Thanks to System Integrity Protection (SIP) – a security function from Apple – it is not possible to personalize your Mac with profound system optimizations. However, there are other ways you can polish up your macOS desktop.
With that in mind, let's look at how to customize your Mac desktop in seven easy steps.
1. Start with a brand new wallpaper
Simply swap out the default wallpaper for a background you like and your desktop will feel like new again. To make this small change, open that up System settings App and select Desktop and screen savers.
Under the Desktop Tab, choose a new image from the standard Mac desktop themes, or choose a nice solid color background. Don't forget those too Dynamic desktop Section — contains background images that change with the time of day.
You can also access your photo library from the sidebar to set your wallpaper to a photo you love and enjoy seeing every day.
Do you want to spice things up even further? Set the wallpaper to change every hour or add useful information to your desktop with an interactive wallpaper.
2. Set up a custom color scheme
On your Mac, you can mix and match different color presets for system accents and highlights to create a fresh color scheme. To do this, visit System settings > Generally and choose new colors under Accent color and Highlight color. You will then see the updated color scheme reflected on buttons, fields, menus, choices, and other system elements.
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In the same settings area as above, switching to dark mode is another tweak that you might want to consider. It's available on all Macs running macOS Mojave and later, and gives items like the dock, menu bar, app windows, and sidebars a sleek dark look.
Since you can't add system-wide themes to your Mac, it is best to enable application-specific themes. For example, if you use Alfred to control your Mac and have the powerpack activated, you can use a custom theme to change the appearance of Alfred as explained on the Alfred support site.
3. Add icons and backgrounds with personality
You can't just scale icons up or down in the Finder (choose view > Show view options > Symbol size from the menu bar), but also change their appearance with custom icons. When searching online repositories for symbols, don't forget to look for the ICNS extension (which ensures compatibility with macOS).
To change the icon for a folder (or file), first copy the icon file (select and press Command line + C.). Now select the folder whose icon you want to replace and click on file > get information.
In the Folder Inspector that opens, select the icon above and click To edit > paste. Your custom icon should now be in place. If you're not happy with it, select it in the inspector and click Extinguish to return to the default icon.
PNGs and JPGs can also serve as the source of icons, but it is best to use macOS-compatible ICNS images whenever possible.
You can even use an existing symbol as an image source by copying it from the appropriate inspector. For example, here is a screenshot of the music Library folder icon with the Apple Music app icon.
Would you like to exchange the standard app icons? Applications Folder for custom? You can do this for everything except the apps that come with your Mac. But you won't have any problem using system app icons as sources for third-party apps. For example, you can replace the icon for your third-party web browser app with the system icon for Safari.
Did you also know that you can add a new background to the Finder in Icon View? Just choose view > Show view options and choose between the colour and image Options under the background Section.
4. Revise the login screen
To personalize the login screen on your Mac, first switch to a new user picture for your account. You can do that System settings > Users & groups > password.
When you get there, click the existing avatar next to your username to replace it with one from Apple's standard set or your photo library. You can even replace it with a Memoji or an Animoji! Blow Save on computer to place the selected image.
Next, you might want to create a fun lock screen message. To do that, go to System settings > safety > Generally and check the box next to Show a message when the screen is locked.
If the option is grayed out, you need to click on that Lock Icon at the bottom of the window and enter the system password when prompted. You should then be able to start editing.
Then click on the Set lock message , enter what you want the lock screen to say, and click OK. When you restart your Mac, the message will appear at the bottom of the screen, just above Power Options.
5. Get a better looking dock
To personalize your Mac's dock, you should at least tidy it up. Remove the icons from apps you don't use often by dragging out and releasing when you see this Removed prompt. Then pull your favorite apps out of the Applications Folder.
You can also reposition the dock, resize its icons, and set them to enlarge to different degrees as you hover with the cursor. To access the settings for these optimizations, go to System settings > Dock & menu bar. Of course, instead of fiddling with the dock, you can replace it with a third-party customization solution like uBar.
6. Give individual apps a makeover
Play around with the built-in settings for installed apps to give your Mac a more personal touch. For example, if you've installed the Slack desktop app, you can brighten up the Slack sidebar with a new theme.
In the Mac Mail app, change the look of your email by customizing fonts and colors by visiting settings > Fonts & colors. You can also highlight individual messages by selecting them and using. choose a new color format > Show colors.
You can also get a new skin for the terminal via settings > Profiles when you open it. Select one of the designs available in the sidebar and click on default to set your selection as the default. You need to restart Terminal for the new color profile to appear.
If you are a dark mode enthusiast, how about you enable dark mode in your favorite Mac apps? Ulysses, Bear, Things, Tweetbot, Spark and a few other apps support Dark Mode.
7. Add custom sounds to the Mac
You don't have to limit your personalization efforts to visual changes. How about adding some audio tweaks too? For starters, you can select a different system voice as the default from System settings > Accessibility > Spoken content > System voice. Next, choose a new alert tone System settings > sound > Sound effects.
You can even set your Mac to tell the time at set intervals from. announces System settings > Appointment time > clock.
Have you customized your Mac desktop yet?
As you can see above, with a little thought, time, and effort you can really make your Mac desktop your own. Once you do that it will be even more enjoyable to look at and work with. After you've done all of these visual tweaks, it's time to turn your attention to making everyday tasks on your Mac easier.
11 little tips to make everyday tasks on your Mac easier
Do you want to work more efficiently on your Mac? Try implementing some of these small but useful changes to save a few minutes.
About the author
(400 published articles)
Akshata was trained in manual testing, animation, and UX design before moving to technology and writing. This brought together two of her favorite pastimes – understanding systems and simplifying technical jargon. At MakeUseOf, Akshata writes about getting the most out of your Apple devices.
From Akshata Shanbhag
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