Chapter 9. System Preferences

T he 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.

This chapter guides you through the System Preferences program, panel by panel.


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 tiny Inline in the lower-left corner of a panel is the other telltale sign. If you, a nonadministrator, would like to edit some settings, then call an administrator over to your Mac 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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