The hub of Mac customization is System Preferences, the modern-day successor to the old Control Panel (Windows) or Control Panels (previous Mac systems). Some of its panels are extremely important, because their settings determine whether or not you can connect to a network or go online to exchange email. Others handle the more cosmetic aspects of customizing Mac OS X.
This chapter guides you through the entire System Preferences program, panel by panel.
Only a system administrator (Figure 12-1) can change settings that affect everyone who shares a certain machine: its Internet settings, Energy Saver settings, and so on. If you see a bunch of controls that are dimmed and unavailable, now you know why.
A tiny padlock in the lower-left corner of a panel is the other telltale sign. If you, a nonadministrator, would like to edit some settings, call an administrator over to your Mac and ask him to click the lock, input his password, and supervise your tweaks.