macOS gives you plenty of options to customize and configure however you want. However, if you love tinkering with your computers, chances are Mac’s built-in settings aren’t enough for you. Luckily, there are plenty of hidden settings in macOS Big Sur that you can play around with. So if you’re looking to completely customize your Mac experience, here’s how to easily access hidden Mac settings.

Access Hidden Mac Settings

There are several ways to access hidden settings on a Mac. You can of course use the Terminal; something we will discuss in a later section. Or, you can go ahead and use apps that allow you to change these settings without having to use the terminal at all.

I will discuss both methods in this article so that you can choose which one you prefer. You can use the table of contents below to jump to the method you want to try.

1. Use Hidden Mac Settings with TinkerTool

First we will discuss the easy way to change secret settings in Mac. For this we will use an application called TinkerTool (To download). It’s a free app, so you don’t have to worry about paying to start changing your Mac settings.

Once TinkerTool is installed, simply launch it from the Launchpad or by searching for it in Spotlight (or a Spotlight alternative like Alfred). You’ll notice a bunch of categories at the top, such as Finder, Apps, Fonts, and more.

Within each of these categories, you will find category-specific settings that you can change. For example, in the Finder tab, you can show hidden files, show path in title, and even add a close option to Finder.

You can also use the Dock category to completely customize your Dock. As you can see, this offers many more options than those offered by System Preferences on a Mac. You can even add spacer tiles to your Dock if you want a more personalized look.

What I really like is the General tab. Here I can easily change Mac screenshot formats to anything from the default PNG files to JPG and even PSD files. You can also disable screenshot preview, disable shadows, etc.

As you can see, TinkerTool gives you access to many hidden settings in macOS, giving you more control over your Mac settings. Most of the changes here will require you to restart the Finder, Dock, etc. However, TinkerTool offers buttons to quickly do these things, like the “Relaunch Dock” button.

2. Restore hidden Mac settings with TinkerTool

If you’re like me, you probably went crazy and changed all the settings you could. While that’s fine, if you’ve changed a bunch of things that you don’t really want to change, you can also easily restore the settings with TinkerTool.

Simply click on the “Reset” tab and click on “Reset to pre-TinkerTool state”. You can also click “Reset Defaults” if you want.

3. Use Terminal to Change Hidden Settings in macOS

While TinkerTool is a very easy way to change your Mac’s hidden settings, all of these settings can also be changed using Terminal commands. Obviously, this requires you to know the commands to use, which can be tricky to find.

Still, you’ll be able to find these commands with a quick online search, and once you have them, you can easily use them in Terminal. I will show you the command to show and hide hidden files on desktop using Terminal in this example.

  • Open the terminal.
  • Type the following command

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -boolean true

  • Press the enter/return key.
  • Now type the following command

Killall Finder

  • This will relaunch Finder and you will be able to see the hidden files on your Mac.

To note: By the way, you can use the command “defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -boolean false” to hide hidden files as well.

Basically, all of the settings that TinkerTool gives you access to can also be used through the terminal. All you have to do is find the required command and just run it in the Terminal app.

4. FAQs

Q. How do I show hidden files in Terminal?

It’s easy to show hidden files in Terminal. You should check out our article on hiding and showing files on Mac for a detailed step-by-step guide. While you’re at it, also check out our articles on Hiding Desktop Icons and the Finder Preview Pane on Mac.

Q. How do I find a hidden library on Mac?

You can either use the “command + shift + G” shortcut, then type “~/Library”. Or, you can open the Finder, press the “option” key and click on the “Go” option in the menu bar. You will see the library mentioned in the list.

Q. How to fix preferences error on Mac?

There are a few solutions you can try. First, make sure your Apple ID is logged in. If so, sign out and sign back in to iCloud.

Finally, you can try restarting your Mac to see if that fixes the preferences error.

Q. Where is the Command key on a Mac?

The command key is on either side of the spacebar on a Mac keyboard.

Q. How do I see hidden apps on Mac?

Some apps are hidden on Mac. To view them, open Finder and press “command+shift+G”. Type “/System/Library/CoreServices/Applications” and press Enter.

Q. Why are the files hidden?

Files are hidden on a Mac for several reasons. These may be system files that users do not need access to. Otherwise, they may be files that have been hidden by another user using terminal commands.

Boost Your macOS Experience with Hidden Mac Settings

Using hidden settings on your Mac is a great way to have even more control over how your computer runs. You can enable or disable hidden files, restrict Finder, change Dock settings and more. You can also make your Mac keep certain apps in light mode all the time, even if you’re using the system-wide dark mode.

Also, as we have discussed in this article, there is not just one way to achieve this. You can use apps like TinkerTool, or even Terminal depending on your needs and comfort level using the command line. So what hidden settings do you think you can change on your Mac? Let us know in the comments. Also, if you liked this article, you will also like our article on methods to recover deleted files on Mac. Don’t forget to check it out.