I love my Mac precisely because it doesn’t need customization. OS X is functional and beautiful out of the box and doesn’t require fixing on the most part. It’s a mature, stable Unix-based system with Apple-level money behind its gorgeous design. What’s not to like?

That being said, OS X isn’t perfect. It’ll never be all things to everyone. There may be that one thing you want to change and wish you could customize. That’s why we’ve composed a comprehensive guide to customizing everything important in OS X.

Customizing Your Mac

OS X is a beautiful-looking system, but it could always use a little spitshine. Here’s how to change some of the aesthetic bits.

How to Change the Looks of Your Mac

For interface customization, you’ll want GeekTool. It’s a neat program for customizing your Mac’s interface and adding all kinds of useful information to the desktop.


(image credit)

With GeekTool, you can do things like:
* Display system info such as memory, CPU usage, and battery
* Show tasks from productivity apps
* Put calendars on your desktop
* Display the time and date

If you need inspiration, check out /r/GeekTool, a subreddit of fellow Mac customization nerds.

There are a ton of useful options there, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who’s ever wanted a transparent dock or for their desktop to display the weather like Windows’ widgets do.


Yosemite brought a new aesthetic problem to non-Retina Macs- a new font clearly designed for HD screens. The older Lucinda Grande font looks better to a lot of people on standard-definition screens.

Mac geeks put together a small script to change the system font back to Lucinda Grande. Installation instructions are included on the download website.

How to Change the Functionality

For changing features, check out our guide for fixing some of the biggest annoyances on OS X.

You can also use Mountain Tweaks to customize some of the system-level behavior in OS X. There are options to toggle:

  • The user Library folder
  • System window animation
  • Permanent scrollbars
  • Hidden files
  • Highlight Stack items on mouseover
  • Colors in Finder sidebar
  • Gatekeeper
  • Smooth scrolling
  • Rubber-banding when scrolling

Basically, if there’s something about OS X’s behavior, check out Mountain Tweaks.

For me, the biggest thing that annoyed me coming to OS X was the lack of a delete key and a cut command. The best advice is to get used to Cmd-C and Cmd-Opt-V.

If you can’t get used to that, check out Xtrafinder. It’s a useful little app that adds Cmd-X support to OS X and auto-sorts folders at the top of the page.

How to Add Custom Keyboard Commands to Everything


MacBook trackpads are excellent, but they’re still more awkward than using keyboard shortcuts for everything. I prefer to memorize as much as I can and be more efficient from the keyboard.

To help with that, check out Quicksilver. I’ve written about it before in glowing terms. When you realize how powerful it is, Quicksilver becomes indispensable.

I use Quicksilver every time I open my computer to launch apps, move and rename files, send email and basically run my computer from the keyboard. It’s usually faster that way.

Power users and keyboard shortcut nerds looking for a faster way to work on OS X should absolutely try out Quicksilver. It’s amazing.
Alternatively, some people like Alfred. It’s more based on custom scripts than Quicksilver, but it enjoys more developer support and popularity.

Both apps are great choices.

How to Fix the Mouse With BetterTouchTool

If you are into using the touchpad or a regular mouse, check out BetterTouchTool. It adds a crazy amount of customization to mouse actions for the entire system or specific apps.

There are options for three-finger taps and different gestures. These can be attached to scripts, apps or actions.

The real draw is in launching scripts from mouse gestures. Linking AppleScript opens the door. Want to launch Chrome with a four-finger double-tap? Done. The sky’s the limit here.

Final Thoughts

What are some of the ways you like to customize your Mac? Let us know in the comments below!