How to Customize Your Mac Desktop

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While a lot of things “just work” on macOS, Apple unsurprisingly limits what users can and cannot customize across macOS. They call it System Integrity Protection, or SIP for short. This system ultimately blocks most (deep) customization methods, but that does not mean there is no hope. Let’s take a look at how you can customize your Mac computer even without Apple’s permission.

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 To Personalize Your Mac Wallpaper

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

How To Personalize Your Mac Wallpaper Selection

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.

Dock Tweaks

How To Personalize Your Mac Dock

The dock on any MacBook or iMac is one of the most iconic pieces of Apple software. Tweaking it to make it a little more to your liking is a good step toward personalizing your Mac. One of the more popular dock tweaks is hiding it when not in use. This can save a little bit of screen space as well as making sure you do not click on anything accidentally. To enable this, head to “System Preferences -> Dock,” and then check “Automatically hide and show the Dock.”

How To Personalize Your Mac Dock Tweaks

Removing unnecessary apps from the dock is as easy as clicking on the icon and dragging it out of the dock. If you download a new app and want to keep it in the dock, that’s just as easy. When the application you wish to keep is open, right-click on the app icon and select “Keep in Dock.” You can also head back to “System Preferences -> Dock” and resize the icons. If you want to go the extra mile with customization, apps like uBar are even more versatile and claim to boost productivity.

Customize Folder Icons

This is one of the easiest ways to customize your Mac, and Apple even provides its own guide so you know it’s an approved method.

How To Personalize Your Mac Icons

1. To make an icon swap, first you need to have a new image you want to use as the icon.

2. The second step is to open the desired image in Preview by double-clicking on it anywhere in Finder. Then go to “Edit -> Select All and Copy.”

How To Personalize Your Mac Icon Demo

3. With the icon safely stored in your clipboard, head back to Finder and navigate to the folder where the icon is you want to swap.

4. Right-click on the folder and select “Get Info.” Click on the image icon at the very top of the “Get Info” screen so it’s highlighted.

How To Personalize Your Mac Get Info

5. Now hit Command + V on your keyboard and paste the new one to the folder.

How To Personalize Your Mac Swapped Icon

Light or Dark Mode

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

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.

How To Personalize Your Mac General

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

How To Personalize Your Mac Dark Mode

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 Personalize Your Mac Dark Mode

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.

Apple is unlikely to ever give its users total control to fully customize their Mac. However, these easy tweaks allow at least some level of customization so your Mac can look and feel different from other macOS users. What’s your favorite Mac tweak?


David Beren David Beren

David Beren is a freelance tech writer with over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He loves dogs, his kids and all things Nintendo.

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