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How to Add Your Favorite Preferences Panes to the Mac Dock

Apple Mac System Preferences Icon Hero

If you use a particular System Preferences pane frequently on your Mac, you can easily place a link to it in your Dock for quick access. In fact, you can link as many preference sections there as you’d like. Here’s how.

On a Mac, each section of System Preferences is traditionally called a “preference pane.” The behavior of each preference pane is handled by a file in located in your macOS System Library folder. The neat thing about these files is that if you open them, they act as links that directly take you to their corresponding section in System Preferences. That means you can drag the files to your Dock and use them to quickly access various system settings.

Several preference pane shorcuts located in the Mac Dock.

RELATED: How to Quickly Find Specific System Preferences on a Mac

To do that, we first need to locate the preference pane files using Finder. Activate Finder and select Go > Go to Folder from the menu bar.

Click "Go To Folder" in Mac Finder.

In the “Go to folder” window or slider that appears, type (or paste) /System/Library/PreferencePanes.

In the Go To Folder dialog, enter the path and click "Go."

Next, you’ll see a Finder window filled with files that represent the various preference panes. These are the System Preferenes that come with macOS by default. (If you are looking for a third-party preference pane file, visit /Library/PreferencePanes instead.) Each one has a “.prefPane” extension.

Mac Preference Pane files as seen in Finder.

Scroll through the window until you locate the file representing the preference pane that you’d like to add to your Dock. For example, “DateAndTime.prefPane” is the file for “Date & Time” preference pane. Click and drag the preference pane file onto the file and folder shortcut area of your Dock, which is located near the Trash can.

Dragging a preference pane file to the Dock on Mac.

You’ll notice that if you try to drag the files to the left side (or upper portion, depending on how you have your Dock oriented) of the Dock, you won’t be able to. That section is reserved for applications only.

After that, any time you want to change a particular setting in one of the preference panes, just click its icon in the Dock, and System Preferences will automatically open to that section.

Clicking a preference pane link in the Dock on a Mac.

If you’d like to remove a preference pane from the dock, simply drag its icon far away from the dock, hold for a moment, then release.

Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a Staff Writer for How-To Geek. For over 14 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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