A control panel
under the Mac OS
is a small application
which enabled the user to modify software
settings such as the sound volume and desktop pattern. Control panels differ from extensions
in that they allow the user to specify options, whereas extensions provide the user with no interface for setting preferences. In many software distributions Extensions provided the functionality and the corresponding Control Panel provided all the configuration options.
The original control panels in the earliest Mac OS
were all combined into one small Desk Accessory
. Susan Kare
designed the interface
for the original control panel, and tried to make it as user-friendly as possible. This design was used until System Software 6
when separate control panel files ("cdev"s) were added, accessible solely through the control panel.
With the debut of System 7 the control panels were separated into individual small application-like processes accessible from the Finder, and by a sub-menu in the Apple menu provided by Apple Menu Options. By Mac OS 9, many control panels were true applications.
Hearkening back to System 6, Mac OS X's equivalent of control panels are found as "Preference Panes" accessible solely through the System Preferences utility's unified interface. Preference panes in Mac OS X are small documents rather than independent applications.
List of Control Panels
The control panels included with Mac OS 9