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How to use Hot Corners in macOS

Hot Corners in macOS

Apple's macOS can perform actions without needing to press a button, by moving your cursor to a corner. Here's how to get started with Hot Corners in macOS.

There are many ways to perform actions on a Mac, with macOS offering numerous options to trigger actions. However, you may not need to set up a custom keyboard shortcut to get something working, as in some cases, you don't necessarily need to use the keyboard at all.

A long-running feature of macOS, Hot Corners uses the position of your cursor that you position using a mouse or trackpad to set off specific actions. Once enabled, you could set things running simply by shoving the arrow into a corner of the desktop.

Despite not being massively customizable, it does have its uses. For example, you could set the screensaver to turn on straight away if you wanted to hide your desktop from prying eyes, or to completely lock macOS instantly.

Setting it up is pretty simple, and using it is even easier. This is how you get started.

How to configure Hot Corners in macOS

  • Click the Apple Logo then System Preferences.
  • Click Desktop & Screen Saver, select Screen Saver, then click Hot Corners.
  • Alternately, click Mission Control, then click Hot Corners.
  • Select the dropdown for the corner you want to enable. Select an action within the dropdown.
  • Click OK.
The Hot Corners button in the Screen Saver and Mission Control menus of System Preferences.
The Hot Corners button in the Screen Saver and Mission Control menus of System Preferences.

Once set up, move the cursor right into the corner of the screen that you set Hot Corners for. The action will trigger automatically.

You can set up to four active screen corners under Hot Corners, and you can set the same action to be performed in multiple corners.

Actions in Hot Corners

Hot Corners offers a selection of actions you can perform, generally consisting of items you may wish to have done after quickly swiping the cursor into the corner.

You have a short list of useful actions available for Hot Corners.
You have a short list of useful actions available for Hot Corners.

The list of actions for Hot Corners includes:

  • Mission Control - Shows the Mission Control view, to make it easier to see what's running.
  • Application Windows - Shows all of the open windows for the currently-selected app. For example, all Finder windows.
  • Desktop - Temporarily clears your desktop.
  • Notification Center - Summons Notification Center
  • Launchpad - Brings up Launchpad.
  • Quick Note - Shows a square you can click to start a Quick Note.
  • Start Screen Saver - Instantly runs your screensaver instead of waiting for it to start.
  • Disable Screen Saver - Stops your screen saver from running. Handy if you want to prevent the screen saver from running without turning it off completely.
  • Put Display to Sleep - Puts the Mac to sleep, as if you've selected Sleep in the main menu.
  • Lock Screen - Locks the Mac as if you've selected Lock Screen in the main menu.
  • - No action set for that specific hot corner.

Modifiers

All of these actions are useful in their own right, such as to gain some privacy when an unwanted visitor suddenly appears at your desk.

However, you may not want the actions to be triggerable all the time. For example, you may not want to accidentally lock your Mac's screen while you're in the middle of writing a report.

One way around this is to link a modifier key to a command set for a specific Hot Corner. Once set up, the Hot Corner will only activate if that modifier key is also held down.

This can help as a failsafe from the more impactful actions Hot Corners can perform, and stop it from accidentally taking place.

Here, the top left corner doesn't need a modifier, the bottom right does.
Here, the top left corner doesn't need a modifier, the bottom right does.

For example, you could set the bottom left to only trigger once you hold down a modifier key and the cursor is in that position. If it is set to put your Mac to sleep, that means it won't do so unless you really intend it, by pressing the modifier key.

The modifiers you can choose form are Command, Control, Option, and Shift.

To enable them, simply hold down the modifier while selecting the action in the dropdown listing the actions. You will know a modifier is enabled for an action as it appears in the screen corners window with the symbol next to the action.