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Create a Custom Dock for OS X 10.7/10.8

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A common question or need, when setting-up a new Mac for someone would be to make all of the applications, installed, available from the dock. Many people often do not realize an application is installed unless it is in the dock.

Creating a custom dock for all of the users on a Mac is a very simple solution.

The first step is to create a user account, to model the dock we want to implement. Log in as that user and configure the dock as desired. I turn off large-scale magnification, show the indicator lights on the bottom of each application, and use the "Scale" minimize effect over the default "Genie" setting.

Once the dock is as-desired, log off and log in as the root user. The root account must be enabled from the Directory Services applet. OS X disables the root account by default as a security measure. MAKE SURE a long and complex password is given to the root account. Root has complete access to the system and any compromise there could be disastrous.

While logged-in as root, show hidden files for the system by entering the following in the terminal.

sudo defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles YES

(Running the same command with NO in place of YES will hide the files again)

Restart the Finder by option-clicking the Finder icon in the dock, two hidden files will then appear on the desktop.

Go to your user's profile and get into the Library folder, then the Preferences folder.

Copy the com.apple.dock.plist file and paste it into the default user's profile at:

/System/Library/User\ Template/english.lproj/Library/Preferences/

Getting into the default user's profile can only be done from the root user account, which is why we enabled it. One "could" change the permissions on the "User Template" folder, but that is more work than it is worth.

Now, everyone who logs on to the Mac will get the custom dock that was set up before. This will apply to everyone who does not already have a profile on the Mac. Existing users, with profiles, will not have their dock changed.

For good measure, disable the root user account after it is no longer needed. Hackers will try to get in with root before they try any other account. Root exists on all Macs, independent of custom user accounts.
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