How to Customize Your Mac in Monterey

The changes in macOS Monterey are more than skin deep, with plenty of new customization options. Learn how to make it your own.

Customize Mac Monterey Safari Featured

With a refined design and powerful controls, Apple’s macOS Monterey continues the modern look introduced by Big Sur. Among the biggest visual overhauls to hit macOS in years, the changes are more than skin deep. macOS Monterey refines new features introduced in previous updates while adding a few additional customizations.

Customize Control Center

After years of feeling a little unloved, Control Center has received a much-welcomed facelift. Just like iOS/iPadOS 15, Monterey adds something of a modular Control Center, some of which can be customized. That’s true for things like sound, network and display.

Head to the Apple icon from the menu bar, then click on “System Preferences -> Dock & Menu Bar.”

Customize Mac Monterey Control Center

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 option “Show in Menu Bar.” You can opt to show everything in your Control Center or add none at all. To remove an item from the Control Center, simply unclick the “Show in Menu Bar” option and it’s gone. Repeat these steps with the available options until you have a setup you are happy with.

Adding Widgets

For anyone who has started adding widgets to their home screens on their iPhones, widgets on the Mac should be immediately familiar. 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.”

Customize Mac Monterey 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

Customize Mac Monterey Messages

Apple now allows users to “pin” a conversation to the top of their iMessage window. 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, press Control + click any conversation in the column on the left and 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.
Customize Mac Monterey Wallpaper
  1. Using the left side of the screen, navigate to any folder on your computer where wallpapers are stored.
Customize Mac Monterey Wallpaper Two
  1. 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.

Customize Mac Monterey Wallpaper Light
  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

Customize Mac Monterey Color

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 15

Customize Mac Monterey Safari Homescreen

After years of limitations, Apple is finally allowing its users to personalize the start page on Safari. This includes setting your own background to tweaking Favorites, Siri Suggestions, Reading List, iCloud tabs and your own privacy report.

Customize Mac Monterey Safari Tab Groups

Now, with macOS Monterey, Apple has added two notable features in Safari. The first, Tab Groups, will allow you to save and organize all of your tabs across all of your Apple devices. Essentially, this makes it easy to access this set of tabs at a later point.

Customize Mac Monterey Safari Compact Tabs

Secondly, inside Safari’s Preferences and the “Tabs” section, you can now choose between one of two tab layouts. The first is Compact, which makes them individualized with each open website tab separate from one another. The Separate tab is already familiar to Safari users.

The Dock

Customize Mac Monterey Dock

Apple refreshed the look of the Dock to look 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. Looks aside, you also 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.

Change Your Cursor Color

macOS Monterey is now introducing the ability to change the color of your cursor.

Customize Mac Monterey Color Cursor
  1. Start by going to “System Preferences -> Accessibility.” Look in the left column and locate “Display.”
  2. Click on the “Pointer” tab at the top of the screen where you will find two settings: “Pointer outline color” and “Pointer fill color.” As you click on the color swatch button, you can start selecting any color(s) you want.
  3. As soon as you have identified a color, click the “Accessibility” window and begin using your color-changed cursor.
  4. If you want to reset your color and go back to the default white and black, click on reset.

Animate Your Profile Memoji

Apple has played up the inclusion of Memoji’s as a fun and exciting way to personalize your look on its entire lineup of devices. Now, with macOS Monterey, your user profile can go from using a plain old Memoji to an animated Memoji.

Customize Mac Monterey Memoji
  1. Go to “System Preferences -> User & Groups” and make sure “Current user” is highlighted on the left side of the window.
  2. Hover your mouse cursor over the current profile picture and click “edit.”
  3. As the next screen opens, click on your existing Memoji, one of the preset options, or create another by clicking on the circle with the giant “Plus” logo.
  4. Once you settle on your Memoji look/style, click on the “Pose” tab in the main Memoji screen and select a facial expression. Click save when you are done.
  5. The next time you log in to your Mac, you should see the animated Memoji in action.


While none of the options to customize your Mac in Montery are mind-blowing, even the tiniest of customization options can have a big impact on your Monterey 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 Joz
David Joz

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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