By default MacOS has Show recent applications in Dock enabled. But the Dock only shows the three most recent applications. How can I make the Dock show more than three?

Dock showing the three most recently executed applications

Note: I know that if you have more than three applications open it shows all of them. I am interested in showing more than three even if they are not currently running.

Also note: I am not talking about the setting System Preferences > General > drop down box for Recent items, which is 10 by default and has little to do with the Dock (so this question is not a duplicate of How to increase the number of applications shown in the Recent Applications stack on the Dock)

Bonus: ideally I would like to configure this from the command line rather than the GUI.

  • 1
    No, Show recent applications has a specific meaning in Preferences, and that is what I want. I don't want to have to click on something to expand the recent applications, I want them immediately visible. Jan 16, 2021 at 9:56

2 Answers 2


I was looking for this myself. It took some digging and experimenting, but I figured it out.

You need to add two keys to your com.apple.dock.plist: show-recents and show-recent-count. Adding show-recent-count alone won't work, even if it's enabled in preferences.

defaults write com.apple.dock show-recents -bool true;
defaults write com.apple.dock show-recent-count -int 10;
killall Dock

And the results:



  • 1
    I liked the vertical line that shows up when you have "Show recent applications in Dock" enabled, but I didn't actually want the icons sticking around after closing. I thought it would be cool to try show-recent-count -int 0, but it turns out that means "unlimited" and not actually 0. Oh well, thanks for sharing this!
    – Alexander
    Jul 30, 2022 at 4:25
  • @Alexander that's why I did this as well, and it works for me. show-recent-count -int 0 appears not to be showing any recent apps, and I still get the nice vertical bar. I'm on Monterey 12.6.
    – Myridium
    Sep 18, 2022 at 21:10
  • Never mind, I don't know exactly what setting the count to 0 does. Whatever integer I set, the behaviour is inconsistent and buggy.
    – Myridium
    Sep 18, 2022 at 21:24

No need to buy a 3rd party app. You can do ist easily yourself in Finder:

Steps 1 and 2 to here, make a Search. Don´t forget to mark "this Mac": enter image description here

Step 3 save the Search: enter image description here

Look at this Result enter image description here

Step 4.1 A few Explanations. Right clicking the new item in the sidebar leads to the containing folder! enter image description here

This is the file which represents the search. enter image description here

And is finally your new search sitting in the dock: enter image description here

Settings in the Dock:

enter image description here

  • This is an excellent sequence of tips. I’ll use this since I don’t have a lot of dock space but love Smart Folders.
    – bmike
    Dec 24, 2021 at 17:58
  • The problem is Dock does update the content intermittent. Sometimes I have to kill Dock to get the latest apps.
    – Atalantia
    Sep 13, 2023 at 14:51

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