How to Customize macOS Big Sur

How To Customize Big Sur Featured

With a new refined design and powerful controls, Apple’s macOS Big Sur is ready for the modern age of desktop operating systems. One of the biggest visual overhauls to hit macOS in years, the changes are much more than skin deep. With a laundry list of new customization options, you can tweak, play and personalize Big Sur in many different ways. Let’s take a look at how you can customize macOS Big Sur.

Customize Control Center

The Control Center received a much welcomed facelift in Big Sur. Just like iOS 14, Big Sur introduces something of a modular Control Center that cannot be changed. That’s true for things like sound, network and display. If you want to get started with changes, head to the Apple icon from the menu bar and then click on “System Preferences -> Dock & Menu Bar.”

How To Customize Big Sur

Once you are in the Dock & Menu Bar menu, look on the left side for the Control Center. At the very top are modules like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirDrop and so on. Go through each available option and look for the one change you can make, which is “Show in Menu Bar.” As you go through each option like Screen Mirroring, Do Not Disturb, etc., you can opt to show everything in your Control Center or add none at all. Want to remove something? Just unclick “Show in Menu Bar,” and it’s gone. Repeat these steps with the available options until you have a setup you are happy with.

Adding Widgets

How To Customize Big Sur Notification Sur

For anyone who has started adding widgets to their home screens on their iPhones, Apple has included widgets in macOS Big Sur. To see which widgets are already available by default, click on the date and time in the upper-right corner of the menu bar. Next, scroll to the bottom and click on “Edit Widgets.”

Upon hitting widgets, a gray screen appears on your display that shows all of the available widgets based on what apps you have installed on your Mac. To add them to Control Center, just drag and drop into the column on the right. Some widgets have multiple sizes, which are showcased by S, M and L (small, medium, large) indicators underneath the widgets.

Pinning Conversations in Messages

For years, Apple has not allowed its users to “pin” a conversation to the top of their iMessage window. That changes with Big Sur. This is an incredibly useful feature, so you can quickly find family members or anyone you talk with on a frequent basis. To pin a conversation, Control + click any conversation in the column on the left and then select “Pin.” Once you click on Pin, the thread instantly becomes “pinned” to the top of your conversations list.

Add Your Own Wallpaper

It is not the most exciting customization method, but swapping out the default wallpaper with your own is a good starting point. Apple includes a number of wallpapers, including the dynamic wallpaper that autochanges according to the time, or you can add your own. Wallpapers are easy to find on sites like Desktop Nexus, Simple Desktops, Wallhaven and so many more. Once you have downloaded a wallpaper of your choice, enabling it is super-quick.

1. Start by right-clicking on your desktop and selecting “Change Desktop Background.” Make sure “Desktop” is selected at the top.

How Customize Big Sur Wallpaper

2. Using the left side of the screen, navigate to any folder on your computer where wallpapers are stored.

How Customize Big Sur Wallpaper Set

3. Click on any screenshot, and it will automatically apply itself. Note that most sites offer wallpapers in a variety of sizes, so for the best fit, make sure you know the screen resolution of your MacBook or iMac.

Light or Dark Mode

For years Apple computer users have been clamoring and all but begging for a dark mode. Apple finally delivered with macOS Mojave and later. Enabling dark mode requires nothing more than a few mouse clicks.

How To Customize Big Sur Light Dark Mode

1. Start by going to the Apple menu at the top left of your screen and selecting “System Preferences.”

2. Find General and select one of the appearance options at the top of the window.

3. You have the option of choosing between Light, which is enabled by default, Dark and Auto. The latter will automatically use the light appearance during the day and switch to dark mode in the evening.

If you opt for Dark mode, you’ll benefit, as dozens of apps automatically enable Dark Mode in their individual app settings when set as the system default. Apple’s default apps like Mail, Maps, Notes, Safari and TextEdit are prime examples of this swap.

You can even make the Dark mode even darker with these tricks.

Custom Color Scheme

How To Customize Big Sur Color Scheme

With the introduction of macOS Mojave, Apple has enabled the ability to mix and match a variety of color schemes. Adding this feature allows each Mac user to change system accent colors so things feel fresh over time. You can choose from a number of colors for both the Accent color and Highlight color. Whichever color selections you make, you will see those play out across a variety of menus, buttons, highlighting and a number of other macOS system elements.

Safari 14

Customize Safari 14 Big Sections

For the first time in forever, Apple has finally allowed you to personalize your start page on Safari. Would you prefer to set your own background instead of the standard gray that has been around for years? You can do that. You can also tweak, adjust or remove your Favorites, Siri Suggestions, Reading List, iCloud Tabs or your very own privacy report. While all of this may seem trivial to anyone who installs Chrome, Edge or Brave the minute they open a new computer, it’s a big deal for Safari users.

The Dock

How To Customize Big Sur Dock

Apple refreshed the look of the Dock for the first time in years. It looks as if it’s now “floating,” as there is a space between the bottom of your display and the beginning of the dock. It’s also a bit more translucent, a welcome change. Looks aside, you still have the ability to customize the look and feel of your dock. Head to “Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> Dock & Menu Bar.” In this window, you have the option to tweak the dock’s position, size, magnification and how windows look when minimized and more.


While none of macOS’s Big Sur customization options are mind blowing, even the tiniest of customization options can have a big impact on your Big Sur and macOS experience. Looking to further customize your Mac? You can try to enable/disable the turbo boost feature or hide files/folders/icons on your desktop.

David David

David is a freelance tech writer with over 15 years of experience in the tech industry. He loves all things Nintendo.

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