Out of the box, the Mac is a fantastic machine. The graphical interface is clean and uncluttered, tasks are accomplished with a minimum of frustration, and everything performs exactly how you expect it to. That honeymoon lasts for somewhere between 10 seconds and a week. While everything is great at first, you will find yourself saying, “It would be better if....” When this happens, your first stop should be System Preferences.
Why System Preferences? It turns out that Apple knows that different people want different behaviors from their Mac. While Snow Leopard can’t possibly accommodate everything that everyone might want to do, most of the changes you are likely to want to make are built right into Snow Leopard.
System Preferences, which appears as a silver framed gears icon in the Dock (unless you’ve removed it from the Dock, in which case you can still find it in the Applications folder), is the place to make your Mac uniquely yours. But as you’ll see later in this chapter, you can find some tweaks by going beyond System Preferences.
One inevitable thing that will happen while you are adjusting your System Preferences is that you’ll make a change and later decide that it was a mistake. For example, you might adjust the time it takes for your Mac to go to sleep and later decide that Apple had it right out of the box. Fortunately, many preference panes feature a Restore Defaults button that will reset the settings for that particular ...