Mac System Preferences Not Responding? 8 Fast Fixes

Clare Weaver
Last updated: Mar 4, 2024

This post covers reasons and workarounds for the common issue of Mac System Preferences not responding/System Settings not responding. Read on to learn more.

Have you ever encountered a System Preference error on Mac?

Fear not! In this post, we'll delve into the reasons behind Mac System Preferences not responding and present 8 fast fixes to help you regain control over your Mac settings. Read on to learn more.

Mac system preferences not responding

Why Is My Mac System Preferences Not Responding?

System Preferences (for macOS Ventura earlier version) - also called System Settings since macOS Ventura is the gateway to customizing your Mac experience.

However, some common Preference errors on Mac may occur during your usage. For example:

  • Preferences Error. Could not load Security & Privacy preference pane.
  • There was an error in YogaSMCpane preferences. Could not load Displays preference pane.
  • System Preferences is busy and can’t be closed. Users & Groups preferences is removing a user account and saving the Home directory to a disk image.
  • System Preferences is busy and can't be closed. Signing in to Apple ID.
  • Could not install(null) preferences pane.
  • To use the "XXX" preferences pane, System Preferences must quit and reopen.
  • macOS Sonoma System Settings crashing.

The reasons behind the "Mac System Preferences not responding" issue are mainly:

  • Corrupted Preferences-related plist files.
  • macOS Sonoma issues (macOS Sonoma System Settings Crashing).
  • Outdated macOS system.
  • Hard disk errors.
  • Malware.

How to Fix System Preferences Not Responding

Now that you have figured out the reasons, it's time to learn how to fix System Preferences/System Settings not responding.

In total, we'll introduce 8 practical methods below. Keep reading!

1. Force Quit System Preferences/System Settings

When System Preferences/System Settings is unresponsive, force quitting is the quickest way to fix this error.

Here is how:

Go to Apple menu>Force Quit (Command+Option/Alt+Esc)>System Preferences/System Settings>Force Quit.

Force quit System Settings

2. Remove System Preferences/System Settings from Dock

Reset your System Preferences/System Settings by following a simple procedure:

Right-click the System Preferences/System Settings icon>Options>Remove from Dock.

Remove System Settings from Dock

Then reopen System Preferences/System Settings.

3. Launch System Preferences via Different Ways

Each time you find System Preferences not opening, explore different methods to launch System Preferences/System Settings.

Open System Settings/System Settings via Launchpad, Spotlight(Command + Space), Apple menu, Finder Application, etc. are all workable ways.

4. Force Restart Mac

A straightforward yet effective fix: force restart your Mac by holding down the power button.

5. Delete Preferences plist File

Address corrupted preference files by locating and deleting the file. Follow the step-by-step guide:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click Finder’s Go menu>Go to Folder. (Command + Shift + G)
  3. Copy and paste: ~/Library/Preferences>Press Return.
    Finder Preferences file
  4. Find the file>Right-click and select Move to Trash in the context menu>Empty Trash.
    Finder System Preferences plist file
  5. Restart your Mac and reopen System Preferences/System Settings.

6. Free Up RAM

Insufficient Memory space can also lead to the Mac System Preferences not responding error. But no need to worry. You can still do something like free up RAM to fix this error.

BuhoCleaner is an easy-to-use and powerful Mac cleaner that can help you free up RAM in minutes.

DownloadFor macOS 10.10 and above
100,000+ Satisfied Users Worldwide

Here is how to free up RAM:

  1. Free download, install, and launch BuhoCleaner.
  2. Click Toolkit in the Sidebar>Free Up RAM>Start.
    Free up RAM with BuhoCleaner
  3. Wait for the process to be completed.

7. Run First Aid with Disk Utility

For both Intel-based and Apple silicon Macs, run First Aid with Disk Utility in recovery mode to diagnose and repair disk-related issues.

Here is how:

  1. Put your Mac into Recovery Mode. (The way differs between Intel-based Macs and Apple silicon Macs)
  2. Select Disk Utility in the Recovery Mode window>Click Continue.
  3. Select your startup disk on the sidebar.
  4. Click First Aid on the toolbar>Run.
    Run First Aid with Disk Utility
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process.
  6. Restart your Mac.

8. Contact Apple Support

If the problem persists, seek professional assistance by contacting Apple Support for personalized help.

Besides the above 8 methods, some other methods may also be worth a try. For example, check Apple's system status, reboot your Mac in Safe Mode, try another user account, reinstall macOS, etc.


With these 8 fast fixes, you can tackle the challenge of Mac System Preferences not responding or other common Preferences errors on Mac.

Regain control over your Mac settings and enjoy a seamless experience. Your Mac should be responding smoothly in no time!

Clare Weaver

Clare Weaver has been captivated by the world of Apple products since the launch of iconic iPhone in 2007. With a wealth of experience, Clare is your go-to source for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and all things Apple.