Tweak and Customize macOS with Onyx

Table of Contents

There are quite a few tweaks you can make to customize macOS in System Preferences. But if you want to go deeper, you can customize macOS with Onyx, a system maintenance and customization utility for the Mac.

Downloading and Installing Onyx

1. Download Onyx from the developer’s website. There’s a specific version of Onyx for each major release of macOS, so make sure you download the right one. The current version for macOS Sierra is 3.2.3.

customize macos onyx download

2. Install Onyx from the downloaded disk image.

Starting Onyx

1. Open Onyx from the Applications folder.

customize macos onyx_applications-folder

2. Enter your administrator username and password. In order for Onyx to fiddle with deep system functions, it needs admin access to run. It won’t make any changes until you actually do something.

customize macos onyx-system-password

3. You’ll also need to agree to Onyx’s terms of use. After you read them, untick “Display at launch” to avoid seeing the agreement every time you open the application. Then click “Agree” when you’re done.

customize macos onyx-license-agreement


4. Onyx also likes to verify the structure of your system disk up front. You don’t have to do this if you’re only planning on using the customization features of Onyx, but it should only take a moment and will reveal any potential problems with your startup disk. Click “Continue” or “Cancel,” as you like.

customize macos onyx verify disk

5. When the optional disk verification has been completed, click “OK.”

customize macos onyx-disk-verified

Revealing the Customization Menu

1. Click on the “Parameters” menu item in the Onyx menu bar.

customize macos onyx-menu-parameters

2. Wait for the macOS parameters to be read from the file. This will only take a few seconds

customize macos onyx-parameters-page

3. This will now reveal the parameters menu, which contains most our options to customize macOS.

customize macos onyx-parameters-page-2

Parameters Submenu

The “General” menu contains many of the most useful system tweaks to customize macOS in Onyx.

1. Under the “Misc. options” menu, you’ll find a few settings you can tweak.

customize macos onyx-general-misc-menu

  • Show graphic effects when opening a window: toggle the visual effects seen when opening and closing windows.
  • Show the rubber-band scrolling: toggle iOS-style “bounce” behavior that occurs when you try to scroll past the end of a window.
  • Show the location path of the current desktop picture on the desktop: Show the file path of the desktop image in the middle of the desktop.
  • Turn on the accent menu from the keyboard: toggle the ability to access the accent menu from the system’s keyboard.

2. Speed of display sheets: adjust how quickly “sheets,” or temporary program dialogs (like “Save” and “Open” prompts) are hidden and revealed.

customize macos onyx-general-sheet-speed

3. Speed of display of help tags: adjusts how quickly tooltips will appear when you hover your cursor over an interface item, like a button.

4. Animated desktop background: choose from a list of preset animated backgrounds for your desktop.

customize macos onyx-general-animated-background


Customizing your screenshot settings

In the section below the miscellaneous options, you’ll see a bunch of controls for customizing your screenshot options.

customize macos onyx-general-screenshot-customization-hero


1. Screen capture format: Sets the file type for future screen captures.

customize macos onyx-general-screenshot-format


2. Display shadow in window captures: Toggle the “drop shadow” effect applied to full window screen captures.

customize macos onyx-general-screenshot-shadows

3. Include the date and the time in the name of captures: Toggle the appearance of date and time in your screen capture’s filenames. If you turn this off, your screen captures will get a numbered suffix instead.

customize macos onyx-general-screenshot-date

4. Path: Change the location where new screen captures are saved. Click the “Select…” button to open a Finder window and choose a new location.

customize macos onyx-general-screenshot-path

5. Name: Change the string that starts the name of a screen capture. If you leave “by default,” files will be named with “Screen Shot.” You can replace that text with anything you want, provided it’s allowed by the file system.

customize macos onyx-general-screenshot-prefix

Confirming Changes

When you make changes, Onyx will often ask to restart a service to apply that change. For example, if you change the path of your screenshots, you’ll need to restart the SystemUIServer process.

customize macos onyx-restart-systemuiserver

Click “Continue” in the dialog box, but first confirm that the restarting process isn’t in the middle of an operation. That’s not important for something like SystemUIServer, but be careful with apps like Finder.

Customize macOS with popular tweaks

There are many more customizations available in Onyx than can be covered in one post, but here are a few favorites.

Set a custom login background picture

Change your login background picture to something more exciting. Keep in mind that only .png files will work here.

1. Click the “Login” tab.

customize macos onyx-login-window-tab

2. In the “Background” section, click the  “Select…” button to open a Finder dialog and pick a new image. Only PNG files are compatible.

customize macos onyx-login-change-background


Show a message at login

This will display a custom message at the login window, below the password field.

1. Click the “Login” tab.

customize macos onyx-login-window-tab


2. Check “Show message in the login window.”

customize macos onyx-login-message-1

3. Type a message that will be permanently visible to all users at login, then click “Apply.”

customize macos onyx-login-message-2

Turn off disk image verification

This will disable the disk image verification process, which can be disabling slow for larger disk images and slow hard disks.

1. Click on the “Applications” tab.

customize macos onyx-applications-tab


2. Uncheck “Verify disk images (.dmg).”

customize macos onyx-disable-disk-image-verification

Turn off Time Machine Local Backups

This setting disables Time Machine’s local snapshots, which are made to the system disk when Time Machine is temporarily disconnected from its main backup disk. These local backup files can take up a ton of space, making them unwieldy systems will smaller SSDs.

1. Click on the “Misc.” tab.

customize macos onyx misc tab

2. Click the “Turn Off” button next to “Time Machine local backups.”

Turn off the Notification Center

This tweak will completely disable the notification center (and all its notifications) so don’t do this unless you have a replacement utility like Growl up and running.

1. Click on the “Misc.” tab.

customize macos onyx misc tab

2. Click the “Turn Off” button next to “Notification Center.”

customize macos onyx-notification-center-toggle


There is a lot more that Onyx is capable of, so explore the “Parameters” menu to find more options.

Lesser-Known Mac Tips, Tricks, and Customizations


Picture of Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a stalwart in the tech journalism community, has been chronicling the ever-evolving world of Apple products and innovations for over a decade. As a Senior Author at Apple Gazette, Kokou combines a deep passion for technology with an innate ability to translate complex tech jargon into relatable insights for everyday users.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts