AMITIAE - day nn month 2014

System Preferences in OS X 10.10, Yosemite: General

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers

OS X 10.10, Yosemite has had a considerable update to several parts of the interface, including System Preferences. There are also changes to the way certain preferences work. The General System preferences panel controls how the Finder operates and displays files. This panel has small, but significant changes.

General preferences has a single panel (with 5 sections) to control the way that the Finder displays information. The first section has a new check box plus the 3 buttons previously available: Appearance, Highlight color and Sidebar icon size. The first, Appearance, has the same two options: Blue and Graphite. This changes the color of displays like download progress bars. The wording at the side of the button remains the same: "For Buttons, Menus, and Windows".


Selecting the "Graphite" option also changes the color of the red/yellow/green controls at the top left of an application window (for close, hide and minimize) to the same graphite color. The purpose is to help those who work in graphics and who may want more neutral displays.

Immediately below this button is a new checkbox marked, "Use dark menu bar and Dock" which changes the normal white menubar to black (with white text and icons). The Dock has a dark grey finish when this feature is selected and the black spots beneath an open application change to white.

General The Highlight color button, below, controls the way that a highlighted file name is displayed in the Finder as well as the color of highlighted text. There are now 9 default colors and "Other" which allows a user to choose any color using a selector that opens when this option is selected.

There are changes in the color names and their order too: Red, Orange, Yellow (formerly Gold), Green, Purple, Pink (new), Brown (new) and Graphite.

Below is a button that first appeared in Mountain Lion (10.8): Sidebar icon size (Small, Medium, Large). This makes a significant difference to the icon size in the Finder sidebar. Those with specific needs may find this useful. The change is made instantly.

The placing of scroll bars at the side of a panel is controlled in the second section which is in two distinct parts (unchanged): "Show scroll bars"; and "Click in the scroll bar to".

There are three radio button options for showing scroll bars:

  • Automatically based on mouse or trackpad;
  • When scrolling; and
  • Always.

Below these controls are two items that control where the content moves to when the scrollbar is clicked:

  • Jump to the next page; and
  • Jump to the spot that's clicked.

The third section is new: a single button for selection of the default web browser. Options seem to depend on which browsers the user has installed. For example, downloading and installing Opera added that to the list when System Preferences was restarted.

The fourth section is concerned with document and application behaviour when windows are closed. This was revised in the Mountain Lion release. There are two checkboxes:

  • Ask to keep changes when closing documents; and
  • Close windows when quitting an application.

Text below reads, "When selected, open documents and windows will not be restored when you re-open an app". This may save the frustration of wading through several windows when all that is wanted is to open a new document. This is unchanged from before apart from a slight (non-strategic) difference in the text.

The Recent Items option in the Apple menu is controlled by a button below those checkboxes. The single button works for Documents, Apps and Servers, allowing from 5 - 50, plus None to be shown in that menu as before.

Recent Items in the Apple menu (top left of the screen) assists a user with a swift way to re-open a program or file. The Servers item allows a quick reconnection to a network connected disk or computer. At the bottom of the recent Items menu is an option to Clear Menu. When accessing the menu, pressing the Command key adds the option to "Show" a specific item.

Finally, there is the same checkbox for "Use LCD font smoothing when available" as was found in Mavericks.

See Also:

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to

information Tag information Tag

Back to eXtensions
Back to Home Page