Tutorial: Make an Application “Invisible”

matutorial.jpegEver loved an application, but wished it never appeared in the dock, like spotlight? It’s always there, but has no dock item. I’ve wanted such functionality a surprising number of times, particularly with application launchers such as LaunchBar and Quicksilver.

They’re great, but I never use their dock icon; I use their keyboard shortcut instead. So, why have them sitting there taking up space in your dock? There is a relatively simple hack that fixes it, so that when launched, the application still runs but does not appear in the dock (or when command – tabbing).

All it requires is a simple addition to the application’s “info.plist”. For those who don’t know, a .plist file (short for preferences list) is a small xml file that you can find all over OS X. Each application contains at least one called “info.plist” that, among other things, tells the OS how to deal with the application. To find this file right (or control) click the application and select “Show package contents.”


This may come as a surprise to some of you but an OS X .app is actually a folder that contains most of the files that the app needs to run. We’ll leave the intricacies for another article. Anyway, Finder will open a new window and there will be a single folder displayed: “Contents”. Open this and you will be presented with a few files and folders. One of these will be called “Info.plist”. That is the one we’re after.

After backing this up, right (control) click on this and open with text edit. What you will see is a small xml file, don’t panic if you haven’t played with xml before we’re not going to do anything drastic. The file will have a central column of data enclosed after a “<dict>” tag and before a “</dict>” tag (this is quite obvious to see). Now at the end of the column add 2 lines (remember before the “</dict>” tag):

(without the quotes).



They don’t have to line up with the others, but it will certainly make reading much simpler. Now, save this as it was (remember to back up the original as a different file name in case you make a mistake). Next time you launch the application it will not appear in the dock.

N.B. – to quit the application you may have to manually quit its process in the activity monitor, but this depends on the application.


19 Responses to “Tutorial: Make an Application “Invisible””

  1. Kha on October 26th, 2007 5:10 am

    Excellent post.

    There is a relatively easier method to do this same method through a program called “Dockless”. It has been a real help for me.

    This is the link for the program

  2. Rich on October 26th, 2007 5:11 am

    It is worth checking an application’s preferences before doing this – Quicksilver for instance already contains the option not to display the Dock icon, as do many other apps.

  3. Pete on October 26th, 2007 5:47 am

    Great! Quick question — is there an easy way to hide an app? I use CMD+H all the time, but would ideally prefer a button (like minimise, which I don’t use at all) to perform this function.

  4. Margus on October 26th, 2007 7:01 am

    This thing is not working for MenuShade :(

  5. Ilja on October 26th, 2007 8:46 am

    On a pedantic technical note, there are a couple of empty quotes in the article because the tags mentioned are not displayed but treated by browsers as real markup. You should replace the angles (the “less than” and “greater than” signs) with HTML entities on publishing. The PHP function “htmlspecialchars()” does that. :)

  6. Miles Evans on October 26th, 2007 11:06 am

    @Ilja: Fixed…Thanks totally missed that!

  7. Daniel Greg on October 26th, 2007 1:36 pm

    Hey guys,
    @Margus – Sometimes it doesnt work at first. Restart and you should notice the difference.
    @Pete – Other than the menu item (application > Hide) and the keyboard shortcut I dont know of any other methods.
    @Ilja – sorry about that!

  8. Sean C on October 27th, 2007 12:49 am

    That is the hard way to do it! Just use this little app:


  9. Daniel Greg on October 27th, 2007 4:04 am

    It certainly is the long way round. But some people like to get their hands dirty.
    You can also see some other cool little things in the plist and play around.

  10. pro on September 11th, 2009 7:33 am

    nice post and i would like to tell u thet dockless just hides thr app from the dock but it will still appear on the today in your finder. But this is a better way tq man

  11. bhartijoshi on September 14th, 2010 5:29 pm

    can you please suggest me what to do with the windows apps. I mean if i want to make windows app dockless or invisible then what should i do?

    waiting for your reply

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