Navigator's preferences are broken down into four major areas: Appearance, Navigator, Identity and Advanced. Choose Preferences from the Edit menu to view the preferences window. On the left you'll see an expandable list of categories -- click on the plus sign (Windows) or the arrow (Mac) to reveal the sub-categories. For instance, Languages and Applications settings are hidden within the Navigator menu. Let's go down the list and take a look at the various preferences panels
The "Show toolbar as" option has been around since the dark ages, and its correct setting is simply a matter of personal preference. If your screen real estate is limited, Text Only will buy you a few extra pixels of space for the web page.
The Mac version has two additional buttons: "Show ToolTips" enables the Windowseque feature of reminding you what each button does when you hover the cursor over the toolbar. The "Use Desktop Utility Pattern" checkbox is rather useless -- if checked, Netscape will use the Macintosh system utilities pattern as the background in the toolbar and status message area instead of the standard gray color. This can make the toolbar and status messages exceedingly hard to read. If you have System 7.5 or 7.6, you can set this pattern by opening the Desktop Patterns control panel, choosing a pattern, and holding down the Option key while clicking the Set Utilities Pattern button. Our crack team of Navigator hackers (OK, me fooling with it in the wee hours of the morning) couldn't make this feature work with System 8. No loss, really.
Dynamic fonts are a powerful addition in Netscape 4: they allow a site to temporarily transmit fonts to your computer, giving the webmaster precise control over the look of the page. But dynamic fonts increase the time that it takes to download pages, and although they can be pretty, funky fonts generally aren't necessary for correct display of a page. Netscape allows you to disable use of dynamic fonts if you desire.
If you like, you can take total control of the situation by specifying what fonts Netscape will use for monospace and variable-spaced text. This might prove useful if you want a uniform, easy-to-read look for all the web pages you visit, or if your eyesight requires use of large type.
Don't overlook the "Navigator Starts with" setting. Sure, you may want your home page to load each time you start the program, but there's a certain simplicity in having it start with a blank page. Even better, Navigator can resume with the last page you visited before quitting it last time -- a great way to regain your train of thought if you frequently log out on a hurry (or God forbid, crash).
The History option sets the length of time a link that you've visited will appear in the "been there, done that" color before reverting to the "hey, this is new" color (as set in the Colors panel.) Me, I set the history to 365 days (the maximum on the Mac) or 999 days (a nice big number for the Windows version). Why shouldn't the program remind you that you've been to a site, even if it was several months ago?
Of course, there's no guarantee that the languages that you specify will be available -- most web sites are written in just one language, and if that is the case, that's the one you'll see.
If you're using a Mac, there's a checkbox there, too: "Use Internet Config". The Internet Configuration System was designed to make your life easier by reducing the number of times that you need to enter your preferences into each of your Internet clients. It's worth using. You can get the latest version of Internet Config from ftp://ftp.share.com/internet-configuration/InternetConfig1.4.sit. The online documentation is at http://www.quinn.echidna.id.au/Quinn/Config/.