Sometimes the Dock will keep an icon app in the Dock, even though I haven't set it as such, even though I've previously de-kept it in Dock after the first time it kept it 'for me'.

Is there a way to turn this off it's a bit annoying?

  • Are the affected apps random or consistent? Meaning are they the same apps or does it happen to nearly all the apps.
    – John
    Jul 16, 2011 at 20:22
  • I think the issue is apps that you previously dismissed from the dock seem to automatically stay if you keep them open longer than, say, a day. I would like to know how to disable this feature as well
    – buster
    Jul 26, 2017 at 15:50

2 Answers 2


Usually apps don't place themselves in the dock without your consent or knowledge. There are a couple ways to put them there though. Perhaps you may not realize it, but it may be one of these reasons:

  1. The App Store will place an app in the Dock upon installation. Note: Lion will not do this though; it simply places it in Launchpad.
  2. The App Store will place an app in the Dock upon updating an app. Note: Updating an non-docked app individually via the updates tab is when it gets re-placed in the dock. However using the 'Update All' button at the top of the page will not do any such thing. Again, this is changed in Lion.
  3. If you run an app that is not kept in the dock and drag it to another position anywhere on the dock, it will stay in the dock
  4. Drag an app into the dock from Finder
  5. Right click an app in the dock an under options select 'Keep in Dock'
  • 1
    Also, if the dock icon goes away after quitting the app but comes back after a fresh login, then the “Open at Login” option (also ‘in’ the dock icon with “Keep in Dock”) could be the problem. One more: a locked (or read only?) ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.dock.plist can cause Dock settings to revert at each login (see AD 17223). Jul 20, 2011 at 4:07
  • @Chris those are great suggestions. I think they deserve to be presented as an alternate answer.
    – John
    Jul 20, 2011 at 5:39
  • It very well might be the moving of icon around the dock, never connected those to actions together. Thx!
    – Vukašin
    Jul 20, 2011 at 13:27
  • Quite often I mis-time my click, do it while the cursor is still moving, and end up dragging the icon for a fraction of a second. Result: icon kept in dock, even though I've not asked for that and haven't even rearranged the icons. (I only figured this out today, but I must have been doing it for years without realising this was the cause of the odd icon mysteriously sticking to the dock. Perhaps this hint will help somebody else.)
    – Tom Seddon
    May 9, 2013 at 16:02
  • 5
    #3 was a huge surprise to me and finally answered this annoying mystery! Thanks Randy. I would next like to know if one can disable this behavior: I would really like to be able to rearrange my icons for the task-at-hand without having all of those apps preserved forever in the dock. Mar 13, 2016 at 0:15

go to "system preferences", then choose "Dock" and uncheck the "show recent applications in dock" radio button.

  • Why and when did Apple change this to default? It was not default before Mojave right?
    – Sajjon
    Mar 7, 2019 at 17:33
  • 11
    should be marked as correct answer. this is probably the main reason at most cases Apr 21, 2019 at 12:20
  • @BenYitzhaki it's not what he asked for, this is completely unrelated. Apr 27, 2020 at 10:21
  • 4
    I disagree – I was getting frustrated at why QuickTime kept reappearing in my dock. I googled, came to this question, felt the question captured my exact problem... and this answer, not the accepted one, was what fixed it for me.
    – asinoladro
    Mar 2, 2021 at 18:16
  • 1
    This is what I was looking for
    – Rohit
    Jul 7, 2021 at 13:26

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