FEBRUARY 25, 2003
Killing the Undead
About a year ago, I wrote up a little how-to entitled "Ding Dong, the Dock is Dead," in which I showed several measures you could take to make OS X (then at version 10.1) look and act more like the "Classic" Mac OS 9. OS X certainly has evolved since then, and, as I've gotten more comfortable with how things work, I've abandoned some of the little apps that made OS X a tad more Classic-esque.
However, one holdover has been my continuing desire to kill the Dock completely in favor of the combination of DragThing's process menu and Keyboard Maestro's program switcher, but after the release of Jaguar, I haven't been able to permanently kill the Dock without things going all haywire. Until now.The problem
Apple O-so-kindly decided to force the issue of what amounts to mandatory Dock usage when they introduced Jaguar last summer, which was pretty much the only nit I had with Apple's otherwise way-cool OS upgrade. There were a couple of problems that forced me into using the Dock, despite my desire to ... well ... not. The first is that OS X stopped letting other programs intercept the Command-Tab key combination, meaning that you either had to just deal with the Dock as your program switcher or somehow go against years of mindless rat-in-a-maze training and try to get used to another key combination (such as Option-Tab). As I used to say ceaselessly in junior high, that was a pretty sucky thing Apple did there. I tend to think of myself as relatively adaptable to new ways of doing things, but for some reason, I just couldn't get used to using anything other than Command-Tab, so the Dock became my program switcher by default.
Problem 2 arose when I tried my usual method of Dockicide, which was using the Terminal and root access to rename Dock.app to something else, and then placing DragThing into the Login Items Preference Pane to replace the functionality the Dock used to provide. Well, Jaguar's Dock doesn't take too kindly to that approach. Apparently, Apple decided to make a usable Desktop a function of the Dock rather than the Finder in 10.2, meaning that if there's no Dock, then there's no way to interact with the Desktop either. Having no Desktop wasn't really an option, so I gave in and resigned myself to the fact that Apple had won this round and that the Dock was going to be a part of my Jaguar experience, like it or not.
There wasn't a real "Eureka" moment in finding a way around using Jaguar's Dock, just a couple behavioral observations over the course of a few months led me to give my old Dock killing hobby another shot, which I really owe to messing around with Unsanity's free Haxie, ClearDock. When you apply a setting in ClearDock, it has to restart the Dock in order to have the changes take effect. After watching that process about 200 times, I made the connection that the Desktop remained active while the Dock wasn't. Hmm...that sure started the ball rolling.
Well then, I said to myself, I can just write me a little AppleScript I can run to force quit the Dock. After all, the Dock is a just another program, so I figured firing up the Script Editor and typing in the following would cure all my woes:
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