Mac Tip

macOS Big Sur: How to customize the Dock and menu bar

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.

New to Mac? Learn the basics of your menu bar

MacBook desktop - learn the menu bar

One of the key tools you have on your Mac is the menu bar. This handy dandy toolbar sits across the top of your screen and gives you access to everything you need on your Mac.

For those new to macOS, the menu bar can be a little tough to understand in some situations. Plus, you have ways to customize it exactly as you’d like it, as long as you know how.

If you’re a new Mac user, we want to help make your macOS experience as productive and efficient as it can be. So, here are the basics of the menu bar that you need to know along with some tips to help you use it more effectively.

How to put a calendar and time zones in the Mac Menu Bar

MacBook Screen with Dato App

Having the date and time in your menu bar, can be quite useful of course, but what if you could have a bit more? Maybe you’re working on a project and need to see the week number at a glance. Or maybe you’d like to view what’s on your schedule for the day without opening the Calendar app.

You can have items like this viewable and quickly accessible right from your menu bar with an app called Dato. Here’s what Dato gives you and how to use it.

How to add the weather forecast to your Mac menu bar

Weather Indicator for Mac

The menu bar on your Mac is a handy spot to quickly see the date, time, or battery level, plus have fast access to your Notification Center, Spotlight Search, or Siri. So, why not have your weather conditions there too? Then at a glance you can check the current temperature and click for your forecast.

Instead of opening a separate app to get these details; here’s how to add the weather forecast to your Mac menu bar.

How to automatically hide the Menu Bar on Mac

One of the more under the radar features of macOS is the ability to auto-hide the menu bar. Just like the Dock, which has long had the ability to auto-hide, the menu bar can be hidden until needed.

Auto-hiding the menu bar brings the obvious benefit of having more on screen real estate and less distraction. With both the Dock and menu bar set to auto-hide, you can experience a shockingly clean interface as you go about your work.

How to quickly find your Mac’s Wi-Fi IP address from the menu bar

By now, perhaps you've caught on to the trend that the Alt/Option key (⌥) allows you to do some really nifty things with regard to the menu bar on your Mac. For example, clicking the volume button on the menu bar while holding the ⌥ key lets you switch audio outputs and inputs with ease.

As you might have already gathered, the same principal applies to the Wi-Fi button on the menu bar. By holding the ⌥ key while clicking the Wi-Fi button, you gain access to a plethora of technical details related to your Mac's Wi-Fi connection.

How to quickly toggle dark mode using a keyboard shortcut on Mac

Dark mode is one of the more popular features of OS X Yosemite, because it allows you to add a dark tint to both the dock and the menu bar on Mac. The standard way to enable dark mode involves venturing to System Preferences, opening the General section, and clicking on the enable dark mode option. But wouldn't it be cool if you could toggle dark mode using a simple keyboard shortcut?

How to make third-party menu bar icons look better with dark mode on Mac

OS X Yosemite introduced a new dark mode option to change the tint color of both the menu bar and the dock in OS X. While I'm a big fan of dark mode, some of the third-party apps that I use have not been updated to play nice with dark mode. This results in menu bar icons that look weird with dark mode enabled, because they don't invert after toggling dark mode on.

If you're someone who always uses dark mode and never switches to regular mode, there is a way to force these menu bar icons to look better with dark mode enabled...

Mastering the menu bar’s volume button on Mac

The volume button in the menu bar seems extremely simple on the surface. When you click the button, you're met with a basic volume slider for adjusting your Mac's audio output. But there's more than meets the eye when it comes to this tiny menu bar control.

For example, did you know that you can also use the volume button to change your Mac's sound output device, input device, and quickly access the sound preferences? Or what about its ability to change the volume of macOS' alert sounds? Indeed, the unassuming volume button packs quite the utilitarian punch.

How to restart the menu bar on Mac

On rare occasions, I encounter a frozen menu bar on my Mac. Perhaps you too have encountered a scenario where the beach ball appears when hovering over the menu bar. A lot of time, this can be resolved by killing the single app that's causing problems. In other situations, you may need to completely kill and restart the menu bar to do the job.