Guide to Sys­tem Pref­er­ences in Sierra

In the se­cond of our three-part se­ries, Craig Gran­nell re­veals how to per­son­alise your Mac’s set­tings

Macworld - - Contents - CD and DVD set­tings

Dis­play set­tings

The op­tions you’ll see within the Dis­plays pane are in part re­liant on your Mac hard­ware. At a min­i­mum, you’ll see Dis­play and Colour tabs for, re­spec­tively, set­ting res­o­lu­tions and colour pro­files. If you’ve mul­ti­ple dis­plays, that will add an Ar­range­ment tab; some dis­plays will also pro­vide an Op­tions tab.

Within the Dis­play tab, you’ll see an im­age rep­re­sent­ing your dis­play (or the clos­est Ap­ple

equiv­a­lent), Res­o­lu­tion op­tions, a Bright­ness slider, and some other set­tings that are de­ter­mined by your hard­ware set-up. Un­der Res­o­lu­tion, ‘Best for dis­play’ sets your dis­play to the most op­ti­mal choice. Click Scaled to in­stead se­lect from other sup­ported res­o­lu­tions. Hold Alt when click­ing Scaled and you’ll get a larger list of res­o­lu­tions. Some of th­ese may not be sup­ported well by your dis­play, so use cau­tion. Hold­ing Alt and click­ing Scaled a se­cond time re­verts the list to rec­om­mended res­o­lu­tions for your ma­chine.

Res­o­lu­tion: On non-Retina Macs, spe­cific res­o­lu­tions will be listed (such as 1920x1200); on Retina Macs, you in­stead get pic­to­rial rep­re­sen­ta­tions of what your se­lec­tion will achieve, la­belled with the likes of ‘Larger Text’ and ‘More Space’. Click­ing an op­tion will im­me­di­ately change your dis­play’s res­o­lu­tion.

The Bright­ness slider ad­justs the dis­play’s bright­ness set­ting more rapidly than us­ing your key­board’s me­dia keys (F1 and F2), and on note­books you’ll have an op­tional check­box for au­to­mat­i­cally ad­just­ing bright­ness; this is worth keep­ing on at all times un­less you find it doesn’t work well for you.

The other op­tions you may see are:

Ro­ta­tion: Ad­justs the ro­ta­tion of the screen to 90-, 180- or 270 de­grees. Re­fresh rate: Ad­justs the re­fresh rate. Gather Win­dows: In mul­ti­ple-dis­play set­ups, you will get a sep­a­rate Dis­plays pane on each screen. Click­ing this but­ton gath­ers them all on to one screen.

De­tect Dis­plays: If you’ve mul­ti­ple dis­plays con­nected and the Ar­range­ment tab does not ap­pear, hold Op­tion and click De­tect Dis­plays to give the pane a nudge.

Air­Play Dis­play: This mir­rors the dis­play to another com­pat­i­ble screen, such as your tele­vi­sion via an Ap­ple TV. This op­tion can be more eas­ily ac­cessed by check­ing ‘Show mir­ror­ing op­tions in the menu bar when avail­able’. This gives you a drop-down Air­Play menu along­side the likes of Spotlight and your menu-bar clock.

Note that should you own a Retina Mac and/ or want a more tra­di­tional res­o­lu­tion switch in the menu bar, con­sider in­stalling the free but ca­pa­ble Dis­play Menu (, the user­friendly Res­o­lu­tion­a­tor (, or the ex­tremely ver­sa­tile SwitchResX (

The Color tab is some­thing typ­i­cal users will never need to visit, but if you work with photography and de­sign, you may need to cal­i­brate your dis­play. Uncheck­ing ‘Show pro­files for this dis­play only’ will list some pop­u­lar pro­files you can choose from. ‘Open Pro­file’ loads the cur­rent pro­file into the ColorSync Util­ity app, so you can delve into its de­tails in the ICC file for­mat. Delete Pro­file deletes any se­lected cus­tom pro­file but will not re­move those that are pre­loaded on to your ma­chine.

The Cal­i­brate op­tion loads the Dis­play Cal­i­bra­tor As­sis­tant, a wiz­ard for cal­i­brat­ing your dis­play and cre­at­ing a new be­spoke pro­file for your par­tic­u­lar setup. The ini­tial screen in­cludes an ‘Ex­pert Mode’ check­box for users who re­quire ad­di­tional op­tions be­yond the de­faults.

The afore­men­tioned tab ap­pears when mul­ti­ple dis­plays are con­nected. If two


dis­plays are mir­rored (de­noted by the ‘Mir­ror Dis­plays’ check­box), ba­sic rep­re­sen­ta­tions of them will be over­laid. When this op­tion is not se­lected, you can drag the dis­plays around to change their po­si­tions. Typ­i­cally, it’s com­mon to place one next to the other, pro­vid­ing a log­i­cal path­way for your mouse cur­sor to use, but you can place one on top of the other, if you wish. One of the dis­plays shown in this tab will have a menu bar on, and that can be dragged to another to make it the pri­mary dis­play; how­ever, as of OS X Mav­er­icks, ev­ery dis­play has its own menu bar any­way.

Fi­nally, the Op­tions tab pro­vides set­tings spe­cific to that dis­play, such as us­ing the dis­play power but­ton to sleep/wake the Mac or power down/power up the dis­play, or dis­abling its own bright­ness con­trols. Click the lock and au­then­ti­cate with your user­name to make changes.

En­ergy Saver op­tions

The En­ergy Saver pane is de­signed to ad­just power set­tings based on user-de­fined cri­te­ria, which can be es­pe­cially use­ful when ek­ing out ex­tra min­utes from a note­book. You may need to click the lock and lo­gin to make changes.

Again, there are vari­a­tions on this pane, de­pend­ing on the hard­ware you own. Desk­top ma­chines get a sin­gle pane with sep­a­rate slid­ers for defin­ing how long the Mac should wait be­fore sleep­ing the com­puter and dis­play. Fur­ther op­tions en­able you to sleep disks when pos­si­ble, wake the Mac for net­work ac­cess, and to start-up your Mac au­to­mat­i­cally af­ter a power fail­ure. ‘En­able Power Nap’ is also avail­able for Macs with newer

pro­ces­sors; when se­lected, this op­tion en­ables your Mac to per­form ba­sic tasks while sleep­ing, such as back­ing up to Time Ma­chine and mak­ing iCloud up­dates.

The Sched­ule but­ton pro­vides fur­ther con­trol, en­abling you to de­fine a start-up/wake time and a sleep time. Th­ese can each be set to run daily, only on week­days, only on week­ends, or only on a spe­cific day of the week.

The En­ergy Saver pane on note­books make some changes to th­ese op­tions, pro­vid­ing the means to de­fine dif­fer­ent set­tings for bat­tery power and when you’re us­ing a power adaptor. The Bat­tery tab log­i­cally re­moves au­to­matic restart af­ter a power fail­ure and wak­ing for net­work ac­cess. You can also show your cur­rent bat­tery sta­tus in the ma­cOS Sierra menu bar by click­ing ‘Show bat­tery sta­tus in menu bar’.

The MacBook Pro with Retina dis­play makes fur­ther ad­just­ments, re­mov­ing the ‘Com­puter sleep’ op­tion and adding the means to pre­vent the com­puter from sleep­ing au­to­mat­i­cally when the dis­play is off.

In all cases, Re­store De­faults will re­vert your Mac’s set­tings to fac­tory de­faults. The CDs & DVDs pane only ap­pears if you have an op­ti­cal drive for your Mac. This doesn’t need to be a built-in drive – just one that’s at­tached to and recog­nised by your sys­tem.

The five menus are all broadly sim­i­lar, en­abling you to set a de­fault ac­tion when cer­tain types of op­ti­cal me­dia are dis­cov­ered by your Mac, namely

the in­ser­tion of: a blank CD; a blank DVD; a mu­sic CD; a pic­ture CD, and; a video DVD. If the op­tion is set to ‘Ask what to do’, you’ll get a dia­log box on in­sert­ing a rel­e­vant disc. Al­ter­na­tively, you can de­fine a spe­cific ap­pli­ca­tion or script to run, or tell your Mac to do noth­ing by se­lect­ing ‘Ig­nore’.

Key­board set­tings

The Key­board pane pro­vides a great deal of con­trol over key­board in­put. The Key­board tab has con­trols that change how your hard­ware works. The Key Re­peat and De­lay Un­til Re­peat slid­ers, re­spec­tively, de­ter­mine how rapidly a char­ac­ter re­peats when its key is held down, and the de­lay that oc­curs be­fore the re­peat­ing starts. Not all keys re­peat. Although you can cre­ate a

row of hy­phens by hold­ing ‘-’, hold­ing a let­ter will in­stead bring up a pop-up with re­lated al­ter­nate char­ac­ters, such as à or ä when hold­ing ‘a’; typ­ing the ad­ja­cent num­ber to any of th­ese makes a se­lec­tion with­out us­ing the mouse.

The awk­wardly named first check­box in the Key­board pane, ‘Use all F1, F2, etc. Keys as stan­dard func­tion keys’, de­ter­mines whether the top row of keys on your key­board per­forms ac­tions such as ad­just­ing bright­ness and switch­ing tracks in iTunes, or lit­er­ally sends func­tion-key-presses. The lat­ter is of­ten help­ful in de­sign soft­ware. Tick the check­box and special fea­tures will re­quire you to also hold the ‘fn’ key to ac­ti­vate them.

If you’re us­ing an older key­board with a newer Mac, cer­tain func­tions may not be avail­able via special keys, but Func­tionFlip en­ables you to remap keys to the likes of open­ing Launchpad (F4 on newer key­boards). How­ever, you’ll need to ap­prove its use in Se­cu­rity & Pri­vacy.

The se­cond op­tion en­ables you to ac­cess the Key­board Viewer and Emoji & Sym­bols from the menu bar; th­ese ap­pear un­der a sin­gle menu ex­tra. If you also have mul­ti­ple in­put sources (see later), this menu ex­tra will likely dis­play as a flag. If not, the icon re­sem­bles a small key­board with a Com­mand icon.

Un­der­neath th­ese check­boxes are two but­tons: one to set up a Blue­tooth key­board, which brings up the stan­dard OS X dis­cov­ery win­dow, and one to change how Mod­i­fier Keys work. Us­ing the menus in the drop-down sheet, you can turn off mod­i­fiers (Caps Lock, Con­trol, Op­tion/Alt, Com­mand), or swap them round. Un­less do­ing so for ac­ces­si­bil­ity

rea­sons, they’re best left alone. ‘Re­store De­faults’ in this win­dow re­stores fac­tory set­tings.

The Text tab pro­vides a wealth of au­to­cor­rec­tion fea­tures. To the right are check­boxes for au­to­mat­i­cally cor­rect­ing spell­ing, and, as of ma­cOS Sierra, au­to­mat­i­cally cap­i­tal­is­ing words and adding a pe­riod with a dou­ble space (like on iOS). The Spell­ing menu pro­vides the means to se­lect a lan­guage (au­to­matic by de­fault).

Soft­ware will some­times over­ride any de­fined sys­tem de­fault, and re­quire you to specif­i­cally turn on such changes in Edit > Spell­ing and Gram­mar/ Edit > Sub­sti­tu­tions, or equiv­a­lent set­tings.

Be­low the Spell­ing menu are op­tions for au­tomat­ing smart quotes/dashes, and also for set­ting the for­mat­ting of smart quotes.

The Re­place/With ta­ble is for adding spe­cific cor­rec­tions, which is use­ful for reg­u­lar ty­pos you make that ma­cOS does not cor­rect or spellings it er­ro­neously up­dates. It can also be used as a ba­sic text ex­pan­sion tool, for ex­am­ple ex­pand­ing ‘omw’ to ‘On my way!’. It’s also pos­si­ble to add multi-line en­tries in the With col­umn by hold­ing Op­tion/Alt when hit­ting Re­turn for a new line.

Your short­cuts will be shared us­ing iCloud and can be es­pe­cially handy on iOS where typ­ing’s typ­i­cally slower. Ex­per­i­ment with us­ing words fol­lowed by a dou­ble comma, which ex­pand out to reg­u­larly used phrases or hard-to-ac­cess char­ac­ters, such as ‘fives­tar,,’ be­com­ing five uni­code stars. (Dou­ble comma is a good ‘trig­ger’, since it’s a pair­ing you’re un­likely to use else­where, and the comma key is read­ily ac­ces­si­ble.)

The Short­cuts tab houses sys­tem-wide and cus­tom app-spe­cific short­cuts, which are userde­fin­able. Th­ese are cat­e­gorised in sec­tions, se­lected from the pane on the left; click one and you’ll see all as­so­ci­ated short­cuts on the right. Be­low the right-hand pane is a Re­store De­faults but­ton that re­verts any changes for the cur­rent cat­e­gory alone.

Short­cuts are edited by dou­ble-click­ing the zone to the right of a short­cut’s name and then hold­ing your pre­ferred key com­bi­na­tion. For ex­am­ple, se­lect Screen Shots in the left pane, then dou­bleclick to the right of ‘Save pic­ture of screen as a file’ and hold Ctrl and §. This will up­date the short­cut for tak­ing a screen­shot from the stan­dard Shift-Cmd-3. Should you cre­ate a cus­tom short­cut that clashes with another, you’ll be in­formed (a warn­ing tri­an­gle

will be dis­played, and also high­light the rel­e­vant cat­e­gory where the clash has oc­curred) and should then change one of them.

In App Short­cuts, you can cre­ate your own short­cuts for menu com­mands that don’t have them, or ones you want to change. Click +, choose an ap­pli­ca­tion (or ‘All Ap­pli­ca­tions’ if you want your short­cut to ap­ply across all apps with the same com­mand), type the ex­act menu ti­tle, and then add your short­cut. Click Add to con­tinue. For ex­am­ple, if you’d like a quick short­cut for ex­port­ing PDFs from Tex­tEdit, you’d choose Tex­tEdit in Ap­pli­ca­tion, type ‘Ex­port as PDF…’ in Menu Ti­tle, and then click in­side Key­board Short­cut and add your short­cut (such as Cmd-E). Note that the el­lipses is re­quired in Menu Ti­tle; that can be typed us­ing Alt-;.

Be care­ful to not over­ride ex­ist­ing short­cuts within ap­pli­ca­tions when adding cus­tom ones, and note that you can­not re­vert this en­tire sec­tion to fac­tory de­faults; in­stead, you can se­lect in­di­vid­ual short­cuts and use the ‘-’ but­ton to delete them.

At the foot of the win­dow, you can ad­just how the Tab key works. By de­fault, it will switch the cur­sor fo­cus be­tween text boxes and lists. So in Sa­fari, for ex­am­ple, press­ing Tab switches you be­tween in­put boxes on a web page, but if ‘All con­trols’ is ac­tive, Sa­fari tabs and web page but­tons are added to the cy­cle. In Mail, in­stead of only tab­bing be­tween panes and search, ‘All con­trols’ adds but­tons and the ‘Sort by’ menu to the cy­cle. Gen­er­ally, the de­faults are fine and faster, but ‘All con­trols’ is a use­ful ac­ces­si­bil­ity aid; you can also use Ctrl-F7 to tog­gle this com­mand in an ad-hoc man­ner rather than trig­ger­ing it in Sys­tem Pref­er­ences.

The In­put Sources tab en­ables you to add dif­fer­ent key­board lay­outs that you can switch be­tween, such as ones that aid in­put in al­ter­nate lan­guages, or the Dvo­rak ‘sim­pli­fied key­board’, which re­ar­ranges the keys in an at­tempt to in­crease typ­ing rates and de­crease er­rors. On se­lect­ing a key­board, a pre­view of the lay­out is shown.

Op­tion­ally, you can choose to show the in­put menu as a menu ex­tra, where­upon you’ll see a flag or icon (as ap­pro­pri­ate) in the menu bar to de­note your cur­rent key­board. Click it and choose a source to switch to it. You can also from this menu se­lect the Char­ac­ter Viewer and Key­board Viewer.

Short­cuts > In­put Sources will ap­pear on adding a se­cond in­put source. This en­ables

you to de­fine a short­cut to switch to the next/ pre­vi­ous source (Cmd-Space by de­fault, which clashes with Spotlight, so it’s best to change that to some­thing else). The fi­nal check­box en­ables you to au­to­mat­i­cally switch in­put source when you’ve cho­sen an in­put source for a doc­u­ment. The set­ting re­mains ac­tive only un­til the doc­u­ment is closed. For ex­am­ple, if you were work­ing in two doc­u­ments, one in English and another in Ice­landic, you would choose Ice­landic as the in­put source for the lat­ter. Then as you switched be­tween doc­u­ments, OS X would tog­gle your in­put source be­tween English and Ice­landic key­boards with­out you hav­ing to do so man­u­ally.

The Dic­ta­tion tab, when avail­able, pro­vides ac­cess to the in­ter­face for set­ting up dic­ta­tion

func­tion­al­ity. You choose an in­put source from the menu un­der the mic icon, se­lect a lan­guage from the ‘Lan­guage’ menu, and choose a short­cut for ac­ti­vat­ing dic­ta­tion (Fn twice by de­fault) from the ‘Short­cut’ menu.

Within the ‘Lan­guage’ menu, you can add fur­ther lan­guages by se­lect­ing ‘Add Lan­guage…’ and choos­ing from the op­tions in the sheet that ap­pears, but note each may lead to a down­load.

When dic­ta­tion is ac­tive, a lit­tle mi­cro­phone pop-up ap­pears and you can start talk­ing. If you’re us­ing en­hanced dic­ta­tion (which is on by de­fault in ma­cOS, but may re­quire a down­load when activated for older sys­tems), words will ap­pear roughly as you speak. If not, you’ll have to oc­ca­sion­ally pause to let your text upload, get trans­lated and then down­load to your Mac.

While dic­ta­tion ac­cu­racy isn’t per­fect, you can im­prove your re­sult­ing text by man­u­ally stat­ing punc­tu­a­tion and styles (such as ‘comma’ and ‘new para­graph’); rather oddly, the sys­tem un­der­stands ‘smi­ley face’ and ‘frowny face’, too. You can also use the key­board to edit text while you speak.

Us­ing your short­cut again will turn off dic­ta­tion, or you can click the Done but­ton on the pop-up.

Mouse op­tions

The Mouse pane is where you de­fine set­tings for a mouse con­nected to your Mac. The pane’s ap­pear­ance can vary greatly, and is fully con­tex­tual, the op­tions pre­sented de­pend­ing on your hard­ware. On open­ing the pane with­out a mouse con­nected, it will show an im­age of Ap­ple’s Magic Mouse, and state your Mac’s search­ing for a mouse.

The pane will up­date when a Blue­tooth mouse is found and you can then (if rel­e­vant) start the set-up process; al­ter­na­tively, you can just plug in a USB mouse. Re­gard­less of the hard­ware you add, Set Up Blue­tooth Mouse re­mains a but­ton op­tion at the bot­tom-right of the pane; ad­ja­cent, if rel­e­vant, will be your Blue­tooth mouse’s bat­tery level. Ap­ple pro­vides a sup­port doc­u­ment on pair­ing Blue­tooth ac­ces­sories with a Mac.

Plug in the most ba­sic pos­si­ble mouse and you’ll see ‘Track­ing speed’ and ‘Dou­ble-Click speed’ slid­ers, which, re­spec­tively, en­able you to ad­just how far the cur­sor moves across the screen when you move your mouse, and how quickly you need to dou­ble-click the mouse but­ton for that ac­tion to be reg­is­tered by ma­cOS. Only set ei­ther value to­wards Slow if you’re a rel­a­tive new­comer or re­quire slower re­sponses for ac­ces­si­bil­ity rea­sons; oth­er­wise, tend to­wards Fast, es­pe­cially with track­ing. Do­ing so means you can cover more screen space with smaller mouse move­ments.

With more pow­er­ful/ca­pa­ble mouse hard­ware, you’re likely to see more op­tions. Plug in a twobut­ton mouse and you can de­fine the left or right but­ton as the ‘pri­mary’ one for click events (the other be­ing re­served for the con­tex­tual menu); mice with scroll wheels will add a ‘Scrolling speed’ slider. Multi-but­ton mice, such as Ap­ple’s old Mighty Mouse, may pro­vide the means to as­sign ac­tions to spe­cific but­tons, for ex­am­ple trig­ger­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion switcher.

With Ap­ple’s orig­i­nal Magic Mouse, you get a sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent Mouse pane, split into two tabs: Point & Click and More Ges­tures. Each of th­ese houses a small num­ber of op­tions, and also videos of each op­tion in use; th­ese au­to­mat­i­cally play back when you hover the mouse cur­sor over the rel­e­vant item – you don’t need to click.

Point & Click in­cludes a Track­ing slider, and also check­boxes for ‘Scroll direc­tion: nat­u­ral’, ‘Sec­ondary click’ and ‘Smart zoom’.

‘Sec­ondary click’ when ac­tive en­ables you to use the right-hand side of the mouse as a vir­tual right-click but­ton; the op­tion can be switched to the left of the mouse by us­ing the pop-up menu un­der the item’s la­bel.

The other two op­tions when ac­tive echo iOS de­vices. ‘ Smart zoom’ en­ables you to dou­ble-tap in Sa­fari to zoom the con­tent the mouse cur­sor is over; a se­cond dou­ble-tap re­verts. When ac­tive, ‘Scroll direc­tion: nat­u­ral’ scrolls con­tent in the direc­tion you move your fin­ger, like you’re push­ing or pulling it. Turn off this set­ting and ma­cOS will be­have as older ver­sions of OS X did, with your drags es­sen­tially con­trol­ling scroll bars rather

than di­rectly ma­nip­u­lat­ing con­tent. (So drag­ging down­wards would scroll con­tent up­wards.)

In More Ges­tures, you can ac­ti­vate com­mands for swip­ing be­tween pages with one or two fin­gers, swip­ing be­tween full-screen apps with two fin­gers (as­sum­ing the pre­vi­ous op­tion is not set to use two fin­gers), and ac­cess­ing Mis­sion Con­trol with a two-fin­ger dou­ble-tap.

Track­pad op­tions

The Track­pad pane en­ables you to de­fine func­tion­al­ity for your note­book’s built-in track­pad, or for a Magic Track­pad con­nected to a desk­top ma­chine via Blue­tooth. Like the Mouse pane, if no track­pad is found, you’ll see an im­age of Ap­ple’s Magic Track­pad and the pane search­ing for one; again, there’s a set-up but­ton and you can re­fer to Ap­ple’s sup­port doc­u­ment for pair­ing ad­vice.

Avail­able op­tions will vary de­pend­ing on the hard­ware you have avail­able.

The Track­pad pane pro­vides three tabs: Point & Click; Scroll & Zoom; and More Ges­tures. Many of the op­tions can bring ma­cOS in­puts closer to what you ex­pe­ri­ence on iOS. Hov­er­ing the cur­sor over any of the op­tions pro­vides a video that’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the hard­ware you’re us­ing.

Point & Click’s op­tions are all about mov­ing the cur­sor and ma­nip­u­lat­ing on-screen con­tent. With ‘Tap to click’ ac­tive, you only need to tap your track­pad for a click event, rather than press­ing down un­til the hard­ware phys­i­cally clicks; we rec­om­mend this set­ting un­less you ac­ci­den­tally trig­ger clicks all the time. ‘Sec­ondary click’ en­ables you to bring up con­text menus with a two-fin­ger tap, or al­ter­na­tively (via the menu op­tions) by click­ing in the bot­tom-right or bot­tom-left cor­ner.

If Look Up & data de­tec­tors is ac­tive, you can three-fin­ger tap on a word and a pop-up will pro­vide its dic­tio­nary def­i­ni­tion.

The ‘Track­ing speed’ op­tion en­ables you to ad­just how far the cur­sor moves in re­la­tion to your ges­tures (in much the same way as the equiv­a­lent op­tion in the Mouse pane). On hard­ware that sup­ports it, you will also be able to de­fine the click pres­sure and tog­gle Force Click and hap­tic feed­back. (This be­ing used when per­form­ing ges­tures such as Quick Look with a more force­ful click.)

In Scroll & Zoom, there are four op­tional set­tings: Scroll direc­tion: nat­u­ral; Zoom in or out; Smart zoom; Ro­tate. ‘Zoom in or out’ and Ro­tate are two-fin­ger ges­tures (re­spec­tively, pinch and ro­tate)

that ape iOS equiv­a­lents, zoom­ing or ro­tat­ing doc­u­ments in com­pat­i­ble apps. ‘Scroll direc­tion: nat­u­ral’, as per the Mouse pane’s set­ting, ‘pulls’ scrolling con­tent in the direc­tion your fin­ger moves, like it does on a touch­screen; and ‘Smart zoom’ in­tel­li­gently zooms and un­zooms a sec­tion of a web page in Sa­fari.

The fi­nal tab, ‘ More Ges­tures’, pro­vides a raft of op­tions: Swipe be­tween pages; Swipe be­tween fullscreen apps; No­ti­fi­ca­tion Cen­ter; Mis­sion Con­trol; App Ex­posé; Launchpad; Show Desk­top. In each case, ac­ti­vat­ing the op­tion will en­able you to trig­ger the la­belled ac­tion by per­form­ing the as­so­ci­ated ges­ture, for ex­am­ple ac­cess­ing Launchpad by pinch­ing with a thumb and three fin­gers. In the case of the swipe set­tings, Mis­sion Con­trol and App Ex­posé, there are al­ter­nate ges­tures avail­able,

although if you se­lect a set­ting that clashes with an ex­ist­ing one, the new choice will be activated and the other will be dis­abled.

Note that rel­a­tively mod­ern Ap­ple hard­ware is more nu­anced in terms of its ca­pa­bil­i­ties than the set­tings you find within Sys­tem Pref­er­ences. Bet­terTouchTool is worth check­ing out if you want to ex­per­i­ment with ad­di­tional and more com­plex ges­tures for con­trol­ling your Mac via its track­pad.

Printer and Scan­ner op­tions

The Print­ers & Scan­ners pane is used to set up print­ers and scan­ners, de­fine de­fault set­tings for use, and to ac­cess op­tions for a se­lected de­vice. The de­fault op­tions are de­fined us­ing the two menus at the foot of the win­dow, and en­able you to choose a printer (‘Last Printer Used’ or a spe­cific de­vice) and pa­per size. The ini­tial se­lec­tion for the lat­ter of th­ese will dif­fer by re­gion (US Let­ter, A4, and so on).

Oth­er­wise, this pane will be­gin life empty. Click­ing the ‘+’ but­ton en­ables you to start adding a printer or scan­ner. The process of in­stal­la­tion may vary by model and type of con­nec­tion.

For rea­son­ably mod­ern hard­ware, you may find ma­cOS is ca­pa­ble of very quickly in­stalling a wire­less printer that you’ve al­ready con­nected to your net­work. In such cases, the printer can be added by se­lect­ing it from the list (although net­worked print­ers will some­times take a few sec­onds to ap­pear af­ter the win­dow is first opened) and click­ing Add. If nec­es­sary, ma­cOS may ask per­mis­sion to down­load soft­ware for your printer; click In­stall if such a dia­log ap­pears.

When work­ing in an of­fice setup, you may need to use the IP or Win­dows tabs in­stead. The former gives you fields for en­ter­ing the IP num­ber of a printer and the pro­to­col to use, along with the name and lo­ca­tion of the printer. The Win­dows tab is for ac­cess­ing print­ers in­stalled in a Win­dows work­group en­vi­ron­ment. Note that if you have vir­tu­al­i­sa­tion soft­ware in­stalled, you may find in­stances of your ex­ist­ing printer within this tab. There is ob­vi­ously no need to in­stall it a se­cond time.

Once a printer is in­stalled, se­lect it from the list and you’ll see its in­for­ma­tion (name, kind and sta­tus). The ‘ Open Print Queue’ but­ton opens the printer’s jobs win­dow; ‘ Op­tions & Sup­plies’ will give you de­tails about the printer, en­abling you to change its name un­der the Gen­eral tab, and ac­cess ink lev­els un­der Sup­ply Lev­els. Some print­ers may

of­fer fur­ther but­tons, in­clud­ing web­site links, Driver (for de­tails about the printer driver that’s in use) and Util­ity, which opens a sep­a­rate printer app.

To­wards the foot of the win­dow is a check­box for shar­ing the printer on the net­work. Se­lect it to do so. If your de­vice also hap­pens to be a scan­ner, you will see sep­a­rate Print and Scan tabs. The lat­ter pro­vides an Open Scan­ner but­ton that launches the stan­dard ma­cOS scan­ning in­ter­face.

Sound op­tions

The Sound pane is where you de­fine sys­tem alert sounds, and set­tings for au­dio in­puts and out­puts. Ac­cord­ingly, it has three tabs: Sound Ef­fects, Out­put and In­put.

The largest sec­tion of the Sound Ef­fects tab en­ables you to se­lect an alert sound. Funk is the de­fault; So­sumi will likely be a fun al­ter­na­tive for Mac vet­er­ans, given its Mac OS roots. You can add your own alerts by plac­ing cus­tom AIFFs into ~/Li­brary/Sounds (for just your own ac­count) or /Sys­tem/Li­brary/Sounds (for all ac­counts). You’ll need to restart Sys­tem Pref­er­ences to ac­cess cus­tom sounds from the menu.

Be­low this pane are set­tings that af­fect the alert sound. ‘ Play sound ef­fects through’ en­ables you to de­fine through which out­put you’d like alerts played. This de­faults to your choice of sound out­put de­vice, but can be over­rid­den by se­lect­ing an al­ter­nate op­tion (for ex­am­ple if you want alerts to play through your Mac’s speaker and not a head­set you’re us­ing for gam­ing).

The alert vol­ume level can be ad­justed to suit, us­ing the slider; and with the check­boxes, you

can de­fine whether user in­ter­face sound ef­fects are played (such as drag­ging some­thing to the Trash) and whether you get au­dio feed­back when chang­ing vol­ume us­ing the key­board’s me­dia keys (F11 and F12)

At the foot of the win­dow is a global vol­ume slider and mute check­box (F10 is the key­board al­ter­na­tive), along with a but­ton for dis­play­ing the Vol­ume menu-bar ex­tra, which en­ables you to change the vol­ume by click­ing it and drag­ging the slider.

The Out­put and In­put tabs en­able you to se­lect a de­vice, re­spec­tively, for au­dio out­put

(such as head­phones, USB head­sets and de­vices, and Ap­ple TVs over Air­Play) and in­put (linein, mi­cro­phones, and so on). On se­lect­ing an out­put de­vice, those that sup­port it will pro­vide a Bal­ance slider to ad­just where the cen­tre of the stereo im­age is po­si­tioned; for a se­lected in­put de­vice, you can ad­just the in­put vol­ume while si­mul­ta­ne­ously see­ing the in­put level.

De­pend­ing on your record­ing soft­ware, this pane is worth be­ing mind­ful of if you find record­ings too quiet (in­put level too low) or dis­torted (too high). When us­ing the in­ter­nal mic, you’ll get an op­tion to use am­bi­ent noise re­duc­tion, which at­tempts to re­duce back­ground noise. Leave this on, un­less you’ve a good rea­son to dis­able the op­tion.

It’s also worth re­al­is­ing that ma­cOS isn’t al­ways es­pe­cially in­tel­li­gent re­gard­ing what­ever you’ve plugged into your Mac. With USB au­dio de­vices, it will at­tempt to cor­rectly iden­tify them and dis­play their names within Sys­tem Pref­er­ences. How­ever, if you use a stan­dard stereo mini­jack lead to con­nect ex­ter­nal speak­ers or out­put your Mac’s au­dio to an amp via the Mac’s head­phone socket, ma­cOS has no way of know­ing this, and so that out­put will sim­ply be called ‘head­phones’.

Note that you needn’t ac­cess Sys­tem Pref­er­ences just to per­form quick switches of out­put and in­put au­dio sources. With the afore­men­tioned menu-bar ex­tra activated, Alt-click it and in­stead of the vol­ume slider, you’ll see a list of avail­able out­put and in­put de­vices; to switch to one, just se­lect it in the menu. Air­Play de­vices will be badged with the fa­mil­iar icon, dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing them from other sources.

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