Random Thoughts – Randocity!

How to stop Mac dock icon bouncing

Posted in Apple, botch, computers by commorancy on September 28, 2015

AppleWhen an application starts up in MacOS X Yosemite, it bounces the application dock icon a few times, then stops bouncing once the application has started. For me, this is perfectly fine because at least there’s a positive response. Positive response is never a bad thing in operating system design.

Unfortunately, Apple decided to overloaded this same bouncing behavior for notifications to get your attention by bouncing a dock icon. For me, this is definitely not wanted. Not only is it extremely annoying, it never stops until you go touch that icon. It also performs this bouncing way too frequently. There are much better ways to get user attention than by bouncing the dock icon. Thankfully, there’s a way to stop this annoying and unwanted UI behavior. Let’s explore.

Defaults Database

Apple has what’s known as the user defaults database. It is a database of settings not unlike the old UNIX .files system, but much more extended. Unfortunately, most developers don’t document which settings can go into the defaults database and many of the settings may be hidden. However, you can easily find them by reading the values by opening terminal.app and then typing:

$ defaults read com.apple.dock | more

This command will spew out a lot of stuff, so you’ll want to pipe it to more to page through it. Each app has its own namespace similar in format to com.apple.dock that you can review. Not all apps support changing settings this way. For other apps, simply replace com.apple.dock with the appropriate application namespace and you can read up the settings for that application. If you decide to change any of the values, you may have to kill and restart the application or log out and log back in.

In short, there is a way to stop the bouncing using the defaults command. To do this, you will need to update the defaults database for com.apple.dock with the correct setting to stop it.

Stop the Bouncing
BounceIconTo stop the bouncing of dock icons, open a terminal shell and at a command prompt, type the following:

$ defaults write com.apple.dock no-bouncing -bool TRUE
$ killall Dock

Keep in mind that this is a global setting. This stops the dock icon bouncing for every application on your system for all notifications. The launch icon bouncing is not controlled by this setting. For that, you should visit the preferences area.

You can always reenable the bouncing at any time by opening terminal and then typing:

$ defaults write com.apple.dock no-bouncing -bool FALSE
$ killall Dock

Note that the defaults database is stored locally in each user account. So, if you log into several different accounts on your Mac, you’ll need to do this for each of your accounts.

Please leave me a comment below if this doesn’t work for you.

4 Responses

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  1. hazel said, on May 21, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    what’s a terminal shell?


    • commorancy said, on May 22, 2019 at 1:33 pm

      Hi Hazel,

      A terminal shell is a command line interface. Instead of running visual apps to do things, you type in commands. The Terminal.app is the app that opens a window for a command shell. The shell itself is what allows you to enter commands. Why it’s called a ‘shell’ goes back to old days. Suffice it to say, think of a shell like a sea shell. It’s a container that holds something. In this case, it’s a container that holds commands.


  2. j said, on February 3, 2018 at 7:00 am

    thing is… bouncing is sometimes useful… it’s just the unruly apps that need control… so how to do that would be an improvement


    • commorancy said, on February 3, 2018 at 9:55 am

      Hi J,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Bouncing is not something I particularly like nor do I like apps that steal focus away from what I’m doing. If I’m in the middle of typing a Word doc, the last thing I want is to be interrupted by bouncing, a notification or a screen yank (a yank is when not only the focus is taken, but OSX pulls the screen horizontally to a completely new desktop). The unruly app is Finder. It needs much more fine grained control over stealing focus and, more specifically, allowing apps to steal focus. Apple needs to find other more subtle ways to get my attention rather than stealing my keyboard input away and pulling my focus to a panel that’s not very important. Most interruptions are entirely unnecessary and not that critical at that moment. Just because the Java developers decide today is the day to upgrade Java doesn’t make it important to me at that moment in time.

      Bouncing is only a small part of the much bigger stealing focus problem that Apple needs to solve.


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