Some time ago I replaced the dock on my MacBook Pro with a picnic theme. Surprisingly, with all the wisdom I have at my disposal to provide clients, one of the most common questions I get these days is how they can have a picnic dock too. So I’m breaking down and documenting this little treat in what is surely to be one of the more frivolous tips in our collection.
I promised a link to the popular picnic themed dock, so I’ll start with that. To easily apply this (or about 150 other themes found on the Dockulicious website) download a theme (.zip file) and apply it to your Mac using their free dock replacement utility:
Note: If you are using Safari, turn off the “Open Safe files” checkbox in Safari’s preferences so your Mac doesn’t decompress those zip files after they are downloaded.
Now that we have that picnic theme out of the way, here are some more details and resources for ambitious designers who may want to create their own custom dock themes.
Changing and customizing the dock in Mac OS X Leopard is surprisingly easy — although it involves digging around in folders we typically recommend our clients stay out of. Proceed at your own risk.
The Leopard dock appearance is controlled by a small collection of PNG files tucked away in the System directory. To get at them, use the following steps:
1. Navigate to
2. Control-click on Dock and choose Show Package Contents in the pop-up menu.
3. In the resulting window, navigate to
4. Find the 4 “scurve” PNG files in this folder.
There are 4 primary dock image files. There are several sizes to handle different scale docks. Copy these to your desktop or new folder, and open them up in Photoshop:
There are other PNG files you can modify as well, including three indicator icons for showing which applications are active:
One PNG file for modifying the separator graphic:
And as a bonus, you can also modify the icon for your trash — empty and full:
5. Replace the original PNG files with your modified versions.
Make sure you’ve backed up copies of all Leopard’s original dock files before you start doing this. This is also the step where you can cause yourself some grief if you make a mistake.
You’ll need to first DELETE the appropriate PNG files you want to replace in the ‘Resources’ folder (you’ll need to provide your Admin passwrod). Then copy your newly modified PNG files into this folder. The names must be identical to the files you are replacing.
6. Restart the Dock using Terminal.
Open the Terminal utility, and type “killall Dock” (without quotes) and hit enter.
7. Repeat and test until you are happy with the results.
It takes some experimenting and experience to get a sense of what looks good for a replacement dock. Expect to be playing around for a while.
To continue your dock-modifying adventure, here are some additional resources:
Dock Theme Collections:
Dock Modification Tutorials:
Source: This tip partially inspired by a fabulous Seattle weekend, just perfect for a family picnic at Green Lake Park. A nice summer preview before the rain starts again.