The System Preferences are where you customize, allow access and control how your system looks and behaves. You access them from either the Apple Menu or from the Icon in the Dock. They replace the Control Panels in "Classic" Mac OS. This page describes the preferences for OS10.2 (Jaguar), some of them have been combined and changed a bit in OS10.3 (Panther) which can be found here.
Some of the Preferences are only cosmetic and others are quite important and control internet and network connectivity. You can view them grouped (as below) or alphabetical, the option is available from the 'View' menu. To access any of the preference panels, click on the one you want to access and the window will change to open that preference. To view all of them again, click on the "Show All" button.
In the 'Other' section are 3rd party shareware additions I have made to my system and you will not have those unless you also install them.
At the very top of the window, in what is called the "Toolbar", are duplicates of some of the icons. These are available no matter which Preference Pane you have open, for quick access. You will notice the toolbar in other pages in this section.
You can add and subtract items simply by "Drag & Drop" to or from the toolbar. Below, I am dragging the "Desktop" icon to the Toolbar. To remove an icon from the Toolbar just drag the icon off the window. Customize your toolbar to include the Preferences you use the most. The Toolbar can be hidden/shown by clicking on the button at the upper-right corner.
I will introduce you to the preferences in the groups Apple has provided.
This is where you choose the background for your desktop. You can choose from the collections Apple included, from your Pictures folder or from any folder you would like which has jpeg or gif files.
You can choose to have your desktop change at regular interval from a folder of images by checking "Change picture". Set the timing from the pop up menu and choose whether to see them in the order they are found in the folder or in random order.
I have a separate section devoted to the Dock, the Dock Preference Panel is here.
Here you can make some personal choices of how things look and behave. Try some of the different options and see what is best for you.
Recent Items will be found in the Apple Menu and always available to open the applications and documents you have most recently used.
Font Smoothing helps to prevent fonts appearing jagged but often makes small fonts look worse. CRT displays are the bulky TV like displays and laptops are flat panel.
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