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Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Leopard Edition by David Pogue

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Chapter 15. System Preferences

The hub of Mac customization is System Preferences, the equivalent of the Control Panel in Windows. 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.

Tip

Only a system administrator (Creating an Account) 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 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.

The System Preferences Window

You can open System Preferences by choosing its name from the menu, clicking its "light-switch" icon in the Dock, or double-clicking its icon in the Applications folder. At first, the rows of icons are grouped according to function: Personal, Hardware, and so on (Figure 15-1, top).

But you can also view them in tidy alphabetical ...

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