Why is There a Question Mark in My Dock and What Do I Do About It?

Monday, October 20, 2008, 10:39 PM – Tips and Hints

If you look at your Dock some day and see a big question mark where an application icon is supposed to be you are probably going to wonder what it means and what to do about it.

The icons resting on your Dock are alias’ that link to the location on your hard drive where the applications are actually stored. In most cases that means your Applications Folder.

If you recall, you added something to the Dock by dragging the icon image from the location folder (Applications) to the dock and released it. That “links” the alias icon to the application itself.

When that big blue question mark suddenly shows up, that means the alias icon on your Dock can no longer find the application. It has lost it’s reason to exist and says “help, why am I here?”

You might as well pull it off the dock and release it because it no longer functions.

What to do about it depends on what caused the problem in the first place. If you discarded the application, then throwing away the question mark solves the problem. Everything is neat and tidy and you are ready to move on.

If you moved the application somewhere else, such as to a backup external drive or just to some other folder, then find that location and pull an alias icon back down to the dock and you should be set to go.


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4 Responses to Why is There a Question Mark in My Dock and What Do I Do About It?

  1. Norma Lippa says:

    What if your application has just disappeared and you don’t know where it is…and you now have a question mark in its place?

    • macnancy says:

      Hi Norma. If you are talking about a question mark showing up in your dock, that usually means you have deleted the app from your computer without removing the icon from your dock. To remove the question mark icon drag the icon out of the Dock until you see Remove.

      However, if a question mark is showing up somewhere else, such as the menu bar, it might mean that you have upgraded your operating system and the app you were using is no longer compatible. My best suggestion is to download the application from the app store, or wherever you got it and see if it has been updated. If neither of these help, let me know and I’ll do some research.

      • Norma Lippa says:

        I installed a printer/scanner and it worked beautifully. Then I believe when I went to Sierra High on my Mac, the scanner quit responding, and I have a question mark where the icon used to be. The printer still works well, however. How would I get the scanner back?

  2. macnancy says:

    Try this. Go to the website for your printer/scanner and look up the model for your specific unit. Then check to see if you need to install new firmware. It is not unusual to have to do that when upgrading a major system upgrade.

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