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Applications are the programs your computer runs, and in which you'll spend most of your time when you're on your computer. Generally, an application is any piece of software used to accomplish a task, whether that task is writing a paper, composing music, printing a digital photo, playing a video game, browsing the web, or checking your e-mail. There are countless applications for countless purposes. Some applications come pre-installed on your Mac, like the web browser Safari, the music management software iTunes, or the calendar app iCal. You acquire other applications either by purchasing them on an installation disc at a traditional store, or more and more these days, you can buy and download applications over the web from software companies' web sites.
Once you have purchased your applications from a store, or downloaded them from the Internet, you'll follow instructions to install the software on your Mac. Unless you choose to install your applications in a different location for some reason, the applications you install should all end up in your Applications folder by default, which you can get to by choosing the Go menu in the Finder and choosing Applications. You can also press the Shift+Command+ 8 to get to Applications, but I'll just select it from the menu in this case. So you can see I've quite a few applications installed on Mac. To run an application, just double-click its icon.
So in this case, iTunes is now running. I can tell it's running because I can see its name in the upper left-hand corner of the Menu bar, and I see this little dot under its icon in the Dock. On Macs, all running applications appear in the Dock, making it easy for you to switch among multiple applications. So for instance, I could have iTunes running, but if I come over here and click on TextEdit, that will open up, and I can switch back and forth between the two. So while you can have multiple applications running simultaneously, in order to actively use any particular application, it has to be the frontmost, or active application.
When you click an Applications icon, you bring it to the front of all the applications. When you see its name in the Menu bar, you know it's the active application. Now for the most part, Mac OS X is very good at managing multiple, running applications at once. But if you're done working in a particular application, you might just want to quit it so it's no longer running and taking up any attention from your computer. In just about all applications, you can click the application's name and then choose to quit it. In this case, quit iTunes. You can also press Command+Q. Or in the case of TextEdit here, I'd choose TextEdit > Quit TextEdit.
Now, if you find to use some applications more than others - and that's going to be the case for anyone - it's convenient to add those application icons to your Dock for quick access, so you don't have to open your Applications folder every time you want to run the application. Just drag the Application icon anywhere to the left side of the dividing line in Dock. I pointed out in a previous chapter that applications go to the left of that divider line and folders go the right. Notice the other icons in the Dock making room for the one I'm dragging in. When I release, it's been added to the Dock. Now whenever I want to run this application, I just click its icon.
So even if I have my Applications folder closed, I can run iTunes now by clicking its icon. It immediately launches, and I can start using the application as soon as it completely starts up. I'm going to go ahead and quit that again. Now I also suggest adding your entire Application folder to the Dock. To do so, first open the Applications folder, then click the little folder icon at the top of the window, next to the name Applications. The trick is to hold down your mouse button without moving the mouse for just the split second you'll need until you see the folder icon turned dark.
Then you can drag that Folder icon to the right side of your Dock. So again, I'll close the Applications window, and now when I click on the Applications folder in my Dock, I have an immediate access to all of my applications without having to hunt down and open my Applications folder. Now one thing I like to do - you'll notice at this Application folder icon looks a little bit different than the other folder icons here. I'm going to right-click on Applications. Again, if you don't have a two-button mouse, or don't have right-click enable, you can hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard and click the folder.
You can see that it opens up a menu. I'm going to choose to display this as a Folder. That way it looks like the rest of the folders down here in my Dock. I can still click on it and see the exact same list of my Applications. Now, because I have a lot of applications, I do have to scroll through this list. So another option I would like to enable, by right-clicking the Applications folder again, is to choose the view the content of this folder as a List. So now when I click on the folder, I see a scrolling list, and for me, it's much easier to see all of my applications in alphabetical order, like this. But that's just a personal preference, and you can choose to view the Applications folder any way you like.
So, there is your primer on what applications are, where to find them, and a couple of tips for being more efficient when it comes to locating and running them.
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