Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Replace the Dock to eliminate command-tab shortcut Desktop
Some of you may be disapointed that the default application switching keyboard shorcut (command-tab / command-shift-tab) can't be edited somewhere. This really disturbs me because I use this shorcut A LOT in all my graphics applications, and as I'm used to changing tools with command-tab, each time I want to change a tool, I forget, and then switch to another running application :-[.

The solution is more than simple - just replace the dock. Read the rest of the article if you'd like the instructions.

[Editor's note: This is very similar to the concept of replacing the Finder with another application, which has been discussed here before. But the actual replacement of the Dock has not. I would also add that this is a very draconian solution to the command-tab switching question, and you should heed the advice to keep a backup copy of the Dock if you intend to do this. Hopefully Apple will add the ability to customize the command-tab key combo to a future OS X release.]

you need to log as root and then make a copy of your dock and then replace it with your favorite launcher. I use Dragthing. Rename Dragthing as and put it where the dock belongs (/System/Library/CoresServices). Check the privileges before you log out! When you log in again, the Dock will launch but it will be DragThing in my example. The result is no more 'command-tab' shorcut! :)

Some may be disapointed to lose their Customised Dock. But I use DragThing more because of multiple layers, so losing the Dock isn't too hard for me. I have what I want - erase the default shortcut.

NB1: Some may say, I just had to use KeyboardMaestro or Quickeys - they can add some switching shortcuts, BUT they don't erase/replace the apple switching default shortcut.

Now, if someone could find where the 'command-tab' is hidding in the 'real' ! please let us know! Then I can put the original Dock back in its place. Because finally I kinda like it :)
  • Currently 2.25 / 5
  You rated: 3 / 5 (4 votes cast)

Replace the Dock to eliminate command-tab shortcut | 15 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'Replace the Dock to eliminate command-tab shortcut' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Problem with replacing dock
Authored by: monkeyangst on Jan 17, '02 11:40:27AM

I have tried in the past to replace the dock with DragThing (which does everything I need but minimization). However, what I've found is that the machine hangs at a blue screen when I try to log out. Has anyone else had this problem, and do you know of a way around it? It seems like the Finder is trying to tell the Dock something, and it may just be a preference or something that can be added to DragThing. Any ideas?

[ Reply to This | # ]
Problem with replacing dock
Authored by: oem on Jan 18, '02 01:49:23PM


yes you're right !
I didn't noticed because I don't restart a lot with my G4.
So I will accept this when I need hard working on graphic stuff (Using classic).
And when I can 'rest' a little, I'll put back the real Dock, so resart will work fine. Actually when I have to boot in Os9 that I love…I miss so much Os X, that I just think about one thing : reboot as soon as possible.
Now if someone find a way to insert something in Dragthing, then it will be beautifull.
Unless Apple finally provide a way to change this shortcut…?
I have also found an Apple page about those defaults shortcut…
but this didn't helped me to change the command-tab. I'm not a programmer at all :(

[ Reply to This | # ]
Problem with replacing dock
Authored by: olwylee on Jan 18, '02 04:19:17PM

I would like to take this discussion a step further. I am using dragthing and it seems like every second logout or restart the dock sends back a -50 error, other times I get a messege telling me a file needs to be fixed, this morning was the worst, I have a brand new iMac 700 snow. 9 and x are on seperate partitions. when I started this morning it took almost five minutes before I was at full screen. I tried a restart and the -50 error came up again for dragthing, I ran first aid, zapped the pram, dumped prefs, ect, I got it to start up the way it should but on the next restart everything went screwy again. it seems that dragthing is the culprit but I have done all I know to fix it. Any help would be

[ Reply to This | # ]
use CLI
Authored by: garroth on Jan 17, '02 02:05:07PM

One problem some people may run into in attempting this solution, is that you can't replace the dock while it is running(at least I can't). And the Dock restarts automatically when killed via Process Viewer or the terminal. There are many scripts out there that will kill the dock, but I think it's easier to enter ">console" at your login screen (without the quotes), login as root, and use the command line interface without the dock ever starting up.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: balthisar on Jan 17, '02 03:42:38PM

I can't wait to try this! Getting rid of that damn dock will be the best part of OS X -- actually, it's pretty nice but for not staking out it's own screen space. If it were static, immobile, and not part of the user screen space (i.e., Apps COULDN'T cover or go below it), I'd keep it!

Looks like I'll see how well I like drag-thingie.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: kerim on Jan 17, '02 07:23:03PM

I recently discovered LaunchBar which is a wonderful enhancement utility. It is actually an application, so it doesn't require hacking or patching anything. It remembers your favorite shortcuts for applications and will launch them with simply the stroke of a key. For instance, if I hit command-tab (which is what I've set to the keystroke to access LaunchBar) it will pop up its menu, then if I hit "E" it will launch Entourage, or "F" will lauch the finder. This is much better than having to scroll through all the applications to find the one you want. It also does e-mail addresses, URLs, and files . . . It also adds a much needed "hide other apps" command key.

LaunchBar can be found here:

[ Reply to This | # ]
Keyboard Maestro
Authored by: jda on Jan 19, '02 02:29:04PM
I raised this issue on an Illustrator forum and someone mentioned Keyboard Maestro as a way of getting round the Command-Tab thing, though I've yet to try it myself. I wish Apple would stop hijacking shortcuts used by third parties, or at least make them easily customisable (most graphics people are unaware of how to turn off Command-Tab on OS8/9).

[ Reply to This | # ]
Lose Force Quit?
Authored by: smeger on Jan 22, '02 01:53:56AM

I haven't screwed around with changing, but I seem to recall that when I played with it a few months ago, I lost the ability to cmd-ctrl-escape force-quit. Is this still true?

[ Reply to This | # ]
Hickory Dickory.
Authored by: AHunter3 on Jan 24, '02 10:20:49PM

My method of replacing the Dock: move it from Core Services to some custom-created folder elsewhere and reboot. The OS doesn't care if it has a Dock or not, it just insists on using it if it can find it.

OK, I suppose you want to be able to launch applications and switch between open apps...surely you know of third-party utilities that will do that, right? (If not, I recommend X-Assist, but your taste and mileage may vary). Trash can on Desktop? Boot in a classic version of MacOS X; make the file MacOSXBootVol:Users:Yourname:.Trash, which is an invisible file), visible with your favorite invisible-file management utility (I still use DeskZap, thank you Bruce Tomlin circa 1991); make an alias to it. Put the alias in the MacOSXBootVol:Users:Yourname:Desktop folder. Set the .Trash file back to invisible.

[ Reply to This | # ]
I don't get it
Authored by: karbonkid on Feb 03, '02 10:01:18AM

I have been using cmd-tab in Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. They both do the same thing. So I don't understand why the Mac OS 9 command-tab is different than the Mac OS X command-tab.

cmd-tab switches applications and it always has

[ Reply to This | # ]
you don't get it cause you don't read ;-)
Authored by: oem on Feb 04, '02 01:35:28PM
cmd-tab switches applications and it always has
Yeah I do know this ! But I do know that in Os 9 (& Os 8,5…) you could change that command-tab with ctrl-tab. because all adobe apps and xpress uses also the command-tab !! ;-) there was 'prestissimo' to do that and in Os 9 a built-in applescript that can be found with the help center typing 'Application Switcher'. I believe I'm not the only one to use command-tab to switch tools…but who knows?

I now use ai10 and Psß7. Xpress is going to go to hell to see if I'm here.
STILL NOT running in Os X !! they really take us for stupid fools.
beside transprency features of indesign, layers, and much more will suit me I know it !
So I will try to change the shorcut in those apps and let command-tab to the dock/finder. :(
until apple provides an alternative…?

[ Reply to This | # ]
I don't get it
Authored by: Silverback on Mar 07, '02 05:03:18AM

Command-tab also switches between tools in certain applications if you have turned application switching off in the Finder

[ Reply to This | # ]
I don't get it
Authored by: paragen on Jul 05, '04 02:46:16AM

In third party programs such as QuarkXpress, command tab and command shift tab scroll up and down the tool box. For keyboard oriented people such as myself this quickens up the process of changing tools rather than taking your hand off the keyboard to the mouse and dragging the pointer to a new tool. Before OSX the first thing I did when allotted a new computer was open the help index and turn keyboard shortcuts for application switcher OFF.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Fight the Power!
Authored by: tomottoe on Mar 22, '02 04:23:35PM

I hope everyone who's unhappy with this "feature" has gone to

and made it clear to Apple they need to fix this. I post every week.


[ Reply to This | # ]
Replace the Dock to eliminate command-tab shortcut
Authored by: eXess on Mar 15, '03 11:36:54AM

GODO NEWS !!! There is an app that allows this : Raging Menace's PULLTAB. Works fine on my PMG42x1GHz/10.2.4.

Run to get it ! It is designed to just stop the dock from using the key combo. So, if later you want to use LiteSwitch or quickKeys or whatever, it's ok...

[ Reply to This | # ]