Guide to System Preferences

In Mac OS, the System Preferences controls how your Mac runs and behaives, some settings change users specific settings such as Desktop and Finder, while other affect the entire system. If a padlock icon appears in the bottom left of a preference window, then you will need Administrator rights to change those settings.

System Preferences

For example, if you wanted to change Desktop and Screen Saver you get the following window with a list of possible settings.

Desktop preferences


Control Panels

General - Set appearance, colour, scroll bars, browser and recent items.
Display & Screen Saver - Set the desktop background or colours and screen saver.
Dock - Configure size, magnification, position, and animation of dock and icons.
Mission Control - configure spaces, groups and keyboard or mouse shortcuts.
Language & Region - Set date and time formats, location, welcome screen settings and languages.
Security & Privacy - Set Password, app store security. Configure network protection against unauthorised access to your system. File Vault for file system encryption.
Spotlight - Sort order in which search results are ordered, keyboard shortcut.
Notifications - configure which alerts you want to see and how they are displayed.
Displays - Configure item sizes, text sizes, resolution, colour, display settings and ClearType text.
Energy Saver - Set computer and display sleep settings, wake up options, brightness level and battery options.
Keyboard - Configure repeat delay, repeat rate, backlit, shortcuts, input sources and dictation for keyboard.
Mouse - Configure buttons, speed, zoom and other mouse options.
Trackpad - Configure tracking, click and scrolling speeds and gestures to use.
Printers & Scanners - To manage peripherals such as scanners and printers.
Sound - Configure playback and recording devices, sounds effects, balance and volume.
iCloud - Specify what items to sync to icloud incl. mail, contacts, calender, notes, documents etc.
Internet Accounts - Setup accounts for iCloud, Exchange, Google, Twitter, Facebook etc.
Networks - Configure Ethernet, Wireless, Firewire, Blue tooth and network protocols.
Bluetooth - Turn bluetooth on and off and list available devices.
Sharing - Enable sharing for files, web, login ftp, remote desktop, printers and so on.
Users & Groups - Create, modify and delete user accounts, groups and login options.
Parental Controls - Enable and restrict access to type or named websites to specific accounts.
AppStore - Configure system and app update settings.
Dictation & Speech - Setup speech recognition and dictation, including voice, rate, alerts, language.
Date & Time - Configure local date and time settings, time zone and clock format.
Startup Disk - Specify which disk or partition to boot from.
Time Machine - Configure and start backups and restore of user data.
Accessibility - Manage ease of use tools and settings including Display, Zoom, Magnifier, On-Screen keyboard, Narrator, High Contrast.