Apple simplified System Settings for macOS Ventura, moved many items

Posted:
in macOS edited September 2022
System Settings, the macOS Ventura replacement for System Preferences, more closely resembles Settings on iPhone and iPad, but as well as visual changes, it has also moved key elements.




As revealed right back at the WWDC 2022 keynote, macOS Ventura features a redesigned preferences pane, now retitled System Settings. Its visual change is marked, it's impossible not to see the similarities with iOS and iPadOS, but the alteration is more than skin deep.

System Settings in macOS Ventura includes new sections for:

  • Game Controllers

  • Game Center

  • Lock Screen (previously in Security & Privacy)

  • Desktop & Dock (previously in Desktop & Screen Saver, and Dock & Menu Bar)

  • Screen Saver (previously in Desktop & Screen Saver)

  • Wallpaper (previously part of Desktop & Screen Saver)

Even within seemingly familiar sections, important items have moved. For instance, Login Items used to be under Users & Groups, but it is now within General.

The new System Settings in macOS Ventura (left); System Preferences in macOS Monterey (right)
The new System Settings in macOS Ventura (left); System Preferences in macOS Monterey (right)


This does make it harder for long-time Mac users as they to unlearn where features are. There is still a search feature within System Settings, however.

And for new users, the redesign surfaces common sections more easily.

For instance, previously you could search for the word "Wallpaper," but you couldn't find such a section just from looking. The word "wallpaper" wasn't part of the "Desktop & Screen Saver" section it was in, nor was it even mentioned.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    amar99amar99 Posts: 181member
    This will perhaps be a controversial change, so I'm only expressing my opinion as a long-time pre-iPhone Apple / Mac user.

    From a GUI perspective, this is either great, or terrible, depending on the path people have taken to acquiring an Apple laptop or desktop product. For those of us who have spent years with a traditional Mac / Windows icon grid layout, the new interface can seem simplistic, or even patronizing. Instead of showing all of your top level options on one screen, it sacrifices this for the sake of showing more detailed "second level" options of whatever top level option is already selected. On a touch device with limited screen space, this of course makes more sense. But on a 4k -- let alone 6k -- monitor, it could be argued that it's a misuse or even waste of available desktop space. This sort of change can be seen by some as a "dumbing down" of technology, since it makes things more obvious at the expense of potentially being slower.

    On the other hand, pre-computers, a list is a much more natural analog way to record or browse through anything, so scrolling through a list may be easier on the eyes / brain to sort through the top-level items anyway. Besides this, Apple kept shuffling and re-shuffling the categories, which made those of us who are "visual people" have a harder time with each OS to locate the desired item. Like I say, it's hard to know what's a good or bad design move anymore, as technology continues to evolve.

    It'll be interesting to see the response to this by others as well.
    edited June 2022 Alex1Nwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 27
    I don't have a preference really.  

    I can never quickly find settings on the current Mac because my eye doesn't naturally find what I'm looking. Since the settings are not in alpha order, I always have to search. I would make the same statement about the iPhone -- I have to search because my eye just doesn't naturally scan long out-of-order lists very well.  

    So as long as search works, I'll be fine.
    twokatmewwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 27
    amar99 said:
    For those of us who have spent years with a traditional Mac / Windows icon grid layout, the new interface can seem simplistic, or even patronizing. Instead of showing all of your top level options on one screen, it sacrifices this for the sake of showing more detailed "second level" options of whatever top level option is already selected. 
    I agree with your analysis that Ventura's use of space in System Settings is perhaps less visually efficient than the traditional System Preferences grid — but even so, I'm really looking forward to this change. I have been a Macintosh user continuously for 38 years since buying one of the original models in 1984 and have thus used every single version of the operating system's preferences, from the first Control Panel on up.

    If memory serves, is it was with the initial introduction of Mac OS X that for whatever reason my ability to develop "muscle memory" for finding various settings seems to have diminished; every time I'm in the Preferences panel, it takes significant time to find the location of various controls — perhaps because they're not in alphabetical order (or in any order with a logic that I can discern) and because we don't tend to tweak those settings on a regular basis. It has definitely been a frustration.

    We don't yet know whether the new System Settings design in Ventura is the best possible one … but this is an area in macOS that has been long overdue for improvement, in my view. I hope Apple keeps iterating on it.
    edited June 2022 skippingrockAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 27
    humbug1873humbug1873 Posts: 142member
    Horrible. Somebody should tell Apple that the Mac usually has a bigger screen than the iPhone. So why try to 'compact' the view even though it's not necessary. The iPhone Settings App has been a mess for years and now they repeat their mistake on MacOS. Truly a poor choice. 
    Alex1N
  • Reply 5 of 27
    narwhalnarwhal Posts: 122member
    I recall that when OS X was new, I owned a few apps that arranged their preferences in the same way as System Preferences, but they all eventually changed. Maybe it was too much expense for developers to design icons for each new subsection in preferences, or maybe it was just too difficult for users to identify subsections by icon. Regardless, I welcome this design change to match iPhone and iPad. The old random jumble of icons looked really dated, was not attractive, and was less efficient with the constant clicking of a tiny grid icon in the title bar.
    skippingrockwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 27
    jpellinojpellino Posts: 704member
    The macOS version, when listed alphabetically, makes sense because we've been using it for 10+years.  

    The iOS way is simpler and it's easier to read descriptions.  

    The iOS way however has a byzantine way of assigning seemingly oft-needed tasks to layers within top levels that are not intuitive.  Two different paths to increase text size... etc.  

    It does then mean that you will have three common devices - phone, tablet, computer - that agree on the style of preferences.    
    welshdogskippingrockwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 27
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,903member
    Needed improvement, this may or may not be that.
    Alex1Njony0
  • Reply 8 of 27
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 3,096member
    Yuck. This will likely keep me from updating to Ventura for some time. I don't need this aggravation, and there is nothing in Ventura apparently that I need or want. 

    "I know engineers. They love to change things."
    Alex1Ndarkvaderjony0
  • Reply 9 of 27
    Personally I am happy to see this. I really hated the grid layout of the System Preferences because with each iteration of macOS the location of each Preference was in a different location on the grid and in a different section and category. Yes there was the search that worked and the alphabetical drop-down menu, but yeah, this was long overdue for a overhaul. Listing by alphabetical is okay, but you still have to scan across and down the rows.
    This will also have the benefit of being more consistent and accessibly friendly.

    And yes, I've been using the Macintosh for a long time. Back in the Classic Mac OS days, getting to the right Control Panel was easy through the Apple Menu and the Control Panel's Hierarchical Menu to get directly to that Mouse or Clock settings. This I think is a return to that simplicity.
    edited June 2022 bloggerblogAlex1Nmacguiwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 10 of 27
    ggwill0ggwill0 Posts: 9member
    Horrible. Somebody should tell Apple that the Mac usually has a bigger screen than the iPhone. So why try to 'compact' the view even though it's not necessary. The iPhone Settings App has been a mess for years and now they repeat their mistake on MacOS. Truly a poor choice. 
    It looks more like the iPad settings app to me, not sure what you mean by compact... the iPad has a bigger screen too. 

    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 27
    ggwill0ggwill0 Posts: 9member
    eightzero said:
    Yuck. This will likely keep me from updating to Ventura for some time. I don't need this aggravation, and there is nothing in Ventura apparently that I need or want. 

    "I know engineers. They love to change things."
    The settings app is going to stop you from updating? WTF do you do with your Mac that you spend that much time in settings? 
    crowleyJapheyroundaboutnowAlex1NmacguiStrangeDayswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 12 of 27
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 2,476member
    Finally, that's much better! The current layout does not look organized, makes it hard to find things
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 13 of 27
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 2,008member
    I just hope that things stay consistent.  Every time I need to find something to make a settings change, it has moved and is not obvious where to find it.  On both iPhone and Mac.  

    I don't need to make settings changes that often and I'd like it to be as painless as possible.  Least amount of wasted time.  Both platforms fail at that now, for me. I finally learn where a particular setting is, and then it moves or "disappears" (renamed to something else totally non obvious).  
    Alex1NJMStearnsX2watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 27
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,744member
    ggwill0 said:
    eightzero said:
    Yuck. This will likely keep me from updating to Ventura for some time. I don't need this aggravation, and there is nothing in Ventura apparently that I need or want. 

    "I know engineers. They love to change things."
    The settings app is going to stop you from updating? WTF do you do with your Mac that you spend that much time in settings? 
    Exactly what I was thinking.  Sure I'm used to the old style Mac settings and it'll likely take some getting used to, but it's certainly nowhere near a make or break issue for upgrading.  The only thing which has prevented me from upgrading in the past is when an app I rely on is broken by an upgrade.
    Alex1Nwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 15 of 27
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 2,281member
    The design of System Preferences was fine for earlier versions of OS X, but it was long overdue for an overhaul, and this is a great step forward. I always found the System Preferences app dog-slow, even on brand new Macs. And in the latest Monterey version, I struggle to find what I"m looking forward. I often turn to Search.

    This redesign also makes macOS familiar to those that have used iOS for years before owning their first Mac. Smart.
    crowleyStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 27
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 3,096member
    ggwill0 said:
    eightzero said:
    Yuck. This will likely keep me from updating to Ventura for some time. I don't need this aggravation, and there is nothing in Ventura apparently that I need or want. 

    "I know engineers. They love to change things."
    The settings app is going to stop you from updating? WTF do you do with your Mac that you spend that much time in settings? 
    I have many legacy macs here. Every time one burps, I need to add back the printers. 

    I just don't want this. At all. YMMV, but don't tell me what I should or shouldn't be doing with my macs.
    darkvaderJMStearnsX29secondkox2
  • Reply 17 of 27
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 3,096member

    auxio said:
    ggwill0 said:
    eightzero said:
    Yuck. This will likely keep me from updating to Ventura for some time. I don't need this aggravation, and there is nothing in Ventura apparently that I need or want. 

    "I know engineers. They love to change things."
    The settings app is going to stop you from updating? WTF do you do with your Mac that you spend that much time in settings? 
    Exactly what I was thinking.  Sure I'm used to the old style Mac settings and it'll likely take some getting used to, but it's certainly nowhere near a make or break issue for upgrading.  The only thing which has prevented me from upgrading in the past is when an app I rely on is broken by an upgrade.
    You are welcome to make your choices. 
  • Reply 18 of 27
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,457member
    That is a much improved UX because you can scan both sides quickly. I couldn't with the current UX. I had to click on icons to see if the settings are there. An example is General, Desktop/Screensaver, and Display... which one lets you change background screen? Which one changes the colors? It's not possible unless you click on one of them and see what options are offered. With this updated UX, you can just scan through the left side and see options on the right side. 




    dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 27
    XedXed Posts: 2,678member
    netrox said:
    That is a much improved UX because you can scan both sides quickly. I couldn't with the current UX. I had to click on icons to see if the settings are there. An example is General, Desktop/Screensaver, and Display... which one lets you change background screen? Which one changes the colors? It's not possible unless you click on one of them and see what options are offered. With this updated UX, you can just scan through the left side and see options on the right side. 
    Use search in System Preferences to quickly narrow down which one lets you change the desktop picture. Apple made this really fast and easy a couple decades ago. No scanning necessary.
    edited June 2022 watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 27
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,498member
    Microsoft basically did the same thing at the top level of Settings app when it moved from Windows 10 to Windows 11. I'm sure it's purely coincidental, but sometimes these UX/UI paradigms catch on across the wider design community and suddenly start showing up in everyone's applications. As a developer I was always a little nervous when the senior designers came back from a conference all geeked up about some new way of solving an existing problem and started pushing the implementation teams to go along with the ideas derived from their newfound enlightenment. Of course the same thing can be said of software developers and architects.

    For what it's worth, I don't see anything inherently challenging with the redesigned System Settings. Some minor learning curve for existing users, but as mentioned in the article, the similarities brought over from iOS/iPadOS may help new Mac users with their transition to Mac, especially if they have experience with iPhone or iPad.
    Alex1NStrangeDayswatto_cobra
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