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One Switch: My New Must-Have Mac Utility

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 quickly when 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.

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Comments About One Switch: My New Must-Have Mac Utility

Notable Replies

  1. Thanks, Josh. This looks like it could be very useful. Readers should also consider Parallels Toolbox (free with Parallels or you can purchase it separately) as it does many of the same things - and more. (Note I don’t work for them - just use their software.)

  2. I’m grateful for this posting, because it told me about Amphetamine. I want to be able to put the display to sleep without sleeping the system (mainly because sleeping the system makes Google want me to sign in again).

    I can do that with caffeinate – more precisely, “nohup caffeinate -i &” – but not the current Caffeine, which I guess uses different flags on caffeinate. But Amphetamine works (on the basis of one try, which should be enough).

  3. You can do that via a hot corner.

  4. You can do that via a hot corner.

    I do use the “Put Display to Sleep” hot corner, and sure, the Mac may not think the system is asleep, but Google thinks I should log in again when I come back. Caffeinate or Amphetamine stop that.

    Or maybe I’m misunderstanding? It’s totally possible.

  5. This is one of the best ads for Setapp, because I found One Switch in the same way.

  6. Been doing that for years on my MBPs with ctrl-shift-pwr. (IIRC ctrl-shift-eject on older models)

    That actually turns the display off. I also have a hot corner for screensaver.

  7. Initially I thought it required a $9.99/month charge as part of SetApp but it turned out I followed the wrong link to simply download OneSwitch. Imho the licensing tier is quite fair, starting out at $4.99 for a single device license and $7.99 for two devices and increasing from there.

    My appreciation for this tip Josh.

  8. Been doing that for years on my MBPs with ctrl-shift-pwr. (IIRC ctrl-shift-eject on older models)

    [I should start by apologizing for introducing my irrelevant query into an innocent discussion. If a higher power such as Josh or Adam wants to move or delete this thread, I’ll be unoffended.]

    Thanks, Simon, for the suggestion, which is interesting in itself. I keep forgetting keyboard shortcuts that would make life easier.

    Sadly, however, ctrl-shift-(power/eject) puts not just the display but also the system firmly to sleep, and when I wake it up Google is convinced I should give it my password again. This is annoying, even though it is slightly faster than logging in again after logging out (the obvious alternative to a sleep command), so I wanted something Caffeine-like. The command-line caffeinate does that, if you pick the right options (such as -i: “prevent the system from idle sleeping”), but Caffeine does not do it. If it calls caffeinated, it must use other options.

    Happily, Amphetamine seems to do what I want: I can put things to “sleep” with a hot corner and have them ready to go when I return, without a full login.

    Presumably Google behaves this way because of an interaction between two giant corporations, though why it picks on me and not on my wife I don’t know: she does roughly the same Googly things with her account on the same machine.

  9. Odd. I know shift-ctrl-power puts only the display to sleep. The system does not sleep (I keep on working on it through ssh for example). At least on my MBPs. Haven’t tried yet on an iMac, those are getting very rare around here. I know it works that way on El Cap and Mojave. Haven’t yet tried on Mojave. At some point long ago Apple changed a few combos, but IIRC that was way back, around (High) Sierra.

    To sleep the entire system at least these days on a MBP you need to press and hold power.

  10. Odd conversation.
    Multiple key combinations to achieve what? outside of Amphetamine!

  11. Bummer. Requires Mojave and my iMac can’t go past High Sierra. Oh, well, maybe my iMac will die in about 5 years so I can get one that runs Mojave.

  12. Bought this, credit card has been debited, licence email received, try to activate Get a message saying “Activate Error Specifies that we were unable to complete the activation of this product.”

    Fireball Studio’s website has no support or other contact details, does not reply.

    @jcenters do you by chance have any other way of contacting the supplier?

    Thanks, Gobit

  13. Inside the app, in preferences, there is a “Send Feedback” button which creates an email to openallen at gmail dot com

  14. Thank you tjluoma – :man_facepalming: one of those “I couldn’t see it for looking” moments.

    All sorted, activated and running sweetly.

    Thanks, again. Cheers, Gobit

  15. No worries. We’ve all been there.

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