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Mac Tutorial: Alternative Ways to Organize System Preferences

Here’s the first in a series of short video tutorials that will help you learn and unlock new abilities on your macOS. Today we cover System Preferences.

I have a problem with the layout of System Preferences. I can never find the preference I’m looking for. 

System prefs window

If you’re anything like me, you visually try to find the preference you’re looking for. You scan each row…

…and then you give up and just type in the search box

System Prefs search

What if there was a better way? 

Let’s see a cool keyboard shortcut first. There’s a great keyboard choice for Show All Preferences. It’s Command-L.

System Prefs - List

I don’t memorize keys. I form a sentence and associate the command, so I know that it’ll stick. I call this a natural language mnemonic approach. So, the keyboard choice for Show All Preferences is a COMMAND for a List.

Show All Preferences is under the View Menu. And that’s where I found List Alphabetically!

System Prefs - Alphabetically

This is much better. Now I have my preferences organized alphabetically.

It just makes more sense to my brain rather than Apple’s categories for preferences. After all, I can still search for the Preference I’m looking for. 

While under that menu, I also found this nugget: Customize…

System Prefs - Customize

Now I could uncheck any Preference that I’m not going to use. For example, I’m not going to use the Sidecar feature of my Mac. So, I’ll uncheck it, knowing that it’s still under the View Menu. And that I can still search for it, even if it’s hidden. 

System Prefs - Customized

So, right now, take a second, go customize your System Preferences and get your Mac to work the way you want!

Jeff Greenberg
the authorJeff Greenberg
Jeff Greenberg is an Editor/Colorist/Consultant in post. An early adopter, he sent his first email in the 80s. He chairs conferences and is a Master Trainer (teaches the “Train the trainer” classes for the major NLEs.) Most of all, he’s a Dad and Filmgeek. And hates being defined by fifty words. Just like you.
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