How to customise your Mac's appearance

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Ever wondered how to personalise your Mac to make it really "yours"? We'll show you how to change the obvious things like your wapllpaper and screensaver, as well as some more subtle changes to things like menus and icons.

General settings

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Click Apple > System Preferences > General to open the settings that control how things like buttons, icons and menus look.

  • Appearance: Choose between blue and graphite colour schemes for the menus and buttons, and light or dark Dock and menu bars. If you pick the dark menu bar, you might have to move your mouse to the top of the screen to see it.
  • Highlight color: Pick a colour to highlight text and buttons in some apps - choose 'Other' to use any colour you like. 
  • Sidebar icon size: Change the size of the icons on the left of a Finder window.
  • Show scroll bars: You'll usually only see them when you need to, but you can change how they work.

Therea are a few more settings lower down, but they don't really change what you see on the screen while you're using your Mac.

 

Desktop and Screensaver

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Go to Apple > System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver to pick your background wallpaper and set up a screen saver.

The desktop background is there every time you look at your Mac, so it makes sense to pick something you like to look at. Screen savers help keep your stuff private by covering the screen when you haven't used your Mac for a while.

  • Desktop: Choose a picture to show in your Mac's desktop. Apple include a range of wallpapers to pick from, or choose one of your own pictures. To make your desktop background into a slideshow, tick the 'Change picture' box and shoose a time interval. The Mac will use them all, changing as often as you tell it to.
  • Screen Saver: Choose a screensaver to see a preview of how it'll look. Pick one of the image sources provided, a folder of your own photos, or your iTunes album cover art to use in the screen saver. Use the 'Start after' option in the bottom-left to choose the idle time before the screensaver starts.

 

Customise the Dock

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The Dock is a great place to keep things you use most often, organised in your own way. Pin your favourite apps, files and folders to the Dock for quick one-click access whenever you need it.

  • Size: Adjust the size of the Dock, and the icons on it.
  • Magnification: Control how much larger the icons get when you move the mouse pointer over them.
  • Position on Screen: Choose where you'd like the Dock placing.
  • Animation settings: Change how windows and apps open from the dock.
  • Automatically hide: Hide the Dock off screen when it's not in use, then move the mouse to the bottom of the screen to show the Dock.

You'll see what happens in real time when you change a setting, which will help you get your Dock settings just right.

 

Change the clock

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The clock's shown on the menu bar at the top of the screen. If you don't like the 24hr digital clock, change the settings through Apple > System Preferences > Date & Time > Clock.

You can change most of the the clock's settings, or take it off the menu bar completely.

  • Show or hide the date & time
  • Choose a digital or analogue clock
  • Pick between 12 and 24 hour displays
  • Show or hide the day and date
  • Announce the time

You might have to click the padlock to make your changes. If you do, don't forget to click it again to lock the new settings.

 

Other settings

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MacOS has a great look and feel, thanks to its transparency effects. They're what give the desktop a feeling of 'depth', with background image colours showing through menus and windows.

Turn off transparency effects

The visual effects use some of the Mac's horsepower that's usually needed to run apps. Because of this, they can make an older Mac feel sluggish, so turning them off can give your Mac a perfromance boost. You probably won't notice on a newer machine, but older ones should feel a bit snappier when you've finished.

The settings aren't with the rest of the desktop and display settings though, they're kind of hidden away in Apple logo > System Preferences > Accessibility > Display

Tick the 'Reduce transparency' box to disable the setting. You'll see the dock and menu bar instantly change to a solid colour.

Make the mouse cursor easier to find

The Dock's Mouse settings give you a lot of control about how you use the Mouse, but sometimes it can be hard to see where the cursor is, even when you move it. Fortunately there's a couple of things you can do to make your life easier.

Go to Apple logo > System Preferences > Accessibility > Display and you'll find two handy settings. There's a slider to change the Cursor size (it changes when you move it) and a super-helpful option to help you find it. Tick the 'Shake mouse...' box, then quickly moving the mouse back and forth will make it bigger for a second or two.

Hopefully you'll be happy with how your Mac's looking by now, but get in touch with an expert from Team Knowhow if you want to know more.

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