Mac OS System Preferences

Personalize your Mac
The first thing we'll do is to adjust the look and feel of your Mac according to your personal wishes.
Move the mouse to the Apple logo in upper left corner. Press the left mouse button and keep it pressed. Select 'System Preferences' from the pull down menu and let go of the mouse button.

System Preferences
A 'Window' filled with icons will appear. This THE feature that tells your Mac how to behave. It's important you always know where to find it!

Control Panel
You can compare System Preferences to the Control Panel in Windows.


First, choose 'Mouse' and adjust the speed of your little rodent as you see fit. It does't run that fast on default.

Then pay attention to the Scroll direction and how you feel about that. (MacMiep can't handle the default setting).

Secondary click = right click
This means your right mouse button. The Mighty Mouse is a multi-buttoned, multi-touch mouse, but on default it behaves like a one button mouse!
You can turn the Secondary click on right here:

Note: a right click also be accomplished by using a Control*-klik.
(Ctrl* key on the lower left of the keyboard)

More Gestures

Your mouse is a Mighty Mouse. It can do a lot of things. Take a good look at the little movie on the right to see what else your mouse can do:

One button only?
Apple's original Mighty Mouse is a multi buttoned mouse, but on default only one button works. No worries, you can change it here.

Other mouse brands

Mouses of different manufacturers can be used without a problem, even together with the original Apple mouse.

MacBook Trackpad and Magic Trackpad

Owners of a Mac-to-go or Magic Trackpad can also configure their Trackpad here.
At 'Tracking Speed' you can adjust the speed of your mouse. But there are more options.
Again, take a good look at the movies how you have to move your fingers and how much fingers you have to use.

Right-clicking with a Trackpad
MacBook trackpads have no buttons, so it seems at first sight, but: the Trackpad IS the button.
To activate the right-click option: sign 'Secondary click: clicking with two fingers'.
This means you'll be using two fingers to click, to get a right-click:

Note: Again, take a good look at the little movies in System Preferences on the right to see what your Trackpad can do.

Working with your fingers
In Mac OS a Trackpad can be used with all kinds of finger movements (more about this later on):

Satisfied? Now, click 'Show All' to go back to System Preferences overview.

The Dock

Next, choose Dock. It's the row of icons at the lower midst of your screen.

What is the Dock?
The Dock is a fast way to access your programs and files. You only need to click once on an icon to start the program or open the file.
The Dock is accesible from every program, all the time. You can choose on which side you want the Dock and adjust its size. You can also make it disappear at 'Automatically hide and show the Dock'. When you move your mouse to the bottom of your screen, it will re-appear. Change your Dock preferences anyway you like, you can always change them back:

Now choose the Sound preference panel and choose your favorite error effect at 'Sound Effects'.
NOTE: 'Sosumi' was a board the first Mac ever (dog house model) back in 1984. A true classic!

Let's get rid of all that noise

In case you don't like the User interface sound effects, you can turn them off at 'Play user interface sound effects'. No bleeps and other noises during file copying and stuff.

Desktop picture

Choose here what kind of picture you'd like to show on your desktop.

and Screen Saver

At Screen Saver you choose the movie that will run when you're not using your Mac for a while. However, letting your screen sleep is much more energy efficient.
Note: For example: a 27" iMac (2011) screen asleep uses 42,5 Watt versus the Screen Saver: 104 Watt.

Closing System Preferences

On the Mac, all programs open in a Window. At the upper left of this window, you'll find three buttons.
MacMiep calls them the 'traffic light’.

red means ‘close window'
yellow is ‘put window into Dock' (let the window disappear into the Dock so it's out of your way, but easy accessible)
green is ‘put window on maximum enlargement' (mostly full screen).

Note: in case you are colorblind, red is on the left and green is on the right.

Closing a window

To close the window of a program - in this case System Preferences - you simply use the red button.

From right to left
Switchers have to get used to changing from right to left:
green = maximize window
yellow = minimize window
red = close window

How to quit a a program
Go to the Menu Bar and select Quit .... program name...':

Quit a program without using the mouse

However, it's much easier and faster to use the shortcut 'Command - Q'. You can find the command keys at the left and right sides of the Space bar:

Push the Q key and the Command key together.

Note: Nearly anything can be done with both mouse or keyboard. The more experienced you'll become, the more 'shortcuts' you'll use. With Shortcuts, you can work faster and more ergonomic. There are shortcuts that exist of two, three or even four keys. More of this later.

So far the System Preferences
We've seen the System Preferences that determine the 'look and feel' of your Mac. In the upcoming chapters you'll meet more of them.

Overview of all System Preferences
To get a complete overview of all the System Preferences, visit All Preferences.
However, absolute beginners better skip this at first.

Disclaimer: MacMiep is independent. This means she writes what she wants, based on 25+ years of Mac-experience. She doesn't get paid for stories (positive or negative) on this website.