Rebooting creationThe Essential Mac

System Folder
Apple Menu Items
Control Panels
Startup Items

Control Panels

One of the wonderful things about Macs is that you can individualize them to suit your own personality. Many folks we know even give their Macs alter egos when by renaming their hard drives.

Control Panels are the primary way to customize your computer. They adapt almost every aspect of your Mac for your personal comfort and aesthetics from changing the desktop pattern to recording your own alert sounds.

Apple Menu Items - Control Panels

Control Panels are part of the Mac's system software and are kept in the System Folder. However they are more easily accessed through the Apple Menu. This listing in the Apple Menu is actually an alias to the Control Panels folder in your System Folder.

Many Control Panels are not essential for the operation of your Mac. They are simply there to provide a way for you to modify the way your Mac looks and how it performs various functions. These modifications are then saved in various Preferences files.

Most Macs have a few items in the Control Panels folder that just don't belong there. Some Installer programs (including the Apple System software installer) are not very smart about detecting what type of computer they are working on, so extra useless Control Panels often get deposited on your computer. Sort through your Control Panels:

  • what use is a Power Book Battery utility on your Performa?
  • why keep Users & Groups if your not on a network?
  • have you ever used Close View?

Sometimes Control Panels hang around after the software or device that they were supposed to control is gone. Don't be afraid to get rid of this junk. If you don't want to actually trash a Control Panel, but you don't want your System to load it, you can move it to a Control Panel (disabled) folder.

Control Panels need to be stored in the Control Panels folder in your System Folder

If you want to add a Control Panel to your System just drop it onto your System Folder, your Mac is smart enough to know where the item should go. [screen shot] Remember, when moving items in and out of the Control Panels folder, be aware that Control Panels load into the System at startup, so to test the addition or removal of a Control Panel, you must restart the computer after you make the change.

There is a quick & dirty way to test whether a Control Panel is performing a useful function, just select it from the Apple menu if you get an error message that says "This Control Panel cannot be used with this Macintosh", then trash it.

This Control Panel cannot be used with this Macintosh

Caution: do not trash something from the Control Panels folder just because it is identified as an "application program" rather than a "control panel" in the "kind" column of the Finder window. There are several useful Control Panels (such as Extensions Manager) that are called "application programs" by the Finder.

Control Panels

The organization of Control Panels has changed with each new system version on the Mac. Back in System 6.0, there was only one Apple system Control Panel now there are over 2 dozen Control Panels. In addition, PowerMacs and Powerbooks have different sets of Control Panels than 68K Macs. So its not really practical to make a comprehensive list.

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