New to Mac? Don't worry, MacFixIt is taking it back to basics, starting with System Preferences and moving throughout Apple's Mac OS X and the iLife and iWork application suites. This edition of Mac Basics sorts out the preferences you can change regarding your Mac's appearance.
Many users new to Mac (whether switching from their Windows-based PC or just new to computers in general) are unaware of some of the customizing they can do on their machine. Personally, I always go straight to the preferences section of any new application to see what I can change, enhance, or adjust. Your Mac works the same, in System Preferences. Click the Apple icon in the menu bar at the top of your screen and choose System Preferences from the drop down menu. Next, click on the Appearance preference pane.
The first section of the Appearance preference pane allows you to change the theme colors of Mac OS X. Your Mac comes with two choices--the classic blue look, or a graphite scheme. With the blue theme, you'll notice that your window buttons (in the top-left) will be the standard red, yellow, green, whereas the graphite theme changes the buttons to all be silver. You may also change the color of the highlighting in the Mac OS X menus.
The next section affects where your scroll bar arrows are placed and how the bar acts. The "Click in the scroll bar to:" option allows you to choose whether your clicks are page-down actions or placement actions. If you find that you are constantly clicking to scroll through long pages (such as Web pages or long documents), you may want to try the "Jump to the spot that's clicked" option.
Section three of the Appearance preference pane defines the number of recent items that appear in the Apple icon drop-down menu. This can be a great way to find Applications, Documents, and Servers you have recently connected to quickly.
The final section of the Appearance preference pane deals with fonts. Turning off text smoothing for fonts smaller than the selected point size may affect the way smaller print displays on your screen (depending on the fonts and the resolution of your screen).
And there you have it. Step one to setting up your Mac to be perfectly you. Keep reading MacFixIt as we explore the rest of System Preferences, take a tour of the Mac file structure (Finder), and go over the basics of many of Apple's popular applications.
There are also several applications and plug-ins available for your Mac that assist in changing the look and feel of your Mac. If you have experience using any of these programs, let us know your favorites in the comments!