After upgrading to macOS Mojave, you may notice that extra icons appear and remain in your Dock even after you quit the applications. This is due to a new feature in Mojave that Apple hopes will make accessing frequently used applications easier. But what if you prefer to manage your Mac’s own Dock and don’t want extra icons cluttering it up? Here’s how to turn recent application icons off in Mojave.
Pre-Mojave Dock Icon Behavior
In versions of macOS prior to Mojave, users could configure a specific number and order of application icons to appear in their Dock. These icons would remain in the Dock indefinitely, even if their corresponding applications were note running. If a user launched an app that wasn’t in the Dock, its icon would appear on the right end of the application side of the Dock. The app would then remain there until it was quit, at which point it would disappear.
macOS Mojave Recent Applications
Mojave (along with iOS 12 on the iPad) introduces a new “recent applications” feature that changes how the Dock works in terms of app icons. Users still have their list of default or manually pinned apps in their Dock, but when you launch an app that isn’t in the Dock, it appears in a new section, defined by vertical divider lines on either side, on the right side of the Dock.
This feature does more than simply moving open, non-pinned application icons to a new place. It also keeps the icons in your Dock after you’ve closed the application. By default in macOS Mojave, the three most recently launched applications (that aren’t otherwise already in your Dock) will remain in the new “recent applications” section. There are two ways to remove them. Either drag and drop them out of the dock, or manually launch enough additional apps that they rotate out of the list.
Remove Extra Application Icons From the Dock
For those who prefer to manage their own Dock, this new recent applications feature can be disabled. You may have kept these apps out of your Dock for a reason, after all. So let’s remove those pesky extra icons. To do so, launch System Preferences (the gray gear icon in your Dock) and select Dock. Alternatively, right-click (or Control-click) on one of the dividing lines in the Dock and select Dock Preferences.
From the window that appears, uncheck the option labeled Show recent applications in Dock.
The change will take effect immediately. The extra icons in your Dock are now gone, at least if their corresponding application was not running. If the app was still running, the icon will be merged to the right side of your Dock. This replicates the same behavior as pre-Mojave versions of macOS.
After making this change, any running applications that aren’t already pinned to the Dock will disappear when you quit them. For those new to the Mac, just remember that some apps remain running even if their windows are closed. In this case, either select the app to make it active. Then press the keyboard shortcut Command-Q or right-click on the app’s icon and choose Quit from the menu that appears.
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