How to Remove Preference Panes From Your Mac

One-Click Removal of User-Installed Preference Panes

Uninstalling Preference Panes in OS X
A simple right-click is all it takes to remove a preference pane. Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Many Mac apps and utilities are provided as a preference pane, or they may include a preference pane component. Preference panes are installed and accessed through the System Preferences function in OS X. Apple maintains control over preference pane locations within the System Preferences window, reserving the first few rows strictly for its own system preferences.

Apple does allow third parties to add preference panes to the Other category, which shows up in the System Preferences window as the bottom row, even though it isn't labeled as such.

Early versions of OS X included the system preferences category names at the beginning of each row in the window. With the advent of OS X Mavericks, Apple removed the category names, though they retained the category organization within the System Preferences window.

With the Other category available to app developers as a place for their preference creations to be housed, you may find that you collect a number of preference panes as you install and try out various apps and utilities.

Removing Preference Panes Manually

Before we get into how to locate where a preference pane is stored on your Mac, and then how to move it to the trash, I want to point out that this manual way of deleting a preference pane is normally not needed; there's a simply uninstall method available for most preference panes. We'll get to the easy method in a bit, but first the manual method.

Knowing how to manually uninstall a preference pane is an important bit of information any advanced Mac user should know.

It can be helpful if the easily uninstall method fails to work, which can happen with poorly written preference panes or ones that have accidentally had their file permissions set incorrectly.

Personal Preference Panes Location

System preferences are located in one of two places on your Mac. The first location is used for preference panes that are only used by you.

You'll find these personal preference panes located in your home folder in the Library/PreferencePanes directory.

The actual pathname would be:

~/YourHomeFolderName/Library/PreferencePanes

where YourHomeFolderName is the name of your home folder. As an example, my home folder is named tnelson, so my personal preference panes would be located at:

~/tnelson/Library/PreferencePanes

The tilde (~) at the front of the pathname is a shortcut; it means to start at your home folder, instead of at the startup disk's root folder. The upshot is that you can just open a Finder window and select your home folder name in the Finder's sidebar, then start looking for the Library folder, and then the PreferencePanes folder.

At this point, you may notice your Home folder doesn’t seem to have a Library folder. Actually, it does; it's just hidden from view. You'll find instructions on how to access your Library folder here:

OS X is Hiding Your Library Folder

Public Preference Panes Location

The other location for system preference panes is in the system library folder. This location is used for preference panes that can be used by any user who has an account on your Mac.

You'll find the public preference panes located at:

/Library/PreferencePanes

This path starts at the root folder of your startup drive; in the Finder, you can open your startup drive, then look for the Library folder, followed by the PreferencePanes folder.

Once you figure out which folder a preference pane is located in, you can use the Finder to go to that folder and drag the unwanted preference pane to the trash, or you can use the quicker method below.

The Easy Way to Uninstall Preference Panes

Remove preference panes with just a click or two:

  1. Launch System Preferences by clicking the System Preferences icon in the Dock, or by selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  1. Right-click the preference pane you wish to remove. (This tip only works for preference panes listed under the Other category.)
  2. Select Remove xxxx Preference Pane from the pop-up menu, where xxxx is the name of the preference pane you wish to remove.

This will remove the preference pane, no matter where it was installed on your Mac, saving you the time it would have taken to track down the installation location.

Remember: if for some reason the easily uninstall method doesn't work, you can use the manual method outlined above.

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