This trick is too easy and I’ve been using it for years. Windows PC owners switch to the Mac in numbers far greater than the opposite direction, and for good reason. For the most part, Windows, despite the joys of point and click, remains more complicated to navigate and vexing to use. While the Mac’s Dock and Finder remain mostly unchanged since the turn of the century, Windows PC users might appreciate a familiar option, and Mac users could utilize another way to navigate anywhere with a single click.
From the Mac’s Finder, single-click to select the Mac’s disk drive (usually named Macintosh HD). In the Finder’s column mode, that will display Applications, Library, System, and Users folders. Drag and drop the Applications folder to the right side of the Mac’s Dock. Click the new Applications Dock icon and you will see a pop up of every Mac app in the folder.
Yes, it’s that easy. One click to the folder in the Dock reveals all the apps on your Mac.
Now, go back to the Applications folder in the Finder, select it, navigate down to the Utilities folder. Drag and drop it to a spot on the right side of the Dock. Voila! Another one-click option to reveal all the apps in the Utilities folder. I do the same with Documents, Downloads, Desktop, and my Home folder. All take up a little space in the right side of the Dock, but make it easy to find applications, files, and folders with a single click.
Yes. This method works well but also displays every application in the Applications folder, and perhaps that’s too many and you want a folder for just the most frequently used, or specialty applications. Getting that done is a bit more complicated and requires the use of Aliases, which are shortcuts to open an app, file, or folder.
First, create a folder (it’s easier to create a folder within the Applications folder itself, but anywhere else works as well). Then, select the apps you want to display in a Dock pop up window and create an Alias for each. Select the app. Right-click or Control-click to bring up the contextual menu. Select Make Alias. Drag the alias into the newly created folder. Repeat that for other apps you want in the folder. When done, give the folder a memorable name, then drag and drop to the right side of the Dock. Voial! again. Click on the folder and all the app aliases pop up accordingly.
I prefer to sort my folders in the Dock by Name and set it as a Grid. That makes it easier to navigate. To make the adjustment, right-click on the Dock’s folder icon and select from the pop up menu.
What you get is a highly customized, very personal navigation option that works as well as the Dock but takes up less screen real estate. To make it work more like a Windows Start menu, simply rename the folder with all the applications– either customized with aliases, or the whole Applications folder– as ‘Start.’