Mission Control

After Mission Control debuted on the Mac, it seems like Hot Corners became more obscure. Perhaps that’s all in my mind, but I never seem to find anyone who actually uses these things anymore. That’s a shame, because the Hot Corner, in my opinion, is one of the most useful tools for using a Mac more efficiently. It speeds up my workflow significantly, and I could never imagine using OS X without them.

To me, Hot Corners are like the oil to my workflow. Yes you can get things done without them, but there’s a lot more friction when you don’t. Here’s how to use them, and here’s why you should be using them, too.

Hot Corners allow you to use the four corners of your Mac’s display as a trigger for invoking one of several configurable actions. For example, I have my bottom left Hot Corner configured to show me the desktop when I place my mouse pointer in that corner.

Why is this useful? Well, for one, it’s quicker than using a keyboard shortcut to do so, because a Hot Corner can be invoked with no more than a flick of the wrist. It’s also very reliable, and it’s guaranteed to work no matter where you are on your Mac. I know for a fact that whenever I place my mouse pointer in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, my desktop will instantly be displayed, every time.

So how do you set up Hot Corners? Well, I suggest that you watch the video above, because it gives a good explanation as to how, and why Hot Corners are so useful. But setting up Hot Corners is as simple as this:

Step 1: open the System Preferences app

Step 2: click Mission Control

Step 3: click the Hot Corners button in the bottom left-hand corner

Step 4: configure one or more of the four active screen corners using the drop-down boxes. You can also use the Shift, Control, Option, or Command buttons to force a combination of the keyboard command and the Hot Corner.

Step 5: if you wish to remove an assignment for an active screen corner, assign it with a “-“, which will turn that active screen corner off

The following commands are available to assign to any Hot Corner:

  • Mission Control
  • Application Windows
  • Desktop
  • Dashboard
  • Notification Center
  • Launchpad
  • Start Screen Saver
  • Disable Screen Saver
  • Put Display to Sleep

Here is what my configuration currently looks like:

Hot Corners Configuration

I love having this setup, because it provides me with so many quick controls that I can instantly execute just by moving my mouse. I seriously would hate to think about using OS X without these controls; it’s fantastic.

Do you use Hot Corners? If not, are you a believer now? Sound off down below with your thoughts and reasonings.

  • Ramlec

    I do all of that with my trackpad. I think is more efficient that way 🙂

    • Utrarunner5

      It is nice though when you connect your MacBook to an external display and you don’t use a Magic Mouse.

      • Ramlec

        Sure, I agree with you. I used to use (not sure about that, sorry) Hot Corners even with my Magic Mouse, it’s just not the case anymore for me 🙂

    • Damian

      Trackpad is the best thing that happened to macs

  • Zach Krase

    Didn’t know this was a feature! Thanks Ben!

  • daniel 

    I use the upper right corner to activate Notification Center for about a year now. I am surprised by how nice this is to have.

    • jonathanober

      Wouldn’t two finger swiping from right to left bring up notification center? Or are you talking about something different? There is also an icon to bring notifications out. Why would you also need a hot corner for notification center?

      • daniel 

        I know I can use that two finger gesture, but for me it’s more convenient to just go to the upper right corner with the cursor. I’ve set it to almost full speed in the System Preferences, so it’s really quick. I don’t want to click on that button, because I always use the upper part of the trackpad and you can’t click there. You can change it so you only have to tap on the trackpad, but then I make more mistakes.

      • jonathanober

        tap on trackpad is annoying. Especially if you have multiple screens and rest your hands. You end up accidentally tapping something.

  • Casey H.

    I have been using the bottom right corner to sleep the display on my MacBook pro for years. It has become habit to just run my pointer to the bottom right every time I leave my MacBook.

  • Flybynight

    I’ve been using hot corners for years. Especially great to see Spaces immediately and I’ve assigned it to the bottom left. So is four finger swipe up on the trackpad which works to view your Spaces. I recently moved to a two finger tap to get the Secondary Menu. I had it set up as right corner click because of my decades with Windows. Now I know what I’ve been missing lol. I also use key combinations. Saves so much time. Maybe do a future article on some key combinations.

    • jonathanober

      Three finger swipe up is the default for Spaces, I think.

      • Flybynight

        Yes it is. I use both…..either my hot corner or three finger swipe up. The other day I found out about the five finger swipe out to reveal the desktop 🙂

      • jonathanober

        six finger swipe to look like an idiot 🙂 Five Finger slide out or swipe out is a nice one. I don’t use hot corners because I always forget which one I assigned to do what.

  • O_O

    Is pointless and worthless, Only useful thing there, is sleep display to save battery but all the other stuff is way faster to just use your trackpad also some stuff doesn’t work in fullscreen mode like ‘show desktop’ which should and is stupid that it doesn’t

    • Chetan

      Tell me how you do that drag drop which Jeff showed with trackpad gestures?

      • O_O

        People don’t usually work like that but in any case, You can use the the trackpad show desktop gesture then you press the image press cmd c then use the SD gesture again and press cmd v. Honestly, it takes the same amount of time you ain’t doing yourself any favours plus dragging and dropping with a trackpad is awkward anyway, it’s like it’s one setback.

    • It may be pointless for your workflow and how you work, but it’s definitely not pointless and/or useless for others. Some people still use mice, and even with a trackpad, I still use these.

  • Chetan

    Doesn’t the top left hot corner obstruct your accessing of apple menu and app menu?

    • No.

    • Andrew

      Nope. It has to actually go all the way into the corner (past the Apple logo).

  • Panja

    To be honest I never checked the hot corners out. But after watching the vid I have now setup top left and right to show desktop. Bottom right and left to display sleep. Application window is already been set for my trackpad.
    I think I like this setup now! 🙂 Cheers Jeff

  • Brad

    Jeff, how do you set it up so that when you hovered over your Chrome icon that it showed the available windows? I’m switching to OSX gradually (triple-boot hack-book pro FTW), and have been missing that.

  • Andrew

    I love hot corners. I have (clockwise from top left) Mission Control, Desktop, Application Windows, and Screen Saver set up. I like it a lot.

  • Tronjheim79

    I used to heavily use Hot Corners back in Leopard and Snow Leopard. Ever since multi-touch gestures were introduced, I’ve shifted to the latter. Plus, I can do so much more with BetterTouchTools.

  • Nathan Smith

    Why has bettertouchtool not being mentioned i can’t live without it and. Either can anyone I have ever introduced. Sebastian, hire me so I can write up some additional review In my spare time.

    • Flybynight

      Is BetterTouchTool free or just a free trial period?

      • Nathan Smith

        Free!
        I can share my settings with anyone who is interested

      • Nathan Smith

        Absolutely Free!

  • João Lyra Araujo

    I miss the way of Spaces works on Snow Leopard. I wish I could have it back.

  • Nicolò Paternoster

    With El Capitan and a window in fullscreen mode, the show desktop corner isn’t working anymore…. FFFFFF***