Control Center on A Mac
Control Center on A Mac

Apple has always been lauded for its attention to user experience, crafting products that are intuitive and user-friendly. However, there’s always more beneath the surface than meets the eye. One such hidden gem is Apple’s little-known trick for directly accessing specific System Preferences panes. Ready to make your Mac experience even smoother? Let’s dive in.

System Preferences: A Quick Overview

For the uninitiated, System Preferences is the control hub on a Mac. It’s where you adjust settings for everything: from display resolutions and desktop wallpapers to mouse sensitivity and energy-saving options. While navigating through these settings is generally straightforward, there’s a slick way to jump right to the pane you want, without extra clicks.

The Hidden Trick: Direct Access

Why It Matters

Instead of opening System Preferences and then choosing the desired pane, imagine launching the exact setting you need instantly. It’s about streamlining steps and enhancing efficiency.

How to Do It

It’s simpler than you might think:

  1. Spotlight Search: Press Command + Space to bring up Spotlight. Then, type the name of the preference pane you wish to open, like “Display” or “Sound.” The relevant System Preference should appear in the dropdown. Select it, and you’ll be taken there directly.
  2. Using URLs: This might sound odd, but every System Preferences pane has its URL. For instance, opening ‘Display’ settings would be You can run this URL in many places, including Spotlight, to directly access the pane.

Other Speedy Navigation Tricks

Using the Toolbar: Once you’re in System Preferences, the toolbar at the top displays a collection of icons. Customize this toolbar by right-clicking and selecting “Customize Toolbar.” Add the panes you access most frequently for quicker navigation.

Keyboard Shortcuts: Some preference panes have designated keyboard shortcuts. Familiarize yourself with these for those settings you frequently tweak.


Apple’s ethos revolves around seamless user experience, and these direct access tricks for System Preferences embody that philosophy. By mastering these shortcuts, you can further tailor your Mac workflow to your needs, ensuring a smoother and more efficient user experience.


  1. Can I create custom shortcuts for specific preference panes?
    • While macOS doesn’t offer a direct way to create custom shortcuts for preference panes, you can use third-party apps like BetterTouchTool to craft your own.
  2. Does this trick work on all macOS versions?
    • The direct access trick primarily works on macOS Sierra and later. However, certain functionalities might vary slightly across versions.
  3. Can I access System Preferences on other Apple devices, like the iPad?
    • iPads have a similar hub called “Settings” instead of System Preferences. The direct access trick doesn’t apply, but navigation principles remain consistent.
  4. What if Spotlight doesn’t show the preference pane I’m looking for?
    • Ensure that System Preferences is indexed by Spotlight. You can check this under System Preferences > Spotlight > Search Results.
  5. Are there other hidden Mac tricks I should know about?
    • Absolutely! From hidden screen recording tools to specific gesture controls, macOS is packed with features waiting to be discovered.
Eric Chan

Hi! I’m Eric and I work on the knowledge base at  You can see some of my writings about technology, cellphone repair, and computer repair here.

When I’m not writing about tech I’m playing with my dog or hanging out with my girlfriend.

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