How to navigate the new System Configuration tool in macOS Ventura

With macOS Ventura, Apple has modified and simplified the system tool you use to modify the operating system.

Close up of a Macbook and Mac desktop.
Image: Norbert Levajsics/Unsplash

Previous versions of macOS offered the System Preferences tool to give you access to all the settings and options for managing and customizing the operating system. With macOS Ventura, Apple has revamped this tool with a new name and a new design.

SEE: iCloud vs. OneDrive: Which is better for Mac, iPad and iPhone users? (Free PDF) (República Tecnológica)

Now known as System Settings, the tool borrows its design from iPadOS, with a list of settings you select to configure the operating system. But what settings are available, and how and where do you find each one?

How to upgrade to macOS Ventura

If you haven’t updated to macOS Ventura yet, click the Apple icon, point to About This Mac, and then click the Software Update button. Click the Update Now button to install the update.

How to configure system settings in macOS Ventura

Once the new version is in place, click on the Apple icon and select System Settings. Note the layout differences between System Settings and System Preferences in earlier versions of macOS.

The System Preferences tool organizes the different settings through icons that you click to open. You then need to click the back arrow to return to the previous screen. The main problem with System Preferences is that the icons are randomly arranged in no logical order.

Adopting the design of iPadOS, System Settings lists each setting in the left panel by category. Clicking on a specific setting displays its setting options on the right. Finding each setting and switching from one to the next is much quicker and easier than in System Preferences (Figure A).

Figure A

System Settings in MacOS Ventura lists each setting in the left pane by category.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

The first setting is for your Apple ID. Clicking on that setting brings up the same options as in System Preferences, but the Family Sharing option is more easily accessible (Figure B).

Figure B

Apple ID settings in System Preferences.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

The next section offers the connectivity settings: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Network and VPN. This fix is ​​a huge improvement over System Preferences, where you had to find these individual items as individual icons or as options located under Network. Each setting is now easily visible and accessible within this section (Figure C).

Figure C

Connectivity Settings in the Wi-Fi section of System Preferences.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

The next section introduces Notifications, Sound, Focus, and Screen Time, a logical way to organize these settings instead of randomly displaying them like in System Preferences. The Notifications tab is cleaner and easier to navigate, as is the Sound tab (Figure D).

Figure D

Notifications section in System Preferences.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

The next section is a bit varied with settings for General, Appearance, Accessibility, Control Center, Siri and Spotlight, and Privacy and Security.

This is another improvement over the previous layout in System Preferences. Instead of displaying these different settings as separate icons scattered across the screen, this section logically divides them into main functions. Even the general settings are better organized with options for software update, storage, AirDrop, Time Machine, startup disk, and other features (Figure E).

Figure E

General settings organized with options for Software Update, Storage, AirDrop, Time Machine, Startup Disk, and other features.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

The next section contains settings for Desktop & Dock, Displays, Wallpaper, Screen Saver, and Battery. This section groups features logically instead of presenting them as individual icons like in System Preferences. Each entry balances text with images so your eye sees and personalizes the precise details (figure F).

figure F

Wallpaper Settings section in System Preferences.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

Managing your security and user accounts is the subject of the next section with settings for Lock Screen, Touch ID and Password, and Users and Groups. With the first setup, you determine when and how your Mac locks the screen. The second setting helps you change your login password and set up your fingerprint for Touch ID. The third setting allows you to add and control accounts for other users (Figure G).

Figure G

Users and Groups Settings section in System Preferences.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

The next section covers accounts and online activity. The Passwords settings let you manage the passwords stored in iCloud Keychain. Internet Accounts allows you to add email, contacts, and calendar accounts. Game Center settings are for gaming, and Wallet and Apple Pay settings help you set up and control payment options from your Mac (figure H).

figure H

Wallet and Apple Pay settings section in system settings.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

Dedicated to connected devices, the final section offers settings for keyboard, trackpad (or mouse), and printers and scanners (figure me).

figure me

Touchpad settings section in system settings.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

Overall, the layout of the new System Settings tool adds a more logical organization to the different settings and options. Of course, any changes take some getting used to, but you should find it easier to access and customize the different settings now that they’re better organized and you know where they all live.

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