Sometimes to do what you need to do on your Mac will require accessing System Preferences. You can find the following:. Page 2: Displays, Energy Saver, keyboard, mouse, trackpad, printers and sound. The System Preferences application basically, the settings on your Mac is found in your Applications folder. It is also available from the Apple menu at the top-left of the screen click the Apple logo. It may also be in your Dock at the bottom of the screen - the icon is a set of interlinked cogs, like the image above. When launched, System Preferences provides access to a number of panes that deal with various aspects of how your Mac works, appears and behaves, such as screen resolutions, wallpaper images, input device shortcuts, parental control settings, and internet accounts.
When System Preferences is first launched, you'll see rows of icons, each corresponding to a specific group of related options. Click on any icon to access the relevant pane. If when you open System Preferences it isn't showing the below interface, click on the button containing 12 dots to get to it. Alternatively, you can jump to settings for a particular thing just by click-hold, Ctrl-click or right-click -ing on the System Preferences Dock icon. Then you will see a contextual menu, as below.
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At the top of the menu you'll see the name of the currently active pane. If you're not sure exactly what you're looking for, use the built-in search in the top right corner of System Preferences. As you type, the number of subjects in the results list will be filtered to match your search term, and spotlights will appear, highlighting potentially relevant panes that might offer what you require. Use the cursor keys to navigate the results list and the spotlight will become more vivid over the option you're about to choose.
Pressing Return or clicking a results list item will confirm. There are two different kinds of customisation worth noting with system preferences: the panes that are installed and the panes that are visible. By default, macOS High Sierra and earlier versions of OS X will provide you with just under 30 panes the exact number is determined by the hardware you're using - for example, if you've no optical drive, 'CDs and DVDs' will not be shown , but third-party products may also install into System Preferences.
Such panes are placed at the very bottom of the window. You can reorder the panes by using the View menu, which provides options for organising panes by category or listing everything alphabetically. When you select this option, checkboxes appear next to each pane. Deselect any pane's checkbox and click Done and the pane will be hidden, but it will remain accessible from the View menu and when performing searches.
The General pane is a grab-bag of options related to appearance, scroll bars, document behaviour and the number of recent items shown in the Apple menu. The Appearance menu determines the button, menu and window theme for your Mac, enabling you to switch between Blue and Graphite. With the Graphite theme, all of these are grey.
New in Yosemite was the Use dark menu bar and Dock checkbox. This turns the menu bar and Dock black, rather than white, to better fit in with some professional applications that have dark interfaces and help tone things down so that the menu is less distracting. This option also adjusts Spotlight 's appearance. Read: Turn on the Macs's Dark Mode. New in El Capitan was the Automatically hide and show the menu bar setting.
When active, this option hides the menu bar unless the cursor is at the top of the screen, in a similar manner to how you can show and hide the Dock which you can do by right clicking on the Dock and clicking Turn Hiding On. Highlight colour enables you to change the colour of highlighted content such as selected text in documents, as below. Apple provides a list of colours you can choose from, but you can define your own by selecting Other and using the standard Mac colour picker. Read next: How to customise your Mac's desktop. Sidebar icon size gives you alternate options for the size of icons in Finder's sidebar.
Medium is the default, Large is good if you find it hard to accurately click the existing icons, and Small is the best choice if you've a small display or like squinting a lot. Note that the setting you define here also affects the sidebar in Mail. By default, they are not visible, but show automatically when you move your mouse or trackpad over them, their visual appearance in part defined by the input device.
You can adjust this so that they only show when scrolling regardless of the input device akin to how scrolling works on iOS , or always show when content is too big for the viewport. With Jump to the next page selected, content jumps in screen-heights or pages, in the direction of your click; with Jump to the spot that's clicked , it instead jumps to the point in the document relative to the location clicked on the scroll bar. The first option is less abrupt but slower. If, for example, you were looking at the top part of a very large list in Finder and then clicked the bottom of the scroll bar, Jump to the next page would take several clicks to reach the bottom of the list, but with Jump to the spot… it would take only one.
The Default web browser menu is a setting that usually exists in a browser's preferences, but you can now define in System Preferences whether Safari or another browser should launch when you, for example, click a link in an email. The next group of options deals with document behaviours. Ask to keep changes when closing documents and Close windows when quitting an application do much as you'd expect.
In the former case, it's worth noting that changes are automatically saved when documents are closed: by turning on this option, you instead get the choice regarding whether to save the changes or revert the document to how it was when last opened. If you leave Close windows… unchecked, open documents should reappear as they were when you last closed an application.
The Recent items option defines how many items appear in the Recent Items menu in the Apple menu.
By default, up to 10 of each type applications, documents, servers are shown, but other options are provided. Note that any setting chosen also affects recent-item Dock stacks. You can create one of those by typing the following in Terminal and then hitting Return:. Unless you've a compelling reason to turn it off, don't. Again, there's no compelling reason to turn this off, so we suggest you leave it on.
Have some geeky fun with these Terminal tricks and projects for the Mac. Switching the desktop image doesn't in fact require a trip to System Preferences. In Finder, you can Control-click any compatible image and choose Set Desktop Picture in the Services sub-menu ; similarly, Control-click an image in Safari and you may be able to select Use Image as Desktop Picture, depending on how the site is set up. You can also simply right click on the desktop and choose Change Desktop Background to jump to the settings screen.
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However, the System Preferences pane provides a much greater degree of control, along with a central area to access collections of images. You can also access this pane by right clicking on your desktop and choosing Change Desktop Background. This will display a thumbnail of the current background image, alongside which will be its title.
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From the pane on the left, you can select collections of images. They're worth adding if you like wildlife, space and landscape shots. To change the desktop background, select a collection and then click any of the images within. Alternatively, you can drag an image to the well from Finder. Dragging from Photos doesn't work, but you can use the Share button in that app to set a selected item as your desktop image.
If the image is of a suitable size and aspect ratio for your display, it will be resized automatically. If not, a menu will appear enabling you to define whether the image should fill the screen, fit to the screen as best it can, stretch, be centred, or tile. It's also possible to have your desktop background change at regular intervals. To do this, select a collection and then tick 'Change picture'. If necessary, define how the images will fill the screen using the aforementioned pop-up menu.
Your desktop background will at the appropriate times subtly cross-fade to the next image in the collection; if you instead want each change to be randomised, tick 'Random order'. In OS X Mavericks , there was a lumped-in option to disable the translucent menu bar, turning it a solid light grey. This is a useful option for increasing legibility.
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Click Screen Saver to access the screen savers pane. To the left is a selection of built-in screen savers; select one to choose it as the currently active screen saver or choose Random to have one be selected at random whenever the screen saver is activated , and use the Start after menu to determine how long your Mac remains idle before the screen saver starts. Optionally, a clock can be overlaid on the screen saver, by checking Show with clock. Depending on the screen saver chosen, you may get options.
For the various photography-based screen savers, you'll see a Source menu, enabling you to define a source folder of photos to use. On choosing a new source, the screen saver preview will update accordingly. Checking Shuffle slide order randomises the presentation from the selection of images. For other screen savers, you'll get a Screen Saver Options button that when clicked provides in-context settings for that particular screen saver. For example, Apple's own Flurry enables you to adjust how many streams of colour appear on the screen, how thick they are, and how fast they move.
To the bottom-right of the pane is a Hot Corners … button. The options are shared with Mission Control and provide the means to trigger various macOS functions when you move the cursor into a screen corner. The first option is Start Screen Saver, and is a very quick means of activating the screen saver.
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It's also possible to install third-party screen savers. Once installed, these appear below the built-in options. If you later decide you want to delete a screen saver, Control-click it and select Delete. Many of the Dock's preferences can be adjusted by Control-clicking the thin line that divides apps and folders and choosing from the various options.