Before Big Sur, a hidden Dock (at the bottom of the screen) would be unhidden only if the mouse pointer was moved to the very bottom of the screen — you literally had to slam the mouse into that last row of pixels.

In Big Sur, there’s a wide “activation area”. The Dock unhides when the mouse pointer’s tail has only just disappeared off the bottom of the screen.

I spend a lot of time in JetBrains IDEs, which have a number of important controls in the status bar at the bottom. Working on Big Sur, the constant unwanted activation of the Dock has become a major irritation. My options are to work in a smaller window, giving up some screen real estate (but then why hide the Dock in the first place?) or to work in full screen mode (but I often need other applications open).

There are many lists of hidden Dock preferences available online, so I’m hoping that the width of this activation script might be configurable and not entirely hard-coded.

Edit: Using Apple's "Pixie" app from the "Additional Tools for Xcode" package, I've established that the Dock activates as soon as the point of the mouse cursor is in the bottom 20 rows of pixels.

  • Not a solution but an idea: maybe move Dock to right or left. After all - screen is wider than higher and there should be more room for Dock 'real estate'. – Aivar Paalberg Jan 20 at 8:52
  • @AivarPaalberg That is of course another option, and it might well be a solution for some. Personally, I have so much muscle memory using a bottom Dock, that I’d almost rather learn to live with a bigger activation area. But yes, you’re right to point that out as an option. – wjv Jan 20 at 10:34
  • There are other options which may or may not be suitable: whatever you do with pointer in JetBrains IDE window footer - try to find keyboard shortcuts for said actions. In similar matter - whatever you do in Dock find out keyboard shortcut for these as well. I haven't used Dock for years and I don't miss a thing :-) and doing stuff from keyboard is generally considered more productive than mouse. – Aivar Paalberg Jan 20 at 11:11
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    @AivarPaalberg While I obviously agree with using keyboard shortcuts in an IDE, it’s not a generic solution to this problem. For instance, when touching up some scanned photos in Pixelmator Pro, working in fullscreen (which is preferable when working with photos), I can’t bring use the repair tool at all near the very bottom of the photo. And in this case, we’re no longer in the realm of shortcuts. Yes, I can work in windowed mode instead, but “just don’t use the bottom of your display” is not a very satisfactory solution in the general case. :( – wjv Feb 1 at 11:08
  • I'm having similar problems with horizontal scrollbars in design apps; I'm equally unkeen to switch to side dock as I'll run into the same issue unless I disable the show/hide, and then I lose screen real estate, although admittedly not that much. – Keith Fryer Feb 12 at 15:20

This is not a real answer. I am also frustrated by that behaviour but it seems like the scroll bar on some applications can and to avoid BigSur, has to be interacted with above where the actual scroll bar appears to be (ref grg's comment):

Big Sur has bad (too big) mouse box for reactive dock

Another none answer is to decrease the dock size to the smallest size so that most of the time it's not in the way:

Using a tiny Big Sur dock helps some of the time

** edit **

I've now moved to dock to the left and made the icons bigger again.

  • As you said, not an answer, but still a good point! – wjv Jan 27 at 7:23
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    One could also add that scrollbar issues make a Dock on the right-hand side of the screen almost impossible to use in Big Sur. Not many apps have horizontal scroll bars along the bottom, but a great many do have vertical scroll bars on the right. And whenever such an app is fullscreened, or even just on the right of the screen, using the scrollbar becomes nearly impossible due to Big Sur's large "activation area" if your Dock is on the right. – wjv Apr 6 at 9:08
  • Great point, I hadn't even thought about that. One wonders if Apple testers even tried it out with the dock on the right, if their managers listened or if the product team responded... well actually we know the answer to that question. – AJP Apr 6 at 10:12
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    "above where the actual scroll bar is" This is not what's happening here, you can't click on something your cursor isn't on! The actual cursor click location is a few pixels down from the very top of the cursor arrow, so your cursor is on the scroll bar even though it might not appear so if you're looking precisely at the top of the cursor. – grg Apr 6 at 12:16
  • You are correct @grg . I have clarified that statement. – AJP Apr 8 at 12:03

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