2/5/219:00 am Mac Basics: Using System Preferences System Preferences is where you go to change settings on your Mac. Settings are arranged by category in panes, but you can search for settings too. On the Mac, you access app preferences in the individual app. Video Transcript: Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. Today let me show you the basics of using System Preferences on your Mac. MacMost is brought to you thanks to a great group of more than 800 supporters. Go to MacMost.com/patreon. There you can read more about the Patreon Campaign. Join us and get exclusive content and course discounts. So System Preferences is how you control settings on your Mac. You can get to it a number of different ways. By default you should see System Preferences in your Dock. But it's always available in the Apple Menu. You just select System Preferences. System Preferences shows you categories of preferences by icon. So you can see the icons like General, Desktop & Screensaver, and Dock & Menu Bar. The icons are arranged in three different groups with third party System Preferences at the bottom. At the top though you should see your name and information that applies to you as the user of this Mac account. You also see the very important Apple ID System Preferences here. You click that and it will take you to Preferences that have to do with your Apple ID, iCloud, and other Apple services. Whenever you're looking at a category of preferences you can always click on this button here to go back to the main System Preferences screen. There are other ways to view the System Preferences. In the View Menu you can change from Organize By Categories to Organize Alphabetically. Notice under View you also have a list of all of the different categories here. So you can simply jump to one by selecting it from this list. If you want you can even customize what you see. So in View, Customize you now get checkboxes next to everything. If you want to Hide something you can uncheck it and now click Done and you could see that's gone. But it's still available here. Another thing you could do is Search. But you can search for more than just the name of the individual System Preference. For instance in General here is a setting for the default web browser. Now if you forget where that is you could simply search for it. You could see it comes up here as a result and it shows you where it is located. You could click here or here then to get to it. So once you're inside one of the categories, also called a Pane as in a window pane, you can change your preferences using a variety of different things. For instance here's a checkbox for Allow wallpaper tinting in windows. For Show Scroll Bars there are three radio buttons. A radio button is basically like a checkbox but it's a series of them and only one can be selected at a time. Sometimes there are dropdown menus like for Default web browser I can choose one of these to install browsers from this menu. Other times there are custom controls like for Appearance I could go to Light, Dark, or Automatic. You can see it kind of works like a radio button but has a custom picture instead of a little circle. In some of these the controls get even more complex. In Dock & Menu Bar you have a Sidebar here on the left. So if you want to control things that have to do with Dock & Menu Bar you have this selected and you can see various controls here. Here you see some Sliders for size and magnification. If I wanted to look at Control Center settings I click on one of these items in the Sidebar. I would just go through each one of these for various different settings. Desktop & Screen Saver has another complex set of controls. There's a whole list here of pictures that you can scroll through and set one as your Desktop background. But this is also a Drag and Drop area. So you can drag and drop a photo into here. At the top here you can actually see there are two different tabs for this System Preferences pane. A Desktop tab and a Screen Saver tab. So it changes what's underneath here. So it's kind of a deeper level. You can see the same thing say in Spotlight where there's Search Results and Privacy. For Security & Privacy there's a whole set at the top. General, FireVault, Firewall, and Privacy. So as you can see you can go pretty deep into System Preferences. There's a lot more than what you see just here at the top level. Now one way System Preferences is fundamentally different from the Settings app in iOS is that you will not find App settings there. Instead you'll find those in the individual apps. So here I am in Mail, for instance, and I can go to Mail Preferences and this is where I get to preferences that have to do with this app. The same thing with Safari. I go to Safari Preferences in the Safari app. I won't find Safari settings in System Preferences. There are a couple of other ways to access System Preferences. One is by using one of the Menu Bar icons at the top. Sometimes those have direct access to the Preferences. For instance here's the Bluetooth icon and you could see I can select that and go to Bluetooth Preferences. It opens up System Preferences right to Bluetooth. If you have System Preferences in the Dock you can click and hold on it and an alphabetical list of System Preferences will pop-up. You can select one right from that list and it will jump right to it. If you're a power user one of the things you want to do occasionally is go through System Preferences and look in every single category. Go through each item here. If you don't know what it is maybe try it out. Or use the little question mark icon at the bottom to bring up Help so you can read about what each thing is. This is how you discover new functionality on your Mac or ways you can customize it that you didn't know existed before. A lot of times I'm asked how I know everything that I know about a Mac. This is one of my tricks. It's to simply explore. Go through all of System Preferences and look and see what's new. I do that every time Apple comes out with their annual major update of macOS. Related Subjects: Mac Basics (34 videos), System Settings (155 videos) Related Video Tutorials: No related posts. Comments: 5 Responses to “Mac Basics: Using System Preferences” Dr. Jacqui 3 years ago Thank you for a detailed overview of the system preferences. I learned at least 3 new things about this Big Sur update, and I have been a long, long time Apple user. Kelly 3 years ago What a great website – thanks for creating it! I know I’m going to be watching all of your videos and I also know that my 83-year-old dad is going to really appreciate these short and to the point the point tutorial videos! Blair 3 years ago Hi Gary, I've dabbled with Mac's here and there as a Windows user since 3.11, figuring stuff out as I go whenever trying to help someone with a Mac with a problem. I've decided to get an M1 Mac and make it my daily computer to really force myself to properly learn and understand. I'm starting to really see the extra power the interface has, but some things still confuse me. I really can't grasp why is there a back button and a grid button in system preferences? They achieve the same? Thx Gary Rosenzweig 3 years ago Blair: Perhaps just to be consistent with other interfaces? You can also click and hold the "grid" button to get a list and jump to another section. You can use the View menu to do that too. Then the Back button will take you back to the previous screen, not the Home Screen. So they do different things in that situation. Blair 3 years ago Thanks! I think that would be a rare occurrence but I suppose it does make sense and saves a click in that scenario! 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