Make Your Menubar and Dock Look More Like iOS [OS X Tips]

Make Your Menubar and Dock Look More Like iOS [OS X Tips]

We’re taking this whole “Mac as iOS device” thing a bit far, perhaps, but it sure is fun. We found that we can make our Mac look a lot like our iPad screen with a little bit of Terminal command magic, a third party app, and some Finder tweaks. Here’s how to do just that.

First up, if you followed along with yesterday’s tip, this will look even cooler. But, even if you didn’t, you can make your dock look like the iPad dock with some spaces in between the app icons. You’ll need to launch Terminal, found in the Utilities folder, which is itself in the Applications folder. Once Terminal shows up, type or paste the following command into it:

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-apps -array-add '{"tile-type"="spacer-tile";}'

You’ll need to do this as many times as you want spaces. For example, to create 4 spaces, hit the Up arrow on your keyboard (which recalls the last command so you don’t have to) 4 times and hit Enter 4 times.

Don’t forget to issue the killall Dock command after you’ve created as many spacers as you want, though (thanks, SamDS!).

Move the spacers around, or your app icons around, to recreate that iPad look and feel.

Next up, it’s time to change the menubar. Download a little program called Nocturne from the Google Code page to do so. Once downloaded, launch Nocturne and turn off all the checkboxes except Invert menu bar. Then click on the Switch to Day button at the top of the preference screen. Boom! You’ve got a black menu bar, just like you do on your iPad.

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  • Norberto Dominguez Rangel

    please

  • Norberto Dominguez Rangel

    video tutorial!!!

  • SamDS

    make sure you do the killall Dock command. i did the above 40 times wondering why nothing was happening. i did the killDock thing and my dock was two pixels high stretched with tens of clear spacers.

    DONT FORGET! :)
  • martins_site

    Nocturne doesn’t work correctly with Lion’s Mission Control and Spaces switching on my Mac…

  • Martyn Hakan Hett

    How have you made the icons look like iPad icons? Is that a custom icon set? 

  • Rob LeFebvre

    Good catch, SamDS – the killall Dock command is essential, and of course I forgot to include it in this specific tip. 

    Martyn –  I used CandyBar and a free iconfactory set called Flurry – check out yesterday’s tip: http://www.cultofmac.com/168276/make-your-mac-dock-and-wallpaper-look-more-like-your-iphone-os-x-tips/
  • Rob LeFebvre

    Nocturne doesn’t work correctly with Lion’s Mission Control and Spaces switching on my Mac…

    Can you tell us what happens? Have you emailed the developer? 

  • phillipebianco

    MenuBarFilter gives your mac an ios-like menu bar. 

  • MPageII

    How do I get it to go back?

  • amatt2013

    how do you undo all the spaces?

  • ApplePr0n

    Yeah, a how-to video would be fantastic, it looks really cool haha.

  • kohoutek

    Anybody else here using Obsidian instead of Nocturne? Anyone tried both?

  • Justin Warren

    To undo all the spaces, simply drag them off the dock. Imagine them to be invisible icons. 

  • kohoutek

    I’m comparing Nocturne and Obsidian, and I have to say I think Obsidian makes the change more consistently. For one thing, it renders all colored menu extras in their default colors, such as the input menu, some menubar weather apps, the MacUpdate menubar app. Nocturne outputs a green U.S. flag, for example, on the keyboard input menu.

    Also of concern here is the shade of drop down menus. Under Nocturne, the menu labels become transparent, but under Obsidian, they keep a metal-gray, which blends better.
    There are still two holes in the way Obsidian handles the blend: The clock, which can be replaced using a 3rd party app such as MagiCal or iStat Menus; and the Google Drive icon. A fix for that has also been released recently. Obsidian also has a great community happy to discuss these pros and cons.
    Obsidian, however, requires more permanent change to the UI core. Nocturne changes and reverses instantly. However, Obsidian also provides a way to turn it off in the Desktop & Screensaver preference pane. Just check “translucent menu bar” to get the default menu bar back, though only the translucent version. To revert completely, you have to use the uninstall app provided with Obsidian. It’s a good idea to keep both the install and uninstall pkg files on hand in your applications just so you revert between the two. 
    I’d say, overall, that Obsidian handles the conversion more professionally, and the developer is continuing his project quite lovingly, too. It’s possible that if a black menubar ever comes to Mac OS X officially, the Obsidian approach may be the chosen method, though with further refinement.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Games and Tips Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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