How to reach Power level 265 and max level cap 300 / 305 in Destiny 2’s new ‘Light level’ system • Eurogamer.net

Published 17/10/2017

The arrival of Destiny 2 brings with it new end-game activities and yes – a new Destiny 2 Power level cap to work towards.

Power level is the new name for Light level, and ever since the original Destiny game this is the first time you are starting to build it up from scratch.

Though it works in somewhat the same way – and there are many more ways to get most the way there – there are a few differences worth noting. Doing so will help you reach the game’s richest end-game content, from the Nightfall to the Raid.

Here’s the various ways you can get to the Destiny 2 Power level cap.

Destiny 2’s Power system – How levelling works, Power Level vs Light level

For those coming from the original Destiny, your Power Level is essentially the new name for Light Level, though it is now a number that is visible and worth working on as soon as you start the game.

Whether you forgot the ins and outs of the system, or are completely new to Destiny in general, here’s how it works.

XP levelling

There are two numbers associated with how powerful your Guardian is on the gear screen – Experience Level and Power Level. Everything you do in Destiny 2 – completing missions, Patrol activities, killing monsters – gives you XP, and at a certain point, you will hit the experience level cap of 20.

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Loot rarity works the same as the original – White is most common, followed by Green, Blue, Purple and Gold.

There is also a large number on the right, which is your Power level. This second rank takes into account the average ‘Power level’ of all your currently equipped weapons and armour.

Essentially, every piece of gear that drops could be higher than what you have, so you want to keep an eye on your inventory, look at any flashing boxes in armour or weapon slots, and compare the two. Swap it around, and the average should increase a few points.

This is the system that essentially dictates how powerful you are the entire game. However, experience level is important to begin with because that restricts not only early story mission access, but what Power you can reach.

So if your experience level is too low to progress or equip something, get XP. This is thankfully really simple – just play the game. Killing enemies and completing story missions is the easiest way to do this, and if you’re stuck, complete the game’s many planetary activities (such as Lost Sectors, Public Events) until it goes up.

Either way, you should hit experience level 20 by the time you complete the game’s core set of story missions. Once you hit the cap you can still earn XP, with each ‘level up’ giving you a Bright Engram. But you should worry less about XP in general – as this is when power level really matters.

Why Power level is important

Not only does increasing your Power Level make your attack and defensive abilities better, but it also opens the door to new activities. Many end-game events have a recommended Power Level, and having the highest Power Level possible is advised for end-game content.

Here’s a list of the most prominent activities that require high Power levels:

  • Vanguard Strike Playlist – 140 Power Level
  • End-game planetary story missions – 200 on Nessus, 220 on Titan, 240 on Io, 260 on EDZ
  • Weekly Nightfall Strike – 230 Power level required, 240 Power Level recommended
  • Trials of the Nine – 260 Power Level
  • Leviathan Raid – Between 260-280 Power level
  • Legendary Mods to be traded with Banshee-44 – 280 Power Level
  • Prestige Nightfall – 300 Power Level recommended
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Faction rewards are one of the more lucrative ways of jumping up Power levels.

Essentially, as you have been doing so far, you need to get increasingly high numbers of Power on your weapons and armour to bring up your average. That is essentially the end game, finding ways to increase your Power level from as many ways as possible.

The way loot drops work in Destiny is that while it can drop at a lower or the same Power level that you are on now, it will generally scale with you to give you increases a few levels above – so the more you play, the more chances of you gaining better loot will be.

Though in our experience Faction rewards can also drop up to 10 levels above your current gear level – by and large weapons and armour will increase based on that current items level, not your overall Power – so don’t expect to jump huge amounts if haven’t seen a particular gear item for a while, as it’ll likely be just a few levels at once.

However, these regular drops and Engrams only work until a point – as once you hit level 265-270, you need to look elsewhere for the best possible gear to take you forward.

Power level sources to help you get past 265 Power level and towards 300 Power

Learning which sources give what Power loot is key to faster and more effective levelling. However, unlike the original Destiny, the vast majority of activities will drop loot at a cap of 265 to 270, meaning it’s easier to simply play the game how you want and gradually level up.

However from there, may activities – including Legendary Engrams – will cap the amount of gear you can get from them, forcing players to shift their focus elsewhere to keep increasing.

Legendary Engrams and standard loot will stop at around 265-270, and so you must seek out ‘Powerful Gear’. (Note that these ‘regular’ sources will technically scale with you, but at a pace of around 10 levels behind – so if you are 281-2, this loot will drop at 271-2.) This section explains the differences between activities, and tips to reach this soft cap – while the end of this article explains how best to go beyond.

Note you’re free to do any activity you choose (assuming you’ve unlocked it) when you reach the end-game, even if it’s far higher level than you, though they will still offer scaled loot at your lower level.

Activities that scale with you until the cap of 265 to 270:

  • Blue and Purple drops from enemies
  • Getting Faction rewards, including those from Faction Rally
  • Decrypting Blue and Purple Engrams
  • Completing activities (such as Public Events, Lost Sectors, Strikes, Crucible) for loot chests
  • Trials of the Nine match completion drops
  • Xur’s Exotics (270 Power Level cap)

Once you reach 265 / 270, then you have to switch and work on specific activities to increase your level, including the game’s many ‘Powerful Gear’ sources. Otherwise, loot will remain at this lower cap.

‘Powerful Gear’ sources that scale with you until the 300-305 level cap:

  • Weekly Nightfall Strike drops and Milestone rewards
  • Leviathan Raid loot drops and Milestone reward
  • Trials of the Nine vendor rewards
  • Weekly Flashpoint Milestone reward
  • Maxing out your weekly Clan XP contribution, Clan Engram drops
  • Possible drops from Cayde’s weekly Treasure Maps
  • Weekly Call to Arms Crucible Milestone
  • Exotic quests, such as Mida Multi-Tool, Rat King and Sturm
  • Exotic Engrams / drops (which can drop a random from any ‘regular’ up to 265 Power activity)

As mentioned, most of these activities can only be done once a week and allow you to do them again upon the weekly reset, while others – such as the Exotic quests – drop only once.

Currently unknown Power levels drops from end-game activities:

With the above in mind, what are the best practices to increase your Power level as you play Destiny 2?

  • Though Power level is relevant as soon as you start the game, first progress through the game’s story missions and initial Quests, play everything as you would normally, to get to the ‘experience’ level cap of 20. Then, you can start worrying about Power level.
  • From there, since the vast majority of events drop Rare Engrams – even regular Public events and enemy drops – you can easily continue playing what activities you like and level at a steady pace.
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You can see an Engram’s Power level in your Engram collection in the menu.

  • If you want to power level up faster, then we’d recommended sticking to Public Events, as these give you a guaranteed blue drop and take just five to ten minutes to complete – and even more rewards if you manage to trigger the Heroic version. Use your map and time your arrival in their zones to minimise your waiting time as much as possible.
  • Combine Public Events with the Tokens you receive for doing so, and you can level up Faction rewards at the same time – which in our experience can drop Legendary loot up to 10 or so levels higher than what you currently have.
  • Whenever Faction Rally is available, you can then earn a second tier of Tokens for your chosen Faction and get even more gear drops.
  • Story missions and Adventures, while good for XP, probably aren’t the fastest way to get gear. That said, it can be a source of Ability Points for your classes; check their Rewards before you take them on.
  • Unlike the first game, Engrams no longer have you equip the highest possible level gear before your go to the Cryptarch, as the game will work that out for you.
  • However, there are two important caveats. Engrams will now give loot based on when they drop, not when you decrypt, so use them as soon as possible to reap their benefits. But if you have levelled a Faction and are rewarded an Engram, don’t pick it up, as that will trigger the Engram cap. While it’s waiting to be collected it’ll scale to your level, so wait as long as possible before collecting it.
  • Though you can do them before 265 soft cap, hold off from doing Cayde’s Treasure Maps, Exotic Quests and the Nightfall until you are close to or past it, as they are some of the few reliable post 265 sources of gear.
  • Infusion is less of a concern in Destiny 2 since Engrams and drops will take into account your potential Power and not your currently equipped Power, but it means you can use Infuse Exotics into Legendary Gear and take advantage of Mods better on gear that already has it.
  • Speaking of Mods – these are new consumables that can increase the Power level of Legendary Gear by 5, and can be a helpful way of giving you a small boost at higher levels. Though you can most easily get them post-280, Infusing higher level items into already-modded gear can give you gains as soon as you start dealing with Legendary gear. This is more useful as you progress past 270 and particularly 280, with our Destiny 2 Mods and Infusion going into this process in far greater detail.
  • Xur’s Exotics scale with you until Power level 270, so save your Legendary Shards and wait for his arrival on a Friday to give you a boost if you’ve yet to reach it.
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However, remember once an Engram is in your inventory, the Light level shown is what it will always drop at – it won’t scale with you.



Destiny 2 guide, story walkthrough
Class changes, Exotics, levelling and more explained.


Destiny 2 guide, story walkthrough

Need more advice? Our Destiny 2 guide and walkthrough covers everything to get you up to speed. Elsewhere, we have articles on how to beat this week’s Exodus Black Nightfall and find the latest Treasure Map locations, and other activities including Lost Sectors, Heroic Public Events, and Flashpoints on EDZ, Titan, Nessus and Io. We also explain how to Power level to the 265, 300 and 305 Power caps, as well as what to spend Glimmer on, how to join Clans and how Mods, Infusion, and Engrams and Legendary Shards work, a Destiny 2 Exotics list, Trials of the Nine and the weekly reset, how to unlock classes and subclasses, and how to complete the Destiny 2 Raid. Finally, for those waiting for it, here are details of the Destiny 2 launch time on PC.

Making your way up to Power level 300 and max level 305 in Destiny 2

Between standard Engrams and purchasing items from Vendors, it should be fairly straightforward to get to 265-270 cap. However, as with the first game, the Power level jump from there to 305 can be a difficult one.

(The max level cap is technically 350, as explained by the game when you attempt to Infuse something. However, the game stops your progress at the 305 mark – suggesting this is the true cap until new activities, such as the Prestige Raid, arrive.)

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Infusion can technically take you all the way to 350, but right now the cap is 305.

Until then, here’s how to get as close to that cap as possible, which right now is 305.

  • You are essentially looking to get what Milestones call ‘Powerful Gear’ – which comes from a variety of end-game activities as listed above.
  • Most Powerful Gear sources can only be unlocked once before the Tuesday weekly reset, so make sure you complete before that happens. If you complete the Milestone and don’t collect your reward, it’ll auto decrypt when you next log into the game.
  • That said, if you have Powerful Gear rewards waiting and you aren’t at the 265 cap yet, then wait until as close to or past the cap as best you can, since they are rarer than standard drops and offer better Power level gear.
  • According to players on Reddit, several players – as well as those with alternative characters are stuck on getting 272/273 when players are hitting the mid-280s or above. With the original Destiny, it was harder to progress to the cap the closer you got, and it’s possible that’s the case here (the RNG – or random number generator – playing unfair). Others, especially in the case of alts, are suggesting a bug. The general advice appears continue hitting those high level sources – such as the Nightfall – for your best bet at the highest levels.
  • If Destiny 2 is like the original, the fastest way to gain Power levels in general – once it unlocks, you are high enough level and have practiced it – will be replaying the Raid every week. If you can get a regular team to play this activity, then it should be the best source of Power levelling in the game.
  • Exotic weapon quests – such as Mida Multi-Tool, Rat King and Sturm – will drop based on your Power level, and are not preset – so make sure you are as high a level as possible before undertaking them to get the best gains. (Thanks to the Destiny subreddit for clarifying this.)
  • In the original game’s third year, Iron Banner (and for those skilled though, the Trials Crucible event) became a particularly useful way to get Gear drops all the way to the level cap, between its end-of-match drops, Bounty (now Challenge) completions and the ease of matchmaking with others and not having to organise fireteams. So if you’re struggling, then it’s worth checking in when that goes live to see if the same applies this time.

What you should also do past Power level 280

So once you get past the 265/270 range, the best course of action is to do Powerful Gear activities – indicated by the Milestones – as well as the Nightfall and Raid every week. These drop gear that scale with you to the level cap.

In-between that you can also micro-manage your gear through Mods and Infusing. What you need to do is ensure everything has a Mod attached to give it a +5 Power boost – and if it doesn’t, Infuse a higher level item without a Mod into something that does have one to get the boost – until level 280.

mod1

At this point, you can visit Gunsmith vendor Banshee-44, who can trade you Rare (blue) Mods for Legendary ones, making it far easier to have everything you own have a Mod equipped if it hasn’t already.

If you want to read more, our Destiny 2 Mods and Infusion page goes into the specifics of how these systems work, and how to know which gear to Mod into and not. Mastering it will give you small but valuable increments at this slow endgame stage.

That’s the cycle you then follow. Complete Milestones, and when you get new Legendary gear, add a Mod to it if it hasn’t already, and repeat, slowly making your way up towards the cap.

Additionally, though one offs, Exotic Weapon quests are a great way to top up any weapon slots with low levels. For example, if your Kinetic is lower than the rest, then doing the Mida Mini-Tool will give you a guaranteed higher level Kinetic drop upon completion.

If you are struggling to get from 304 to all 305 gear, then these Milestones are still your best bet – with a dose of luck in getting the right gear to drop on the weapons and armour you need.

Elon Musk Talks Colonizing Mars and SpaceX’s Interplanetary Transport System

Serial entrepreneur Elon Musk hosted a Reddit Ask Me Anything on Saturday, answering questions about his plans for SpaceX’s push to Mars and Interplanetary Transport System.

Musk, who is also the founder and CEO of Tesla, the Boring Company, and  Neuralink, answered questions strictly related to the International Astronautical Congress. At the event, Musk discussed putting all of SpaceX’s resources into what he calls the “BFR” (Big [expletive] Rocket) and demonstrated his concept for colonizing Mars.

Mars: What to Expect

One user asked if SpaceX would perform hop tests with the BFR, build new facilities, and test propellant between now and 2022, to which the entrepreneur replied, “Yes, yes, and yes.”

Several users inquired about Musk’s plans for colonizing Mars, but his short answers didn’t provide much clarity. For instance, he was vague in his answers about adding more satellites to Mars and where the landing bases on the planet would be located. The goal, he said, is to “get you there and ensure the basic infrastructure for propellant production and survival is in place.” Musk also said that industry would “need to be built on Mars by many other companies and millions of people.”

Interplanetary Transport System

The ITS was a key focus in the AMA session. Many users asked about the design of the vehicles that will be used to travel between Earth and Mars. Musk discussed changing the design to a more cylindrical shape to get the “best mass ratio” and the function of the machine’s wings.

Lastly, when asked about the threat of radiation for astronauts, Musk wrote “ambient radiation damage is not significant for our transit times.” He followed up by adding that Buzz Aldrin, who was the second person to walk on the moon, is 87–implying that his journey didn’t have any lasting damage.

Nvidia’s Free GeForce NOW Beta Lets You Play System Intensive PC Games on Your Mac

Apple’s Macs aren’t optimized for gaming and often don’t have powerful enough GPUs to run the latest gaming titles, a problem that Nvidia is aiming to solve with its GeForce NOW service designed for Macs.

GeForce NOW for Mac, currently in beta testing in North America, lets you use a virtual GeForce GTX gaming PC in the cloud to run games that otherwise may not be possible to play on a Mac. The only requirement is a good internet connection, with the virtual gaming PC handling all of the GPU and CPU requirements.


Since Macs aren’t known for being gaming machines, PC makers don’t typically design new titles to run on Macs. That’s also an issue that can be solved with GeForce NOW, because it can stream PC-only games too. So if you’ve been wanting to play Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds on a Mac, for example, you can do so with GeForce NOW.

GeForce NOW integrates with Steam and works with the games you already own, so it’s not a gaming service that provides access to games. You need to purchase the games you play, with GeForce NOW providing the power to play them.

I’ve been testing GeForce NOW this week and while it’s not perfect, it’s promising. Setup is as simple as downloading the GeForce NOW for Mac app and then connecting a Steam account. Since you’re essentially streaming the gameplay from the cloud, when you choose a free-to-play game or a game you’ve purchased on Steam, you don’t need to install it because it’s already installed and ready to go.


With Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, I bought it on Steam, logged into GeForce NOW, and had it up and running on my 2013 iMac in about 30 seconds. GeForce NOW runs a system check when you launch it so you can tell if your connection is going to be good enough for optimal streaming.

GeForce NOW is heavily reliant on a fast internet connection, requiring a 25Mb/s download speed at a minimum and a 5GHz wireless router. Nvidia recommends a 50Mb/s connection or higher to account for other potential internet traffic. Even with a Wi-Fi connection that met those demands, I ran into some problems with frame loss that made the game unplayable a couple of times.


When switching over to a hardwired ethernet connection, the game ran more smoothly, so if you don’t have a Wi-Fi connection that’s robust enough, a physical connection might be necessary to use the service. I was able to successfully play over WiFi for most of my testing, though, as I didn’t see the frame loss issue consistently. To ensure players get a low ping, Nvidia has servers located across the United States.

Playing PUBG using GeForce NOW was just like playing it on a PC. I was able to play right alongside PC gamers, and while there was still a bit of stuttering and lag, it worked. I was using a late 2013 iMac, but GeForce NOW is supported on a long list of machines manufactured in 2008 and beyond.

Along with PUBG, GeForce NOW supports a number of other popular games, and Nvidia is adding support for more on a regular basis. Some of the supported titles include League of Legends, Fallout 4, Overwatch, Path of Exile, World of Warcraft, The Witcher 3, Rocket League, Destiny 2, and Middle-earth: Shadow of War.

Nvidia will be beta testing GeForce NOW for Mac through the end of the year, so it’s free to download and use for the time being. A launch is planned for 2018, and final pricing for the service has yet to be announced. The beta is limited to the United States and Canada.

Here are Destiny 2’s PC system requirements

Destiny 2’s Windows PC version is almost upon us, and developer Bungie announced today that it has finalized the game’s hardware specifications on computers.

The final system requirements are identical to the specs Bungie gave in late July, a month before the Destiny 2 beta went live on PC. Here’s the kind of gaming rig you’ll need to play the PC version of the game, which requires a 64-bit version of Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 and 68 GB of free hard drive space:

Recommended Spec

CPU

Intel: 3.4 GHz Core i5-2400 or 3.5 GHz Core i5-7400
AMD: 3.6 GHz Ryzen R5 1600X

GPU

Nvidia: 4 GB GeForce GTX 970 or 6 GB GeForce GTX 1060
AMD: 8 GB Radeon R9 390

RAM

8 GB

Minimum Spec

CPU

Intel: 3.5 GHz Core i3-3250 or 3.5 GHz Pentium G4560
AMD: 4.2 GHz FX-4350

GPU

Nvidia: 2 GB GeForce GTX 660 or 2 GB GTX 1050
AMD: 2 GB Radeon HD 7850

RAM

6 GB

The PC version of Destiny 2 will offer many advanced visual features, including support for 4K resolution, frame rates up to 144 Hz and 21:9 “ultrawide” monitors. It will be released Tuesday, Oct. 24 — just under seven weeks after the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions debuted on Sept. 6. Players will be required to play the game through Blizzard’s Battle.net, where it will go live simultaneously around the world at 10 a.m. PT. (You can see what time that translates to in your time zone here.)


Destiny 2 - Crucible action 4KDestiny 2 - Crucible action 4K

A 4K screenshot of Crucible action in Destiny 2.
Bungie/Activision

Between now and then, Bungie will launch the Prestige version of Destiny 2’s Leviathan raid. It was supposed to go live this week, but the studio postponed it to Oct. 18 after discovering an exploit. Bungie intended to fix the issue before the new date, but said today that it won’t be able to do so because “the short-term solution contains too much risk.” That doesn’t mean the team is delaying the Prestige raid again. Instead, it will still go live at 10 a.m. PT next Tuesday, with a “way to verify a clean finish” — in other words, Bungie will be able to guarantee that the first fireteam to complete the Prestige raid didn’t cheat.

“A safe fix is still being investigated for this issue,” said Bungie. “Our current plan is to deploy it as part of a future update.” The studio added that it has come up with raid challenges, which it introduced to the original Destiny a few months after the release of The Taken King.

Finally, Bungie said today that it is aware of, and collecting, all the feedback that Destiny 2 players have been offering so far in the five weeks since the game’s launch. Community manager Chris “Cozmo” Shannon acknowledged fan suggestions such as “ways to make the Crucible more fun” and “add a method to mass delete shaders,” as well as the most common topic of discussion among the player base: how Bungie can improve Destiny 2’s endgame.

“We are listening, but need time to digest everything and draw up the best plans for the future,” said Shannon. “We will have more to say on this soon. Please stay tuned, and keep the conversation rolling.”

Much of the chatter around Destiny 2 at the moment is negative. Some players aren’t thrilled with what they perceive to be a thin (albeit less grindy) endgame, and the game’s first Iron Banner event this week has gotten a tepid response because of the changes Bungie has made to it since Destiny. It sounds like the studio is trying to assuage concerned fans by acknowledging the community unrest, but we’ll have to wait to hear about the developers’ actual solutions.

SpaceX chief Musk unveils Interplanetary Transport System plan to colonise Mars

A billionaire tech entrepreneur plans to land at least two cargo ships on Mars by 2022 – using a rocket he claims will also be able to take humans anywhere on Earth within an hour.

Elon Musk unveiled his updated plans for colonising the Red Planet at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia.

“I feel fairly confident we can build the ship and be ready for the launch in five years. Five years seems like a long time for me,” said the SpaceX chief executive, who also revealed plans for a lunar base.

Mr Musk wants craft carrying crews to Mars to arrive in 2024, with the cargo ships having placed power, mining and life-support infrastructure on the planet two years earlier.

SpaceX currently has a fleet of three spacecraft, which the Tesla boss wants to become obsolete.

Instead, Mr Musk told the audience his company will begin stockpiling the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon spacecrafts, and put all of its resources into building the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) – codenamed the BFR, or “Big F****** Rocket”.

Mr Musk believes SpaceX can finance its Mars ambitions from its current work launching satellites and servicing the International Space Station (ISS).

The 46-year-old unveiled the combo rocket and spaceship at the same conference last year, but announced a stripping back of the BFR to contain fewer main engines – 31 – while he also released a concept video showing the spacecraft’s potential journey between New York and Shanghai.

“BFR will take you anywhere on Earth in less than 60 mins,” Mr Musk wrote on Twitter. The video added that “most long-distance trips” would take less than 30 minutes.

SpaceX plans to start building the first spaceship, which Mr Musk said is the company’s cheapest yet, by the middle of 2018.

The ITS would be capable of carrying around 100 people spread out over 40 cabins, including common areas and an entertainment system.

Mr Musk also shared concept images of the spacecraft landed on Mars, next to a human settlement, saying he wanted to make the Red Planet “a nice place to be” with a sustainable human population of around one million.

“I can’t think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars,” he said.

It adds to the list of Mr Musk’s other outlandish-sounding ventures, which includes Hyperloop, a system intended to carry humans through tubes in pressurised cabins at speeds of around 600mph, and Neuralink – a startup exploring how to connect the human brain to computers.

How to use System Preferences on Mac, up to macOS High Sierra

Sometimes to do what you need to do on your Mac will require accessing System Preferences. Those new to the Mac may be wondering “What is System Preferences on the Mac and where can I find it?” Others may be unaware of what System Preferences makes possible and how easy it is to make tweaks and changes to the way your Mac is set up.

We aim to cover the whole of macOS/Mac OS X System Preferences in this article (now comprehensively updated to include the new features in macOS High Sierra). You can find the following:

Page 1: What is System Preferences, General, Screensaver, Dock, Mission Control, Languages, Security, Spotlight and Notifications

  • How to find System Preferences on a Mac
  • How to customise System Preferences
  • What you can do with General in System Preferences
  • How to change Desktop & Screen Saver
  • How to change the Dock using System Preferences
  • Using Mission Control in System Preferences
  • Languages and Regions in System Preferences
  • Security and Privacy in System Preferences
  • Configuring Spotlight in macOS Sierra
  • Changing Notifications settings in macOS Sierra

Page 2: Displays, Energy Saver, keyboard, mouse, trackpad, printers and sound

  • Mail and Messages in System Preferences
  • How to configure the CD / DVD drive in System Preferences
  • How to control the keyboard input using System Preferences
  • How to alter the display using System Preferences
  • How to configure the mouse and/or trackpad
  • Printers and scanners in System Preferences
  • Controlling Sound in System Preferences
  • Using the Ink preferences
  • Configure network settings in System Preferences

Page 3: iCloud, Internet Accounts, Extensions, Bluetooth and sharing, Network Settings, Touch ID, Users and Groups, Parental Controls, Dictation and Speech, Date and Time, Disk Utility, Time Machine, Accessibility

  • Configuring iCloud on the Mac
  • Setting up Internet accounts in macOS Sierra
  • Extensions in macOS Sierra
  • Bluetooth settings in macOS Sierra
  • Sharing in macOS Sierra
  • Network settings in macOS Sierra
  • Setting up Touch ID
  • User and Group settings in macOS Sierra
  • Parental controls in macOS Sierra
  • Dictation and Speech in macOS Sierra
  • Date and Time in macOS Sierra
  • Startup Disk in macOS Sierra
  • Time Machine in macOS Sierra
  • Accessibility

Read more: How to use Settings in iOS and macOS Sierra tips


Where can I find System Preferences/Settings on a Mac?

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

The System Preferences application is found in your Applications folder and is also available at any time from the Apple menu at the top-left of the screen (click the Apple logo). It may also be in your Dock at the bottom of the screen – the icon is a set of interlinked cogs, like the image above.

When launched, System Preferences provides access to a number of panes that deal with various aspects of how your Mac works, appears and behaves, such as screen resolutions, wallpaper images, input device shortcuts, parental control settings, and internet accounts.

Read our macOS Sierra review


How to use System Preferences on a Mac

When System Preferences is first launched, you’ll see rows of icons, each corresponding to a specific group of related options. Click on any icon to access the relevant pane.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

Alternatively, you can access a pane if you click-hold, Ctrl-click or right-click the System Preferences Dock icon’s contextual menu, as below. At the top of the menu you’ll see the name of the currently active pane.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

If you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for, use the built-in search in the top right corner. Click in the search field (or press Cmd+F) and start typing.

As you type, the number of subjects in the results list will be filtered to match your search term, and spotlights will appear, highlighting potentially relevant panes that might offer what you require. Use the cursor keys to navigate the results list and the spotlight will become more vivid over the option you’re about to choose. Pressing Return or clicking a results list item will confirm.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra


How to customise System Preferences

There are two different kinds of customisation worth noting with system preferences: the panes that are installed and the panes that are visible. By default, macOS Sierra, OS X El Capitan and earleir versions of OS X will provide you with just under 30 panes (the exact number is determined by the hardware you’re using – for example, if you’ve no optical drive, ‘CDs and DVDs’ will not be shown), but third-party products may also install into System Preferences. Such panes are initially placed at the very bottom of the window.

A third-party System Preferences pane can be removed either by the pane’s own uninstaller (if it has one) or by Ctrl/right-clicking it and selecting ‘Remove…’

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

You can reorder the panes by using the View menu, which provides options for organising panes by category or listing everything alphabetically. View > Customize enables further changes to be made. When you select this option, checkboxes appear next to each pane. Deselect any pane’s checkbox and click Done and the pane will be hidden, but it will remain accessible from the View menu and when performing searches. Revert a pane’s visibility by using View > Customize, selecting its checkbox and clicking Done.

Read next: Which Mac do I have: How to identify model, year and serial number and How to check your Mac’s tech specs


What does General do in System Preferences?

The General pane is a grab-bag of options related to appearance, scroll bars, document behaviour and the number of recent items shown in the Apple menu.

The Appearance menu determines the button, menu and window theme for your Mac, enabling you to switch between Blue and Graphite. This affects default buttons in dialogs, selected menu items, and also the close/minimise/full-screen buttons at the top-left of most app windows. With the Graphite theme, all of these are grey. In the Blue theme, you get the familiar ‘traffic light’ buttons at the top-left of windows and blue buttons/selected menu items elsewhere.

New in Yosemite was the Use dark menu bar and Dock checkbox. This turns the menu bar and Dock black, rather than white, to better fit in with some professional applications that have dark interfaces. This option also adjusts Spotlight’s appearance. Read: Turn on OS X’s Dark Mode

New to El Capitan was the Automatically hide and show the menu bar setting. When active, this option hides the menu bar unless the cursor is at the top of the screen, in a similar manner to how you can show and hide the Dock.

Highlight colour enables you to change the colour of highlighted content such as selected text in documents, as below. Apple provides a list of colours you can choose from, but you can define your own by selecting Other and using the standard Mac colour picker. Read next: How to customise your Mac’s desktop

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

Sidebar icon size gives you alternate options for the size of icons in Finder’s sidebar. Medium is the default, Large is good if you find it hard to accurately click the existing icons, and Small is the best choice if you’ve a small display or like squinting a lot. Note that the setting you define here also affects the sidebar in Mail.

Show Scroll Bars adjusts how scroll bars in macOS/OS X behave. By default, they are not visible, but show automatically when you move your mouse or trackpad over them, their visual appearance in part defined by the input device. You can adjust this so that they only show when scrolling regardless of the input device (akin to how scrolling works on iOS), or always show when content is too big for the viewport. The last of those options provides much thicker scroll bars than what you usually see when scrolling; instead, their appearance is like when you hover over a MacOS/OS X scroll bar and it widens for drag-based interaction.

The Click in the scroll bar to setting changes how macOS/OS X jumps to content when you click inside a scroll bar. With Jump to the next page selected, content jumps in screen-heights or pages, in the direction of your click; with Jump to the spot that’s clicked, it instead jumps to the point in the document relative to the location clicked on the scroll bar. The first option is less abrupt but slower. If, for example, you were looking at the top part of a very large list in Finder and then clicked the bottom of the scroll bar, Jump to the next page would take several clicks to reach the bottom of the list, but with Jump to the spot… it would take only one.

The Default web browser menu is a setting that usually exists in a browser’s preferences, but you can now define in System Preferences whether Safari or another browser should launch when you, for example, click a link in an email.

The next group of options deals with document behaviours. Ask to keep changes when closing documents and Close windows when quitting an application do much as you’d expect. In the former case, it’s worth noting that changes are automatically saved when documents are closed: by turning on this option, you instead get the choice regarding whether to save the changes or revert the document to how it was when last opened. If you leave Close windows… unchecked, open documents should reappear as they were when you last closed an application. Check this option and applications will launch without any open documents, unless they have their own built-in settings to override macOS/OS X’s default behaviour.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

The Recent items option defines how many items appear in the Recent Items menu in the Apple menu. By default, up to 10 of each type (applications, documents, servers) are shown, but other options are provided. Note that any setting chosen also affects recent-item Dock stacks. You can create one of those by typing the following in Terminal and then hitting Return:

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-others -array-add ‘{ “tile-data” = { “list-type” = 1; }; “tile-type” = “recents-tile”; }’ ; killall Dock

Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices determines whether the Mac has the capability to send/receive in-progress documents to/from iCloud devices running compatible versions of macOS, OS X or iOS. Unless you’ve a compelling reason to turn it off, don’t.

Finally, the LCD font smoothing option makes text appear in a slightly more pleasing manner in macOS/OS X. Again, there’s no compelling reason to turn this off, so we suggest you leave it on.

Have some geeky fun with these Terminal tricks and projects for the Mac


System Preferences: Desktop & Screen Saver

The Desktop & Screen Saver pane in System Preferences is where you adjust your desktop background image and/or the screen saver that kicks in after a user-defined period of time.

Switching the desktop image doesn’t in fact require a trip to System Preferences. In Finder, you can Control-click any compatible image and choose Set Desktop Picture (in the Services sub-menu); similarly, Control-click an image in Safari and you may be able to select Use Image as Desktop Picture, depending on how the site is set up. However, the System Preferences pane provides a much greater degree of control, along with a central area to access collections of images. (You can also access this pane by right clicking on your desktop and choosing Change Desktop Background.)

In System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver click the Desktop tab to access desktop settings. This will display a thumbnail of the current background image, alongside which will be its title. From the pane on the left, you can select collections of images. By default, you’ll see two under the collapsible ‘Apple‘ list (Desktop Pictures and Solid Colors), and your iPhoto and/or Photos albums appear under relevant headings. The next item is a collapsible list called Folders, to which you can add custom folders by using the + button. (Sneaky tip: Apple includes a bunch of folders in /Library/Screen Savers/Default Collections, which are otherwise only used for screen savers. They’re worth adding if you like wildlife, space and landscape shots.)

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

To change the desktop background, select a collection and then click any of the images within. Alternatively, you can drag an image to the well from Finder. (Dragging from Photos doesn’t work, but you can use the Share button in that app to set a selected item as your desktop image.) If the image is of a suitable size and aspect ratio for your display, it will be resized automatically. If not, a menu will appear enabling you to define whether the image should fill the screen, fit to the screen as best it can, stretch, be centred, or tile.

It’s also possible to have your desktop background change at regular intervals. To do this, select a collection and then tick ‘Change picture’. In the pop-up menu, define how often you’d like the background to change; options provided range from 5 seconds to daily, along with login/wake-up. If necessary, define how the images will fill the screen using the aforementioned pop-up menu. Your desktop background will at the appropriate times subtly cross-fade to the next image in the collection; if you instead want each change to be randomised, tick ‘Random order’.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

In OS X Mavericks, there was a lumped-in option to disable the translucent menu bar, turning it a solid light grey. This disappeared from OS X Yosemite, which moved transparency settings to Accessibility > Display, where they remain in El Capitan and macOS. This is a useful option for increasing legibility.

Change and manage your screen savers on a Mac

Click Screen Saver to access the screen savers pane. To the left is a selection of built-in screen savers; select one to choose it as the currently active screen saver (or choose Random to have one be selected at random whenever the screen saver is activated), and use the Start after menu to determine how long your Mac remains idle before the screen saver starts. Optionally, a clock can be overlaid on the screen saver, by checking Show with clock.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

Depending on the screen saver chosen, you may get options. For the various photography-based screen savers, you’ll see a Source menu, enabling you to define a source folder of photos to use. On choosing a new source, the screen saver preview will update accordingly. Checking Shuffle slide order randomises the presentation from the selection of images.

For other screen savers, you’ll get a Screen Saver Options button that when clicked provides in-context settings for that particular screen saver. For example, Apple’s own Flurry enables you to adjust how many streams of colour appear on the screen, how thick they are, and how fast they move.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

To the bottom-right of the pane is a Hot Corners… button. The options are shared with Mission Control and provide the means to trigger various macOS functions when you move the cursor into a screen corner. The first option is Start Screen Saver, and is a very quick means of activating the screen saver. This can be especially useful if you’ve also used the Security & Privacy pane to demand a password be entered to exit the screen saver.

It’s also possible to install third-party screen savers. Once installed, these appear below the built-in options. If you later decide you want to delete a screen saver, Control-click it and select Delete.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra


Change the Dock using System Preferences

Many of the Dock’s preferences can be adjusted by Control-clicking the thin line that divides apps and folders and choosing from the various options. However, the Dock pane in System Preferences is worth exploring, because it provides a very clear visual overview of all your Dock’s settings.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

Size and Magnification determine the size of the Dock icons and how much they expand when the cursor is over them. Magnification is best used when you’ve so many Dock icons that they’re not easy to pick out unless zoomed; if you don’t like the effect, you can disable magnification entirely.

Position on screen determines the screen edge the Dock sits on. Under OS X Mavericks, the Dock displayed as a flat rectangle at the left or right edge, and as a metal shelf at the bottom of the screen. Under OS X Yosemite, the Dock became a semi-transparent rectangle.

The Minimize windows using menu provides two effects for when windows are minimised to the Dock: Genie and Scale. The former appears to ‘suck’ the window into position, whereas the latter is a much simpler zoom that’s less taxing on older Macs and also a lot faster.

Read: 12 Tips for using the Mac Dock

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

The ‘Prefer tabs when opening documents’ menu enables you to state whether new documents should always open in tabs, open in tabs only when an app is in Full Screen mode, or only open in tabs manually (the default). Note that not all apps are compatible with tabs. Those that aren’t ignore this setting.

The remaining options adjust various behaviours of the Dock: Double-click a window’s title bar to… enables you to select between zoom and minimise when making that action; Minimize windows into application icon sends minimised windows to the relevant app icon in the Dock rather than to the Dock’s right-hand side; Animate opening applications makes apps bounce while launching; Automatically hide and show the Dock makes the Dock disappear from view when not in use, and demands you move the cursor to the relevant screen edge to show it; and Show indicator lights for open applications places a little black dot beneath the icons of apps that are currently running.


Using Mission Control in OS X

The Mission Control pane is the place for adjusting how Apple’s window overview works. On newer Macs, F3 is a Mission Control key – press it and you see all your open windows (in OS X Yosemite these were grouped by app and badged with the relevant icon, icon; as of OS X El Capitan, the older Exposé behaviour returned and you can see all your open files at once). In this screen, you can also create multiple desktops (which Apple refers to as ‘Spaces’) that you can switch between.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

In the System Preferences > Mission Control pane, the first five options determine aspects of how Spaces appear. The first option rearranges spaces based on recent usage, rather like the Command+Tab app-switcher. The second option when active automatically switches you to a space with an open window for an app when the app itself is switched to.

The next two options set whether windows are grouped by application (turn that on and Mission Control groups app windows alongside the app’;s icon), and whether displays have separate spaces. With the latter option active, distinct workspaces can be created for each of your displays. (Apple also notes that should you at any point need to have a single app window span multiple displays, you should turn off Displays have multiple Spaces.)

Finally, the Dashboard menu enables you to set Apple’s ‘widgets’ screen as a space, as an overlay, or turn it off entirely. As an overlay, you’ll need to click the Dashboard app icon or use a keyboard shortcut – F12 by default – to activate it. Note that much of Dashboard’s functionality now exists within Notification Center’s Today view, so see if that works for you before turning Dashboard back on.

The second section, titled Keyboard and Mouse shortcuts, provides a centralised area to define shortcuts for activating Mission Control and the ‘Application Windows’ feature (which shows only the windows of the currently active app), and showing the Desktop or Dashboard. For any keyboard shortcut, you can define a function key or a modifier (a specific Shift, Control, Option or Command key), although the latter option isn’t usually a good idea, because it makes the chosen modifier unavailable elsewhere. You can, however, combine a modifier and a function key: for example, to set Shift+F1 to activate Mission Control, hold Shift, open the Mission Control menu, and click F1.

It’s worth noting that if your Mac keyboard includes a Mission Control icon on its F3 key, modifiers can be used in conjunction with that key in order to access Mission Control functionality: Command+F3 shows the Desktop, and Control+F3 activates the ‘Application Windows’ feature.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

Finally, The Hot Corners button has been mentioned previously in our overview of System Preferences, and it works identically here – any one of the four screen corners can be used as a trigger for Mission Control, ‘Application Windows’, showing the Desktop, or opening Dashboard (among other commands, such as showing Notification Center or Launchpad). Reverting any of the menus to the ‘-‘ option deactivates the hot corner entirely.


How to set the Language & Region in System Preferences

This pane controls the language shown in menus and dialog boxes, and the formatting of dates, times and currencies. It will by default use the language you stated you wanted to use when you set up your Mac, along with the most appropriate formatting for your location.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

You can add or remove languages from the Preferred Languages list by using the + and – buttons. On adding a new language, macOS will ask whether you want to use it as your primary language. If you confirm this is the case, it will be moved to the top of the list, and dialog boxes will change to the selected new language. The addition of a new language will also add a ‘List sort order’ menu, which you can use to adjust how names are sorted in Finder, if a language offers an order other than the Universal default. Some other aspects of macOS may require you to logout and login for changes to fully take effect.

To the right of the Preferred Languages list, you can update your region setting using the Region menu. If you change it (for example, switching between United Kingdom and United States), you’ll see how other settings are automatically updated to match the region’s conventions. Should you want to, specific elements can be overridden, using the menus: the first day of the week, the calendar used, and whether the time format is 24-hour; and whether the temperature is displayed in Celsius or Fahrenheit. With Time format unchecked, the macOS clock will use the 12-hour format typically preferred in the USA.

Any elements adjusted here may impact on apps elsewhere in macOS although some apps also have their own internal settings for certain things, and so you cannot rely on your System Preferences changes to always filter through.

The two buttons at the bottom of the window are Keyboard Preferences and Advanced. Keyboard Preferences takes you to the Input Sources tab within the Keyboard System Preferences pane, where you can define keyboard types for your machine (for example, adding one that’s more suited to a particular language you often work in). Advanced opens a sheet that provides the means for editing a number of more detailed display options for your chosen region.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

For the most part, these settings should be left alone, but if you have very specific set-up needs, they’re worth investigating. Under General, you can change the format language for dates, times and numbers, and the number separators used for grouping and decimals. English uses, respectively, a comma and period for grouping and decimals (for example, 1,000.00), but if you’re working in a language that uses something different, you can adjust the relevant settings here; similarly, currency and its relevant grouping/decimal options, can be defined, along with default measurement units for the system (Metric or US).

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

The Dates and Times tabs both offer a set of fields where you can drag individual date or time elements to design custom formatting. In Dates, for example, the ‘short’ date on a British English system would read 05/01/2014 for the fifth of January, but you can adjust this to suit your own preferences, add elements (such as the era or specific characters) or remove them entirely, clicking OK when done.

Be aware that changes made here can impact on apps throughout the system, and making major adjustments can have unintended consequences. If you decide you’d like to return to OS X’s system defaults, go back into the relevant tab and click Restore Defaults (which is initially greyed out, but becomes a clickable button when any changes are made). At any point, when you return to the System Preferences pane, you’ll see a brief overview of your settings under the Temperature or List sort order menu, depending on whether you have the latter visible.


How to set up Security and Privacy in System Preferences

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

When it comes to System Preferences panes, Security & Privacy is perhaps the most intimidating; it’s therefore no surprise many Mac users avoid it entirely. However, it’s crucial to understand the settings within, especially when you work with apps that require control over your computer, or if your Mac happens to be in a fairly open or public environment. In order to make changes to the settings within this pane, you’ll likely have to click the padlock and input an admin username/password. Read: How secure is Mac OS X?

The first tab is General. The settings here are broadly split into two sections, the first dealing with logins and the second with the ability to install downloaded apps.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

You can use the Change Password button to alter the password for the currently logged-in user. Click the button and you access a sheet, into which you type the old password, then the new one and a recovery hint; clicking ‘Change Password’ confirms.

Note that should you be using an iCloud password to login on versions of OS X that allow this (macOS Sierra does not), you’ll get a dialog that gives you options to use a separate password, cancel, or change your iCloud password.

The three checkboxes are designed to secure your computer during your absence. The first when ticked makes it so your login password is required to exit sleep or the screen saver; the time limit can be set to one of seven pre-set values, including ‘immediately’ and the likes of ‘5 seconds’, to ensure you aren’t forced to input your password if you accidentally trigger the screen saver yourself. Note that if you later disable this option, your Mac will warn you and ask whether you want to carry on using iCloud Keychain.

The next checkbox enables you to add a message to the lock screen for anyone who tries to login while the screen saver’s running. The third checkbox enables you to disable automatic login, and requires you to define a default account for the Mac, along with inputting the relevant password.

Read: Best Mac antivirus software.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

The second section within the pane determines what types of app the user can download and install. This defaults to App Store and identified developers; leave the setting alone unless you’ve compelling reasons to change it – for example, installing a very trustworthy app that just happens to not have been released by an identified developer.

Under such circumstances in OS X El Capitan, change the setting to ‘Anywhere‘ and then back again post-install, for best security. As of macOS Sierra, the Anywhere option is absent. However, you can launch unsigned apps in Finder by Control-clicking them and choosing Open.

The next tab is FileVault. This automatically encrypts your data – in fact, it encrypts the entire volume. With FileVault active, a password is required when booting the Mac to unlock the drive. Without the account password (or a recovery key provided during set-up), you’ll permanently lose access to your data, so take care if you decide to use FileVault! Read how to change the admin password on your Mac.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

Turning FileVault on is simply a case of clicking the sole button on the pane. Note down the recovery key, and you can also optionally enable the key to be stored with Apple, guarded by security questions. The drive encryption process can take minutes or hours, depending on the size of the drive and the data on it.

Note that FileVault is only protection for your data when the Mac’s turned off. When you’re logged in, it does nothing, and so is best used in tandem with the previously mentioned password for exiting sleep or the screen saver. If using FileVault, you should also encrypt back-ups in the disk-selection sheet of Time Machine.

To later disable FileVault, click the ‘Turn Off FileVault’ button in the FileVault tab.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

The Firewall tab is for activating and tweaking your Mac’s firewall, designed to prevent unauthorised apps, programs and services from accepting incoming connections. Click ‘Turn On Firewall’ to turn it on, and then ‘Firewall Options’ to configure it. In the pane, you can allow or deny incoming connections for listed items or add your own using the + button. By default, signed (trusted) software can receive incoming connections. You can also enable stealth mode, which means your Mac won’t respond to any attempts to access it from uninvited traffic.

It’s worth noting that if you’re on a private home network, chances are your router already has a hardware firewall that’s on and in use; firewalls are generally more important when on public networks. However, it’s also unlikely to cause any major performance issues if you do activate the firewall. Should you have connection issues from other devices or to/from online services, it’s worth investigating whether the firewall is the cause, though.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

The Privacy tab is for defining which apps have access to certain services. Such requests are made for various reasons: for example, a calendar app might require access to your calendars in order to work; additionally, apps that control the computer (such as window managers and launchers) will need the means to do so, and permission is provided in the Accessibility section within this tab. There’s also a Location Services section, for apps that want to determine your location.

In all cases, select from the list on the left and use checkboxes on the right to determine the apps that have access to the relevant service. Only deny access for an app you no longer use or that you’re certain you no longer want to communicate with the item it requested access to. You can of course change your mind later if you find functionality on your Mac impaired by any decision you make in this tab.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

Finally, at the foot of the page is the Advanced button. Click it to open a sheet with yet more options for securing your Mac: the means to log out after a defined period of inactivity; a requirement for an administrator password in order to access system-wide preferences that have been locked; and a setting for disabling commands from an infrared receiver. The Pair button can be used to pair the computer with an available remote.


How to change Spotlight settings in System Preferences

The Spotlight System Preferences pane enables you to define the kind of results that appear in Spotlight, along with the content Apple’s search system happens to index. You can also amend the shortcuts used for Spotlight, by clicking ‘Keyboard Shortcuts…’, which takes you to the Shortcuts tab in the Keyboard pane within System Preferences. (Note that when changing shortcuts for Spotlight, ensure your choices do not clash with commonly used shortcuts elsewhere. You’re most likely to need to amend the Spotlight shortcuts if you often work with multiple languages. Command+Space is also used by default to switch input sources.)

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

As of OS X El Capitan, it’s no longer possible to reorder search results categories. Spotlight alone now determines relevance. However, you can still omit entire categories by unchecking their checkboxes. Note that some options require an internet connection. For example, if you’re not online, you won’t be getting Bing Web Searches, results from the iTunes Store, or live currency conversions.

Underneath the scrolling categories pane is the option Allow Spotlight Suggestions in Spotlight and Look up. This is a switch for Spotlight’s capability for accessing smart results, such as sports scores, and those based on location, including nearby restaurants, cinema times and weather reports. Disable the option and these kinds of results will not be available. (Apple notes privacy implications for Spotlight Suggestions on its website, if you’re concerned about your search data being sent to various online services.)

We’ve got some related advice in Tips for using Spotlight on Mac.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

Click the Privacy tab and you can prevent Spotlight from searching specific locations. To add a folder, click + and then choose the location from the sheet that appears. Note that you can block entire volumes/drives from being searched by selecting the location drop-down menu and going up to its top level, which includes any attached drives.

In particular, we strongly recommend adding any drives that include back-up clones taken with the likes of Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! This is because otherwise Spotlight may return multiple results for essentially identical objects, and you might end up opening the wrong document in error (as in, the one from a back-up drive), editing and saving it, only for it to be overwritten during the next backup.

You can also drag items from Finder to this list; to later remove any item, select it and click the – button.

On a related note, you may be interested to read 8 great alternatives to Finder and Spotlight on the Mac.


How to change Notification settings in System Preferences

The Notifications System Preferences pane provides the means to manage and tame macOS Sierra’s notifications system, which can be very helpful but also a huge distraction if you’ve loads of notifications coming in all the time. Read more about Notification Centre on the Mac.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

The first option is Do Not Disturb. Select that and you can define a time period when notifications won’t bother you. Optionally, you can also turn on Do Not Disturb when mirroring your Mac’s display to a TV or projector, which is likely to occur when watching a film or during a presentation. Note that when Do Not Disturb is active, the Notification Center icon at the far-right of the menu bar will turn grey. Your System Preferences settings can be manually overridden at any point by opening Notification Center and flicking its Do Not Disturb switch.

Below Do Not Disturb in the sidebar, you’ll find a list of apps.

Select an application and you’ll get a set of options, and the default settings are designed to best suit the specific application they belong to; however, they’re worth investigating, especially if you’re getting deluged with notifications.

The first section defines the alert style, from which you can pick None, Banners (which appear in the upper-right corner and vanish after a few seconds) and Alerts (like banners, but require a user action to dismiss them). Simply click an option to select it, and its title will take on a blue lozenge as its background.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

Below, you’ll see up to four options. ‘Show notifications on lock screen‘ defines whether notifications will appear when the Mac is locked, and is worth disabling on public Macs. Show in Notification Center allows you to adjust how many items for the app are displayed: 1, 5, 10 or 20. For the likes of Calendar, showing upcoming events, you might want a longer list, but the item number for many apps can be reduced without impacting your workflow.

The Badge app icon option determines whether a red badge appears on an app’s icon when notifications occur (for example, unread emails for Mail). ‘Play sound for notification‘ will make a noise when a notification appears.

Mail and Messages have an additional option: Show message preview, and this can be set to ‘when unlocked‘ (the default) or ‘always‘; the second of those is not recommended for Macs in public places, unless you don’t mind anyone potentially seeing a preview of your incoming messages. Twitter also has an additional option, a Notifications button that enables you to fine-tune what type of Twitter communications macOS Sierra notifications are displayed for; by default, Direct Messages are included, but you can also be notified about mentions and replies from people you follow or anyone who happens to contact you.

At the bottom of the window, there’s a sort menu. You can set this to sort your notifications by recent notifications (Recents), recent notifications by app (Recents by App), or Manually by App. Bafflingly, there’s no alphabetical sort option.

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

How to use System Preferences in macOS Sierra

Although macOS Sierra has yet to get quite as notification-happy as iOS, we recommend taking some time to manage this section of System Preferences. Turn off banners and get apps out of Notification Center if you don’t need notifications from them; and for those things you do need notifications from, minimise them whenever possible. If you’re easily distracted but get a lot of email, for example, it’s a smart move to stop Mail notifying you with a banner every time a new message comes in, but you could always leave the app icon’s badge setting active, to provide an at-a-glance indication of how many unread emails you have.

Page 1: What is System Preferences, General, Screensaver, Dock, Mission Control, Languages, Security, Spotlight and Notifications

Page 2: Displays, Energy Saver, keyboard, mouse, trackpad, printers and sound

Page 3: iCloud, Internet Accounts, Extensions, Bluetooth and sharing, Network Settings, Touch ID, Users and Groups, Parental Controls, Dictation and Speech, Date and Time, Disk Utility, Time Machine, Accessibility

Apple File System (APFS) FAQ

With the release of macOS High Sierra and its upgrade for SSD-based startup volumes to Apple File System (APFS), Macworld readers had many questions about how this new filesystem—more efficient and reliable for SSDs—will interact with older Macs, hard drives, networked filesharing, and more. Here are the answers.

Many questions revolve around a concern that files stored on an APFS-formatted volume won’t be readable or usable elsewhere. Generally, a filesystem structure only affects the way in which documents are stored on a drive. When the files are retrieved, they’re independent of that format and can handled just as they would in any other case, like downloading a file from a website.

Can I opt to not install APFS?

No. It’s mandatory on SSDs when you upgrade to High Sierra. Fusion drive support (Apple’s hybrid SSD and HDD combo) is coming and, we assume, mandatory with the upgrade that carries it.

Is APFS a reason to avoid upgrading to High Sierra for now?

Opinions vary. It’s an entirely new filesystem if you have an SSD startup drive, and I generally recommend most people wait until there’s a “dot” release, in this case 10.13.1 or even 10.13.2, to ensure any glitches found by early adopters are fixed without you living through the experience. (Since some games and software, like Adobe InDesign, isn’t working correctly with High Sierra at the moment, that’s another reason to delay.)

Once High Sierra upgrades my startup volume APFS, can I revert to HFS+?

A reader having problems after upgrading to High Sierra wonders if APFS is the problem and, if so, can they revert? You can’t: High Sierra doesn’t have a back-out mechanism.

You should make a clone (see next entry) if you want to have the option to revert back to Sierra. This will require wiping the drive, reformatting it, and then restoring the clone.

Can I use cloning software to back up my drive?

Yes, but with provisos. Folks who develop cloning software for macOS are on the front lines of coping with these changes. Dave Nanian of Shirt Pocket, makers of SuperDuper, has a beta release out (free to existing owners) that supports APFS volumes, but on his blog he advises general users against upgrading yet. Bombich’s Carbon Copy Cloner, the other popular drive cloning app, has a release version that supports APFS, but notes (as Shirt Pocket does) that Apple has left some features undocumented, and has a long list of resources to read before upgrading.

If you clone your drive routinely, make a full clone before you upgrade, because otherwise you won’t be able to revert on an APFS drive to a previous system that uses HFS+. It also gives you a clean revert position in case of an upgrade failure.

Samsung announces SmartThings and ADT home security system for $549

Samsung’s new home security system is powerful, but is it worth the $549 asking price?

Thanks to the rise of smart home gadgets, home security systems are now more powerful and accessible than they’ve ever been. Companies like Nest and Ring are trying to make a name for themselves in the home security world with their own offerings, and Samsung just announced that it’ll be partnering with one of the oldest names in the industry – ADT – to offer its own SmartThings security system.

Like most home security systems, the SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit comes with quite a few gadgets to help you get started with protecting your home. Along with the main Security Hub that powers the whole shebang, you’ll get two sensors for windows and doors and a single motion detector. When the system officially launches, you’ll also be able to add carbon monoxide detectors, fire alarms, water leak sensors, and as many other alarms and detectors that you think you’ll need for covering every square inch of your home.

The Security Hub features a touch-screen for controlling arming and disarming all of your security tools, but in addition to this, it can also act as a hub for general SmartThings accessories, such as light bulbs, thermostats, door locks, and more.

You’ll need to pay $549 upfront for the base kit that comes with the Hub, two window/door sensors, and one motion detector, and like most home security systems along these lines, you can also choose to pay a monthly subscription fee for even more services. A $14.99/month plan will get you 24/7 professional monitoring for water leaks, carbon monoxide, and smoke/fire, whereas the $24.99/month plan offers 24/7 monitoring for panic alerts and any detection of a home invasion.

Samsung’s security system costs $350 more than the Ring Protect.

That sounds like a relatively good deal on its own, but the Samsung and ADT’s security system does not exist in a bubble. Just yesterday, Ring announced its Ring Protect system that costs $199 upfront and then $10/month for similar 24/7 monitoring. Samsung does have the advantage with its ADT partnership, but the difference in price between these two new options is quite substantial.

You can preorder the ADT Home Security Starter Kit and some of its expansion items starting today from both Samsung and Best Buy’s websites, with the system moving to physical Best Buy stores starting on October 29.

See at Best Buy

Samsung and ADT release smart home security system

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Samsung (SSNLF) and ADT (ADT) are teaming up to try to make your smart home more secure. The move, which the companies announced Monday, provides Samsung with a means to pull consumers interested in home security into the home automation market, while handing ADT new customers who might have otherwise never thought about home security services.” data-reactid=”31″>Samsung (SSNLF) and ADT (ADT) are teaming up to try to make your smart home more secure. The move, which the companies announced Monday, provides Samsung with a means to pull consumers interested in home security into the home automation market, while handing ADT new customers who might have otherwise never thought about home security services.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="But this isn’t your average ADT service plan, where a technician comes to your home and installs a slew of security devices, while locking you into a 3-year contract.” data-reactid=”32″>But this isn’t your average ADT service plan, where a technician comes to your home and installs a slew of security devices, while locking you into a 3-year contract.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The key feature this matchup offers is the ability to pay for ADT monitoring on a month-to-month basis. It also means you’re going to have to set up your monitoring hardware yourself, though that shouldn’t prove too difficult for the majority of consumers.” data-reactid=”33″>The key feature this matchup offers is the ability to pay for ADT monitoring on a month-to-month basis. It also means you’re going to have to set up your monitoring hardware yourself, though that shouldn’t prove too difficult for the majority of consumers.

The cost of security

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="To use the service, you’ll have to purchase Samsung’s and ADT’s SmartThings starter kit. The box, which costs $549, includes a 7-inch touchscreen panel that functions as a hub for your system, as well as two window and door sensors and a motion detector. You can also purchase the Home Safety expansion pack, which comes with a smoke alarm, CO2 alarm and water leak detector for $199.” data-reactid=”35″>To use the service, you’ll have to purchase Samsung’s and ADT’s SmartThings starter kit. The box, which costs $549, includes a 7-inch touchscreen panel that functions as a hub for your system, as well as two window and door sensors and a motion detector. You can also purchase the Home Safety expansion pack, which comes with a smoke alarm, CO2 alarm and water leak detector for $199.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="As far as fees go, the starter pack will cost you $24.99 a month. Toss in the Home Safety kit and the price jumps to $34.99. You can also opt for just the Home Safety kit for $14.99 per month.” data-reactid=”36″>As far as fees go, the starter pack will cost you $24.99 a month. Toss in the Home Safety kit and the price jumps to $34.99. You can also opt for just the Home Safety kit for $14.99 per month.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="ADT’s normal service provides you with a similar setup to the SmartThings kit, but adds on a third window and door monitor, a keychain remote and those sweet ADT lawn signs. That, however, costs you $99 for the initial set as long as you agree to a three-year contract. Monthly payments range from $36.99 per month to $52.99 per month depending on the package you choose.” data-reactid=”37″>ADT’s normal service provides you with a similar setup to the SmartThings kit, but adds on a third window and door monitor, a keychain remote and those sweet ADT lawn signs. That, however, costs you $99 for the initial set as long as you agree to a three-year contract. Monthly payments range from $36.99 per month to $52.99 per month depending on the package you choose.

ADT kit includes a touch screen panel, two window and door sensors and a motion detector.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="If you opt for the $36.99 package you’ll end up paying about $1,430 over three years including the $99 installation fee. Go with the Samsung option and you’ll pay about $1,448. The Samsung ADT combo, however, lets you cancel your service at any time and even skip months if you want to lower the cost.” data-reactid=”58″>If you opt for the $36.99 package you’ll end up paying about $1,430 over three years including the $99 installation fee. Go with the Samsung option and you’ll pay about $1,448. The Samsung ADT combo, however, lets you cancel your service at any time and even skip months if you want to lower the cost.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="What makes the SmartThings kit tempting is the fact that it enables home automation via the Samsung SmartThings app on your smartphone. That means you’ll be able to control your Amazon (AMZN) Echo, Google (GOOG, GOOGL) Home, smart lights and smart locks from the SmartThings ADT app.” data-reactid=”59″>What makes the SmartThings kit tempting is the fact that it enables home automation via the Samsung SmartThings app on your smartphone. That means you’ll be able to control your Amazon (AMZN) Echo, Google (GOOG, GOOGL) Home, smart lights and smart locks from the SmartThings ADT app.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Signing up for ADT’s service also means you’ll get 24/7 monitoring via ADT’s call centers. So if a smoke or CO2 alarm goes off, ADT will call the fire department for you. You’ll also be alerted if your window and door locks are opened when you’re away at work or in bed at night.” data-reactid=”60″>Signing up for ADT’s service also means you’ll get 24/7 monitoring via ADT’s call centers. So if a smoke or CO2 alarm goes off, ADT will call the fire department for you. You’ll also be alerted if your window and door locks are opened when you’re away at work or in bed at night.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The system’s hub connects to your home’s Wi-Fi, but includes a battery backup and an LTE connection if your home loses power.” data-reactid=”61″>The system’s hub connects to your home’s Wi-Fi, but includes a battery backup and an LTE connection if your home loses power.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The team-up allows Samsung to extend its smart home offerings to consumers who are interested in security, but don’t want to deal with monthly fees. For ADT the move will lure customers who are entering into the smart home market and want to ensure their home is secure without having to do so themselves.” data-reactid=”62″>The team-up allows Samsung to extend its smart home offerings to consumers who are interested in security, but don’t want to deal with monthly fees. For ADT the move will lure customers who are entering into the smart home market and want to ensure their home is secure without having to do so themselves.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The one thing this service doesn’t solve is just how much smart home systems can cost in general. If you’re going to outfit your entire house with various smart devices you can easily drop a lot of cash. Samsung and ADT’s offering allows you to jump into the space, as long as you’re okay with the pricey up-front cost.” data-reactid=”63″>The one thing this service doesn’t solve is just how much smart home systems can cost in general. If you’re going to outfit your entire house with various smart devices you can easily drop a lot of cash. Samsung and ADT’s offering allows you to jump into the space, as long as you’re okay with the pricey up-front cost.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More from Dan:” data-reactid=”64″>More from Dan:

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.” data-reactid=”74″>Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

Elon Musk unveils Interplanetary Transport System, teases Mars colony by 2024 | World | News

The billionaire SpaceX boss unveiled details of the new craft as he also updated his plans for colonising Mars and creating a lunar base.

“I feel fairly confident we can build the ship and be ready for launch in five years,” he told the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, yesterday.

He said he also wants the craft to be carrying crews to Mars by 2024, two years after two cargo ships have placed power, mining and life-support systems on the planet.

SpaceX currently has a fleet of three spacecraft.

However the magnate said he wants them now to become obsolete.

Instead, he said his company is putting all of its resources into building the Interplanetary Transport System – codenamed the BFR, or “Big ******* Rocket”.

Yesterday the 46-year-old – who is also behind online payment system PayPal and electric car specialist Tesla – released a “concept video” of the spacecraft’s potential journey between New York and Shanghai.

“BFR will take you anywhere on Earth in less than 60 mins,” he wrote on Twitter.

The video also claimed that “most long-distance trips” would take less than 30 minutes.

 

SpaceX said it plans to start building the first spaceship by the middle of 2018.

The ITS would be capable of carrying around 100 people spread out over 40 cabins, including common areas and an entertainment system.

Mr Musk also shared concept images of the spacecraft on Mars, next to a human settlement.

He said he wanted to make Mars “a nice place to be” with a sustainable human population of around one million.

“I can’t think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars,” he declared.

Mr Musk said his company could find the massive sums to finance its ambitions from current work launching satellites and servicing the International Space Station.

It adds to the list of Mr Musk’s other ambitious ventures.

These include Hyperloop, a system intended to carry humans through tubes in pressurised cabins at speeds of 600mph, and Neuralink, a startup company exploring how to connect the human brain to computers.