• Home

  • Productivity

  • App tips

App tips

4 min read

Tweak these settings to make your Mac's screen feel bigger

How to hide the dock and menu bar on a Mac and add multiple desktops to free up space

By Justin Pot · May 20, 2020
hide-dock-and-menu-bar-on-mac primary img

You're doing serious business on your Mac—so much serious business that it doesn't all fit on your screen. You might think you need to buy several large monitors to contain all of your business, and maybe that's true. But a few tweaks can free up a lot of space on your Mac, which just might be enough to accommodate all of the business you need to be doing.

For example, some tasks are easier with multiple windows open side-by-side. I like to have a browser window open for research and another application open for taking notes. This isn't easy if you're using a Mac with the default settings—there's not enough room to put two decently sized windows alongside each other. Here's how my screen looks before any adjustments.

Two Mac windows with default settings

A single Chrome window takes up almost all of my screen space, making it hard to take notes. The dock and menu bar also take up a decent amount of vertical space, which makes it even more crowded.

You can free up space by adjusting the display settings, hiding the dock, and hiding the menu bar. This gives you a lot more room to work with.

Two Mac windows after tweaking the settings

Here's a quick guide to doing all of that, plus tips on setting up multiple desktops for even more room.

Shrink your Mac's windows

The first thing you're going to do is adjust the display settings, shrinking how much room everything takes up. Head to System Preferences, which you can find by clicking the Apple logo in your menu bar and clicking System Preferences. Next, click Displays.


Under Resolution, check the Scaled option.

Display Scaled option in macOS System Preferences

This will bring up a number of scaling options. Click More Space, if it's available.

The More Space option in macOS System Preferences

Your screen will adjust, and you'll quickly notice that everything takes up a lot less room.

More room after tweaking the settings

Note that, if your Mac has multiple displays, you'll need to configure this setting on each of them.

The potential downside here is that everything is a little bit smaller. To me, the tradeoff is worth it. For you, it might not be—particularly if you find yourself squinting at the computer already. I suggest you give it a shot and see if you like it because you can always change it back later.

You've now freed up some serious space for some serious business, but you need more. Let's keep going.

How to hide the dock on a Mac

The dock, by default, is always there. But do you need to see all of your icons all the time? Does knowing that you have 103 emails waiting for you really make you more productive?

The dock taking up space like a jerk

I don't think so. You can hide it by right-clicking or control-clicking the horizontal line that separates sections, then clicking Turn Hiding On.

Turn hiding on for the macOS Dock

This will hide the dock by default, freeing up a bunch of vertical space.

The dock is gone

You might miss your dock. That's understandable, but don't worry—it's not gone. You can visit it anytime by moving your pointer to the bottom of the screen. It will pop back up for you. But when you don't need it, it won't take up any space, meaning you have more room for all of your serious business.

If you're not ready to hide the dock altogether, there's a compromise: you can shrink it. Hover your mouse over the line that separates the sides of your dock, then click-and-drag up and down to resize.

Click and drag this little line here

You can make a tiny dock.

Tiny dock in macOS

You can optionally right-click, or control-click, and Turn Magnification On.

Turn on magnification

This will expand whatever icon your mouse is currently hovered over, allowing you to see more detail.

Magnification in action

How to hide the menu bar on a Mac

Want to free up just a little more room? You can also hide the menu bar at the top of the screen. Head back to System Preferences, then click General. You'll find the option to Automatically hide and show the menu bar.

The option to hide the menu bar in System Preferences on macOS

Check that box, and the menu bar will be hidden by default.

Now the menu bar is hidden hooray

Again, the menu bar isn't gone—it's just hidden. Move your mouse to the top of the screen and it will pop down for you, then disappear when you move the mouse away.

Remember that you did this! It might be disorienting otherwise. The first few times you sit back down at your computer, you might be overwhelmed by all of the serious business that fits on your screen at once, and you might also be confused about where your dock and menu bar went. Don't panic, and try to remember that you hid everything. You can always change things back if you can't handle it. I won't judge you.

How to have multiple desktops on a Mac

Mission Control is one of those features that most Mac users never use—and, to be fair, it is a little confusing. But it's also really useful, once you grasp it. It lets you set up multiple desktops, each with their own set of windows. You can then quickly switch between them.

Open Mission Control by swiping up on your touchpad using three or four fingers, or by using the keyboard shortcut control-up. This will show you all of your currently open windows.

Mission Control in macOS

Move your mouse to the top of the screen, and you'll see a thumbnail of your current desktop. There's also a plus sign in the top-right corner.

Click this + button to add more desktops

Click this plus sign to make more desktops.

Multiple desktops in macOS

You can make as many desktops as you want, then drag windows to them. You can quickly switch between desktops by swiping your trackpad with three or four fingers, or by using the keyboard shortcuts control-left or control-right.

This effectively gives you as many screens as you want, without the need to buy more monitors and a giant desk to store them all on. I personally use different desktops for different tasks: one is for whatever I'm working on, another is for email and chatting with coworkers, and a third is for my calendar and to-do list. Having all of these things in separate spaces makes it easier to focus on the current task.

With these tips combined, you'll find you have way more room to work. Now get to your serious business.

Related reading:

  • Alt + Tab on Mac: How to switch between windows on Mac

  • How to clean up your Mac (on the inside)

  • How to take a screenshot on a Mac

Get productivity tips delivered straight to your inbox

We’ll email you 1-3 times per week—and never share your information.


Related articles

Improve your productivity automatically. Use Zapier to get your apps working together.

Sign up
A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'