How to Change Search Bar on Mac

The search bar on a Mac is an essential feature that allows users to quickly find files, applications, and information on their computer. While the default search bar may be sufficient for most users, some may prefer to customize it to better suit their needs or personal preferences. In this blog post, we will explore different methods to change the search bar on a Mac, providing step-by-step instructions, pros and cons, and alternative solutions.

What’s Needed

Before we dive into the different methods of changing the search bar on a Mac, there are a few things you’ll need:

  • A Mac computer running the latest version of macOS.
  • Administrator access to your Mac.
  • A stable internet connection.

Video Tutorial:

What Requires Your Focus?

When it comes to changing the search bar on a Mac, there are a few key points that require your focus:

  • Understanding the different options available.
  • Familiarizing yourself with the pros and cons of each option.
  • Following the step-by-step instructions carefully to avoid any potential issues or complications.

Option 1. How to Change Search Bar via System Preferences

The first method we will explore is changing the search bar on a Mac through the System Preferences. This method is relatively straightforward and allows for easy customization of the search bar. Here’s how to do it:

– Easy and user-friendly.
– No additional software or tools required.
– Changes are applied system-wide.

– Limited customization options compared to third-party tools.

1. Go to the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen and click on "System Preferences."
2. In the System Preferences window, click on "Dock & Menu Bar."
3. Scroll down in the sidebar and click on "Spotlight."
4. On the right-hand side, you’ll find various options for customizing the search bar, such as position, size, and behavior.
5. Make the desired changes to the search bar settings.
6. Close the System Preferences window, and the changes will be applied immediately.

Option 2. How to Change Search Bar via Third-Party Apps

If you’re looking for a more advanced and customizable option, there are several third-party apps available that offer additional features and customization options for the search bar on a Mac. Here’s how to change the search bar using a third-party app:

– Highly customizable.
– Offers advanced features and options.
– Allows for more control over the search bar’s appearance and behavior.

– Requires additional software installation.
– May incur additional costs depending on the chosen app.
– Some apps may impact system performance.

1. Research and choose a reliable third-party app that suits your needs. Some popular options include uBar, Alfred, and LaunchBar.
2. Visit the official website of the chosen app and follow the instructions to download and install it on your Mac.
3. Launch the app and navigate to the settings or preferences section.
4. Look for the search bar customization options within the app’s settings.
5. Customize the search bar according to your preferences, such as changing its position, appearance, or adding additional features.
6. Save the changes and exit the app.
7. The new search bar settings should now be applied across your Mac.

Option 3. How to Change Search Bar via Terminal

For those who are comfortable with using Terminal commands, this method provides a more technical approach to changing the search bar on a Mac. It requires entering specific commands to modify system settings. Here’s how to do it:

– Offers advanced customization options.
– Lightweight and doesn’t require the installation of additional software.

– Requires familiarity with Terminal commands.
– Potential risk if Terminal commands are entered incorrectly.
– Changes are applied system-wide and may affect other system functionalities if not done correctly.

1. Open Terminal on your Mac. You can do this by navigating to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
2. Enter the following command to back up the original search bar settings: sudo cp /System/Library/CoreServices/ /System/Library/CoreServices/
3. Press Enter and provide your administrator password when prompted.
4. Enter the following command to make the search bar easier to modify: sudo xattr -dr /System/Library/CoreServices/
5. Hit Enter to execute the command.
6. Enter the following command to open the search bar settings file: sudo nano /System/Library/CoreServices/
7. Navigate to the line that starts with NSPrincipalClass and add MySpotlight after NSPrincipalClass.
8. Save the file by pressing Control + O, then exit nano by pressing Control + X.
9. Enter the following command to restart the Spotlight service: killall Spotlight
10. Press Enter, and the changes will take effect.

Option 4. How to Change Search Bar via Finder and Replacing System Files

This method involves manually replacing system files using Finder. It’s a more complex and risky method, as it requires modifying system files directly. Proceed with caution and make sure to back up your Mac before attempting this method. Here’s how to do it:

– Offers extensive customization options.
– Allows for more control over the search bar’s appearance and behavior.

– Highly technical and risky.
– May require advanced knowledge of macOS file systems.
– Changes can impact system stability and may void warranty or support agreements.

1. Open Finder on your Mac.
2. In the menu bar, click on "Go" and select "Go to Folder."
3. Enter the following path and hit Enter: /System/Library/CoreServices
4. Locate the file named "" and right-click on it.
5. Select "Copy" to create a backup copy of the original file.
6. Place the backup copy of in a secure location as a precaution.
7. Right-click on the original "" and select "Move to Trash."
8. Download a customized version of from a reliable source or create your own using Xcode.
9. Copy the customized version of to the "/System/Library/CoreServices" folder.
10. Authenticate with your administrator password to authorize the file replacement.
11. Restart your Mac to apply the changes.

Why Can’t I Change the Search Bar?

While changing the search bar on a Mac provides customization options, there are limitations and restrictions to consider. If you’re unable to change the search bar using the methods mentioned above, here are three alternative solutions:

1. Use a macOS theme: macOS themes can alter the overall appearance and style of the operating system, including the search bar. Although this method may not provide extensive customization options for the search bar alone, it offers a more comprehensive visual overhaul.

2. Customize the Dock: The Dock on a Mac includes the search bar, and customizing the Dock can indirectly affect the search bar’s appearance. Rearranging icons, changing the size of the Dock, or adding Dock separators can enhance the overall look and feel.

3. Try third-party apps: If the system-based options don’t fulfill your customization needs, various third-party apps can provide additional search bar customization features. These apps can offer more flexibility and options beyond what the built-in macOS settings provide.

Implications and Recommendations

While changing the search bar on a Mac can enhance the overall user experience, it’s essential to consider the implications and make informed decisions. Here are three key points to keep in mind:

1. System stability: Modifying system files or using third-party apps may impact the stability of your Mac. Always ensure that you’re using reliable sources and follow the instructions carefully to minimize potential issues.

2. Compatibility: Customization options may vary depending on the version of macOS you’re using. Make sure to check the compatibility of any third-party apps or customization methods before applying changes.

3. Regular backups: Before making any significant changes to your Mac’s system files, it’s highly recommended to create a full backup. This ensures that you can revert to the original settings if any issues arise during the customization process.

The Bottom Line

Changing the search bar on a Mac can add a personal touch to your computer and enhance your workflow. Whether you prefer a simple tweak through System Preferences or more advanced customization using third-party apps or Terminal commands, there are options available to suit your needs. However, it’s important to proceed with caution and make educated decisions to avoid potential pitfalls or complications.

5 FAQs about Changing the Search Bar on a Mac

Q1: Can I revert the changes to the default search bar settings?

A: Yes, if you’ve followed one of the methods mentioned above, you can revert the changes by reversing the steps or restoring your Mac from a backup.

Q2: Are there any risks involved in changing the search bar on a Mac?

A: Yes, depending on the method used, there can be risks involved, such as system instability or voiding warranty or support agreements. It’s crucial to understand the implications and proceed with caution.

Q3: Do I need to restart my Mac after changing the search bar?

A: It depends on the method used. Some methods, such as changing the search bar via System Preferences, do not require a restart. However, other methods, such as replacing system files, may require a restart for the changes to take effect.

Q4: Can I use a custom design for the search bar?

A: Yes, depending on the method used, you can use a custom design or choose from the available customization options provided by third-party apps or system preferences.

Q5: Will changing the search bar impact the performance of my Mac?

A: The impact on performance depends on the method used and the resources required by the chosen customization options. Some third-party apps may consume additional system resources, potentially affecting performance.