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I like to have many programs running and move around things as needed, but I hate keeping anything permanently in the Dock. As of now, I have to manually uncheck Keep in Dock every time I move an app icon and it's really annoying. I don't want to do that anymore. How do I disable that feature?

This has nothing to with "Most recent apps" as that's already turned off.

Also, this question has been asked before, but everything I've found is 3+ years old and no one has an actual solution. I'm really, really hoping that in the few years since then Apple added some basic customization.

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This is the expected behaviour and has remained the same since the days of Mac OS X 10.10. There is no way to prevent it from happening.

It still stands true, as of this writing, with the current latest version being macOS Mojave 10.14.5.

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  • "There is no way to prevent it from happening." That's very annoying and sad. No offense, but I really hope you're wrong :P If no one else knows of a way to disable it though, I'll mark yours as the best answer. – Random User May 23 '19 at 20:00
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    @RandomUser I'd gladly accept to be proven wrong :). Also, Cunningham's Law: the best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question; it's to post the wrong answer – Nimesh Neema May 23 '19 at 20:05
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Intrepid users could run a background script that watches com.apple.dock.plist for changes, then removes apps that have been added to the persistent-apps key when it finds them.

You could, for example, use entr and the built-in macOS tools to accomplish this:

echo ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.dock.plist |\
  entr -s 'defaults delete com.apple.dock persistent-apps && killall Dock'

Or even more simply, add defaults delete com.apple.dock persistent-apps && killall Dock to your user's crontab.

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  • can I get some feedback for the downvote? as far as I know this answer presents the only possible way to change this behavior... – Beau Sep 22 '20 at 2:12
  • @user3439894 thank you for the constructive feedback; I'll add an example :) – Beau Sep 28 '20 at 21:58
  • Seeing as how the alternate option is "you can't do it", I think this answer is perfectly acceptable. A complete coded solution would be much better of course, but it's a lot to ask for! – Wowfunhappy Sep 29 '20 at 1:07
  • It may be worth noting that (unless I'm missing something) this will prevent you from setting Keep In Dock on any app, even manually. – Wowfunhappy Sep 29 '20 at 1:12
  • entr is not a default macOS utility entr: command not found. Wholesale deleting of persistent-apps from com.apple.dock.plist and killall Dock is destructive in two ways. It removes every app except Finder from the left side of the Dock, not good, and is visually disruptive and un-minimizes all minimized windows. This is not a good solution! The proper solution is to use launchd to watch com.apple.dock.plist for changes and then remove only from persistent-apps that which aren't in the keep list and updates the preferences without killing the Dock. – user3439894 Sep 29 '20 at 9:17

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