If you use a Mac, you’ve probably configured your machine with System Preferences, which includes individual configuration sections called “preference panes.” But few people know that you can easily hide or even remove those panes. Here’s how to do it.

How to Hide Built-In System Preference Panes

You can’t permanently remove macOS’s built-in System Preference panes—and that’s probably a good thing—but you can hide them, which may come in handy if you’d like to simplify settings for computer novice such as a child or older relative.

First, open “System Preferences.” In the menu bar at the top of the screen, select View > Customize.

In Mac System Preferences, click "View" and then "Customize"

After that, you will notice that the System Preferences window will change to include small check boxes beside each icon. Uncheck the icons you’d like to hide, then click the “Done” button near the top of the window.

When you return to the regular icon display, you will notice that the icons you unchecked are now hidden. Very handy!

A preference panel has been hidden in System Preferences for Mac.

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To get a hidden icon or icons back, just visit View > Customize again and add a check mark for each icon you would like to unhide. They will reappear as soon as you click “Done.”

How to Remove a Third-Party Preference Pane in System Preferences

If you’ve installed an app that adds a custom preference pane, it will show up near the bottom of the main System Preferences window by default.

The third-party preference pane area of Mac System Preferences.

It’s possible to remove a third-party preference pane easily, but if you remove it, the third-party pane will be deleted from your system permanently. You won’t be able to get it back without reinstalling the program that originally put it there.

If that’s okay and you’d like to proceed, hold down the “Control” key and click the icon you’d like to remove. You will see a small pop-up button that says “Remove [name] Preference Pane.” Click it.

Removing a third-party preference pane in Mac System Preferences.

After that, you will be prompted for your password. Enter it and click “OK.” The third-party preference pane you just removed will instantly disappear.

How to Remove a Third-Party Preference Pane in Finder

It’s also possible to manually remove a third-party preference pane by locating its actual file in Finder. First, with “Finder” in focus, select Go > Go to Folder in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

Click "Go To Folder" in Mac Finder.

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In the window that pops up, type in /Library/PreferencePanes , then click “Go.”

In Mac Go to Folder, type in the Library PreferencePanes path and click Go.

A Finder window will pop up, and it should include files that correspond with the third-party preference panes you see in System Preferences.

(If you don’t find any there, you can also check ~/Library/PreferencePanes and /System/Library/PreferencePanes .)

Third-Party Mac preference panes seen in Finder.

Locate the file for the preference pane you’d like to remove, and drag its file into the “Trash” icon on your Dock. But be warned: Once you empty your trash, the preference pane will be deleted permanently. The only way to get it back will be to reinstall its associated application.

(If you don’t want to permanently delete the pane file, you could instead drag it out of the folder and store it in a temporary location. To undo the process, just drag the pane file back into the /Library/PreferencePanes folder later and restart your machine.)

After that, restart your Mac to make sure your changes take place, and the third-party preference pane or panes you removed should be missing the next time you start System Preferences. Mission accomplished.

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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