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Setting System Preferences in OS X Mountain Lion

This chapter shows the many settings and controls that let you customize OS X Mountain Lion to best meet your needs.
This chapter is from the book


System Preferences allows you to customize various parts of OS X, such as the appearance of your desktop, your computers date and time, the way CDs and DVDs start up when you insert them, or use speech recognition to convert a spoken voice into commands or electronic text. For those of you with a Mac laptop, you can manage power usage for your computer. Accessibility preferences make it easier for a person with a disability, such as difficulty seeing or hearing or controlling a mouse or trackpad, to use a computer. If you have an ink device attached to your computer, you can use Ink Preferences to improve the recognition of ink to text.

You can access System Preferences from the Dock or the Apple menu. Many applications also have their own preferences, which you can access from the application menu within the application. System Preferences are organized into categories by default. Each category contains a set of icons, which you can open to set customization options in preference panes for different aspects of the Macintosh operating system.

Some System Preference panes are locked for security reasons. If preference settings are all grayed out, the preference pane is locked to prevent non- administrators from making changes. Check the Lock icon at the bottom of System Preferences. If the Lock icon is locked, you need an administrator name and password to unlock it and make changes. If you log in as an administrator, the Lock icon is unlocked, unless you set a security option to have the preference panes stay locked. When you close the preference pane, it locks automatically.

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