Plank : A Simple And Lightweight Dock For Lean Desktops

By | 09/12/2013

In one of our earlier article, we covered Cairo-Dock — a MAC OS X style desktop interface that provides a graphic rich dock for launching applications. But, the fact is that not everybody wants animation-rick dock, especially if you are working on lean desktops like XFCE. In this article, we will discuss Plank — a simple dock with minimalistic look and feel.


Plank is a simple dock that provides bare minimum features. It is the underlying technology for Docky i.e., it is created by the same team that created Docky. Being a library, it can be extended to create other docks. It is the default dock in Elementary OS.


Testing Environment

  • OS – Ubuntu 13.04
  • Shell – Bash 4.2.45
  • Application – Plank 0.5.0

A Brief Tutorial

Once installed, the dock appears right at the bottom of your desktop. Here is a snapshot :


The dock appears when the mouse pointer hits the bottom of the screen. As you can observe from the snapshot, the look and feel is very simple.

Just open an application and it appears towards the right hand side of the dock. For example, when I opened the notes application, its icon appeared at the rightmost end of the dock.


If an application has multiple instances running, you can access each of them by right clicking on the application icon on the dock. For example, I had two Firefox windows up and running and here is how I switched between the two :


As discussed, apart from some default applications, other ones appear in dock only when they are opened. If it is desired to keep a specific application icon on the dock permanently, just right-click on the application icon when it is already opened and then click Keep in Dock.

plank-keep-in dock

If you are not satisfied with the default theme, you can opt from other options available at Cassidy James’s blog. Just extract files to  /usr/share/plank/themes in order to install them. Themes can also be installed through command line. Refer to the Download/Configure/Install section below.


Here are some of the important links related to Plank :

Unlike Cairo-dock, Plank does not have any UI to configure its settings. To change its configuration settings, open and tweak the file ~/.config/plank/dock1/settings . 

Here is how my settings file looks like :


To install themes from command line, run the following commands :

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:versable/elementary-update
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install elementary-plank-themes

For other tips and tricks, refer to this Plank tutorial on UbuntuRoot.


  • Simple and Lightweight
  • Easy to use


  • Very less documentation available
  • No stable release


If you are not an Elementary OS user but still want a no-frills-attached dock, go for Plank. It is not only simple and fast but very easy to use. Try it out, you’ll like it.

Have you ever used Plank or any other similar application? Share your experience with us.

3 thoughts on “Plank : A Simple And Lightweight Dock For Lean Desktops

  1. Mayagrafix

    Used the Apple version at work stations in the office and installed Rocket Dock on my home XP-pc a long time ago. Lately have installed Cairo Dock on old laptop using Linux which I use for radio streaming. Very clean and un obstrusive for the work area, highly recomend it. Look forward to using plank because of its simplicity (lighter resources) as Cairo is fun at first with many animations but after a while no time for jumping icons.

  2. larry

    How to move the Plank to the right side of desktop?

    1. DavidM

      @larry, you can use the Position value in the above file to align the dock as you need, the following will align it to the right screen edge:


      Hope that help! :)


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