100 Tips #17: Where’s The Control Panel On A Mac?



Windows has its Control Panel, and your Mac has one too. It just has a different name.

Where you would once have looked for the Control Panel, you now need to look for an application called System Preferences.

It lives inside your Applications folder and is present by default on the Dock (although of course, you don’t have to leave it there if you don’t want to).

System Preferences is home to a collection of what are called “panes”, sometimes known as “prefpanes”. Each one lets you control various aspects of the way your Mac works. Some of them are very simple, others more complicated.

The first one, Appearance, is simple enough. When you open it, you’ll see various controls. There are drop-downs that let you pick one option from a list; radio buttons that let you pick one option from two or three; and tick boxes that let you switch things on and off.

We’re not going to look at all of the preference panes in this post, although it’s certain that some individual panes will crop up in later posts in this series, because there are lots of useful tweaks and tricks you can do using System Preferences.

What’s worth knowing for now is where to find System Preferences, and what sorts of things it does. If you’re unsure which pane to use, type something in the search box at the top-right corner. System Preferences will instantly highlight the panes it thinks are most relevant. Like this:


(You’re reading the 17th post in our series, 100 Essential Mac Tips And Tricks For Windows Switchers. These posts explain to OS X beginners some of the most basic and fundamental concepts of using a Mac. Find out more.)

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