Snow Leopard hidden Dock preference

In Mac OS X 10.5 and earlier, clicking and holding on an item in the Dock would bring up a contextual menu for that Dock item. In Mac OS X 10.6, popularly known as Snow Leopard, unpopularly known as Leopard Service Pack 1 or “What am I supposed to do with my Power Mac G5 Quad?”, this behavior has changed. One of the new non-Exchange non-features in Snow Leopard is Dock Exposé. Clicking and holding on an application icon in the Snow Leopard Dock invokes Exposé for that application. This is the same effect you see when pressing the F10 key in Tiger and later.

If for some bizarre reason you prefer the old behavior (you backward, reactionary, Obama-hating Luddite), it is possible to bring it back. This is a Lap Cat Software exclusive — you heard it here first, folks! Launch the Terminal application and enter the following:

defaults write show-expose-menus -bool no; killall Dock

You’re welcome. Remember me fondly in your will.

23 Responses to “Snow Leopard hidden Dock preference”

  1. When I saw the demo of this feature, I wondered what was so different from F10, except for the small delay ;-)

  2. pendraggon87 says:

    Where did you find this out? I ran the strings command on the Dock binary but could not find that setting.

  3. anonymous coward says:

    Other bizarre reason might be that you are used to access the menu of the applications in the dock by click and hold instead of making a right click. Like switching songs in iTunes. So your tip is nice.

  4. Daniel says:

    thank you, this was driving me crazy

  5. Monica S. says:

    Brilliant. I am pretty sure this will save my sanity.

  6. Ben says:

    best tip ever. works right away. and yes, I’m a click and hold for menu functions kinda guy, and the expose was driving me nuts!! now if only the new iTunes would go to minimized mode when I click the green gumdrop…

  7. Stephen says:

    so… how would you undo this? sorry, not a mac genius. thanks in advance!

  8. Jeff says:

    Stephen, change ‘no’ to ‘yes’. ;-)

  9. Stephen says:

    Amazing. :)

    Thanks Jeff.

  10. Stephen says:

    Can I ask a question? I have Snow Leopard – but for some reason don’t have an Apps folder on my Dock.

    Any ideas?

  11. tajmahal says:

    Just locate the Apps folder in Finder and drag it to the right side of the Dock.

  12. Sean says:

    This is great for those of us that use 1 button mice and want easy access to that contextual menu. Thanks!

  13. Dirk says:

    Thanks – great tip.
    If anyone now could fix the new Exposè to its perfectly working Leopard status, i’ll will be very happy.

    Apple screwed this one seriously.

  14. If you’re looking for a reason that makes sense, here it is: Try dragging and dropping from a maximized window to another window. You used to be able to drag down to the dock, then hover on an app, it would switch to the app, then you drag up and drop the file into the app. Works well with VLC, Adobe apps, etc. With this new behavior, you drag down to the app, the expose kicks in and you can’t drop your file. Very annoying and counter-productive. Nice feature, but not well thought out, unfortunately.

  15. Swordfish says:

    San Diego Wedding DJ, I don’t see what’s the problem. When exposé kicks in, just drag your file and hover over the window of your choice. Windows in exposé will pop to the foreground in the same way applications in the dock do.

  16. Avem7 says:

    This won’t work if you don’t have any windows opened. Let’s say MS word, the app is open but All the windows are closed, than when you move a file over the app in the dock, expose will kick in, the screen will get dark and you can’t dop the file. I too prefder the old way.

  17. paul says:

    Thank you! Now I can control iTunes from the dock icon again.

  18. David Shepherdson says:

    Thank you, Lap Cat Software! This was the most annoying change in Snow Leopard for me, because it just slowed things down so much when all I wanted to do was (for example) quit an application. (Also, when memory is tight on your machine and apps are swapped out, doing the Exposé thing when you press the Dock icon means the app you clicked gets swapped back in, making the process even slower if you just wanted to quit the app to free up some memory!)

  19. [...] La solución a este problema para algunos usuarios es de Jeff Johnson de Lap Cat Software [...]

  20. [...] somebody has found it. Here’s how you tell the Dock to use the 10.5.x-style dock contextual [...]

  21. David says:

    Do you have the 10.6.1 version of command line which will (hopefully) kill Expose at the dock?

    Boy, talk about a hugh mental interrupter, nothing i can recall is so visually imposing… Apple? May I REQUEST you place an item in Apple Menu > System Preferences > Exposé and Spaces > Exposé > ‘• Enable Exposé use with dock’ ?

  22. David says:

    Yep. Double-checked under 10.6.1. the command line provided above:

    defaults write show-expose-menus -bool no; killall Dock

    does not stop the Exposé ‘madness’…

    I am sudo -s when I perform the command. thx.

    I submitted a Bug Report to Apple on this gem.

  23. elspub says:

    In 10.6.2 default behavior has changed. Click-hold on dock apps now activates Dock Expose AND shows the dock app’s standard contextual menu