When I add the system preferences to the dock and click it, it opens in the common view.

How can I open a specific pane at once from the dock? system settings specific pane

5 Answers 5

  • In Finder, open /System/Library/PreferencePanes on Lion for the system preference panes or /Library/PreferencePanes or ~/Library/PreferencePanes/ for user-added ones.
  • Drag the icon of your choice from the folder to the Dock. It will probably only go on the right side (the documents/folders/minimized windows/Trash side) of the divider.

Clicking the new icon will open System Preferences directly to that preference pane.

  • 1
    +1 Despite my own answer, I really like this one :-) You also get the "correct" icon of the prefpane you want, as opposed to the default AppleScript one. Works as you describe on Lion too, but the path is /System/Library/PreferencePanes for system panes and /Library/PreferencePanes or ~/Library/PreferencePanes for user ones.
    – binarybob
    Apr 25, 2012 at 22:29
  • It's the same in Lion - you can only drag it to the right of the striped divider.
    – jsd
    Apr 26, 2012 at 0:31
  • 1
    The path has been PreferencePanes for a lot longer than Lion.
    – Kevin Reid
    Apr 26, 2012 at 12:35

If it's a particular pane you want then you can use AppleScript to do this. For example, start the AppleScript Editor and type the following:

tell application "System Preferences"
    set current pane to pane "com.apple.preference.startupdisk"
end tell

This will open the Startup Disk preference pane com.apple.preference.startupdisk, but the other panes follow the same naming convention, e.g. com.apple.preference.dock etc.

You can now save this an application:

enter image description here

Then drag the .app file you created to the Dock. When you double-click it, it will open the required preference pane.

  • What about preference panes that have spaces and ampersands in them like, "Security & Privacy"? I need to show the privacy pane. Jan 13, 2015 at 22:17

If System Preferences is running, the Dock menu has a list of all available preference panes. If it's not running, they aren't in the menu because apps on OS X can't keep stuff in the Dock when they're not running.

For easy access to a specific preference pane, use Spotlight or a third-party launcher.

  • 3
    You can also use Automator or AppleScript Editor to create an application that will open a particular prefpane; see the scripting dictionary for System Preferences in AppleScript Editor.
    – geekosaur
    Apr 25, 2012 at 22:02

I see this is an old post, but at OS X.7 (Lion) and X.8 (Mountain Lion), at least, show the full list by just clicking and HOLDING on the System Preferences icon in the Dock.


The accepted answer is good but it doesn't behave like a native app's icon would on the Dock.

The AppleScript answer is good but it relies on knowing the magic string for com.apple.preference.* and also relies on opening the System Preferences app first (and loading info about all the panes) and then opening the desired pane, rather than just opening the desired pane (and not opening the main app first).

I combined them into one that resolves all three issues. (on macOS Monterey, but it should apply to any version of macOS people are reasonably running today)

  1. Figure out which preference pane you want launched by opening /System/Library/PreferencePanes in Finder (we'll use StartupDisk.prefPane for this example)
  2. Open Automator and create a new Application
  3. Add a single step: Run Shell Script
  4. Set the step's value to this: open /System/Library/PreferencePanes/StartupDisk.prefPane
  5. Save it somewhere (probably ~/Applications)
  6. Change its icon (probably to the icon from the StartupDisk.prefPane file)
  7. Drag it to the Dock like any other application

Run it and it will take you directly to that preference pane without the initial step of opening System Preferences.

  • This is solid work. Thanks for teaching the method here to automate things
    – bmike
    Nov 29, 2021 at 19:50

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