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I've set up my fair share of Macs over the years, but I've never been able to pinpoint what setting tells OS X that you're ok with being able to drag-resize a window vertically so that it goes behind the dock (assuming the dock is in its default position at the bottom of the screen), as opposed to only being able to resize it vertically so that it is touching the top of the dock's "space".

My work computer is a 21" iMac Core 2 Duo and it drives me crazy because I'll quickly drag-resize a window larger by pulling down and to the right but instead of staying locked vertically above the dock it'll slide behind it which I don't like so then I've gotta jiggle the window around to get it all back into visible space... my home computer (6 core tower) doesn't have this problem even though I've, from what I can tell, set it up nearly identically.

Both machines running the latest version of snow leopard.

Edit: video capture

Wanted to add a video captured from my machine at home showing the window resize behavior I prefer. If it helps at all I can do another one from my work machine tomorrow showing the windows resizing behind the dock. http://s1216.photobucket.com/albums/dd365/Ty_Wangsness/apple-stackexchange/?action=view&current=osx-window-resizing-vs-dock.mp4

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

No application will ever slide “on top” of the Dock. You can resize applications that might cover part of the dock and they will remain below the dock. If you move or hit the “zoom” button, the OS X window manager will automatically resize the window to remove the part that is covered by the dock.

A different behavior can be observed if the dock is set to “Auto-Hide” (cmd+alt+d). Since the Dock is now a “temporary visible” object, windows will cover and use that part, regardless of the Dock’s visibility at the time of the resize.

UPDATE: If the Dock is always visible, are you telling me that you can’t grab any window (in this example a Finder window) and drag it like in the picture? (The red arrow is the mouse pointer that the SSHOT didn’t capture). I was clicking and dragging below the dock.

Drag Behind Dock

UPDATE II: As we started investigating, turns out that the following is true:

If OS X has a secondary display attached and this display’s vertical resolution is higher than the primary display (where the menubar and dock are), then the Dock will let you resize “behind” it. I don’t have enough screen combinations to test exactly when this happens, but it’s clear to me that it only happens when there’s an external display.

Next is a shot of my arrangement. As you can see in the picture, the “gap” between the big wide screen and the vertical one on the right is what I think causes the Dock to behave like this. It appears as if the window manager takes the highest vertical size when determining the bounds. I don’t know if this is a feature or a bug.

alt text

UPDATE III*: Ok, for the sake of testing, I went ahead and modified my Screen’s arrangement (see picture). I exaggerated the placement because I wanted to make sure that there’s no weird offset acting. With the screens arranged like in the picture, my dock will not let me resize below it.

alt text

This possibly solves the “mystery” of why does this happen. I hope you can replicate it and/or find a way to work around the issue. For the record, I rarely run into this because I usually either auto hide the dock or use SizeUp to move/arrange my windows, and it doesn’t let me put windows behind the dock.

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not quite what I'm looking for. I'm aware that applications cannot ever cover the dock, but my work computer allows me to resize an application behind the dock while my home computer does not. I'm interested in knowing what controls this behavior. –  Ty W Sep 20 '10 at 14:21
    
that is correct. On my home machine I cannot do that, on my work machine I can. It drives me mad to no end that it is allowed at work... maybe I'm a little OCD about my window sizes or something but I just don't like the window going beneath the dock :p –  Ty W Sep 20 '10 at 19:50
    
I understand your concern, but I didn’t know there was a way to stop that from happening. Do you use the “3D” dock? –  Martín Marconcini Sep 20 '10 at 23:19
    
Yes, I use the default basic dock on both computers. My home computers have always behaved this way (dual 500 MHz G4 and PowerBook G4 667 MHz from OS X public beta to 10.4ish, dual 2.5 GHz G5 from 10.4ish to 10.5, and my new tower in 10.6)... it's just the iMac at work that lets me resize behind the dock. –  Ty W Sep 21 '10 at 0:17
    
updated question with link to video. –  Ty W Sep 21 '10 at 0:31
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