macOS tip: Use Hot Corners to speed up access to Notification Center, Desktop and more

There are a lot of little tweaks in macOS that I rely on to make a Mac feel like my own. Placing frequently accessed folders on the right side of the Dock, turning off auto-correct, and turning up mouse and trackpad tracking speed are all in this category for me.

A rather hidden but critical example is Hot Corners. My Mac just feels broken with Hot Corners disabled, and my workflow is severely slowed. Here’s how it works:

Hot Corners turn each of the four corners of your display into actions. Just move your cursor to the designated corner, then an action that you assign to that corner is launched.

I rely on Hot Corners to both quickly access Notification Center and reveal my desktop for accessing recently saved files. There are keyboard shortcuts, buttons, and gestures for doing both of these tasks, but neither method is as fast or natural for me than a cursor movement.

Hot Corners can currently be used with a handful of actions: showing Mission Control, Application Windows, Desktop, Dashboard, Notification Center, or Launchpad, starting or disabling screen saver, and putting your display to sleep. You can only use four actions at a time, however, as each action is tied to a specific corner and displays only have four corners.

Enabling Hot Corners can be done in one of two places — both in the System Preferences app. The first section is easier to discover: the ‘Hot Corners…’ button on the bottom left corner of the Mission Control category. The next is a bit more hidden: in the Desktop & Screen Saver category → Screen Saver section → ‘Hot Corners…’ button on the bottom right.

Turning this feature on is absolutely one of the first things I do when setting up a new Mac for myself.

Opening Notification Center isn’t too hard thanks to the ‘swipe left with two fingers from just off of the right edge’ trackpad gesture and menu bar button, but slinging your cursor to the area where a new alert just flew in and where it now awaits your click is totally natural and fast.

There’s also a trackpad gesture for moving open windows out of your way and back in place to work with the desktop, but it requires more fingers than comfortably fit on smaller trackpads and can be impossible when dragging and dropping files.

I’m frequently working with images and moving files between apps and the desktop, so quickly accessing those files as well as open windows is essential. I can’t imagine working without the desktop Hot Corner now.

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