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Gnome is highly configurable — you can change almost anything: background color, key bindings, location of panels and contents of the Main Menu, and more. Most of these changes are done using Gnome Control Center, which can be found in Settings submenu of the Main Menu; this menu also allows you to access a specific section of the Gnome Control Center. The Control Center has its own detailed documentation which you should consult before making any changes.
Here we would like to give just an overview of the most commonly used options of the Gnome Control Center.
In addition, you can change properties of various items — most notably, panels and icons on your desktop — by clicking on them with the right mouse button and selecting Properties from the pop-up menu. In this way, you can change the caption of an icon, size and background color (or even background image) of the Panel, and much more.
Almost every Gnome application has its own preferences settings (look for Preferences or Settings in the menus), so you can change, for example, colors used by the Gnome Terminal or make it transparent — the possibilities are unlimited!