5 Reasons Why macOS Ventura System Settings Are Downgraded

One of Apple’s biggest software releases for 2022, macOS Ventura, brings a host of new features to the Mac. These features range from robust accessibility options to productivity-focused additions like Stage Manager.

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

Although there have been changes, we can all agree that they are not all good. So, before updating, you should know what we don’t like and what we miss, especially compared to macOS Monterey.

1. Designing iPad and iPhone on a Mac

How to use Universal Control
Image credit: Apple

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

This change is a downgrade from a UI perspective, as the Settings app on iOS/iPadOS devices is already difficult to navigate. Most people search for their settings on their phone instead of scrolling through rows and rows of options.

While unifying settings in this way might make it easier to tell users how to navigate settings across all of their devices, the problem is that a Mac typically doesn’t perform the same function as an iPhone or iPad. Apple seems to have forgotten about it.

Parameter priority

Generally speaking, Apple can copy the style used in the iOS Settings app. However, Apple has not considered changing the priority of items to better suit a Mac.

For example, Focus and Screen Time are among the main elements of System Settings, just like they are on iPhones and iPads, and they shouldn’t be. But these are not necessarily the most used features on a Mac.

Here is an overview of system settings in macOS Ventura:

System Settings menu in macOS Ventura

Below you can take a look at the Settings app on iOS 16:

Settings app in iOS 16

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

Screenshot of macOS Monterey System Preferences

Switches instead of checkboxes

As part of adapting iPhone and iPad settings, Apple has also introduced more switches. The little animation that slides when you select or deselect an option. While that’s pretty neat on a touchscreen device, it doesn’t have the same effect on a Mac, which needs a pointer.

Battery and Hearing toggle in Control Center on macOS Ventura

Instead of using switches, macOS Monterey uses checkboxes, which is more friendly to the computer’s user interface.

Horizontal scrolling

Another annoying UI design in System Settings is horizontal scrolling, which is necessary when you need to scroll sideways to see items in a list. Like Switches, this is suitable for touchscreen devices, but not for Macs.

For example, System Settings uses horizontal scrolling to display desktop images in the Wallpaper section. You have to scroll the trackpad sideways to see the items in the list.

Wallpapers in the Wallpaper section of System Settings

This means that a non-Apple mouse cannot effectively scroll through the wallpaper section of system settings without clicking the button. Display all button. Additionally, horizontal scrolling limits the number of items you can see at any one time, which is an undesirable UI downgrade from Monterey’s default vertical scrolling.

2. Missing battery settings

As a general rule, when someone tries to “upgrade” something, it usually means improving it by building on what already exists. However, Apple seems to have done the opposite by completely removing some parts of the settings.

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

But that’s not all that’s missing. For example, optimized battery charging, put hard drives to sleep button, nap, and energy modes all seem to have disappeared from the settings altogether.

Power saving settings in the View System Settings section

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

3. More Focus on Keyboard Search

Magnifying glass next to a keyboard and other accessories on a wooden desk

Frankly, most of us barely go through the long process of clicking through sections of settings to get to the item we want. What most of us do is type exactly what we hope to find in the search bar.

The designers of macOS Monterey had this fact in mind. When you open System Preferences, the focus moves to the search bar, and you can immediately type in the item in Settings you’re hoping to find. If you’re used to doing this, you’ll need to unlearn it once you update your Mac to macOS Ventura.

We hate that typing on the keyboard causes the focus to move to an item in 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 nothing in the left pane of system settings starts with an O.

4. Trackpad Videos Disappeared

Trackpad gestures video in System Preferences (macOS Monterey)

For novice macOS users, the Mac trackpad gestures you can use to manage your desktops and windows can be a bit overwhelming. For this reason, Apple thought it was a good idea to show users how exactly they should swipe or click their fingers on the trackpad to get a result.

While this feature is still in macOS Ventura, we no longer have the live human hand videos showing us how to move around on the trackpad. Now Ventura has replaced those videos with an animation using only circles.

Animating Touchpad Gestures in System Settings (macOS Ventura)

The animation itself isn’t bad; it’s just not as good as an actual human hand moving across the trackpad.

5. You can no longer sort or customize items in settings

View menu in System Preferences (macOS Monterey)

For those unaware, you can rearrange and customize items in macOS Monterey’s System Preferences. Unfortunately, Apple removed this quality of life feature from macOS Ventura’s system settings.

So you can no longer restructure your preferences to prioritize items you use more than others, or even just alphabetize them. It’s worse because Apple’s settings priority isn’t ideal for a Mac.

Think twice before upgrading to macOS Ventura

As a new operating system update, macOS Ventura still isn’t perfect, and it might not be for a few more fixes. So if you are planning to update and the possible bugs won’t stop you, the missing system settings app just might. Sticking with macOS Monterey could save you some headaches.

Hopefully Apple will fix some, if not all, of the issues we’ve listed here at some point. Additionally, we would like to see quality of life improvements that would be vital for a desktop operating system.

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