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Dock indicators are the lights that show up under or next to the app icon on the OSX dock when the associated app is open. With the latest OSX update (Mavericks), the dock indicators have become more difficult to see, at least when the dock is positioned at the bottom of the screen (I haven’t tried other orientations). Personally, I like to see what apps are open. According to some, “opened” and “closed” is an antiquated way to think of applications (due to wondrous resource management by OSX, I guess). To that I say, “Bah!” When got my mojo going, I can have 10 or more apps open at the same time, and my Mac feels it. Closing the ones that I’m not using increases the speed of the old girl, Mavericks or no.

Anyway, I googled around and saw some Dock replacements, but I always hesitate replacing any core component of an OS. Plus I read that with the advent of Mavericks, most or all of these replacement apps don’t work any more (I didn’t verify this).

Solution

The Dock application uses graphics in the /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/Resources folder. I opened the 4 files I thought were associated with the bottom-oriented dock. The were:

  • indicator_small.png
  • indicator_small@2x.png
  • indicator_medium.png
  • indicator_medium@2x.png

Next, I simply fired up The Gimp and filled in the white part of the graphic with black. Saved my changes (after making backups of the original graphics, of course), then restarted the Dock app. Viola!

Dock with Alternate Indicators

Dock with Alternate Indicators

Here’s a zipped copy of the modified graphics I created in case you want to try for yourself: Dock indicators compressed file.

Just copy them to /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/Resources folder, then do a killall Dock from a terminal prompt, wait a few seconds, and you should see the new indicators. DON’T FORGET TO BACK UP YOUR OLD INDICATOR GRAPHICS FIRST!

Caveats

This post concerns itself with the dock located at the bottom of the screen. If your dock orientation is on the side, then the attached graphics won’t work for you. These are the files you will need to change:

  • /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/Resources/indicator_side_medium.png
  • /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/Resources/indicator_side_medium@2x.png
  • /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/Resources/indicator_side_small.png
  • /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/Resources/indicator_side_small@2x.png

Update

Apparently other folks have done this, and have done it better than me. Searching mac dock replacement or mac dock wallpaper results in some interesting pages. However, I don’t think most of the stuff out there currently works with Mavericks. It appears that the file names of the graphics have changed slightly. There may be other issues as well.

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