Operating system settings

Computers usually work as you expect them to, but when you use a public computer, for example, you often find that the previous user has left the computer’s settings out of order. You should also know how to adjust the settings on a newly installed operating system to suit your preferences. This is why it is important to have the skills necessary to change the basic settings. The topics covered in this section include the following:

  • Date and time settings
  • Region and language settings
  • Display settings
  • Volume control

Managing the operating system’s settings

Most of the settings on a computer are managed via the operating system’s control panel. The following examples are from the settings of the Windows 10 operating system, which can be accessed by clicking Start followed by Settings. This will display a window that allows you to change the necessary settings.

*In the macOS operating system, settings can be accessed by clicking on System Preferences in the Apple menu.
*In Ubuntu, the settings are found by clicking on the System Preferences cog icon displayed in the row of icons on the left.

In the operating system control panel shown below, the functions are listed by topic, and the most commonly used function for each area are shown under the headings. Click the heading row to display more functions and settings related to the topic. The settings you can access include the following:

  • Network settings (Network & Internet, including wireless and wired local networks)
  • Display settings (under Personalization)
  • Time & language settings
  • Applications (Apps, allows you to add and remove applications)
  • Software updates and information security (Update & security)

Time and language settings

Maintaining the correct date and time settings is important for the computer to work properly. If these settings are wrong, you may experience problems such as accidentally replacing a newer file with an older version.

You can also change the regional settings of the operating system and applications, such as the units of measurement and currencies, as well as the date and time format. You can also change the operating system language, for example from Finnish to English.

Display settings

The computer’s display settings determine how the picture is displayed. Depending on the settings, the quality can range from excellent to very poor. As a previous user may have left incorrect display settings on a computer (for example, the wrong resolution can result in the display not looking as sharp as it should), it is important for you to know how to change the display settings to suit your needs.

You can access the display settings on Windows by clicking Settings and then Personalization. This launches a window that allows you to change background colours and the wallpaper, as well as the display resolution and text size (this is particularly useful is the menu and toolbar texts in the operating system and applications are too small for you).

All displays have a native resolution at which they look best. The typical resolution for today’s desktop monitors and laptop computers is FullHD, or 1920×1080. To find out the native resolution of your display, please refer to its operating manual.

You can change the display resolution by moving the Resolution slider to your desired setting. The larger the number, the higher the resolution, which also makes elements appear smaller on the display (also note that various applications have independent zoom functions that are separate from your display resolution setting).

Volume control

The easiest way to change the volume settings of your computer is to click the speaker icon on the right of the task bar with your primary mouse button and then select Mixer. Your computer’s keyboard will often also include shortcut keys for controlling the volume and muting the sound.

In most cases, it is recommended that you set the volume near the middle of the range. When using headphones, for example, this allows you to hear the sounds without compromising sound quality. Also note the Mute checkboxes below the volume sliders. If you tick one of these boxes, the computer will completely mute the audio source in question.