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I am running Mac OS X 10.7.5 and the Dock/Mission Control/Desktop functionality is totally broken. My dock is not present after startup so I have to start all applications from Spotlight. I can't even alt-tab between them as the process that controls that function is also down. My desktop is working but the background is permanently stuck on Gray no matter what I change it to.

killall Dock reports that there are no matching processes that belong to me. I have removed the plist and db files for Dock and Desktop (com.apple.{whatever}.plist) in the Preferences folder and rebooted multiple times (both Safe Mode and regular) and nothing will change. Does anyone know what might be wrong? Looking for a solution short of a full reinstall.

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I had a similar issue, and running killall -KILL Dock in terminal worked for me.

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Luckily the computer was on 10.7 Lion so I had room to upgrade to 10.8 Mountain Lion which overwrote the corrupted Dock/Expose applications in the upgrade process. My advice to anyone with a similar problem would be to upgrade OS X if possible or reinstall the current operating system if not (no need to delete user data).

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