Join Christopher Breen for an in-depth discussion in this video Configuring basic personal preferences, part of Mac OS X Lion Essential Training.
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And now it's time to delve in the system preferences, specifically those for configuring the look and feel of the Mac's interface. I am going to start with General. So we are going to System Preferences and we'll click on the General system preference. First thing you can do is change a couple of the colors. When you click on the menu bar, you'll notice that the top of the menu is blue. You can change that if you like. You can change that to Graphite. Click up here, and we've got gray menu, plus notice the buttons here have changed color as well.
We'll go back to blue. You can also change the highlight color of text. By default it's blue, but you can change that to gold, which is really yellow. Red, orange, green, purple or tutti frutti. When we first set up our Mac we changed the way the scroll bars work. As a reminder if you choose Automatically based on input device. If you use a mouse that's plugged into your Mac, the scroll bars will appear at all times. If you use a trackpad, they will appear only when you're scrolling.
I like to see scroll bars all times, so I'll leave the Always option enabled. Now when you click in the scroll bar a couple of things can happen. By default if you click in the scroll bar it will jump to the next page. However, you can also choose to jump to the spot that's clicked. So if you have a long scroll bar, you can click way down the scroll bar and the thumb of the scroll bar will move all the way down to where you've clicked. So you can more easily move to the end of a document, if you like. The Use smooth scrolling option means exactly what it says, and what that is, is when you drag on a thumb with this option on, the scrolling will be very smooth.
The page will move very smoothly. If you turn this off you may be able to scroll more quickly, but the look will be a little jumpier. You could also double-click a window's title bar to minimize. Let me turn that on to show what that looks like. Double-click and down it goes minimized into the dock. And bring it back. I am going to turn that off for now. You can change the size of the Finder sidebar icons. Currently, they're set to Medium, but you can make them Small or you can make them Large, and back to Medium.
Also, within the Apple menu you will find a Recent items command. Here you will find a list of items. So, Applications, Documents, and Servers. By default you will see up to 10 of these items, but you can change that so you see none at all or up to 50. Same settings for all of these. We touched on this in another movie, but I will remind you what this means. Restore windows when quitting and re-opening apps. So if I have launched TextEdit for example and I have five windows open, when I quit TextEdit and then relaunch it, those windows will appear again. And then there's Use LCD font smoothing when available.
This makes your fonts look a little crisper and nicer when it's on. It's worth keeping on. Now let's look at Desktop & Screensaver. Now there are a couple of ways that we can get there. We could of course click Show All and then choose it here, but you could also go to the View menu and choose your Preference from there, which we've done. This is a desktop that we are using, this blue color, but you can change that as well. There are desktop pictures that come with a Mac. Some of them are very pretty, but you can add your own and a way to do that is click the plus button and then navigate to the pictures that you want to find.
So in this case I'm in my Documents folder. I've created this folder called Pretty Pictures. Here are the images and here's the preview of this image. So I can choose that and that becomes my desktop pattern. I will go back to my solid color and now let's take a look at Screensaver. There are a number of screensaver options offered with the Mac. Here is Arabesque. Click Test and ooh, isn't that pretty? There are some other pretty ones too.
Flurry is another popular one. So what's the point of these things? Well, back in the old days when we were using CRT monitors, those big tube monitors like TVs, there was something called screen burn-in. If you left your computer on for a long time and it was showing the same thing, eventually that image would burn into the screen. Particularly you'd see things like menu bars that were burned in. This isn't really a problem with the kind of monitors we have today. So why do we have these? For one, they're nice to look at, but also it's part of a security setting.
You can for example turn on your screensaver, walk away from your computer, and set a setting so that when you come back you cannot restore your computer to its regular desktop until you enter a password. So if you're working somewhere where you have a Mac and there are a lot of other people around and you don't want them to see your work, just kick in the screensaver and then they won't be able to see your stuff without being able to enter your password. And we'll cover that later when we talk about security. One other screensaver worth looking at is RSS Visualizer.
Now RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and essentially it is the headlines from various websites. Currently, it's got it set up so it's showing you Apple's Hot News and it looks like this. I will click Test. Here is Apple's site, and then you'll see headlines for that day appear on the screen. Hmm, Creating Media-Savvy Journals with Mac, I should look into that. And we'll get out of that. Now you'll see that the Hot Corners button appears here.
This appears in a couple of other places, and this is what it does. You click on it and then you can choose things to happen when you put your cursor in a corner. So for example, Start Screen Saver. I drag my cursor down to left bottom, and here's the screensaver. To make it stop, I does drag my cursor out. So there are lots of options here. You can disable the screensaver, you can kick in Mission Control, you can share application windows, Desktop, Dashboard, Launchpad, and you can put the display to sleep.
I'll leave this off most of the time, and for new Mac users, it's not a bad idea to leave that off, because oftentimes we are sitting at a computer, we are not paying attention, and oh, look I've just dragged my cursor to the corner and something happens. This can be confusing for some people, because, well, I don't know what happened. Why did that start? Well, it's because a Hot Corner has been set. So if you know what you're doing, if you really want something to happen when you drag your cursor to a corner, fine, turn that on. But for a lot of people it's really not worth it. And we click OK to get out of there.
Now let's take a look at dock settings. I am going to invoke this again by going to the View menu and choosing Dock. Now one thing we set up when I originally set up this computer is to turn Dock Hiding on. I am going to turn it off now so that we can see the dock and see what I'm doing here. The first thing you can do is change the Size of the dock, and you use this Size slider to do that. So I can make it as big as that and I can reduce its size so it's really, really tiny. I'll put it back to its medium size.
One reason to use this slider is because you don't really want this dock getting in your way taking up a lot of real estate where you could be putting some other stuff. Now note that when you put more things in the dock, the dock is going to get bigger to accommodate those things. So let's say I've got it on to Large. Now you see it's taking up pretty much the entire bottom of the screen. As I add more items to it, the icons in the dock will get smaller to accommodate the items that I put into it. I'll put it back to a reasonable size there.
You also have a Magnification setting. Turn that on and I will show you what that effect is. As you drag your cursor across the dock, the icons get bigger as your cursor passes over them. I'll make this really extreme here. Really big. So this is just a visual cue to see what your cursor is over so that you can more easily launch these applications. I will now turn Magnification off. You can also show the dock in three positions.
By default it's at the bottom, and when it's at the bottom it's in 3D. Click Left and it appears on the left side of the screen, but it becomes a two-dimensional dock. So it appears flat. On the right it's the same idea, 2D on the right. It's up to you where you want to put it. I really find it convenient to keep it on the bottom, but some people I know put on the left or they put on the right. Then there's the effect that occurs when you minimize a window. So by default we have Genie effect. I am going to show you how this works in slow motion.
So I'll hold down the Shift key and click on the Minimize button, and it gets sucked down into the dock, and that's called the Genie effect. I'll bring it back in real time. There's one other effect. It's called the Scale effect. I'll do this in slow motion. So again hold down Shift key, minimize, and you see it doesn't get sucked out, but rather the rectangle is reduced proportionally. Back to Genie, back to the desktop.
This option, Minimize windows into application icon, changes the way application windows are put into the dock. Let me open TextEdit to show you how that works. I have a TextEdit document. By default when I minimize it, it occupies the right side of the dock. However, if I turn on Minimize windows into application icon and minimize it, it goes into the application icon itself.
Well, how do I find that document if I want it? All I have to do is click and there it is. Here is my test file. I choose it and it comes out of the dock. I'll put it back to its default setting which is off. You can animate opening applications, so that you get a little bounce in the dock. You get things swooping around. That's the default. If you have a recent Mac, go ahead and leave this on. It really doesn't take up much processing power and it doesn't slow down your Mac. So it's a perfectly fine thing to leave on.
In a bit I am going to re-enable the Automatically hide and show Dock, so that the dock will disappear when I want it to. The last option is to Show indicator lights for opening applications. Live applications, the ones that are currently running, have a little blue dot underneath them. So the Finder is active and we can see that System Preferences is also active. If I turn that off, those blue dots disappear. So you can't see what's currently running. I am not sure why you'd want to turn that option off, but some people may choose to.
In my case, I am going to turn it back on. So let's clean things up. I am going to automatically hide my dock as I originally did it. Close this Finder window and quit System Preferences. And there's your look at configuring general system preferences.
- Migrating to Lion
- Launching and working with applications
- Organizing workspaces with Mission Control
- Using Text-to-Speech
- Searching with Spotlight
- Backing up with Time Machine
- Configuring wireless Bluetooth input devices
- Staying current with Software Update
- Understanding the Dashboard widgets
- Filtering junk mail and sorting messages with rules in Mail
- Playing and recording media with QuickTime
- Video chatting with FaceTime
- Monitoring system performance
- Formatting, partitioning, and repairing storage devices
- Screen sharing with a remote computer
- Optimizing Security & Privacy settings
- Troubleshooting techniques