What is Game Mode on Mac? How to enable it and how it works

Game Mode is coming in MacOS 14 – find out how it works and how to use it, here.

Apple MacBook Air - 2

Gaming on a Mac has gone from a niche pursuit to a mainstream option in recent years, with Apple’s pursuit of its own chipsets unlocking way more potential power in its laptops and desktops.

When MacOS 14 (with its lovely name of Sonoma) arrives, it’s going to bring with it a new useful gaming mode – and it’s got the incredibly simple name of Game Mode. Here’s everything you need to know about how it works.

How does Game Mode work?

Game Mode is a simple toggle that will come on automatically (although you can toggle it, too) when you launch a game on your Mac, and makes a range of useful changes.

It’ll burn more power to lower the latency of your AirPods’ connection for lag-free sound, upgrade the Bluetooth sampling rate of connected PlayStation or Xbox controllers to reduce latency, and most crucially of all prioritise the game from a CPU and GPU standpoint to get it the maximum performance possible.

It’s like a little custom overclock system just for gaming on Mac.

What Macs can use Game Mode?

Here’s the good news – since Game Mode is a MacOS 14 Sonoma feature, your Mac’s compatibility with the feature comes down to whether you can install MacOS 14.

If you’re curious about what machines that covers, the list below should straighten you out:

  • iMac: 2019 and later
  • iMac Pro: 2017 and later
  • Mac Pro: 2019 and later
  • Mac Studio: 2022 and later
  • MacBook Air: 2018 and later
  • MacBook Pro: 2018 and later
  • Mac mini: 2018 and later

So, if your Mac or MacBook is on that list, it should get Game Mode once the OS update goes live later this year.

How to turn on Game Mode on Mac

While it’s not yet out, tests and betas mean that we basically know how Game Mode will work from a user’s point of view once it’s live in MacOS 14.

Game Mode is intended to be an automatic system, so you actually won’t need to do anything for it to work – just start up any native Mac game and Game Mode will engage.

You’ll get a notification to let you know it’s happened, and a new icon will appear in the navigation bar, in the shape of a controller. Clicking on this icon will give you the chance to disable the mode if you’d like to for whatever reason – perhaps to save battery if you’re gaming on the go.