How to use Control Centre on the Mac

When macOS Big Sur launches it will bring the iOS/iPadOS Control Centre to the Mac for the first time. As a result many useful settings for things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, brightness, volume and more are all in one place and only a click away.

Here’s everything you need to know about what you will be able to do using Control Centre on the Mac and how you will be able to adjust the settings for various features.

How to open Control Centre on Mac

Once macOS Big Sur launches (or if you are running the beta), you’ll notice a new icon in the Menu bar at the top of the screen beside the date and time. It looks like two toggle switches sitting on top of each other: one is switched on, the other off.

This is the icon for Control Centre. Clicking on it opens a drop-down menu in which you’ll see a number of different icons and slider controls. If you’ve used Control Centre on an iPhone or iPad then it will be instantly familiar.

How to use control centre on Mac: Opening Control Centre

What can you do with Control Centre on the Mac?

As the name suggests, this is a quick way to turn features on, off or adjust them to your preferences. The standard menu has controls for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirDrop, Do Not Disturb, Keyboard Brightness, AirPlay Display, Display (brightness and dark mode), Sound (volume level), as well as any widgets that you’ve set up. For more on the latter, read our guide on how to use widgets on a Mac.

How to use Control Centre on a Mac: Options

Some controls, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allow you to enable or disable the feature just by clicking on the icon, but you can also select the area next to it and open up further options.

Clicking on Wi-Fi will bring up all the networks you can connect to.

Bluetooth shows any connnected or available devices, enabling you to click on one to pair it with your Mac. It also gives you quick access to Bluetooth Preferences.

Display has a slider for instant adjustment or if you click on it an expanded window appears with controls for turning Dark mode or Night Shift on and off.

Sound is another, as this has options for routing audio through any connnected Bluetooth speakers or AirPlay devices. If you don’t have a speaker to send your tunes to, take a look at our roundup of the best wireless Bluetooth speakers and best multi-room AirPlay speakers.

Selecting Do Not Disturb will open a range of options for how long you want the distraction-limiting feature to be enabled. These go from one hour up to always on and you can also go directly to Notifications Preferences from this menu.

AirPlay Display has two choices: Display Preferences and Sidecar Preferences so you can send your video to an external screen or a compatible iPad with just a couple of clicks. See our tutorial on how to use Sidecar as it’s an excellent way to add an extra screen to your Mac by using your iPad.

AirDrop will give you a shortcut to the AirDrop feature that makes it easy to share files and photos with other Macs, iPhones and iPads. Read about using AirDrop on the Mac, iPhone and iPad here.

How to add more setting to Control Centre

You can choose which settings appear in Control Centre.

  1. Open System Preferences > Dock
  2. Select Menu Bar.
  3. Now select the features you want to add and tick the Show in Control Centre option.

How to move controls to the Menu bar

macOS Big Sur brings another cool feature that can further speed up your ability to fine tune your system, by allowing you to drag items out of Control Centre and placing them on the Menu Bar instead.

Doing this creates an icon on the Menu Bar that, when you click on it, opens up all the relevant options that you would have found in Control Centre. As you’d expect, these can all be just as easily removed when you no longer need them.

How to use Control Centre on Mac: Move to Menu Bar

How do I get Control Centre on my Mac?

Control Centre is part of macOS Big Sur, so you can only get the feature on your Mac if you upgrade to the new version of Apple’s Mac operating system. Thankfully, this is free and should be a straightforward process as long as your machine is compatible with the new software.

To find out more about compatibility, expected release dates, and the wealth of new features it includes, such as updates to Mail, Safari, Messages, Maps and others, read our comprehensive guide to macOS Big Sur.

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