9 System Preference Tricks Every Mac Owner Should Know

Mac’s System Preference is pretty much like the Control Panel of Windows. You can customize each and every thing on your Mac using this feature. Whether it is the positioning of the Dock or changing the color or appearance of Windows or Menus, or changing security parameters to securing the device, System Preference can do it all.

In this article, we will discuss tips and tricks of System Preferences that 07every Mac owner should be aware of.

Note: Some of the settings can’t be changed by System Preferences, so, you have to go to that app and within the app, go to preferences to make changes.

1. No Need To Use The Traditional Way To Open System Preferences Window –

Generally, when you need to access System Preferences, you go to Apple icon-> System Preferences then go to the preference pane that you want to customize. But not anymore!

Why bother opening the System Preferences Pane, when you can directly reach to the preference pane you want to access.

All you need to do is locate and click  System Preferences icon on your Dock. A menu with the list of all the preferences will appear, select the one, you want to work on.

However, you can also go to a certain preference pane through Spotlight. Launch Spotlight by pressing Command and Spacebar or click the magnifying icon in your Mac’s toolbar. Type the preference pane name and voila, it is done!

2. Easier Navigation –

Sometimes, you need to make changes to more than one preference pane. So conventionally, you go to one and then back to System Preferences and then to the next. Not now!

You can easily access the other after finish working on the first.  All you need to do is Click and hold the Show All icon to open the drop down menu which lists all the individual preference panes.

Well, you can also move back and forth using the keyboard shortcuts:

Let’s say: you need to return to the previous Preferences pane, use the ‘Command+[, and to move forward,  use ‘Command+]’.

Note: You can also hide the System Preferences window using the ‘Command+H’ shortcut, or quit the app entirely using the ‘Command+Q’ shortcut.

3.  Create A Custom Keyboard Shortcut

  • Create A Custom Keyboard Shortcut –
  • Isn’t it great that you can create a Keyboard shortcut for launching preference panes or System Preference itself? To do so, follow these steps:
  • Navigate to ‘System preferences > Keyboard.’
  • Click the ‘Shortcuts’ tab.
  • From the left-hand pane, select ‘App Shortcuts.’
  • Click the little ‘+’ icon.
  • Open the ‘Application’ drop-down and select ‘System Preferences.’
  • In the ‘Menu Title’ field, enter the text “System Preferences.”
  • Click to place your cursor inside the ‘Keyboard Shortcut’ field, then press the keys you want to use for your keyboard shortcut.
  • Create your shortcut, by clicking ‘Add.’

4.   What’s the point of the Search bar?

When you open System Preferences Pane, there is a search bar on the top right-hand corner. Have you ever used it? Chances are never!

You know what, you can search for any preference pane without even typing the exact name, just type a few words to describe the task. MacOS will highlight the certain preference pane related to the task.

5.  Customize Your System Preferences Window

The System Preferences app consists of a wide range of options. Furthermore, third party apps can also add their own items to the main System Preferences window. Usually, you don’t use all the options provided, so, it is better to customize it according to your need.

When you customize the preference pane, it doesn’t mean the removed option can no longer be approached, you can still use it or search through Spotlight.

To hide one or more items, select ‘View > Customize’ from the toolbar. A box will appear with the list of items with a checkmark beside them. To hide an item, simply deselect its check box.

Once you’ve finished, click the ‘Done’ button to save your changes.

6.    Get A More Compact System Preferences Window

If you are more of an organized person, you would be happy to know that the System Preference icons can be arranged by category.

All you need to do is go to View-> “Organize Alphabetically” from the toolbar.

You can also arrange them categories, go to ‘View > Organize by Categories’ from the toolbar.

7.    Completely Remove Unwanted Preference Panes

Third party apps can add their items to System Preferences window, but when we delete that particular app, the item can be still seen in Preference pane as it doesn’t get automatically removed.

So, to remove a third party item, press Control-click it and select ‘Remove…’

Completely Remove Unwanted Preference Panes in mac

Alternatively, you can use this method to solve the problem.

  • Open ‘Finder’ window.
  • From the Mac toolbar, select ‘Go > Go to folder.’
  • Enter the search term /Library and click ‘Go.’
  • Open the ‘Preferences Panes’ folder.

Here, you’ll get all the files representing all the third party Preference panes. Find the one you want to delete, and then drag it to the Trash.

8. Navigate System Preferences With Your keyboard

Navigate System Preferences! Well, you can do it all with your Keyboard

  • To go back to where you were or advance forward, press the respective Command (?) – [ and Command (?)- ] keystroke.
  • To quickly position the cursor in the search field, press the Command (?) – F combination.
  • To hide the System Preferences window or all other windows, hit Command (?) – H or Option (?) – Command (?) – H, respectively.
  • To quit the app, use OS X’s standard system-wide Command (?) – Q keyboard combo.

9. Change dimmed settings

Nobody wants to give access to all the settings to everyone. In System Preferences, you can customize the settings to prevent others from altering the crucial settings on your Mac.

Change dimmed settings in mac

If options in a preference pane that you wish to change are dimmed or grayed out, click the padlock icon in the bottom of the window and type your administrator password.

If you navigate away from the unlocked pane or close the System Preferences window, your Mac will automatically lock all unlocked items for your security.

 These are the few tricks and tips for System Preferences that every Mac user should know, try them and let us know if they work for you.


  • comment_avtar
    Lowend Highend
    If a person is going to be using keyboard shortcuts with the System Preference Panel, they would most likely be high end professionals. BUT, #9 is explaining about the padlock? Which is a low end user.

    5 years ago
    • comment_avtar
      Srishti Sisodia
      We appreciate that you read our content. This article was targeted at everyone who uses Mac, therefore we have covered basic and high-end tricks for System Preferences.

      5 years ago

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