Unknown app in Dock on Mac

Unknown app appearing in Dock after Login on Mac [Fixed]

We have come across numerous macOS bugs and issues, however, the one that we are about to discuss is among the most intriguing ones. Over the past couple of months, we occasionally come across a few reports wherein the users notice an unknown app make a sudden and brief appearance on the Dock right after they log in to their Mac. This “blank dock icon quickly flashes” for half a second and then disappears.

Moreover, it doesn’t tend to appear after every login but randomly on some. While this issue doesn’t cause any harm to the system or any app as such, but users are still concerned about its long-term effect and more importantly its origin. There is an element of uncertainty about whether this so-called “app” might turn out to be malware that is doing its bit or it could just be a bugged system/user app. So what exactly was it? Let’s find out.

Fix Unknown app appearing in Dock after Login on Mac

Unknown app in Dock on Mac

First off, we head over to each of the plausible locations wherein we could get hold of some clue about the source of this app. We checked each and every nook and corner of the system [listed below] but we didn’t come across anything suspicious as such.

User’s "login items"
local ~/Library/StartupItems/
~/Library/LaunchAgents (~ is your users folder)

Moving on, a user took it to the next level and reset his Mac. This removed all the third-party apps but the issue was still present. So this at least cemented the fact that the culprit is a system app and not any third party which gave a huge sign of relief to all the affected users. Now let’s address the elephant in the room- who exactly was the culprit? Well, the unknown app appearing in Dock after login on your Mac is Apple’s very own XProtect.

For the unversed, XProtect is a built-in antivirus technology for the macOS for signature-based detection and removal of malware. To further verify the same, this was the only common ap across all the users who were affected by this issue Moreover, according to a user, the icon remained for close to 2 seconds on his dock once, and during that time frame, he took the cursor to that icon and was able to get hold of the app name, which of course was XProtect.

So on that note, we end this mystery. If you still have any queries unanswered, do let us know via the comments section below.

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