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I'm looking to either find a better method (visually) to show running applications on my Macbook Pro. The easiest method would be to increase the size (or make more prominent) of the running program indicator(s) that are present on OS X dock:

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Alternatively I would be open to some other method that provides the same "at a glance" feedback as to what is running without having to manually launch a process.

I have looked at a lot of Apple related blogs and Google'd around to no avail. I could obviously increase my stock resolution of 1920 x 1200 to something larger but overall I am very happy with this resolution so I would prefer an alternate method. I also really have no desire to hook up to a larger monitor.

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I have found the free utility MacUtil located here: russellsayshi.com/MacUtil/home that will allow you to customize the running application indicator color in the dock. I'm still looking for something more obvious but it's noteworthy. –  Mort May 22 '13 at 19:28
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5 Answers

Are you familiar with things like command-tab or Mission Control (F3/gesture/dock icon), which has been designed with exactly what you want in mind?

Alternatively, what you could do is simply "unpin"/remove all of your Applications' icons from the Dock. Then an icon will only appear there for currently running applications.

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I am indeed, however, as per my question both of these options do not provide "at a glance feedback" of what is running without my manually having to initiate either command. With the dock I can just look at it and know (for the most part) what is actively running. –  Mort Jun 30 '12 at 18:22
    
@Mort: I'm pretty sure that Mission control has been marketed as allowing you to view your stuff "at a glance", but no matter. How about unpinning all of your Applications from the Dock then? –  houbysoft Jun 30 '12 at 18:27
    
I agree with mission control statement but secondary part of question is still applicable about not having to manually initiate an action to see running applications. –  Mort Jun 30 '12 at 18:56
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The easiest method for foreground applications is to press -TAB. It requires interaction, but it is visual and it doesn't take reworking Apple's interface.

Another approach is to simply enlarge the size of the dock.

System Preferences -> Dock -> Size

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Good approach but I have already maxed out the size of my dock given my current screen resolution. –  Mort Jun 30 '12 at 18:23
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The easiest way to do this (in my mind) is to not have any applications permanently stored in your Dock. In other words, the only applications down there are running ones. (This is what I do, and it works great; I can at-a-glance see what's running without having to use cmd-tab).

That being said, OS X is moving in the direction of "you shouldn't have to care". Things like Sudden Termination and User Interface preservation are aiming to make it so that a process can disappear silently in the background, but quickly come back when you need it.

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TinkerTool (free)

You can use TinkerTool to disable the 3D Dock effekt while the Dock is at the bottom (just like when the dock is on the left/right side).

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CandyBar (free trial)

You can also use Candybar to customize the look of the dock.

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DragThing

I use a commercial program called DragThing, which has been around since the early days of Mac OS X and is still in development. Among its many other features, it includes a floating palette in the upper corner of your screen that shows just the programs that are currently running and also lets you click on an icon to bring that program to the forefront. This is in fact an emulation of a feature in the user interface from Apple's Mac OS 9, if you go back far enough to remember that.

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