macOS Hidden Treasures: Secrets of the System Preferences Window

Originally published at:

System Preferences is an essential tool that lets you customize your Mac in numerous ways. Learn how to customize System Preferences itself, the different ways you can open it, and how to navigate quickly to the pane you need.

When I try to go to Spotlight with the “command-spacebar” I get Siri not Spotlight.
What am I doing wrong?

MacOS Sierra v10.12.6


At first I thought it was iOS or some weird hybrid. I’m also still on El Capitan (11.x) and I think he’s on a later version!

You’re holding the keys down to long:

The default for spotlight is Command-Space while the one for Siri is Hold Command-Space. If you have timing problems, change one or the other to use something other than the Command Key.

One important thing is that not all User Interface items show up directly in the System Preference Panel for that interface item; there are often more items in the Accessibility Preference panel.

Here’ an example involving the Trackpad:

The default method for dragging an item using the trackpad is to select the item and then, without losing contact with the trackpad, move your finger along the trackpad until the item is in its final position. However, some folks (me, for example) have problems keeping the pressure light enough to keep contact without pressing too deeply and activating Force Touch on a newer trackpad. One way out of this problem is to enable three-finger drag—you select the item and then drag it with three fingers. However, that option is not in the Trackpad Preference Panel; it’s a dropdown item in Accessibility->Mouse&Trackpad->Trackpad Options. To make things worse the Mouse&Trackpad item doesn’t;t show up immediately when you display the Accessibility panel—it’s the next to last item in the scrollable list.

Excellent article, useful.

Alan - Thank you!
Worked as advertised.


Would be helpful to talk about the scope of keyboard shortcuts. For example Cmd F is used by System Prefs as “Find”. So too Cmd L and of course Cmd Q