How to Lock and Unlock the Dock

Recently, I set up a Mac for my grandmother (yes, my grandmother, who is almost 90, has been gently coerced into using OS X and is doing better than a lot of much younger people I know). However, she had a few problems with what she called “programs disappearing from the side bit”. What was happening was that she was dragging icons out of the Dock by mistake, inevitably removing them from the Dock. So I locked the Dock to stop this happening.Ā  And because it’s quite a handy thing to know, I thought I’d write a quick post about it.

The easiest way to do this is using the Terminal. For those who are unfamiliar with the Terminal there are really only 2 things I would mention about it.

1.) It is very powerful (it can destroy things if you are not careful) so make sure you are very clear about the commands you are using.

2.) It is very often the quickest and easiest way to execute a command cleanly.

So having said that, to work.


To Lock the Dock:

1.) Open Finder and go to Go > Utilities


2.) From the Utilities list choose Terminal

3.) In the Terminal type (or just copy and paste):

defaults write contents-immutable -bool true

4.) Then restart the Dock with the new settings by typing:

killall Dock

The Dock is now locked.


To Unlock the Dock


You may find that from time to time you want to add/remove programs from the Dock. To do this simply repeat steps 1 and 2 above, then

3.) In the Terminal type the command above with “false” instead of “true”

defaults write contents-immutable -bool false

4.) Restart the Dock (as above) using:

killall Dock

Now the Dock is unlocked.

[NOTE: If this doesn’t work for you try logging out and logging in again as Admin.]

Categories: Mac & OS X | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “How to Lock and Unlock the Dock

  1. Victoria Orleans

    that didnt work with my mac. my icons are all locked and i’ve tried to do everything i saw on internet. i can’t drag anything, even in finder or in the desktop šŸ˜¦

    • It sounds like your account is not authorised to make these changes. Did you repeat the process as Admin, or rather, are you the Administrator on your Mac? Depending on your user permissions, your account may not be authorised to make these changes. If this is the case, you need to edit the Parental Controls to allow them. Just go to your System Preferences > Parental Controls then click the lock in the bottom corner and type your Admin password. There should be a bit that says something like, Allow user to modify the Dock. Tick the box, lock the lock, and you should be good to go.
      Hope this works for you. Good luck (^-^)b

  2. Buddy

    Simple, concise and to the point. Yours is the single BEST written and graphic walk through I have found online – even better than the posted Youtube videos which are terrible. Thanks for posting. I have this book marked for future reference šŸ™‚

If you find this useful or interesting please leave me a comment. If you have a question feel free to ask (^-^)

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