The developers at Elementary OS have done an absolutely wonderful job with making Ubuntu a sleek, good looking, fast, and minimal OS. One of the great things about Linux is, if there’s something you don’t like, you can change it! I found the tutorial I originally followed on, which has apparently been removed, hence my writing this short how-to!

The stock icon dock in Elementary OS is called Plank, it’s minimal and it works great! However, in my opinion, it’s just not as aesthetically pleasing as the other options such as Docky or Cairo Dock. For this tutorial I went with Docky because of a few stability issues I’ve had with in my dealings with Cairo Dock.

Disabling Plank

To avoid any compatibility issues, you’re going to make sure to disable the stock Elementary dock. First, download a tool called dconf Editor. You may choose to do this through the command line if you’re comfortable, but it’s also in the Software Center. The command to install dconf Editor is:

sudo apt-get install dconf-tools

terminal install dconf1

dconf software center

Then you’re going to navigate to the Applications menu and select dconf Editor

launch dconf

After launching dconf Editor, fine and select “org” then “pantheon” and lastly “cerbere” Where you see:

[‘wingpanel’, ‘plank’, ‘slingshot-launcher –silent’]

dconf before

You’re going to remove ‘plank’, and end up with:

[‘wingpanel’, ‘slingshot-launcher –silent’]

dconf after

Then close and reboot! If the stock Elementary dock appears on this boot, you did something wrong. So you’ll need to repeat the last step. Otherwise, you’re golden.

Installing Docky

Getting Docky is simple, it’s already in the Software Center, or you can use the terminal command:

sudo apt-get install docky


terminal docky1

docky software center

Once you have your replacement installed and you’re sure you don’t need to revert to plank, just use the command:

sudo apt-get remove plank

terminal remove plank

What Now?

The last thing that you’re want to make sure you handle before closing this tutorial is setting Docky to launch when you log into Elementary. Just click on the cute little anchor icon on the dock and you’ll be presented with the settings page. Ensure “Start When User Logs In” is checked.

docky settings

Play around with the settings to find what’s best for you, or if you don’t want to tinker, feel free to steel my preferences. What you see above is the most aesthetically pleasing combination I’ve found.

The remaining things to note about Docky are; It doesn’t come with any presets, so it’s completely empty before you add icons. There are two ways to add the icons; first, you can open the application and right click the icon when it appears on the dock and click “Pin to dock” or you can just select the icon in the Application launcher pane and drag it down to the dock. You might have to hover over the area where the dock should be for a second to engage it. New applications are not automatically added to Docky when installed, do you’ll have to perform the above steps every time you install a new program. But to remove an icon, all you need do is click and drag it off.

If you have any questions about this tutorial, don’t hesitate to tweet me @AnthonyMcAfee

Website: Elementary OS

About the author

Tony McAfee


  • Thanks for this info
    i did it and it works very well
    Thanks for the step by step instructions.

  • Works as advertised, but it breaks the workspace switcher. For some reason plank is necessary for this to work correctly. Thanks anyway

  • plank is still better. docky looks like old linux os, which is the least wanted thing on an elementary os PC…………………

  • this no longer works,at least for freya,after installing dconf-tools and disabling plank following your instructions plank will return upon reboot. if you want to remove plank properly follow this command in terminal at once: sudo apt-get remove plank && sudo apt-get autoremove && sudo apt-get autoclean
    now you can install docky BUT do it from the PPA: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:docky-core/ppa && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install docky
    then reboot 🙂

  • This worked for me on Freya, but, Docky crashes on me frequently. Docky is awesome(I love the whole zoom when you hover over the dock thing) but it looks like I’ll have to go back to the plain looking Plank. 🙁