and the trash can), I’ve moved it to the left-hand side of the screen (I’ve already written about why to move the Dock to the left- or right-hand side of the screen). Is that 5 or 6 or 8 or 9 in the bubbles?

Default Dock with Vertical Number Bubbles
Five and six items. Would you know if I hadn’t told you?

Remember, this is the default state of the Dock, just re-positioned, except now impossible to read without using the magnifying option, which is too awkward an experience for everyday use. Even on a 24″ iMac, reading the numbers inside bubbles can be difficult.

The solution is to have an option in System Preferences > General to increase the size of the bubbles. Currently this is only possible using DockStar, which at $20 is a bit steep for what is an OS X accessibility issue.

OS X El Capitan 10.11.6.