These 3 question marks are for Numbers, Pages, and Keynote which exist in the default Dock template, but will not be included in the default Dock under normal circumstances when the apps are not pre-installed. “Under normal circumstances” means when macOS/Dock app configures the Dock automatically when a com.apple.dock.plist does not exist yet. I think this is because they can come pre-installed on a brand new Mac from the factory, but will not be pre-installed when you do a wipe and clean install (as MDS does).
I do not believe this would be affected by manipulating the User Template specifically since the default dock plist exists within the Dock app bundle rather than the Library files within the User Template. On macOS 10.15 and newer the default Dock plist is located at
/System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/Resources/default.plist and on 10.14 and older it’s at
My first guess would be that you have some script that was attempting to modify the Dock contents before the dock plist was actually created (since it is not created when the home folder has been made from the standard User Template). So, I’m guessing an incomplete dock plist was then created by one of your scripts which the Dock app detected was not properly setup and replaced it with the default Dock plist (there is a special version key that the Dock app checks for to determine if the Dock plist is valid). When the Dock plist is replaced in this way, it seems to not get processed in the same way as it is on a first login when the Dock plist does not exist yet. This results in the entire unprocessed default Dock plist being used, which includes these placeholders for Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
You two would probably know better how/why this might be happening in this case…
@sirsir Do you have custom scripts that edit the Dock contents for a specific user or within the User Template folders before first login?
@tperfitt Does MDS do any Dock plist manipulation in the User Template or per user by default? I didn’t think it did.