Change Docker Desktop settings on Mac

This page provides information on how to configure and manage your Docker Desktop for Mac settings.

To navigate to Settings either:

  • Select the Docker menu whale menu and then Settings
  • Select the Settings icon from the Docker Dashboard.

You can also locate the settings.json file at ~/Library/Group Containers/


On the General tab, you can configure when to start Docker and specify other settings:

  • Start Docker Desktop when you sign in to your computer. Select to automatically start Docker Desktop when you sign in to your machine.

  • Open Docker Dashboard when Docker Desktop starts. Select to automatically open the dashboard when starting Docker Desktop.

  • Choose theme for Docker Desktop. Choose whether you want to apply a Light or Dark theme to Docker Desktop. Alternatively you can set Docker Desktop to Use system settings.

  • Choose container terminal. Determines which terminal is launched when opening the terminal from a container. If you choose the integrated terminal, you can run commands in a running container straight from the Docker Dashboard. For more information, see Explore containers.

  • Enable Docker Debug by default. Check this option to use Docker Debug by default when accessing the integrated terminal. For more information, see Explore containers.

  • Include VM in Time Machine backups. Select to back up the Docker Desktop virtual machine. This option is turned off by default.

  • Use containerd for pulling and storing images. Turns on the containerd image store. This brings new features like faster container startup performance by lazy-pulling images, and the ability to run Wasm applications with Docker. For more information, see containerd image store.

  • Use Virtualization framework. Select to allow Docker Desktop to use the virtualization.framework instead of the hypervisor.framework.


    Turn this setting on to make Docker Desktop run faster.

  • Choose file sharing implementation for your containers. Choose whether you want to share files using VirtioFS, gRPC FUSE, or osxfs. VirtioFS is only available for macOS versions 12.5 and above, and is turned on by default.


    Use VirtioFS for speedy file sharing. VirtioFS has reduced the time taken to complete filesystem operations by up to 98%

  • Use Rosetta for x86_64/amd64 emulation on Apple Silicon. Turns on Rosetta to accelerate x86/AMD64 binary emulation on Apple Silicon. This option is only available if you have turned on Virtualization framework in the General settings tab. You must also be on macOS Ventura or later.

  • Send usage statistics. Select so Docker Desktop sends diagnostics, crash reports, and usage data. This information helps Docker improve and troubleshoot the application. Clear the checkbox to opt out. Docker may periodically prompt you for more information.

  • Use Enhanced Container Isolation. Select to enhance security by preventing containers from breaching the Linux VM. For more information, see Enhanced Container Isolation.


    This setting is only available if you are signed in to Docker Desktop and have a Docker Business subscription.

  • Show CLI hints. Displays CLI hints and tips when running Docker commands in the CLI. This is turned on by default. To turn CLI hints on or off from the CLI, set DOCKER_CLI_HINTS to true or false respectively.

  • SBOM Indexing. When this option is enabled, inspecting an image in Docker Desktop shows a Start analysis button that, when selected, analyzes the image with Docker Scout.

  • Enable background SBOM indexing. When this option is enabled, Docker Scout automatically analyzes images that you build or pull.

  • Automatically check configuration. Regularly checks your configuration to ensure no unexpected changes have been made by another application.

    Docker Desktop checks if your setup, configured during installation, has been altered by external apps like Orbstack. Docker Desktop checks:

    • The symlinks of Docker binaries to /usr/local/bin.
    • The symlink of the default Docker socket. Additionally, Docker Desktop ensures that the context is switched to desktop-linux on startup.

    You are notified if changes are found and are able to restore the configuration directly from the notification.


The Resources tab allows you to configure CPU, memory, disk, proxies, network, and other resources.


On the Advanced tab, you can limit resources available to the Docker Linux VM.

Advanced settings are:

  • CPU limit. Specify the maximum number of CPUs to be used by Docker Desktop. By default, Docker Desktop is set to use all the processors available on the host machine.

  • Memory limit. By default, Docker Desktop is set to use up to 50% of your host's memory. To increase the RAM, set this to a higher number; to decrease it, lower the number.

  • Swap. Configure swap file size as needed. The default is 1 GB.

  • Virtual disk limit. Specify the maximum size of the disk image.

  • Disk image location. Specify the location of the Linux volume where containers and images are stored.

    You can also move the disk image to a different location. If you attempt to move a disk image to a location that already has one, you are asked if you want to use the existing image or replace it.


If you feel Docker Desktop starting to get slow or you're running multi-container workloads, increase the memory and disk image space allocation

  • Resource Saver. Enable or disable Resource Saver mode, which significantly reduces CPU and memory utilization on the host by automatically turning off the Linux VM when Docker Desktop is idle (i.e., no containers are running).

    You can also configure the Resource Saver timeout which indicates how long should Docker Desktop be idle before Resource Saver mode kicks in. Default is 5 minutes.


    Exit from Resource Saver mode occurs automatically when containers run. Exit may take a few seconds (~3 to 10 secs) as Docker Desktop restarts the Linux VM.

File sharing

Use File sharing to allow local directories on your machine to be shared with Linux containers. This is especially useful for editing source code in an IDE on the host while running and testing the code in a container.

By default the /Users, /Volumes, /private, /tmp and /var/folders directory are shared. If your project is outside this directory then it must be added to the list, otherwise you may get Mounts denied or cannot start service errors at runtime.

File share settings are:

  • Add a Directory. Select + and navigate to the directory you want to add.

  • Remove a Directory. Select - next to the directory you want to remove

  • Apply & Restart makes the directory available to containers using Docker's bind mount (-v) feature.

Tips on shared folders, permissions, and volume mounts

  • Share only the directories that you need with the container. File sharing introduces overhead as any changes to the files on the host need to be notified to the Linux VM. Sharing too many files can lead to high CPU load and slow filesystem performance.
  • Shared folders are designed to allow application code to be edited on the host while being executed in containers. For non-code items such as cache directories or databases, the performance will be much better if they are stored in the Linux VM, using a data volume (named volume) or data container.
  • If you share the whole of your home directory into a container, MacOS may prompt you to give Docker access to personal areas of your home directory such as your Reminders or Downloads.
  • By default, Mac file systems are case-insensitive while Linux is case-sensitive. On Linux, it is possible to create two separate files: test and Test, while on Mac these filenames would actually refer to the same underlying file. This can lead to problems where an app works correctly on a developer's machine (where the file contents are shared) but fails when run in Linux in production (where the file contents are distinct). To avoid this, Docker Desktop insists that all shared files are accessed as their original case. Therefore, if a file is created called test, it must be opened as test. Attempts to open Test will fail with the error "No such file or directory". Similarly, once a file called test is created, attempts to create a second file called Test will fail.

For more information, see Volume mounting requires file sharing for any project directories outside of /Users


Docker Desktop on Mac supports the use of HTTP/HTTPS and SOCKS5 proxies.

HTTP/HTTPS proxies can be used when:

  • Signing in to Docker
  • Pulling or pushing images
  • Fetching artifacts during image builds
  • Containers interact with the external network
  • Scanning images

If the host uses a HTTP/HTTPS proxy configuration (static or via Proxy Auto-Configuration (PAC)), Docker Desktop reads this configuration and automatically uses these settings for signing in to Docker, for pulling and pushing images, and for container Internet access. If the proxy requires authorization then Docker Desktop dynamically asks the developer for a username and password. All passwords are stored securely in the OS credential store. Note that only the Basic proxy authentication method is supported so we recommend using an https:// URL for your HTTP/HTTPS proxies to protect passwords while in transit on the network. Docker Desktop supports TLS 1.3 when communicating with proxies.

To set a different proxy for Docker Desktop, turn on Manual proxy configuration and enter a single upstream proxy URL of the form http://proxy:port or https://proxy:port.

To prevent developers from accidentally changing the proxy settings, see Settings Management.

The HTTPS proxy settings used for scanning images are set using the HTTPS_PROXY environment variable.


If you are using a PAC file hosted on a web server, make sure to add the MIME type application/x-ns-proxy-autoconfig for the .pac file extension on the server or website. Without this configuration, the PAC file may not be parsed correctly.


Docker Desktop uses a private IPv4 network for internal services such as a DNS server and an HTTP proxy. In case Docker Desktop's choice of subnet clashes with IPs in your environment, you can specify a custom subnet using the Network setting.

You can also select Use kernel networking for UDP. This lets you use a more efficient kernel networking path for UDP by changing the value of kernelForUDP in the settings.json file.

Docker Engine

The Docker Engine tab allows you to configure the Docker daemon used to run containers with Docker Desktop.

You configure the daemon using a JSON configuration file. Here's what the file might look like:

  "builder": {
    "gc": {
      "defaultKeepStorage": "20GB",
      "enabled": true
  "experimental": false

You can find this file at $HOME/.docker/daemon.json. To change the configuration, either edit the JSON configuration directly from the dashboard in Docker Desktop, or open and edit the file using your favorite text editor.

To see the full list of possible configuration options, see the dockerd command reference.

Select Apply & Restart to save your settings and restart Docker Desktop.


If you have turned on the Docker Desktop Builds view, you can use the Builders tab to inspect and manage builders in the Docker Desktop settings.


To inspect builders, find the builder that you want to inspect and select the expand icon. You can only inspect active builders.

Inspecting an active builder shows:

  • BuildKit version
  • Status
  • Driver type
  • Supported capabilities and platforms
  • Disk usage
  • Endpoint address

Select a different builder

The Selected builder section displays the selected builder. To select a different builder:

  1. Find the builder that you want to use under Available builders
  2. Open the drop-down menu next to the builder's name.
  3. Select Use to switch to this builder.

Your build commands now use the selected builder by default.

Create a builder

To create a builder, use the Docker CLI. See Create a new builder

Remove a builder

You can remove a builder if:

To remove a builder:

  1. Find the builder that you want to remove under Available builders
  2. Open the drop-down menu.
  3. Select Remove to remove this builder.

If the builder uses the docker-container or kubernetes driver, the build cache is also removed, along with the builder.

Stop and start a builder

Builders that use the docker-container driver run the BuildKit daemon in a container. You can start and stop the BuildKit container using the drop-down menu.

Running a build automatically starts the container if it's stopped.

You can only start and stop builders using the docker-container driver.


Docker Desktop includes a standalone Kubernetes server, so that you can test deploying your Docker workloads on Kubernetes. To turn on Kubernetes support and install a standalone instance of Kubernetes running as a Docker container, select Enable Kubernetes.

Select Show system containers (advanced) to view internal containers when using Docker commands.

Select Reset Kubernetes cluster to delete all stacks and Kubernetes resources.

For more information about using the Kubernetes integration with Docker Desktop, see Deploy on Kubernetes.

Software Updates

The Software Updates tab notifies you of any updates available to Docker Desktop. When there's a new update, you can choose to download the update right away, or select the Release Notes option to learn what's included in the updated version.

Turn off the check for updates by clearing the Automatically check for updates check box. This disables notifications in the Docker menu and the notification badge that appears on the Docker Dashboard. To check for updates manually, select the Check for updates option in the Docker menu.

To allow Docker Desktop to automatically download new updates in the background, select Always download updates. This downloads newer versions of Docker Desktop when an update becomes available. After downloading the update, select Apply and Restart to install the update. You can do this either through the Docker menu or in the Updates section in the Docker Dashboard.


Use the Extensions tab to:

  • Enable Docker Extensions
  • Allow only extensions distributed through the Docker Marketplace
  • Show Docker Extensions system containers

For more information about Docker extensions, see Extensions.

Features in development

On the Feature control tab you can control your settings for Beta features and Experimental features.

You can also sign up to the Developer Preview program from the Features in development tab.

Beta features

Beta features provide access to future product functionality. These features are intended for testing and feedback only as they may change between releases without warning or remove them entirely from a future release. Beta features must not be used in production environments. Docker doesn't offer support for beta features.

Experimental features

On the Experimental features tab, you have the option to allow feature flags. These are features that Docker is currently experimenting with. This is switched on by default.

These features are intended for testing and feedback only as they may change between releases without warning or remove them entirely from a future release. Docker doesn't offer support for experimental features.


Use the Notifications tab to turn on or turn off notifications for the following events:

  • Status updates on tasks and processes
  • Docker announcements
  • Docker surveys

By default, all notifications are turned on. You'll always receive error notifications and notifications about new Docker Desktop releases and updates.

Notifications momentarily appear in the lower-right of the Docker Dashboard and then move to the Notifications drawer. To open the Notifications drawer, select notifications .


On the Advanced tab, you can reconfigure your initial installation settings:

  • Choose how to configure the installation of Docker's CLI tools.

    • System: Docker CLI tools are installed in the system directory under /usr/local/bin
    • User: Docker CLI tools are installed in the user directory under $HOME/.docker/bin. You must then add $HOME/.docker/bin to your PATH. To add $HOME/.docker/bin to your path:
      1. Open your shell configuration file. This is ~/.bashrc if you're using a bash shell, or ~/.zshrc if you're using a zsh shell.
      2. Copy and paste the following:
        $ export PATH=$PATH:~/.docker/bin
      3. Save and the close the file. Restart your shell to apply the changes to the PATH variable.
  • Enable default Docker socket (Requires password). Creates /var/run/docker.sock which some third party clients may use to communicate with Docker Desktop. For more information, see permission requirements for macOS.

  • Enable privileged port mapping (Requires password). Starts the privileged helper process which binds the ports that are between 1 and 1024. For more information, see permission requirements for macOS.

    For more information on each configuration and use case, see Permission requirements.