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add recent apps to the Dock

The versatility of Mac computers and their operating systems is beyond question. There are many systems that we can use to customize our computer to our preferences. Today we’ll see how to add a folder with recently opened apps to the Dock of our Mac for easy and convenient access.

Some time ago, with versions prior to Catalina macOS, there was a way to add recent apps to the Dock on the Internet. With Catalina this system stopped working, but, thanks to the versatility of macOS, we can still get the same result in a different way .

add recent apps to the Dock
add recent apps to the Dock

The steps, conceptually, are as follows: first we’ll create a smart folder showing the apps we’ve recently opened, then we’ll add this folder to the Dock and in a third step we’ll configure this folder according to some options we have available. Here we go:

  1. We opened the Finder app.
  2. Enter the Applications folder or press Command (?) + Shift (?) + A.
  3. We use the search engine on the top right to look for something, for now we will write only one letter.
  4. Touch “Applications” to the right of Search: so that the search is only in this folder.
  5. Press the “+” to the right of Save.
  6. We play in class and choose the last opening date.
  7. We played in the last few and chose today.
  8. In the search box we delete the letter we would have written and leave it empty.
  9. We press Save.
  10. We write a name, for example recent apps.
  11. We press Save.

Good. So far we’ve created the smart folder that shows all the apps we’ve opened throughout “today”. If we want we can also choose this week in step 7, although depending on how we use it we might end up with too many apps in the folder. In step 8 it’s important that we manually delete the contents of the search without touching the little “x” on the right.

After step 11 we’ll see that it has automatically appeared in the sidebar of the Finder our folder. What we’ll do now is add this folder to our Dock . It’s very simple, just drag the folder into the Dock.

When dragging it, it is important that we do so in the rightmost section of the Dock. That is, to the left of the dock and to the right of the last vertical division. The recommended place is just to the left of the folder .

Once we have the smart folder in our Dock, there are several options with which we can set its appearance . You can access all of them by right clicking on the folder in the Dock. Let’s see what options we’re offered:

  • Sort by: offers us a choice between Name, Date of modification, Date of creation or Last opening. In general Last opened will be the most useful option.
  • Show as: we can choose between Folder or Stack. If we choose Stack we’ll see the different apps appear in order, if we choose Folder we’ll see a file icon.
  • See content such as: where we find Fan, Grid, List or Automatic. The automatic option adjusts between the three previous ones depending on the amount of items inside the folder. Fan, grid or list present the information differently and it is already a matter of personal taste. Remember that the Fan option will show us, independently of the amount of elements, a maximum of 10 elements.

Once we’ve chosen our preferences, the folder is ready to allow us quick access to recent apps. It’s worth noting that the folder still appears in the Finder sidebar. You can leave it there if you want, and if you want to remove it just drag it out of the sidebar , wait for a small “x” to appear next to its name and release. The Dock folder will still be in place.

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And just like that. Thanks to smart searches we can easily access our recent apps from the Dock. And when do we upgrade beyond Catalina? We can venture to say that smart searches will be with us for a long time to come. Hopefully, this system will work for several years to come.

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