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Table of Contents

Using System Preferences

Imagine this. You want to change the background image on your Mac’s Desktop. You search in Google for instructions, and you find a great looking article that promises to tell you what to do. But, it tells you to open System Preferences. Okay, fine… but where are they? And, having found them, how do you get around?

Of the many ways to open System Preferences, an easy one is to click the apple icon at the upper-left of the Mac screen to display the Apple menu. Then, choose System Preferences .

① 	The main view of the System Preferences displays several rows of icons (first two rows shown here). Click an icon to open its pane.

① The main view of the System Preferences displays several rows of icons (first two rows shown here). Click an icon to open its pane.

Opening a Preference Pane

② 	The View menu lists the preference panes alphabetically, making it easy to open a pane if you already know its name.

② The View menu lists the preference panes alphabetically, making it easy to open a pane if you already know its name.

Tip: You may find it easier to work with the icons in the System Preferences window if they are organized alphabetically rather than by category; to switch, choose View > Organize Alphabetically.

Some preference panes have buttons (also called tabs) across the top . Click a button to access a sub-pane (also called a view or screen). So, directions that say “open the Desktop & Screen Saver preference pane and click Desktop” or that say “open System Preferences > Desktop & Screensaver > Desktop” are telling you to open the pane and then click something in it, probably a button at the top.

③ 	Click a button—Desktop or Screen Saver—to display its view.

③ Click a button—Desktop or Screen Saver—to display its view.

In some cases, what you’re meant to click is an item the left of a pane, which then affects what you see at the right. In a case like that, you might see instructions telling you to “open System Preferences > Users & Groups > username > Password” .

④ 	In this pane, the options at the right are for whatever you’ve selected at the left.

④ In this pane, the options at the right are for whatever you’ve selected at the left.

Activating a Pane

If controls in a preference pane are dimmed or won’t take input, click the lock icon at the lower left and enter your username and password. (The username and password must be associated with an administrative account on the Mac.)

⑤ 	If you see this closed lock icon at the lower left of a preference pane, you must click the icon and authenticate before you can make changes.

⑤ If you see this closed lock icon at the lower left of a preference pane, you must click the icon and authenticate before you can make changes.

Tip: Because writing out “enter your username and password” can get a bit long and dull, tech writers sometimes use “authenticate” instead. Similarly, writers sometimes replace “username and password” with “credentials.”

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“In the Mac’s System Preferences, to hide unused panes, choose View > Customize and deselect their checkboxes.”

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