The System Preferences window

The System Preferences utility (in /Applications/Utilities, or accessible from the Apple Menu) is where you access many of Mac OS X's settings, as well as third-party preference panes (highlighted in yellow below). The stock Mac OS X panes are divided into four categories:

  1. Personal: Settings that apply mainly to your own account.
  2. Hardware: Settings for your Mac's hardware and input devices.
  3. Internet & Wireless: Settings for your Internet and network connections, Bluetooth devices, and file-sharing and remote-access services.
  4. System: These settings are mainly system-level preferences that require an administrator account to change.

Click any pane to access its settings. If you're not sure where a particular setting resides, you can use the search field.

The System Preferences window

Finder Preferences

Most settings related to the Finder can be found in the Finder's own preferences window (accessible by switching to the Finder and choosing Finder -> Preferences...).

Finder Preferences