Restore your Dock to its Defaults

Glass Dock
Creative Commons License photo credit: zoovroo
When a new user is created in OSX, the Dock is prepopulated with a set of icons. Dragging the icons off the dock removes them. You are free to customize the Dock by placing your frequently used icons there.

There may be an occasion where you need to restore the Dock to it’s default set of application icons. This is pretty easy with a bit of Terminal-fu.

Open the Terminal application by Navigating through Go->Utilities->Terminal

When the terminal window opens type

cd ~/Library/Preferences
rm ~/Library/Preferences/

This will delete the configuration file for the dock. Log out and back in and the Dock should look the way it did when you first created your user account.

If you have any other interesting Mac tricks, let us know.


  1. Z on November 12, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    The 1st command is superfluous, you don’t need to run it. Just use

    rm ~/Library/Preferences/

  2. Joe on November 12, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Of course it is. Duh me 🙂

  3. Blake on April 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    This is only slightly related, but I was fiddling with my dock, and now that file (as well as are missing and will not be recreated. How can I get these files back?

    • Joe on May 14, 2012 at 7:34 am

      AFAIK they are regenerated when you put something else into your dock.

  4. Merly on February 24, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    For some reason, there is no on my Library/preferences. Wonder if it was deleted or mislocated somewhere.

    • Joe on February 25, 2013 at 10:22 am

      Are you looking in your Personal Preferences directory or the System Preferences directory. There is a difference and the dock file is only located in your Personal Directory.

      The personal directory is ~/Library/Preferences

  5. Jim on March 25, 2017 at 1:21 am

    Thanks! I had accidentally resized my dock and this is what I was looking for. The command worked perfectly in the terminal.

    • Joe Cotellese on August 31, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      Cool, glad you liked the tip.

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