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Understanding the operating system

From: Computer Literacy for the Mac

Video: Understanding the operating system

You've probably heard the term 'operating system' before, but you might not be exactly sure what it means. Essentially, your computer's operating system is the software that manages how you interact with the computer, how the programs on the computer use and access the computer's hardware, and it's a big part of how your computer behaves and performs. You can think of the operating system as the master program that runs and manages all the other programs on your computer. It's the backbone of your computer, and it's the most important program because it controls everything that goes in and out of your computer, from allocating memory to programs, to copying files from one drive to another, to receiving commands from your keyboard and mouse, to telling you the time of day.

Understanding the operating system

You've probably heard the term 'operating system' before, but you might not be exactly sure what it means. Essentially, your computer's operating system is the software that manages how you interact with the computer, how the programs on the computer use and access the computer's hardware, and it's a big part of how your computer behaves and performs. You can think of the operating system as the master program that runs and manages all the other programs on your computer. It's the backbone of your computer, and it's the most important program because it controls everything that goes in and out of your computer, from allocating memory to programs, to copying files from one drive to another, to receiving commands from your keyboard and mouse, to telling you the time of day.

You can't have a computer without an operating system. Usually, the operating system comes pre-installed in your computer, but if you've had your computer for a few years, you may want or need to upgrade your operating system to the most current version the operating system's manufacturer has released. Now, that said, there are many different operating systems out there. On PCs, the most popular operating system is Windows, and as I record this movie, the current version of the Windows operating system is Windows 7. On a Mac, the operating system is called Mac OS X, with the current version being OS 10.6, Snow Leopard.

These are probably the two most well-known operating systems. You've probably also heard of Linux, another popular computer operating system, but generally, any computer or device that runs programs, especially multiple programs, has an operating system. Game consoles, like the Wii, PS3, and Xbox, all have operating systems. Your mobile phone has an operating system. Now, in addition to the essential purpose of managing your computer and the programs you use, most operating systems, like Windows and Mac OS X, also come with built-in programs also called applications. So applications are also called apps, programs, or software.

Now, these can be simple word processing applications, applications for managing your photos, applications for sending and receiving e-mail, and so on. In some cases, you can get by with the applications included with your operating system - for example, both Windows and Mac OS X come with built-in web browsing application for surfing the web - but you are also free to install and use applications made by other companies. Some applications can be downloaded for free from the companies that make them; others have to be purchased. It really depends on what application you are talking about. It's also very important to note that you usually have to make sure you are downloading or purchasing the version of software that's made for your operating system.

For example, if you are using Windows, you need to run Windows applications; if you are on a Mac, you need to run Mac applications. In many cases, software developers release both versions of their software, but there are many applications that only work with one or the other. Whether you are downloading software or purchasing at a store, you should always be able to find a section called system requirements that will let you know what operating system you need to run the software, as well the minimum amount of RAM, hard drive space, and any other requirements you might need to run the software. You are going to find that some people are very particular and passionate about their choice of operating system.

The goal of this course is not to extol the virtues of one or the other, though. If you want to know more about the specifics of a Windows or Mac operating system, you can check out the courses covering those operating systems on the lynda.com Online Training Library. What I want to do here is to make sure you understand what an operating system is, what it does, and why it's important to know which operating system you are using.

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This video is part of

Image for Computer Literacy for the Mac
Computer Literacy for the Mac

55 video lessons · 23755 viewers

Garrick Chow
Author

 
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  1. 2m 49s
    1. Welcome
      1m 9s
    2. Using the assessment files
      1m 7s
    3. Using the exercise files
      33s
  2. 9m 51s
    1. What's a computer?
      1m 49s
    2. What's inside a computer?
      2m 46s
    3. Laptop vs. desktop computers
      1m 59s
    4. Special considerations when using a laptop
      3m 17s
  3. 20m 58s
    1. Understanding the operating system
      3m 3s
    2. Understanding files, folders, and directories
      4m 49s
    3. Understanding your home folder (your user folder)
      5m 21s
    4. Using your desktop
      3m 11s
    5. Taking out the trash (recycle bin)
      2m 21s
    6. The right click
      2m 13s
  4. 24m 8s
    1. Understanding applications
      4m 24s
    2. Opening and saving files
      4m 10s
    3. Choosing the right tool
      4m 44s
    4. How to learn any application
      3m 53s
    5. Five things that work in all applications
      6m 57s
  5. 36m 22s
    1. Understanding computer ports
      2m 59s
    2. Setting up a printer
      3m 7s
    3. Printing your documents
      4m 30s
    4. Setting up a scanner
      2m 27s
    5. Scanning a document
      6m 15s
    6. Setting up a projector or second monitor
      5m 56s
    7. Using a projector
      3m 43s
    8. Portable storage devices
      3m 53s
    9. Pairing with Bluetooth devices
      3m 32s
  6. 17m 27s
    1. Understanding networks and internet access
      2m 58s
    2. Connecting to wired network
      2m 36s
    3. Connecting to wireless networks
      4m 4s
    4. Working in a networked environment
      6m 15s
    5. Staying protected from viruses
      1m 34s
  7. 19m 31s
    1. Understanding email servers and clients
      2m 11s
    2. Setting up your email application
      4m 15s
    3. Receiving and reading email
      2m 21s
    4. Composing new email messages
      5m 52s
    5. Reply vs. Reply All
      2m 11s
    6. Dealing with spam
      2m 41s
  8. 8m 24s
    1. Understanding search engines
      1m 24s
    2. Conducting basic searches
      3m 51s
    3. Conducting advanced searches
      3m 9s
  9. 24m 21s
    1. Using word processors
      4m 22s
    2. Formatting text
      7m 7s
    3. Using spreadsheets
      3m 36s
    4. Creating a simple data table
      7m 37s
    5. Formatting a data table
      1m 39s
  10. 18m 53s
    1. Importing images from a digital camera
      4m 46s
    2. Storing and organizing digital images
      5m 11s
    3. Basic image manipulation
      4m 10s
    4. Tagging images
      2m 32s
    5. Sharing images
      2m 14s
  11. 10m 52s
    1. Common obstacles in sharing files
      1m 37s
    2. Creating PDFs for document sharing
      5m 35s
    3. Compressing files
      3m 40s
  12. 1m 3s
    1. What's next?
      1m 3s

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