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System Preferences

System Preferences is an application bundled with OS X that allows you to change settings on your Mac. It is similar to the Control Panel in Windows and supersedes the Control Panel that was part of Mac OS Classic.

The System Preferences window displays several different options called preferences panes (instead of control panels). It lists the default preference panes included with OS X, as well as any third party preference panes that have been installed. While the default options have changed since the first version of OS X was released in 2001, many of them are the same. In OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), the System Preferences application includes the 30 preference panes listed below.

  1. General
  2. Desktop & Screen Saver
  3. Dock
  4. Mission Control
  5. Language & Region
  6. Security & Privacy
  7. Spotlight
  8. Notifications
  9. Displays
  10. Energy Saver
  1. Keyboard
  2. Mouse
  3. Trackpad
  4. General
  5. Printers & Scanners
  6. Sound
  7. iCloud
  8. Internet Accounts
  9. Extensions
  10. Network
  1. Bluetooth
  2. Sharing
  3. Users & Groups
  4. Parental Controls
  5. App Store
  6. Dictation & Speech
  7. Date & Time
  8. Startup Disk
  9. Time Machine
  10. Accessibility

When you click an preference pane icon in System Preferences, it displays controls that allow you to modify certain settings. For example, you can use the Desktop & Screen Saver preference pane to change your desktop background. Energy Saver allows you to modify how long it takes for your computer to go to sleep when idle. The Network preference pane allows you to change the priority of your Mac's network services and lets you manually configure your network connection.

You can access System Preferences by clicking the Apple icon on the left side of the menu bar and selecting "System Preferences…" A shortcut to the program is also included in the Dock by default, but it can be removed. OS X also supports several keyboard shortcuts that open individual system preferences. For example, if you have an Apple keyboard, pressing Option + a brightness function key will open the Displays preference while pressing Option + a volume function key will open the Sound preference.

Updated: December 19, 2014

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