How to Change the Appearance of the Toolbar on a Mac

By Andrew Tennyson

Instructions apply to iMacs, MacBooks and all other Apple devices running OS X Yosemite.
i Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Modifying your computer's toolbars can help to simplify regular tasks and improve the overall aesthetics of the operating system. You can customize the look and layout of both the Dock and the menu bar on your Mac computer. Changes to both toolbars are made primarily through your Mac's System Preferences panel.

Adding and Removing Items From the Dock

The Dock is the menu generally found at the bottom of your Mac’s screen. It’s home to app icons, folders and the trash. To add a folder or application to the Dock, drag its icon from your applications folder, the desktop or the Finder and drop the icon onto the Dock at the location where you want it to appear. You can also drag and drop existing items on the Dock to rearrange their order. To remove something, drag it up and away from the Dock until a puff of smoke appears.

Changing the Look and Location of the Dock

You can also change the Dock’s style and its location using its dedicated preferences panel. Click the “Apple” logo in the top-left corner of your Mac’s screen, choose “System Preferences” and then select “Dock.” Move the “Size” slider to change the size of Dock icons. Place a check mark in the “Magnification” check box to enable magnification whenever you move your mouse pointer over a Dock icon. If you enable magnification, drag the associated slider to adjust the size of the magnification effect. Click the “Left,” “Bottom” or “Right” radio button to set the location of the Dock on your Mac’s screen. Place a check mark in the “Automatically hide and show the dock” check box to have the Dock slide out of sight whenever it’s not in use.

Changing the Menu Bar's Colors

The menu bar along the top of your Mac’s screen is the other toolbar commonly used on your Mac. Like the Dock, its appearance can also be customized. Click the “Apple” menu in the top corner of your screen, select “System Preferences” and then choose “General” to load the General preferences panel. Here you can change the menu bar’s style and highlight color. Close the General preferences panel to save your changes. To change the level of transparency used for the menu bar's drop-down submenus, click “Accessibility” in System Preferences, select “Display” and check the “Reduce transparency” check box.

Activating Dark Mode

Dark Mode changes the overall look and feel of both the menu bar and the Dock from a light color scheme to a dark one. To activate Dark Mode, click “General” on the System Preferences panel and place a check mark in the “Use Dark Menu Bar and Dock” check box.