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OS X Basics: Learn to use System Preferences

Knowing how to navigate and set up the System Preferences is an essential part of using your Mac. It’s time to take control

The setting of preferences is a key aspect of making your computer and software work the way you want. All the more so for Mac OS X, as it comes with its own array of preferences that can be easily set and tweaked.
In fact, working with your Mac and enjoying it has a lot to do with making its interface look, feel and do things just as you desire. This significant configuring is achieved through the clever, and yet simple, interface of the Mac OS X built-in application called System Preferences. Read on to understand how to set all of the most relevant applications and system settings on your Mac so that it will look and operate just the way you want.

1: Locate the facility
Mac OS X System Preferences can be accessed from the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen. Click on the Apple pictogram to open the menu.

2: Launch the application
Click on the System Preferences menu item in the Apple menu. The cog-works pictogram will appear in the Dock and the System Preferences window opens.

3: Get your bearings
The application contains two main features; a set of standard menus, located in the Menu bar at the top of your screen, and a main application window.

4: The View menu
The View menu is the most useful of the System Preferences menus. It provides direct access to each preference pane and helps you sort and search them.

5: The toolbar buttons
The two left-side arrow buttons help you navigate the preference panes visited during the current session. The Show All button returns you to the category view.

6: The toolbar search field
The search field, to the right-side of the toolbar, lets you input a word to look for among the title and attributes of all the preference panes.

7: The four sections
The application window central area lists all available preference panes. It is organised into four sections: Personal, Hardware, Internet & Wireless and System.

8: Sort the preferences
You can sort the preferences to your tastes. From the View menu, select Organize by Categories or Organize Alphabetically to rearrange the preference panes.

9: Unlock the preferences
To set up any System Preferences pane, administrative credentials are needed. Click the padlock and input the Administrator username and password.

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