Apple simplifies System Settings for macOS Ventura, moves many items

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System Settings, the macOS Ventura replacement for System Preferences, more closely resembles Settings on iPhone and iPad, but as well as visual changes, it has also moved key elements.

As revealed at the WWDC 2022 keynote, macOS Ventura features a redesigned preferences pane, now retitled System Settings. Its visual change is marked, it's impossible not to see the similarities with iOS and iPadOS, but the alteration is more than skin deep.

System Settings in macOS Ventura includes new sections for:

  • Game Controllers
  • Game Center
  • Lock Screen (previously in Security & Privacy)
  • Desktop & Dock (previously in Desktop & Screen Saver, and Dock & Menu Bar)
  • Screen Saver (previously in Desktop & Screen Saver)
  • Wallpaper (previously part of Desktop & Screen Saver)

Even within seemingly familiar sections, important items have moved. For instance, Login Items used to be under Users & Groups, but it is now within General.

The new System Settings in macOS Ventura (left); System Preferences in macOS Monterey (right)

That's particularly significant because one of the first issues with the developer beta of macOS Ventura is that it does not retain all of the login items set under macOS Monterey. It's inconsistent over which apps it keeps, but multiple ones disappear from System Settings and have to be re-added.

There is still a search feature within System Settings, but unfortunately it isn't working yet. It does appear to, in that you can type into the field, but most times it will return no results.

That does make the new System Settings frustrating when you're looking for specific sections to solve problems such as the missing startup items. However, overall the new design surfaces common sections more easily.

For instance, previously you could search for the word "Wallpaper," but you couldn't find such a section just from looking. The word "wallpaper" wasn't part of the "Desktop & Screen Saver" section it was in, nor was it even mentioned.

Note that it will be at least three months before macOS Ventura is made publicly available as the current version of the OS. There could be many changes, and the System Settings search feature is bound to be fixed.

The old System Preferences supported direct AppleScript access to functions, and the new System Settings appears to feature an identical AppleScript dictionary. However, it's still conceivable that users will find their scripts need adjusting.