How to Organize Your MacOS System Preferences so You Can Actually Find the Things You Want

I’ve never been able to easily find anything in macOS system preferences. Even the simplest things, like changing wallpaper related settings, I use the search bar in the system preferences window. Needless to say, I feel like I am always at the mercy of Apple’s search code to find what I need. And it doesn’t always work that well, and that’s the problem.

Anyone who has opened System Preferences on a Mac knows that it is not easy to find any category of preferences there. By default, these settings are sorted into categories, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Why is the language and region between Highlights and Notifications? I don’t have an answer to this, but I can tell you how to fix this seemingly random arrangement.

How to alphabetically arrange Mac System Preferences icons

Yes, you can alphabetize the system preferences icons. It’s much better than sorting by category, which I’m surprised it took me so long to switch. If you want to switch, click the Apple logo in the upper left corner of your Mac screen and choose System Preferences . Go to the menu bar at the top of your Mac screen and choose View> Alphabetical . Now take a look at the screenshot below.

Isn’t that much better ? I will never go back to the old way of organizing system settings. I can finally find most of the preferences without using the search bar.

How to hide system preferences icons

The ability to hide certain system preference icons is a useful feature. If you’re trying to minimize parental calls to tech support, try hiding some of the icons in System Preferences. It is also quite useful if you transfer your computer to someone else – it allows you to be sure that no one will change your network settings unnecessarily.

Open System Preferences , go to the menu bar at the top of your screen, and choose View> Customize . You will now see a series of blue checkboxes next to each system preferences icon. Uncheck the boxes for the icons you want to hide and click Finish at the top of the System Preferences window.

Note that this will hide the icons in the system preferences, but you can still use the search bar to find the setting. Alternatively, these hidden settings can be found using Spotlight search on Mac (or alternatives). Obviously, this is not entirely reliable, but sufficient to prevent some avoidable problems.

To display these icons, open System Preferences again and choose View> Show All Settings from the menu bar. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Command + L.


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