One Switch: My New Must-Have Mac Utility

posted in: March 2020 | 0
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Over the past eight years of writing for TidBITS (wow, that long?), I’ve never tried an app and immediately thought, “Everyone needs to be using this!” Until now. I recently spotted an app called One Switch in Setapp with this humble description:

Replace numerous apps and settings with One Switch. A time-saver for Mac, the app allows to access [sic] the key switchers like toggling between Dark/Light modes and managing AirPods connection. For convenience, set the app to show custom toggles in your menu bar and disable those you don’t use regularly. Fitting your flow, always.

The One Switch menu
I’ve replaced the True Tone toggle with Lock Screen since my 27-inch iMac doesn’t support True Tone.

We’ve seen many narrowly focused menu bar apps that turn features on or off, like Amphetamine to keep your Mac awake, but One Switch promised to do so much more that I installed it immediately. It was everything I had hoped for.

By default, One Switch offers switches to hide or show Desktop icons, switch between Light mode and Dark mode, keep your Mac awake, turn on the screen saver, connect AirPods, and toggle Do Not Disturb, Night Shift, and True Tone.

These are settings I need all the time. For instance, being able to turn off Desktop icons is handy for screenshots, and while I like Night Shift in the evening hours, I need to be able to turn it off quicklywhen doing graphical work. But these settings are scattered around macOS. Here’s what you’d normally have to do or where you’d go to trigger just a few of them:

  • Hide Desktop Icons: Enter a whole series of commands in Terminal
  • Dark Mode: System Preferences > General > Dark
  • Keep Awake: Enter the command caffeinate in Terminal
  • Do Not Disturb: Notification Center
  • Night Shift: Notification Center
  • Lock Screen: Apple menu

I don’t use all of these controls every day, but having them all in one place where I don’t have to hunt for them saves time and removes friction.

You can change the switches One Switch shows. Click the gear icon in the lower-right corner to pick your favorites. Additional switches let you toggle iTunes music playback, show hidden files in the Finder, put the display to sleep, change screen resolution, “clean” the screen, lock the keyboard, and lock the screen.

Most of the switches, especially the default ones, just work instantly. Turn on Hide Desktop Icons, and the icons disappear right away, which is handy for taking screenshots that include the Desktop. The switches for Dark Mode and Night Shift work equally instantly.

Some of the other toggles are a bit odd. I couldn’t use the Headphones Connect switch to connect to my AirPods until I first connected manually from the Bluetooth menu bar item, after which One Switch worked fine. And some of the features don’t fit neatly within the toggle switch paradigm. For instance, flipping a switch to trigger iTunes or Music playback is odd, and it works only with iTunes or Music, and not with say, YouTube videos in Safari, as the media keyboard keys do.

AirPods in One Switch

Most of the settings show a disclosure triangle when you hover over them. Click it to reveal more settings, like turning Dark Mode on and off at specified times of the day. Some of the switches, like screen resolution, require the use of the disclosure triangle. Again, not every feature works well with the switch paradigm.

Dark Mode and Screen Resolution in One Switch

Apart from these minor hitches, One Switch just works. It’s far from the only way of controlling these settings, but if you find yourself fiddling settings regularly, you may find One Switch as indispensable as I do, thanks to its always-available, space-saving menu bar icon.

One Switch is included in the $9.99-per-month Setapp subscription, so it’s a no-brainer to try if you already subscribe to Setapp), or it’s available directly from Fireball for $4.99 with a 7-day trial. The company also offers a two-device license for $7.99 and a five-device license for $16.99.