For the longest time, I’ve always had the dock hidden at the bottom of my Mac’s screen and as long as I can remember, this is how I’ve always done it. Recently though, I stumbled upon a post written by Jeff Benjamin from iDownloadBlog and a tweet by Christy Core from AppAdvice. He had went over a couple of points as to why having a dock on the left side is better.
Inspired by that post, here are my reasons why having the dock on the left is better than having it at the bottom.
Screen real estate. If you have a reasonable amount of applications in your dock, putting your dock on the side shouldn’t be an issue. On top of that, all Macs are formatted in 16:9 (widescreen). A possible reason as to why Apple had originally docked the dock at the bottom is because older Macs (even some modern PCs) were 4:3. In this aspect ratio, it didn’t matter where your dock was because your screen was a square. With widescreen displays, the dock logically makes more sense on the left or right side of the display.
Web browser with the dock on the left.
Most applications, the biggest being your internet browser, typically display information vertically. Leaving tons of empty horizontal space. Unless you have you have your computer hooked up to a 4:3 display, having the dock on the left/right side simply makes more sense.
In countries that use an alphabet (rather than characters or symbols), we tend to read from left to right. Though I don’t know the technical reason behind it, most people’s eyes begin looking at things from left to right. This could also explain why Apple’s close, minimize, and full screen icons are placed on the top left, alongside all of your app menu bar options. In practice, it’ll save a lot of time. While it’s not a clear cut case, it’s a decent idea.
Cleanliness. This one is tough to explain — I have a lot of friends who don’t modify the dock when they get a new Mac. Meaning, you get the host of 20-odd icons in the dock. Plus, all of the icons of the apps you have open. If you have that sort of friend, the dock gets real messy real fast.
Also, you have more room for docked icons, which means you can put a lot of icons in the dock. I fell under this boat. I had my 5 or 6 apps I used on a daily basis, followed by a handful of other apps I thought I’d use. In the end I ended up with 15 icons in the dock. While, in practice, I only used 8 of the 15.
Moving the dock to the left helped me reduce clutter. If you have more than 12-13 icons in the dock, the dock gets ridiculously small (in terms of a 13″ MacBook Pro).
Web browser with the dock at the bottom.
Personally, I think putting the dock on the left or right side is much better than putting it on the bottom of the screen. If you have the dock hidden, this wouldn’t effect you at all either. A few weeks later after making the transition, having the dock on the left makes sense. Additionally, for me it’s kind of odd looking at Macs that have the dock on the bottom. Not only does it look odd, I find it counter intuitive.
Your dock is supposed to be a “quick launcher” to your most used apps. When you have the dock at the bottom you tend to have more apps than you really use, creating a stock pile of apps that never get opened. Having too little apps in the dock at the bottom is also a waste of space.
If you have the dock viable at the bottom of your screen, I urge you to try the Left Dock Challenge and see for yourself.