Control panel (Mac OS)

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Prior to Mac OS X, a control panel is a small application which enabled the user to modify software and hardware settings such as the sound volume and desktop pattern. Control panels differ from extensions in that they allow the user to specify options, whereas extensions provide the user with no interface for setting preferences. In many software distributions Extensions provided the functionality and the corresponding Control Panel provided all the configuration options.


The original control panels in the earliest Mac OS were all combined into one small Desk Accessory. Susan Kare designed the interface for the original control panel, and tried to make it as user-friendly as possible. This design was used until System 6 when separate control panel files ("cdev"s) were added, accessible solely through the control panel.

With the debut of System 7 the control panels were separated into individual small application-like processes accessible from the Finder, and by a sub-menu in the Apple menu provided by Apple Menu Options. By Mac OS 9, many control panels were true applications.

Hearkening back to System 6, OS X's equivalent of control panels are found as "Preference Panes" accessible solely through the System Preferences utility's unified interface. Preference panes in OS X are small documents rather than independent applications.

List of control panels[edit]

The control panels included with Mac OS 9: