5 Reasons macOS Ventura’s System Settings Is a Downgrade

macOS Ventura, one of Apple’s biggest software releases for 2022, brings a number of new features to the Mac. These features range from robust access options to productivity-oriented additions like Stage Manager.

However, the most noticeable differences are in the system settings, known as System Preferences in previous macOS versions.

While there have been changes, we can all agree that they are not all good. So, before you update, you should know what we didn’t like and what we’re missing—especially when compared to macOS Monterey.

1. iPad and iPhone Design on Mac

At first glance, it’s clear that Apple took heavy inspiration from the iPhone and iPad’s Settings app when designing the System Settings app for macOS Ventura. The landscape-oriented System Preferences window here has changed to a vertical style similar to what you’ll find on the iPhone.

This change is a downgrade from a UI perspective as the Settings app is already difficult to navigate in iOS/iPadOS devices. Most people find their settings on their phone rather than tapping through rows and rows of options.

While unifying Settings in this way might make it easier for people to know how to navigate Settings across all their devices, the problem is that a Mac doesn’t typically function in the same way as an iPhone or iPad. Apple seems to have forgotten this.

Settings priority

Generally speaking, it’s okay for Apple to mimic the style used in the iOS Settings app. However, Apple didn’t consider changing the priority of the item to better suit the Mac.

For example, Focus and Screen Time are part of the top item in System Settings, just like they are on iPhones and iPads, and shouldn’t be. But these are not necessarily the most used features on the Mac.

However, macOS Monterey not only displays the Settings app items horizontally, but also gives you the option to toggle the list if you prefer.

Switches instead of checkboxes

As part of the adoption of iPhone and iPad settings, Apple also brought more switches. The little animation that slides in when you select or deselect an option. While this is quite neat on a touchscreen device, it doesn’t have the same effect on a Mac, which requires a pointer.

Instead of using switches, macOS uses Monterey checkboxes, which is more computer UI friendly.

Horizontal scrolling

Another annoying UI design bug in System Settings is the horizontal scrolling, which is necessary when you have to scroll sideways to see items in a list. Like the Switch, it’s fine on touchscreen devices but not on Macs.

This means that a non-Apple mouse cannot effectively scroll through the Wallpaper section of System Settings without clicking the Show All button. In addition, horizontal scrolling limits how many items you can view at any given time, which is an unwanted UI downgrade from Monterey’s default vertical scrolling.

2. Missing Battery Settings

Typically, when someone tries to “upgrade” something, it usually means building on what’s already there and making it better. However, Apple seems to have done the opposite by completely removing parts of Settings.

Most noticeable is in the power and battery settings. For example, macOS Monterey has a robust Battery section, offering ways to schedule shutdowns and automatically turn your Mac on and off.

But all is not lost. For example, the Optimized Battery Charging, Put Hard Disk to Sleep button, Power Nap, and Energy Mode are all completely missing from Settings.

Apple has moved most of the display-related energy-saving settings to the Display section. You can find these energy-saving settings in Display > Advanced in System Settings.

3. Keyboard search focus no longer

Frankly, most of us hardly go through the long process of clicking through sections of Settings to get to the item we want. What most of us do is to type what we are hoping to find in the search bar.

The designers of macOS Monterey had this fact in mind. When you open System Preferences, the focus turns to the search bar, and you can quickly type in the setting you expect to find. If you’re used to doing this, you should forget about it after updating your Mac to macOS Ventura.

We hate that typing on the keyboard shifts focus to an item on the left pane that starts with the first letter you type. For example, typing L highlights the Lock Screen menu in System Settings. However, typing O will only give you an error sound because none of the items in the left pane of System Settings start with O.

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