Chapter 3. Delving under the Hood with System Preferences

In This Chapter

  • Displaying and customizing settings in System Preferences

  • Saving your changes

  • Changing settings

The System Preferences window is the place to practice behavior modification in Mac OS X. The settings that you specify in System Preferences affect the majority of the applications that you use as well as the hardware that you connect to your MacBook; your Internet and network traffic; the appearance and activity on your Desktop; and how Snow Leopard handles money, dates, and languages. Oh, and don't forget your screen saver — important stuff!

In this chapter, I discuss the many settings in System Preferences. You discover what does what and how you can customize the appearance and operation of Mac OS X.

The Preferred Way to Display the Preferences

Apple has made it easy to open the System Preferences window. Just click the System Preferences icon (which looks like a number of gears) in the Dock, and the window shown in Figure 3-1 appears. You can also open the window by clicking the Apple menu and choosing the System Preferences item.


To display all the System Preferences icons at any time, click the Show All button. You can also use the Back and Forward buttons (in the toolbar's upper-left corner) to move backward and forward through the different panes you've accessed in System Preferences, just as you use the similar buttons in a Web browser (yes, just like Safari!).

Figure 3.1. The System Preferences window is a ...

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