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Wednesday, October 24, 2007, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Road to Mac OS X Leopard: System Preferences


Mac OS X System Preferences

After being sent back to the drawing board, Apple decided to take the opportunity to radically rethink the entire Mac OS interface in its plans for Mac OS X. By Developer Preview 2 in 1999, Apple had returned System Preferences back to an arrangement closer to NeXT's (below).

Leopard Prefs


Developer Preview 3 (below) introduced the Aqua appearance as a work in progress in early 2000.

Leopard Prefs


Developer Preview 4 (below) from May 2000 showed additional experimentation.

Leopard Prefs


In the Mac OS X Public Beta offered in September 2000, Apple shipped System Preferences as a panel of "preference panes" (below top) that could be dragged up into a customizable quick access toolbar. Clicking on a preference would open it (below bottom).

Leopard Prefs


Leopard Prefs


This same layout was retained in Mac OS X 10.0 in March of 2001 with a few revised icons that were increasingly colorful and distinctive (below top), but some of the experimental bits were tamed down, including the display preference (below bottom).

Leopard Prefs


Leopard Prefs


Six months later Apple shipped Mac OS X 10.1 as a free update. It introduced organized sections in the control panel (below) as well as a new pill control in the top right corner of windows. Clicking on the control simplified the window; in System Preferences, it would hide the toolbar.

Leopard Prefs


August 2002's Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar (below) moved icons around and added new features, but otherwise made few changes overall to System Preferences.

Leopard Prefs


The following year, Mac OS X 10.3 Panther (below) dramatically toned down the white stripe appearance, replacing it with a neutral and more serious looking grey appearance.

Leopard Prefs


In addition, the bright blue Aqua tabs of earlier systems were replaced with a paper cutout style indentation, and the tabs that managed such views became more like selector buttons (below).

Leopard Prefs


Tiger replaced the toolbar entirely, and instead presented a search feature for quickly looking up settings. This was designed to make the system easier for switchers, as they could type in terms used in Windows, such as "wallpaper," and quickly narrow down where to find the related settings on a Mac.

On page 3 of 3: New in Leopard: System Preferences; .Mac Settings; Accounts Settings; Parental Controls; Other New Settings; Bluetooth Controls; Sharing Controls; Desktop Controls; Network Controls; and System Cleanup.