Chapter 9. System Preferences

The hub of Mac customization is System Preferences, the equivalent of the Control Panel (Windows) or the Settings app (iPhone, iPad, Android). Some of its panels are extremely important, because their settings determine whether or not you can connect to a network or go online to exchange email. Others handle the more cosmetic aspects of macOS. In Catalina, its top panel proudly presents your name, icon, and direct access to your iCloud account information.


Only a system administrator (Figure 12-2) can change settings that affect everyone who shares a certain machine: most of its Network settings, Energy Saver settings, and so on. If you see a bunch of controls that are dimmed and unavailable, now you know why.

A inline in the lower-left corner is the other telltale sign. If you, a nonadministrator, would like to edit some settings, call an administrator over and ask her to click the inline, input her password, and supervise your tweaks.

The System Preferences Window

You can open System Preferences in dozens of ways:

  • Choose its name from the inline menu.

  • Jump directly to a System Preferences pane by pressing Option as you tap keys on the top row of your keyboard: ...

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