The Twitter settings area looks simple, but there is a lot to it that is important for controlling your Twitter experience so you get the most out of Twitter.
Let's walk through your choices one at a time:
The first tab is labeled "Account" and is where you land when you click "Account" on the pulldown menu beneath your Twitter user name.
Here are the main fields in this general Twitter settings form:
1. Name and Username
Twitter asks for your real name and also lets you select a separate "username."
It's important to give your real name and not an alias if you plan to do any business or serious social networking on Twitter. If your Twitter account will be purely for business, you can put the actual company name in the "name" field of the form instead of your personal name.
The username you choose is even more important. It is the name you will use to sign in with and will also be displayed to other Twitter users in two ways--prominently at the top of your profile page, and in the actual Web address or URL of your Twitter page.
You can have up to 15 characters in your user name. You can choose two words or a short phrase for your username, like "ShoppingMayven," but be aware the words will appear run together on your profile page. It will form your address as in "http://twitter.com/shoppingmayveyn."
Give a great deal of thought to your goals on Twitter and choose a username that reflects them. It will signal what you are about to other Twitter users encountering you for the first time, so it's important.
It's generally a good idea to use your business or personal name in your username to make your Twitter ID memorable instantly recognizable to those who know you. If the name you want is already taken, Twitter will display red text saying so after you type it in.
You can change your username later if you need to, but it's a hassle because you have to let all your followers to make sure you continue receiving their messages with your new user name new username. It's likely many of your followers will get confused.
2. Email Address
Twitter asks for an email address and mainly uses it to allow you to change your password or receive marketing messages from Twitter.
The address you give in this form is not displayed publicly, but if you don't give one of your real email addresses that you use fairly regularly, you may have trouble getting back into Twitter if you forget your password or--this can happen to anyone--your account is somehow hijacked or compromised.
There is also a checkbox for letting other people find you by your email address. This means that if they know your email, they can type it in and find you. It's a good idea to check this.
This one is easy. Choose your native language or the one in which you will be writing and reading tweets.
4. Time Zone
For recent tweets sent less than one day earlier, Twitter displays how long ago each message was sent to all the people who subscribe to your tweets or view your timeline. This time zone setting is what it uses to calculate that time.
5. Tweet Location
Some people change their tweet location to reflect their whereabouts as they move around, but most people display their home towns and leave it displayed.
Still others leave this blank so no location shows on their Twitter profile.
Check this "Add a location to your tweets" box if you want the option of displaying where you are sending tweets from. Once checked, Twitter will let you vary your location with each tweet by going back into this settings area, or leave your location constant.
6. Tweet Media
This box ("show photos and videos from everyone") lets you decide if you want to see tweets and photos from everyone on Twitter or just those people you are following.
This second-to-last item on the general settings page is very important--a checkbox that says, "Protect my tweets."
DO NOT check this if you want to enjoy the full benefits of using Twitter.
Checking this box will take your tweets private and prevent people from subscribing to your tweets unless you personally approve them.
That might seem like a good idea--it makes the Twitter experience more like Facebook. And if you want to set up a special circle of friends to tweet privately, you can all create Twitter accounts for that purpose and check this box.
But in general, you need at least one public Twitter account to get the most out of Twitter. The general idea of how most people use twitter is to share their thoughts with the world or at least anyone interested in the subjects you tweet about.
If you take your tweets privately, it will be very hard to get followers since no one except those you personally invite will be able to see your tweets.
When you have answered all the settings questions on the general settings page, click the SAVE button at the bottom.
8. HTTPS Only
This is a security checkbox that says "Always use HTTPS." It's a good idea to check it since it tells Twitter to use a secure connection whenever possible to encrypt your sign-in information during transmission to protect it from hackers.
9. Deactivate My AccountAt the very bottom of this page, beneath the big blue SAVE button, is a small link saying, "Deactivate my account." This is where Twitter hides the form you'd fill out if you wanted to deactivate your Twitter.
Twitter Account Settings Super Guide
This article offers a more up-to-date and comprehensive tutorial on your Twitter account settings.