Videos by Category: System Preferences

Login Items allows you to set applications to start automatically when you first log in to your Mac. They are used by many apps to run supporting apps in the background. You may have some items there added by apps and not realize it. You can also add your own apps. It is important to understand what the checkboxes next to the apps in the list do. If you want to stop an app from automatically launching, unchecking it won't do that. You need to remove the app from the list.
You can use your own sounds for alerts in macOS Sierra and Mail. You'll need to convert the sounds to AIF format and put them in the Library folder. Then these custom sounds will show up after restarting System Preferences or Mail.
Both macOS and iOS allow you to search for system settings. You can use the Search field at the top of System Preferences, or the Search field in the Settings app to quickly find specific items. But the results aren't perfect.
If you don't use the Caps Lock key, you can disable it to prevent accidental use. You can also re-assign it as an optional Command, Control, Option or Esc key.
You can change the alert sound on your Mac using System Preferences. There are a variety of built-in sounds to choose from. You can also import your own sound files by placing them into a special folder. These files must use a special format, or at least have the file extension set to that format.
Next to a back drive, a UPS is the most important accessory you need if you own an iMac, Mac mini or Mac Pro. Essentially a power strip with a battery, a UPS will keep your Mac running if you have a power outage or even a split-second power interruption. Then you can shut down your Mac gracefully and not lose any work. Most UPSes today come with a USB connection that you can connect to your Mac. Then you get a new section in System Preferences where you can set your Mac to shut down on its own if power is out and the battery is in use.
Learn about the Energy Saver system preferences. You can set an amount of time before your Mac goes to sleep or puts the display to sleep. This will help conserve energy and prolong your battery charge. There are also other settings that can help, and even a way to schedule your Mac to sleep or wake up. You can have different settings for battery versus being plugged in.
Built into System Preferences is a tool that lets you color calibrate your Mac's display. This can help the colors you see on your Mac's screen match the colors you then get on printouts and when looking at real-world objects. Even if you are not a graphics professional, it may be a good idea to calibrate your screen so images you see online more closely match the real world.
The free GeekTool app allows you to put images, file content and shell script output right on your Desktop background. You can use this to customize your desktop in a variety of ways, such as showing current weather, news or financial information. Or, you can use it to monitor your Mac or systems on the Internet.
Scroll Bars in Lion and Mountain Lion will appear and disappear depending on your actions. You can set them to always be present, or to change based on your input device. With two fingers on your trackpad, you can scroll easily. You can also use the arrow keys on your keyboard to scroll.

If you want to go beyond System Preferences and change other settings on your Mac, you can do so with the Terminal window. But TinkerTool makes it even easier by giving you a list of potential settings and a user interface to make the changes without typing.

Mountain Lion took away quick access to your Displays preferences by removing the menu bar icon that was in previous versions of OS X. But you can still get to Displays preferences quickly using a keyboard shortcut, the Dock, or an AppleScript. You can also get a third-party app that adds the handy menu bar icon back.
You have many options when creating a login image for your Mac user account. You can take a picture with your Mac's camera, and then zoom in and reposition it. You can also apply a variety of special filters to make it more interesting. You can get an image from elsewhere and drag and drop it to create a more unique login image.
You can use Lion's screen zoom feature to quickly get closer to items on your screen. You can use keyboard shortcuts to zoom in and out. You can also zoom in on content in Safari with a separate feature that maintains the look of the web page.
While Siri has brought speech commands to the iPhone 4S, Mac users have long had the ability to speak commands to your computers. Learn how to enable Speakable Items on your Mac, find out which commands work and how. You can also add custom commands and have your Mac speak to you.
The function keys, also called the F-keys, serve two purposes on your Mac. Found at the top of all Apple keyboards, these keys can be used for special functions like volume control, iTunes playback or accessing Mission Control. But they can also be used as F1, F2, F3, etc., keys. Find out how to switch between the two modes.
Login Items are applications that launch automatically when you log in to your user account on your Mac. Utilities supporting some of your applications may be found there. You can also add your own applications, scripts, folders, documents and even web bookmarks.
A common problem for new Mac users is to find an application missing from the Dock. Or, to find that it only appears when the application is running. Items can also go missing from the Finder sidebar or the desktop. This video explains why these can disappear and how to get them back.
The handy utility Default Folder X adds extra functionality to your save and open dialogs. You can quickly navigate to folders already open on your desktop, jump to recent and favorite folders, set a default folder for each application, and make changes to files you see in the dialog boxes.
If you are an advanced user with trouble, or someone who like to tinker with Mac OS X settings, then take a look at OnyX. This free utility gives you easy access to Terminal commands and hidden preferences.
The Airport Location utility allows you to take snapshots of your Mac's preferences and then manually or automatically switch between these preferences. This could save time if you use your Mac in different environments or in different modes. For instance, you could create snapshots for work, home, library or travel and then easily change dozens of settings with just one action.
Learn how to choose your own desktop background, use your own image as a background, rotate through a collection of images and other techniques. Also learn how to create a solid black background and use a third-party program to show video, animation or a web page as your desktop background.
Learn how to walk away from your Mac without worrying about others easily getting access to your data or messing up your settings. By setting your Mac to log you out, or require a password when you have left it, you can walk away from a Mac in a semi-public area like your work space or home office.
Since the Magic Mouse's surface is one big touch-sensitive area, it was only a matter of time before third-party developers came up with solutions for adding custom gestures. By installing free and inexpensive system extensions, you can assign commands to various swipes and taps.
Since your Mac can handle more than one audio device, it is important to know how to tell it which device to use for output and input. For instance, you can have external speakers and a USB headset, as well as several microphones. You can set this system-wide, or for individual applications like iChat, GarageBand, Audacity and Skype.
It is easy to hook up a second monitor to most Macs. Once you get a monitor and the proper cables to connect it, you can use the Displays preferences to control how the monitor fits into your desktop.
A basic look at Energy Saver Preferences. These can be used to reduce the power consumption of your Mac when you are not using it. You can also schedule shut down or sleep patterns, and set how how Mac behaves while it is asleep.
With the Ink feature of Mac OS X you can use a cheap tablet and your Mac will recognize the letters you write as an alternative to using a keyboard. You can insert text and drawings into documents.
Spaces creates virtual displays that you can switch between even though you only have one physical screen. You can place different windows and applications in different Spaces to extend the amount of desktop space you have to work.
You can change your system alert sound, even using a custom one that you create.