Lesson Three


Customizing Your Mac

There are a lot of adjustments you can make to the way your Mac works. Sometimes it is wonderful to be able to make the computer do something you want, or not do something you hate..

If you overdo customization, it can eat up a lot of your time and become a maintenance nightmare.

This lesson is oriented toward OSX 13.0, Ventura.

System Settings

"System Preferences" was renamed "System Settings" in Ventura and thoroughly reorganized.

system settings

Select  ► System Settings.... You will see a left sidebar with little icons and setting topic names. Click each one and the right side of the page will show a pane with controls for settings you can change. There are about 400 setting items that will make your Mac work differently. Often the default values are fine. (When you finish with one topic, click the next icon in the list of topics.) Some settings can be made from more than one topic pane.

(Apple uses the term "password" for at least three things: your Apple ID password, User ID password for each account on the computer, and passwords that browsers remember for individual web pages. You have to figure out by context which one is meant.)


The Dock shipped with the OS has a lot of apps I don't use, so I take them out. Then I add Mac utilities I use a lot, such as Terminal and Activity Monitor. Then I add tools that I use often, such as Chrome, Firefox, Aquamacs, Cyberduck and Word.


I set the font for Terminal windows to Monaco 12, anit-aliased. I define a standard window group I use at startup.

Your Home direcdory

See the Programming Tools page.

Web Browsers

In Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, I make a folder in the bookmarks toolbar called "daily" (by using Bookmarks ► Organize Bookmarks) and add my everyday favorites to it. Every morning, I click on the folder and select Open all in tabs to open all the listed sites, each in its own tab.

Safari has removed the "Open 'safe' files after downloading" option. It was a dangerous feature.

Safari, Chrome, and Firefox support plugins, which you can add to your browser to change how it does things. For Firefox, I have installed:

Finder Settings

It is useful to make a few changes from the default in Finder Settings.

Normally, Finder does not show files whose name begins with period (.). This is a convention inherited from Unix. If you are viewing a particular folder and want to see all files, no matter whether they are hidden or not, just type ⌘Shift . Type it again to hide them. If you want the finder to always display hidden files, execute the folowing command in a Terminal window:

defaults write http://com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles true

Pre-Ventura System Preferences

Here is what System Preferences looked like prior to Ventura.

software update

Lesson One | Lesson Two

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