System Preferences in Leopard (E -K)

By Graham K. Rogers

Alphabetical System Preferences

This week I continue an overview of the System preferences in OS X Leopard. I am examining these in alphabetical order: we now come to the group, E - K .

The Energy Saver panel is to control sleep, displays and the hard disk. It has two parts: Sleep and Options. "Options" reveals check-boxes for administration purposes: for example "Wake for Ethernet access", or restart on power. This also controls the menubar icon.

Energy Preferences

With notebook computers "Sleep" has settings for Power Adapter and Battery. While Apple has defaults for both, users may want to adjust these for specific conditions. An Optimization button reads, "Custom." Slider-bars control changes to the time before the computer or the display sleeps. Times are between zero and three hours, plus Never.

The display slider works in conjunction with Screensaver preference. If the display is set to sleep before the screen saver is due to activate, a text warning appears. A button (bottom right of the "Sleep" panel) marked Schedule, opens a panel to set times for the computer to start or wake automatically, plus shut down, sleep or restart.

Expose Preferences

Exposé is now coupled with the new feature, Spaces, in a two-section panel. Exposé (which has the French acute angle over the e) controls how the mouse can be used to input additional commands. At top is Hot Corners: specific actions may be chosen when the mouse is moved to a corner of the screen. There are eight actions (plus nothing): the three Exposé commands, Dashboard (widgets), Spaces, screensaver actions and display sleep.

When I leave the computer I move the mouse to the bottom right corner and the screensaver comes on. This is linked to a Security feature requiring a password, so the computer is more secure.

Control for Exposé itself is in the panel centre. This works in three ways: showing all open windows (thumbnails); highlighting the current application; and clearing the window, allowing unobstructed access to the desktop.

Default keys are F9, F10 and F11. Buttons allow from a selection of over 20 keys. These may be supplemented by other keys (e.g. Shift). Below is the key for control of Dashboard: access to widgets. The default is F12, but this may be changed to any Function key. Notebook computers may also need these keys to be used with the Fn key (bottom left).

Spaces Preferences

Spaces is new for Apple but was first developed by Xerox and is used in some Linux installations where (I am told) up to 32 windows may be used. By default, Spaces is off in Leopard, but a check box in the preference panel activates it. The default has 4 desktops (2 x 2) which may be increased to 16 (4 x 4).


The panel allows control of this feature: by an icon in the menubar or the use of Hotkeys. Activation is via the F8 key which may be changed to any other key (and supplemented). There are also keys to switch between spaces, or directly to a space. An application can be assigned to a space in this panel. Applications can also be dragged from one space to another using the full Spaces screen or by moving the application to the edge of the screen.

International Preferences

The International menu controls the use of languages as well as other settings for those who are not in the US. It is in three parts: Language, Formats and Input Menu.

By default Thai is not one of the selected languages and this needs to be added by first clicking on the Edit List button, then checking the box next to the Pasa Thai item, which is initially close to the bottom, along with Persian, Nepali, Dzongkha and others: 128 in total. The main language panel allows sorting order to be specified and the way line breaks are made when text is displayed.

Formats gives one access to the way information is displayed, for example in messages and documents. If one selects Thai, Thai characters are displayed for the day and month. I choose Custom, although I do select the default currency as "Thai Baht". Other settings here adjust the way numbers are displayed (decimal point or comma) and the measurement system (metric).

The Input Menu allows selection of specific keyboards and if any keyboard is activated a menubar icon can be added for easy switching. The US flag is default as Apple is from Cupertino, but this may be changed. There are over 140 keyboards to choose from (including several Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese), right down to Welsh.

Near the bottom of the panel is the current key combination for fast switching between keyboards (I use the command key plus the space bar), but there is a button for access to all Keyboard Shortcuts so that this may be changed to suit the user.

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