macOS Hidden Treasures: Secrets of the System Preferences window

“System Preferences is easy to use: open it, click here, click there — whoops, not there, over here instead… wait, where is that setting?” Sharon Zardetto reports for TidBITS. “My point is: System Preferences could be easier to use. And it is, once you know the details.”

“You don’t, for instance, need 30-plus items displayed when you use only a dozen of them regularly,” Zardetto reports. “You don’t always have to start with the full window, click a preference pane, and then click a tab to get where you want to be. And that Search field is more useful than you might expect.”

“Use Spotlight to jump directly to specific panes using only the keyboard. Command-Space bar is the system default for opening Spotlight, and typing the name of a pane — usually just the first few letters — gives you a list of options, including the preference pane,” Zardetto reports. “The first hit in the list is always highlighted, indicating that pressing Return will open it. I used this method for years, and often still do (I blame muscle memory), but it’s much quicker to use the next method.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There’s a lot of useful info here for those of us who tend to hunt and peck their way through System Prefs (we usually bang the whole thing open and begin typing in the Search field which works okay, but as Zardetto points out, it can be faster if you like).


  1. Articles like this remind me of how far gone Apple software engineers have fallen. Is it their intention to make everything hidden? WHY????

    Why must simple commands be accessible only with multiple-keystroke special secret handshakes that nobody can remember?

    There should be no screen size limitation on a Mac that would force all the cloak and dagger games. Simplify and make stiff visible again, Apple. If it requires that you pull your perfect-eyesight, twentysomething touchscreen addicted tiny display loving iOS developers off the Mac platform, then do it. NOW.

  2. “Command-Space bar is the system default for opening Spotlight”

    I thought that ctrl-spacebar was the shortcut to open Spotlight. Has it changed?

    Can’t check it on my iPad and won’t be back on my iMac for a few days.

  3. MacOS used to be so intuitive. Now it’s full of bloat, yet ironically missing important user controls to make it legible and colorful. It is restricted to run on only old or thermally constrained hardware. So sad….

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