9 Mac System Preferences You Haven’t Tweaked Yet

Justin Pot 26-05-2015

Make your Mac your own, without third party software. Whether you’re new to OS X or a longtime user, there’s probably something in System Preferences you haven’t found yet. Here are nine things you might have missed.


We’ve been digging into the Mac preferences for years 15 System Preferences Items A New Mac User Should Adjust Read More , but to this day there are things we haven’t pointed out yet.

To get started, click the Apple icon at top-left , then click System Preferences.


That’s right: you don’t need to keep the System Preferences icon on your dock anymore (you can even launch it via Spotlight 7 Good Habits Every Mac User Should Get Used To Today we're going to share our favourite good Mac habits, while desperately trying to forget the bad ones. Read More ). And now that we’re in, let’s get to the real tips.

Enable Apps From Outside The App Store

By default, OS X programs without a developer’s license won’t run – instead, you’ll be treated to a message like this:



This is called Gatekeeper, and it protects your Mac What Is GateKeeper & How Does It Help Protect My Mac? [MakeUseOf Explains] Will your favorite programs ever run again? Certain programs won't load anymore - a message about Unidentified Developers shows up instead. There isn't even an obvious option to run the app. Gatekeeper just might be... Read More , but it can also be pretty annoying if there’s a piece of software you want to run. It’s especially annoying because many of the best Mac apps The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac Looking for the best apps for your MacBook or iMac? Here's our comprehensive list of the best apps for macOS. Read More won’t run.

If you’d like to never see this message again, head to the your System Preferences, then click Security & Privacy. You’ll find the appropriate setting in the General tab:



Select Anywhere and your Mac will stop bugging you about this – just make sure you don’t run any programs from places you can’t trust. Contrary to popular belief, Macs aren’t immune to malware 3 Signs Your Mac Is Infected With a Virus (And How to Check) If your Mac is acting weird, it could be infected with a virus. How can you check for a virus on your Mac? We'll show you. Read More .

Set Up Autoreplace For Easy Text Expansion

If you head to the Keyboard section of System Preferences, then click the Text tab, you can create text expansions for yourself.


If there are relatively long phrases you find yourself typing often, create a one-word shortcut for it – when you type that phrase in any program, OS X will transform it for you. It’s also a great way to quickly use ASCII art – you can see, I’ve added a “/shrug” command for myself.


Schedule Wake-Up and Sleep Times

If you use your computer on a set schedule, and would prefer you didn’t have to wake it up yourself, head to the Energy Saver section of your Mac’s settings. Click Schedule at the bottom-right corner and you can tell your Mac when to wake up and go back to sleep.


If you’ve scheduled your Time Machine backups Schedule & Browse Time Machine Backups With These Powerful Tools From custom backup times to finding out where those 2 GB of new files are, the right apps can give you power and knowledge Apple's own tools just don't provide. Read More you could use this to ensure your Mac is on when you want your backup to run, but there are a lot of other potential uses.

Set Up Hot Corners To Quickly Do Anything

Hot Corners is something many Mac users swear by, but not everyone knows about. And it’s kind of hidden: head to “Mission Control”, then click the “Hot Corners” button.



You can now trigger a number of things by moving your mouse to a particular corner. You might hate it, but if not you’ll wonder how you ever used your Mac without it.

Add a Lock Message In Case You Lose Your Mac

In System Preferences, head to Security & Privacy and you’ll find the Set Lock Message button.


Personally I like to leave contact information, in case I lose my laptop and someone wants to return it. But you could just leave a nasty message for your sister, who keeps trying to use your laptop when you’re out of the room and totally needs to stop doing that.

Turn Off Notifications During Your Work Day

Notifications can be the enemy of focus, which is why you should try to avoid them during your work day. Head to Notifications, then look under Do Not Disturb.


While you’re at it, I recommend making sure notifications won’t show up on mirrored devices – you don’t want a message from your buddy showing up during a presentation, right?

Explore What Your Trackpad Can Do

This isn’t really little-known, but if your Mac has a trackpad you should really check out the Trackpad settings. It’s just as much a tutorial as it is a preferences panel – you’ll learn some useful gestures, and you’ll be able to tweak others to better suit your needs.


If this isn’t enough control for you, I recommend powering up your trackpad with BetterTouchTool Power Up Your Mac With Advanced BetterTouchTool Automations I started using BetterTouchTool back in 2011, and since then it has become one of the top three Mac applications for boosting my productivity and streamlining my workflow. Though BTT can be used by any... Read More .

Mac Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

You can create a custom keyboard shortcut How To Create A Keyboard Shortcut For Any Mac Menu Item Is there no keyboard shortcut for something you do regularly? That’s annoying, but here’s the good news: on your Mac you can add one easily, without the need for extra software. Read More for almost anything, thanks to the “Shortcuts” section of the “Keyboard” preferences pane.


Personally I use this to create key keyboard shortcuts in Safari, but there’s no limit to what you can do.

Handy Shortcut: Right-Click Preferences Icon for a List

Finally, here’s a quick way to jump to any System Preferences panel quickly. On the dock, right-click the Preferences icon – you’ll see a list.

9 Mac System Preferences You Haven't Tweaked Yet mac preferences shortcuts

Maybe it’s worth keeping that icon on your dock after all, huh? Lots of Mac apps have useful shortcuts here, so right-click more icons while you’re at it.

There’s More Great OS X Tweaks Out There!

Want to keep tweaking? You should explore System Preferences yourself and report back with the best things you find.

Of course, to really dig deep into customizing your Mac you’ll need to become comfortable with the Terminal. Once you do, you can customize OS X in ways the GUI cannot 10 Hidden Terminal Commands for Customizing the Mac Dock From simple tweaks like adding hidden stacks for recent items, to only displaying the currently open applications – there's a lot you can do to customize your Mac's dock. Read More or even install software using four-word commands How to Install Mac Apps in Terminal Using Homebrew Did you know you can install Mac software in the Terminal? Here's how to use Homebrew to install Mac apps easily. Read More . I’d love to hear what other advanced tweaking apps you use on your Mac, so let’s discuss that and more in the comments below.

Have you tweaked your Mac’s default settings? What did you do?

Related topics: OS X Mavericks, OS X Yosemite.

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