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In this course, Macworld senior editor Christopher Breen provides a comprehensive overview of Mac OS X Lion, complete with insider tips for getting the most out of the operating system. The course shows how to configure system preferences, personalize the interface, and master gestures, as well as achieve fluency with applications such as Mail, iCal, and Preview. The course also includes tutorials on browsing the web with Safari, automating complex tasks with Automator, sharing over a network, and performing maintenance operations using the disk utility, along with timesaving techniques for using the Mac efficiently.
As you watch this course, you may be thinking, hey, my Desktop doesn't look like that! What's the deal? The deal is that I've customized this Mac's interface to better suit the way I'd like to work. The Mac offers plenty of ways to customize its interface, some which may suit me better than you. Let's look at some of those ways by working through the changes I make when configuring a new Mac OS installation. Now first thing, I find that this desktop is a little bit too busy, so what I'm going to do is right-click on the desktop. Now if you have a single button mouse, the way you can do this is press the Control key and then click and you get this contextual menu.
I'm going to choose Change Desktop Background. I'll go to Solid Colors and I'm going to check this second blue here. Ah, much calmer. Now you notice the menu bar, it's kind of light blue and the reason is because it's translucent. The background is shining through. I preferred the standard menu bar, which is kind of this gray color. I find it easier to read, so I turn that off. I'll click Show All in System Preferences and now let's go to Trackpad and Scroll & Zoom.
Notice this first option, Scroll direction: natural. Now if you have an iOS device like an iPad or an iPod touch or an iPhone, this scrolling direction is going to look natural to you because that's the way it works on iOS devices. However, this is a change for the Mac OS. This works in the opposite direction than it used to work. Now you may be perfectly happy trying this-- and you really should. it's worth trying it if you have a trackpad to see how you like it. If you don't care for it you can turn it off as I'm going to right now.
You'll notice that the illustration on the right changes to reflect the way it's going to work. So again, give it a shot. If you like it, great; if you don't you can turn it off. Now go back to Show All and while we're talking about scrolling, let's go to the mouse. Point & Click and again notice that you have the option to enable or disable the natural scrolling. Again, the illustration to the right shows you how that's done. Again, I'm going to leave it unchecked.
Show All. Let's go to the General System Preference, and for this, I'm going to launch Safari. Now here's my Safari page. Watch the right side of this page as I scroll. As I scroll, the scrollbar appears and you see this gray thumb within the scrollbar. I stop scrolling and it disappears. Now this is the option that's used when you're using a trackpad. I'll go back to System Preferences and here in General, it says Show scroll bars.
The default option is automatically based on the input device and what I've just shown you, is the default for that input device which is a trackpad. So when you're scrolling on a trackpad, you will see the scrollbars as long as you are scrolling and then they'll disappear. If you're using a mouse, however, you'll always see the scrollbars. Now I'm an old-time Mac user and I prefer to see the scrollbars all the time and all I have to do to make that happen is to select Always. We'll go back to Safari and you see here's the scrollbar, I can drag it, I can stop dragging, and it's still there. And quit Safari.
Now let's look at configuring the Finder windows. Here's a new Finder window. Now one thing you're going to notice is if you're an old-time Mac user that your User folder is no longer here. Now your User folder is where Mac OS X stores all your stuff. So your movies, your music, your pictures are going to be found in your User folder. So how you do bring that back? Go to Finder > Preferences > Sidebar, and then you can choose to enable your User folder.
So you do that and here's my User folder. I select it and now I can see all the stuff that's stored within my user folder. Go back to Finder Preferences. Now let's click General. One another thing I like to do is to be able to see the hard drives that are connected to my Mac, because sometimes I'd like to navigate that way. Enable hard drives and here is the hard drive for my Macintosh. I'm going to create a new Finder window and notice that it opens by default to all my files.
This is an okay way to view your files, unless you have a ton of files, in which case it's not really all that helpful. So in this case, I'm going to change the behavior of new Finder windows so that they always show my Home folder. I'll show you how this works. Again, we'll close this Finder window, open a new one, and there are the contents of my Home folder because I've configured the Finder to show it that way. Now let's take a look at the dock. Here in the dock, we see two things that are called stacks.
This is the Documents stack and this is the Downloads stack. Essentially what these are, are folders and within them are documents. So I'll click and hold on that. In the Documents folder, it's showing me something called Grid View. When a folder in the dock has a lot of files in it, they appear in Grid View. This is great when you've got maybe 10 to 20 files, but let's say you have 150. This isn't such a great view. When you choose instead Downloads, it's going to show then to me and something called a fan, and so you have five or six folders, so you get a fan out this way.
This is not a view that I prefer. Instead what I prefer is a folder that's viewed in List View. So I right-click on this, I choose Folder and now it looks like a folder. I'll do the same thing for the other one, and now I change the view. Right-click and choose List. So to view its contents, all you have to do is click on it and here you see the contents, presented in List View, and then I can simply select one of these things and it launches in the host application, Preview.
One last thing with a dock, I find it takes up a little more room on my screen than I care for. So I go to the Apple menu, I choose Dock and Turn Hiding On, and then it disappears. But I need my dock. No problem! Take your cursor down to the bottom, there is the dock, do what you need to do with it, and when you're finished, out goes the cursor and the dock disappears. I'm going to change one more sitting in Finder windows. If you're an old-time Mac user, notice at the bottom of the window there doesn't seem to be too much there.
That's because it's missing something that used to be there by default. Choose View > Show Status Bar. The status bar shows you how many items are in a window, plus it shows you the amount of hard drive space available to you. I find this really helpful because I tend to put a lot of stuff on my hard drive and I like to know when I'm running out of space. Having the status bar there helps me find out. I'll close that. Again, you're not required to perform any of these tweaks. These are simply the things I do to make a Mac more useful for me.
At the very least, you now know how to get some of these settings. Try the ones that make sense to you.
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