Our migration guide for those moving from PC to Mac continues. The next section is:

Settings & preferences

How to I edit the macOS Registry in order to tweak system settings?

Unlike Microsoft Windows, macOS doesn't use a central Registry file to store hardware and software settings. Instead, each app has its own discrete configuration file, usually found in the Application Support folder of the hidden Library folder inside your personal Users folder.

System settings are in the /Library/Application Support folder. Each file is in the .plist Property List XML format, and it's not intended for the user to directly edit them.

Where do I find the Control Panel on a Mac in order to adjust settings?

Most system settings can be tweaked via the System Preferences app, which you'll find in the Applications list within Finder. (We cover that exhaustively here: Complete guide to System Preferences.)

Most apps including all the macOS built-in apps, such as iTunes, have their own discrete settings dialog boxes that can be accessed by opening the app and clicking the application menu, and then Preferences. Alternatively, the Cmd+comma keystroke will open the preferences dialog box.

How to move from PC to Mac: System Preferences

Can I optimise my Mac's performance by tweaking BIOS or UEFI settings?

Macs use a form of EFI but there's no optimisation settings or boot-time console/setup screen. Because Apple controls both the operating system and the hardware, Macs are optimised out of the box.

What's the Mac equivalent of FDISK for repairing and scanning disks?

Macs use a different filesystem technology compared to Windows and it's simply more resilient, so the likes of unexpected shutdowns are repaired automatically and invisibly. However, two maintenance tasks can be attempted if you run into file or app corruption. Both are accessed via Disk Utility, which is in the Utilities folder of the Applications list.

Select the main Mac OS partition at the left of the Disk Utility window - it'll be indented beneath the disk's main entry in the list. Each option discussed below offers Verify and Repair options. The former won't fix anything but merely produces a diagnostic report.

  • Verify/Repair Permissions: Repairing disk permissions ensures system files have the correct ownership and access permissions, but can also highlight read/write disk errors that might indicate disk failure. Just click Repair Disk Permissions and wait for the task to complete. Note that a handful of minor errors always appear and can usually be ignored - those relating to displaypolicyd, InstalledPrinters.plist and ARDAgent, for example. Note too that OS X El Capitan doesn't feature a verify/repair permissions option, perhaps because of this tendency to report false positives.
  • Verify/Repair Disk: This option, found to the right of the Verify/Repair Permissions buttons, attempts to repair underlying file structures and tables. However, some errors simply can't be repaired while the operating system is up and running, and you'll be told to repair the disk using Disk Utility while running OS X Recovery, as explained under the heading What's The Mac Equivalent of Safe Mode?.

How to move from PC to Mac: Disk Utility

The Mac equivalent of FDISK is the Disk Utility, which can repair errors and otherwise administer all kinds of disks

Next: Security & privacy