How to fine-tune macOS Mojave's General settings to match your preferences

Follow this guided tour of macOS Mojave's General System Preferences to get even more out of how you interact with and operate the Apple OS each day.

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Image: Apple

All too often it's tempting to believe we don't require training or need to read directions. I recently received a reminder that, whether using new power equipment or a new OS, a little instruction proves helpful. While trying to start a gas-powered edger that sat idle all winter, I discovered a manual choke adjustment that resolved the issue; unfortunately, I lost a half hour troubleshooting the problem before discovering the manual choke, even though I owned and operated the edger for seven years. Don't make the same mistake using macOS Mojave.

Numerous options collected within a single window—macOS Mojave's General System Preferences specifically—permit adjusting an array of important settings. From specifying light vs. dark mode to permitting the Handoff feature that transfers content between your Mac and iCloud-connected devices, access these settings by opening System Preferences (found within Applications and typically located on the macOS Dock) and clicking General.

SEE: 10 essential apps and utilities for your Mac (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Changing between light and dark mode is as easy as selecting Light or Dark within the Appearance section (Figure A). Adjust Accent Color by selecting from one of the supplied eight color options. The color you select applies to design features that highlight various macOS menus, radio buttons, fields, and similar elements.

Figure A

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You can also change the Highlight Color using the supplied drop-down menu—nine color options are provided. macOS uses the color you choose to help the OS highlight menu selections, among other items.

Should you wish to adjust the size of sidebar icons, such as those found in Finder, click the provided drop-down box and select from Small, Medium, or Large. I encourage you to experiment with this and other macOS settings, as you may find new configurations of which you weren't previously aware, and that make a difference in how you interact with and operate macOS Mojave each day. For instance, automatically hiding and showing the menu bar may open more space, or present a cleaner screen, than you were aware a single click could introduce.

I'm testing new settings across multiple monitors. I've enabled automatically hiding and showing the menu bar and dock (the option for which is set from the Dock Systems Preference). I'm unsure yet whether I prefer the new configuration, but the two subtle tweaks have significantly changed the screen real estate that's available and have reduced the number of times my attempts to click on a window's edge inadvertently resulted in accidentally clicking a Dock app or a Menu Bar option.

Show Scroll Bars also lets you eliminate the window scroll bars that appear onscreen. You can choose: Automatically Display The Scroll Bars Based On Mouse Or Trackpad Input (the default option), Always, or Only When Scrolling. You can adjust whether clicking within the scroll bar prompts macOS Mojave to Jump To The Next Page or the relative spot within the scroll bar that you clicked. These are subtle changes but ones that are used frequently and significantly impact the manner in which the OS responds and behaves.

SEE: macOS Mojave: A guide for IT leaders (Tech Pro Research)

Change the default web browser using the provided drop-down menu. While Safari is the default, should you wish to switch to Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Opera, you can select one of those alternatives, once installed.

Check the box for Ask To Keep Changes When Closing Documents if you don't wish for macOS to save such changes automatically. Be sure to give this option some thought, though, as it may seem counterintuitive.

The Close Windows When Quitting An App option works in a similar way. If you check the box for that option, macOS will not restore documents and windows as they were when you last closed them. For example, if you work with sensitive human resources information, salary data, or legal filings, you likely don't want such information to display the next time you open the corresponding app. So, be sure to give this option thought before indiscriminately making changes.

Further customize macOS Mojave by specifying the number of recent documents, apps, and servers you wish for the OS to remember and display using the provided spin box. Checking Allow Handoff Between This Mac And Your iCloud Devices permits sharing related content using iCloud.

Using the General System Preferences, you can choose to enable font smoothing. Just check the box to reduce unsightly font edges for some typefaces. Note: Smaller fonts could prove more difficult to read onscreen, should you choose this option.

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By Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...