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You can control how much padding you want between your panels, and/or decide which sections/actions you want to hide all your panels in. Panels do have additional settings like setting the width, hide while in forum, and various layouts for your blocks inside. For these panel settings, go to: "TinyPortal > Manage blocks > Panels".
Assuming the admin has given you or your membergroup permission to do so, each panel can be collapsed and ignored. This is an On-The-Fly setting on the frontpage of the site, often controlled by little images/icons located below the copyright...