8 MacOS Settings You Should Change Right Away

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By changing a few MacOS settings, you can boost your privacy and productivity on your Mac.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

If you’ve ever used a Mac, you’ve probably realized how much Apple puts a lot of emphasis on making its computers easy to use, intuitive, and secure. Many of your Mac’s default settings are there to make using the device as simple and convenient as possible, but you also have many options to adjust settings and customize your experience beyond what is offered by default.

If you want to improve your privacy and productivity on your Mac, you can change several MacOS settings. We’ll show you where to find these settings, how to change them, and why they’re important.

Here are eight MacOS settings you can change if you want to boost your productivity and privacy.

Automatic software updates

Keeping your MacOS up to date is one of the easiest and most effective ways to: stay safe and improve your online privacy† It’s important to keep your operating system up to date because updates will fix known security vulnerabilities, protecting you from someone who might exploit vulnerabilities on your Mac. And if you set up your Mac to automatically update itself, you don’t have to worry about constantly checking for updates manually.

To enable automatic updates, click the Apple icon > About This Mac > Software Update > Keep My Mac Up To Date Automatically. From the Advanced menu, you can also set your Mac to automatically download and install MacOS and app updates from the App Store.


Hot Corners

Hot Corners are customizable shortcuts that make navigating and activating certain features on your Mac easier. After you set them up, you can access Hot Corners is as simple as moving your cursor to any of the four corners of your screen. For example, I’ve set up my Hot Corners to show all application windows (top left), activate my screensaver (top right), navigate to my Launchpad (bottom left), and show my desktop (bottom right).

To activate Hot Corners, click the Apple icon > System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Hot Corners. You can then select your preferences for which action to take for each corner of your screen.


Adjust your battery settings

Replacing Mac batteries is expensive and complicated, but Mac’s optimized battery charging feature can help make the most of the life of your device† This feature learns your daily charging routines and waits to charge above 80% until you need to run your Mac on battery.

To enable this setting, click the Apple icon > System Preferences > Battery > Optimized Battery Charging.


Requires password immediately after sleep or screen saver

When you go back to the office or work from a public place, it’s imperative that your Mac is properly secured. Make sure your Mac is locked when you step off it and that you need a password to access it again once it goes to sleep or the screensaver is activated. If you don’t enable this setting, anyone with physical access to your Mac can also access the files on the device, any applications or services you’re signed in to, and other information such as online account logins and passwords.

To enable this setting, click the Apple icon > System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General. Then check the box next to Require password after sleep or screen saver starts and set it to immediately.


Encrypt your drive with FileVault

Make sure your drive is encrypted so you can prevent your files and sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands in case your Mac is ever lost or stolen. Apple’s FileVault feature makes encrypting your Mac easy.

To enable FileVault, click the Apple icon > System Preferences > Security & Privacy > FileVault. Click the lock icon, enter your password, and click Enable FileVault.


Enable Night Shift

Staring at a bright, blue screen all day can be bad for your eyes and may disturb your sleep† Night shift saves your eyes by shifting the colors of your screen to the warmer end of the spectrum. You can set Night Shift to activate automatically from dusk to dawn, on a custom schedule, or turn on manually at any time.

To enable Night Shift, click the Apple icon > System Preferences > Displays > Night Shift.


Automate Do Not Disturb

Use Do Not Disturb mode to avoid daily distractions or make sure you won’t be disturbed after you’ve clocked out. When enabled, the Do Not Disturb feature puts app notifications on hold.

To automate the Do Not Disturb feature on your Mac, click the Apple icon > System Preferences > Notifications > Do Not Disturb. From this window, you can set the feature to turn on automatically during a certain time of day, when mirroring to a TV, or when the screen is locked or the screen is asleep.


Change the default web browser

Your Mac comes with Apple’s Safari browser preinstalled. But if Safari isn’t your preferred browser, you can easily change your default browser to Chrome if that helps you be more productive or to a more privacy-focused browser like Brave

To change your default browser, click the Apple icon > System Preferences > General. Then set your preferred browser from the drop-down menu next to Default web browser. Make sure that you have already downloaded your browser of choice so that it will appear in the drop-down list when you go to change it.


For more MacOS tips, check out CNET’s advice on: what to look for and change when setting up a new MacBook and how to use your super powers on mac† If you’re upgrading to a new Mac, make sure to check how to transfer your files and apps from your old Mac. And once you’re all set, take a moment to change these browser settings to protect your privacy

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