How To Fix Dock Not Working, Unresponsive, Freezing On Mac
Is the Dock not working on your Mac? Does it keep freezing and acts fully unresponsive when you click the app icons? This is a minor glitch that can be usually fixed by restarting the dock from the Terminal app. If the problem persist you can also reset the Dock to its factory settings.
How To Fix Dock Not Working On Mac
If the macOS Dock is frozen, unresponsive or doesn’t work as expected perform the following troubleshooting steps:
1. Restart Dock
Your first option is to re-spring the Dock app. This can be done in two ways:
A. From Terminal App
- Press cmd + Space to bring up Spotlight and search for Terminal. Open it.
- Press the Return key. The dock restarts. Does it work now?
B. From Activity Monitor
- Open Spotlight and search for Activity Monitor.
- Use the search field and type ‘Dock‘.
- Click Dock from the list to select it.
- Use the ‘x’ available in the top-left area of the Activity Monitor window.
Confirm that you want to kill the process by clicking Quit or Force Quit. This will cause the Dock to restart. Has the freezing problem been fixed?
- Open Finder and click on Go, available in the top menu bar.
- Click Go to Folder…
- Copy/paste this string:
~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.dock.plistand click Go.
- Duplicate the com.apple.dock.plist file and save it on your Desktop.
- Delete the original com.apple.dock.plist file, in Finder.
- Restart Mac. Is the Dock still frozen?
- Open Finder.
- Click Go, in the top menu bar and select Go To Folder…
- Copy/paste this string:
- Click Go.
- Delete the Cache.db file and restart your Mac.
2. Restart Mac
If the Dock remains frozen after restarting it you can go ahead and perform a full system restart in an attempt to clear other minor glitches that could prevent the Dock from working as expected.
How to: Click Apple logo in the top-left corner. Select Restart… and confirm that you want to reboot your Mac.
3. Hide / Show Dock
Another option to fix the freezing Dock is to hide and unhide in settings. You can do this in System Preferences -> Dock -> Automatically hide and show the Dock (Enable -> Disable).
Trick: You can also use the cmd + option + D keyboard shortcut to easily hide and unhide the Dock in macOS!
4. Delete Dock plist File
Next up you delete your Dock configuration, in a reversible way. This implies backing up the Dock’s plist file and deleting it from the Library. In case, the outcome is not as expected you can revert and proceed to the next step:
Tip: This fix also works to fix a glitch that’s not allowing you to add or remove apps from Dock.
5. Reset Dock
The next troubleshooting option implies a full Dock reset. This will cause the menu bar to return to its factory settings.
Tip: If you’re using a heavily customized Dock version I suggest you to perform a screenshot (shift + cmd + 3). It will help you to set it back faster to your personalized version.
How to: Open the Terminal app an execute:
defaults delete com.apple.dock; killall Dock
6. Delete App Icon With Question Mark
If you recently removed an app, that’s listed in the Dock, a question mark will be displayed next to its icon. Sometimes this can be the trigger for a freezing dock.
Fix: If possible, click and drag the icon to the trashcan. Or, right-click the icon and use the Remove from Dock option.
7. Delete Dock Cache
You can also try to fix an unresponsive Dock by deleting the cache:
8. Use Spotlight
If none of the above helps, your current macOS version could be plagued by a bug that keeps making the Dock unusable. Until Apple releases a software update with a fix, you can bypass the Dock with the help of Spotlight search.
How to: Use the cmd + Space shortcut to bring up Spotlight and search for the desired app. It’s not ideal but it gets the work done.
Have you managed to fix the frozen Dock on your Mac? Which of the above suggested solutions worked? Use the comments section to share your feedback.
Related: How to fix macOS touch bar bug!
Awesome. Many thanks!
You’re welcome. Always happy to help.
Thank you so much! this saved my non tech savvy self!
Using terminal doesn’t work but using Activity Monitor works. Thanks!
Thanks a lot. My dock just stopped working. I tried to fix it by restarting my macBook Pro but that didn’t fix it and I couldn’t open any of my applications. Then I googled the problem and your site came up and tried your solution with the terminal and it worked. So thanks a million for sorting this out for me….really amazing
You’re most welcome. We’re always happy to help.
Same here: I am tech-nervous, and had fearful expectations for the Terminal Killall Dock method here, but the instructions were clear and easy to follow, and the result was as indicated. The dock began working again! (I just installed Ventura yesterday, and wonder if that may have influenced the problem?) Thank you for a helpful site for nonsavvy users.
You’re welcome. Happy to help! Enjoy Ventura! Let us know if you encounter any problems.