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command ⌘+tab⇥ and my Exposé shortcuts have stopped working, and clicking/mousing over dock icons has no effect.

What's wrong? What can I do to get things back?

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up vote 34 down vote accepted

Your Dock has become unresponsive. It's rare, but it does sometimes happen. To fix it you just need to kill the Dock app and it will automatically restart. To kill the Dock:

Go to Applications ➔ Utilities ➔

Type killall Dock

If that doesn't work, type killall -9 Dock

The Dock will vanish for a few moments and then pop back up good as new. None of your apps should be affected.

Edit: sudo killall Dock would kill other users' docks, and isn't even more likely to work. Thanks derober for pointing that out. killall -9 Dock is the right command

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sudo killall Dock would kill /other/ users' docks, not at all what you intended. If Dock refuses to die, try killall -9 Dock. – derobert Jul 18 '09 at 5:38
Killing others' docks is kinda funny, but you're right, it's not at all what I intended. Good eye. – Peter Burns Jul 18 '09 at 6:09
@PeterBurns It's perfectly acceptable to select your own answer as the correct one. – Aaron Mahan Sep 20 '15 at 5:36

And so I fired up Activity Monitor and force killed Dock. Two seconds later my Dock popped up and ⌘ ⇥ worked again.

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Another option for reference purpose for those that do not want to use terminal and this works even if the dock is hanging:

Alt+Cmd+esc will open the Force Quit Applications window and you can kill finder from there. Also right-clicking on the dock area should popup a Force Quit option if the dock is unresponsive.

This is an alternative for those that can't find their way around in the terminal

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Not simply an alternative, IMHO this is far better than the selected answer. It requires fewer steps and is much clearer. – danorton Jun 20 '14 at 15:18

Glad to hear you managed to get the Dock back... often the cause of problems like that is a dodgy third-party Dashboard Widget (DashboardClient runs as a child process of the Dock). Worth bearing in mind if the problem recurs...

I find Dashboard to be a more or less useless resource hog anyway... there's an article here about how to disable it.

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Just note that you will need to be an administrator of your mac if you want to kill the Dock and fix it.

sudo killall Dock will be necessary to do this as an admin.

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killall Dock works just fine for me. – Peter Burns Dec 12 '12 at 3:03

Had the exact same problem, ended up finding solution on Apple support communities

Summarized below, thanks to watski

I deleted ~/Library/Application Support/Dock/*.db and killed the Dock in Activity Viewer. Now it seems to behave. For the record I tried deleting the dock .plist, setting VMWare preferences and so on but in vein. Rebooting did not help either.

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Your Dock has become unresponsive. It's rare, but it does sometimes happen. To fix it you just need to kill the Dock app and it will automatically restart

The Dock is launched as part of Finder, so you can just relaunch Finder from the "Force Quit" menu, which is accessible via with Cmd + Alt + Escape

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This was the first thing I tried, and it didn't work. :/ – Peter Burns Jul 18 '09 at 6:14
For reference, is it's own application that Exposé and the Command-Tab switcher both are features of. – Chealion Mar 18 '10 at 17:33

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