Dock and Menu Bar in System Preferences

If you’ve installed macOS Big Sur, then you’re probably still getting used to the new look and improved features. But with that, you still need to make your Mac work the best it can for you. Which means, arranging your Dock and menu bar effectively.

Neither of these have significant changes, and most you can figure out on your own. But there are a few new things you should know. So here, we’ll show you how to customize the Dock and menu bar on Mac running Big Sur or later.

Your Mac’s Dock and menu bar

Dock and menu bar changes

What was once labeled Dock in your System Preferences is now called Dock & Menu Bar. So even though you can still use some shortcuts to adjust settings (which we’ll describe below), you can also do it in a spot that makes sense.

Preferences location

Open your System Preferences with the button in your Dock or the Apple icon in the menu bar. Select Dock & Menu Bar and then check out your options below.

Dock and Menu Bar in System Preferences

Appearance

Along with the customization options, Apple made a few changes to the appearance of each tool. The Dock is now “floating” so you’ll see space between it and the edge of your screen. It’s also more translucent. The menu bar is a bit taller and more transparent too. Plus, you’ll see the words in the menu bar darken or lighten to match your desktop background.

Related: How to make Dark Mode even darker on your Mac

Both the shortcut menus for icons in the Dock and drop-down menus for items in the menu bar have an improved appearance as well.

Menu Bar Help Menu

Customize the Dock

Make sure Dock & Menu Bar is selected on the left side. You’ll then see settings for the Dock that should look pretty familiar to you.

Use the slider at the top to adjust the Dock’s size, pick a position for it on your screen, select an animation for minimizing windows, and choose other options like automatically hiding and showing the Dock.

Dock in System Preferences

Dock shortcuts

If you prefer handy shortcuts for a few of these settings, they are still available. Click the separator in your Dock and drag to resize it. Or, right-click the separator to do things like turn on hiding and change the position. You’ll also see an option in the shortcut menu that takes you right to those settings in System Preferences > Dock & Menu Bar explained above.

Dock Shortcut Menu

Customize the menu bar

In that same area of System Preferences > Dock & Menu Bar, you’ll see an option below the Dock settings to automatically hide and show the Menu Bar. So if you wondered where this setting went, it’s in a sensible spot.

Menu Bar in System Preferences

For items that only display in the menu bar, scroll down the left side of that Preferences window. Under Menu Bar Only, choose Clock, Spotlight, Siri, or Time Machine. Currently, the last three items only give you an option to display it in the menu bar using a simple checkmark. The Clock offers a few extras you can check out.

For the Clock, you can show the date and customize its display, choose the type of clock you want, and enable the super handy Announce the time feature.

Dock and Menu Bar Clock Settings

The rest of the items in the left-hand sidebar can also be added to your menu bar if you like. Just select one and check the box for Show in Menu Bar. This is ideal for items you use daily.

Menu bar shortcuts

Do you prefer shortcuts for organizing the menu bar? You can still easily pull items you never use out of the menu bar like before. Hold your Command key while you drag an icon out of the menu bar and release.

Drag Icon Out of Menu Bar

But there’s more! Now that Apple introduced Control Center on Mac with the same look and feel as Control Center on iOS, you can use it to put icons in your menu bar.

Open Control Center using the cool new icon in the menu bar. Select and drag an item from it to the spot you want it in the menu bar and release. Easy peasy!

Drag Control Center Icon to Menu Bar

And like on previous versions of macOS, hold the Command key to drag icons in the menu bar to rearrange them.

Wrapping it up

Hopefully you like the enhancements to the Dock and menu bar that macOS Big Sur brought us. Whether you appreciate the updated appearance, dedicated spot for settings, or ability to pin items quickly, let us know your new favorite feature!

For more, check out Evan’s article: The 6 most interesting new features in macOS Big Sur.