Installing from a pre-built package is faster than installing ports but the trade-off is that you don't get to configure the package the way that you would like to: you must take the package as the person who made the package compiled it.
It's a fairly straightfoward affair, you just need to use the pkg_add command, and if you don't have the .tbz package already on your system (which you likely won't,) use the -r switch to get the package remotely:
%pwd /usr/home/dave %su -m Password: %pwd /usr/home/dave %pkg_add -r xmotd Fetching ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/i386/packages-5.3-release/Latest/xmotd.tbz... Done. %
You can create a script to install common packages so that you get them all in one go, if you like.
Other Package FTP sties
The following list can be used if you cannot find the package using 'pkg_add -r <package name>'.
To install a package using this site simple type the following:
# pkg_add -K ftp://ftp.riken.go.jp/pub/FreeBSD/ports/i386/packages-6.2-release/editors/openoffice.org-2.0.4.tbz
The -K is optional, it tells pkg_add to keep the files which maybe useful if you have more than one machine as you could just copy all the tbz files to the next machine and do it locally with command:
# pkg_add openoffice.org-2.0.4.tbz
Don't bother downloading the package and doing it locally as you will spend most of your life manually downloading the dependancies.