macOS Design Themes

Four primary themes differentiate macOS apps from iOS, tvOS, and watchOS apps. Keep these themes in mind as you imagine your app’s identity.

Flexible

People expect macOS apps to be intuitive, while at the same time being adaptable to their workflow needs through customization and flexibility. Many apps offer configurable preferences, customizable interfaces, and alternate ways of completing tasks. Windows can often be resized and interface elements hidden or repositioned. Tasks can be initiated from toolbars, menus, controls, keyboard shortcuts, the Touch Bar, accessibility features, and more. A flexible app facilitates learning through discoverability.

Expansive

Large, high-resolution displays are typical for most Mac users, and people often extend their workspace by connecting additional displays. Apps can leverage this expansiveness and provide value by utilizing a wide range of interface components—like tabs, sidebars, sheets, and panels—and supporting immersive features like full-screen mode.

Capable

Macs are extremely capable in terms of hardware and software. Apps can harness this power to offer an extensive range of features and workflows that meet a wide variety of user needs, whether simple, advanced, or niche.

Focused

macOS is designed to keep the current task clear and in focus. Visual contrast, translucency, and a large drop shadow make it easy to differentiate the active window from inactive windows. Throughout the system, adornments are subtle and appropriate. Interfaces defer to content and related controls.