Skip to main content

How to use Control Center in MacOS Big Sur

MacOS Big Sur brings some big changes, and one of the best is the introduction of the Control Center. As in iOS 14, this puts common system controls at your fingertips for easy access. You no longer have to go digging around in System Preferences — everything you need is right at the top of the screen.

In this guide, we will show you all you need to know about this handy MacOS Big Sur feature, including a few nifty tricks to get the most out of the Control Center and customize it to your liking.

Step 1: Basic controls

How to use Control Center in MacOS Big Sur step 1
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You will notice that, like in older versions of MacOS, there are some icons in the menu bar by default. Click on one of them to get basic controls and information for things like your Mac’s battery level and Wi-Fi details.

On the right-hand side of the menu bar is the Control Center icon (it looks like a couple of sliders). Click it to see an iOS-style palette of controls and options. There are sliders here for Display and Sound, which give you much more fine-grained control than the standard MacOS keyboard shortcuts do for these settings.

Step 2: Go deeper

How to use Control Center in MacOS Big Sur step 2
Image used with permission by copyright holder

On the Control Center palette, you can click on a widget to get deeper controls. For example, click Do Not Disturb and you will see options to turn it on for one hour, until the evening, until the next day, or to turn it on permanently. There is also a shortcut to the Do Not Disturb options in System Preferences. To return to the main Control Center panel, click the Control Center icon in the menu bar.

Step 3: Drag and drop Control Center widgets

How to use Control Center in MacOS Big Sur step 3
Image used with permission by copyright holder

One of our favorite features of the new Control Center is how easy it is to customize. If you find yourself frequently opening Control Center and returning to a certain setting, you can make it easier to access by moving it to the menu bar at the top of your Mac.

All you have to do is click and drag the widget from the Control Center onto the menu bar. When you drag it over, the other icons on the menu bar will make a space for the one you are moving from the Control Center. Release your mouse button to drop the icon into place.

Step 4: Rearrange your menu bar icons

How to use Control Center in MacOS Big Sur step 4
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Once you have dropped a widget onto the menu bar, you can move it to a new position by holding the Command key and clicking and dragging it. This can be done with any icon on the menu bar (except Siri and the Control Center icon).

You can also remove an icon from the menu bar entirely, which is useful if you feel the space is getting a little too crowded. To do so, simply hold Command and drag and drop the desired icon from the menu bar onto the desktop space. It will disappear from the menu bar.

Step 5: Customize with System Preferences

How to use Control Center in MacOS Big Sur step 5
Image used with permission by copyright holder

There is another way to alter the Control Center and the menu bar and customize your Mac’s appearance. Open System Preferences and click Dock & Menu Bar. Here you will see various options in a column on the left-hand side, all sorted into various sections.

Click on a setting in the Control Center section. The widget’s position in the Control Center will be highlighted, along with an option to show it in the menu bar. Simply tick the checkbox and it will appear at the top of the screen.

In the Other Modules section are widgets that can be added to both the Control Center and the menu bar. Tick the checkbox next to Show in Menu Bar or Show in Control Center and they will appear, with their position highlighted in System Preferences. Some, like Battery, have additional options here too.

Finally, the Menu Bar Only section houses icons that will not appear in Control Center. You can add them to the menu bar, however.

Editors' Recommendations

Alex Blake
In ancient times, people like Alex would have been shunned for their nerdy ways and strange opinions on cheese. Today, he…
Don’t download the latest macOS Ventura update just yet
The 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Max chip seen from behind.

We have a warning if your MacBook or other Mac machine is still running macOS Ventura. The latest macOS Ventura 13.6.6 update is bringing a lot of big bugs, and it is affecting the way that people are using their favorite Apple products, so you might want to hold off on downloading the update.

Originally released back on March 25, this problematic update came at the same time as macOS Sonoma 14.4.1, which patched issues with Java, USB hubs, and more. Unfortunately, though, macOS Ventura 13.6.6 is introducing some new issues of its own. Spotted by the folks at GottaBeMobile, Mac users have taken to Apple's support forums to complain of everyday issues linked to this release that are breaking their Macs.

Read more
How to take a screenshot on a Mac
The keyboard and trackpad of the MacBook Pro 14-inch.

For most new Mac users -- especially if they're coming from Windows -- one of the first questions they need to ask is how to take a screenshot on a Mac? There's no dedicated Print Screen key like there is on Windows, but there is keyboard shortcut, and if you want something more akin to Microsoft's Windows Snipping tool, there are some great screenshot apps you can use, too.

Here's how to take a screenshot on a Mac in a few different ways.
How to take a screenshot using keyboard shortcuts
MacOS keyboard shortcuts are the quickest ways to take screenshots, whether you're capturing the entire screen or just a portion. By default, Apple's methods save your screenshot to the desktop, but if you want to copy the screenshot to the clipboard, there's a keyboard shortcut you can use instead.
How to capture a selected area

Read more
The best Mac keyboard shortcuts for 2024
Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display review hand on mouse

Many Mac owners swear that keyboard shortcuts help simplify their lives. If you’re new to a Mac, learning all the available keyboard shortcuts can be a real challenge. Quite a few of these shortcuts will now work in iPadOS, too, thanks to the Magic Keyboard available to iPad Pro users.

We’ve put together a list of the most important shortcuts you should know. You can also take a look at our list of the best Mac apps for even more Apple shortcuts.
The most important shortcuts

Read more