Join Nick Brazzi for an in-depth discussion in this video Essential analogies for an operating system, part of Mac OS X Yosemite Essential Training.
- Mac OS X Yosemite is an operating system. An operating system is the core software on your computer. It's the platform or foundation that supports every operation on your computer. It defines the interface on your system. In a way, you can think of it as the "personality" of your computer. Operating systems like Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, all do basically the same things, but it's the interface design and layout of the controls in these operating systems that make them feel completely different from each other.
Now, even though we're talking about Mac OS X in this course, I wanna start by setting up some core analogies that will help you understand how operating systems work in general. Of course, I'll talk about some specific features of OS X as we go. When computers were first invented, a lot of software and interface elements were developed to simulate real-world objects. Think of something like Microsoft Word, which is basically an application that was originally created to do the work you might do with a typewriter. I find that it's really helpful to take a moment to acknowledge how some aspects of your computer were designed to simulate real-world objects.
Once you understand these analogies, I think you'll be much more comfortable with OS X. So, let's start by thinking about your computer as if it were your office, and in my office, the place that I usually start, is at my desk. Looking at the surface of my desk, I have a few things that I always need at arm's reach. My telephone, my pencil jar, my stapler, and probably some documents that I know I'll be working with today. The analogy to your computer here is pretty clear. The first thing that you see on your computer is your desktop.
That's the empty screen that is underneath everything else on your computer, and it's the only thing you see when you don't have any windows open. Like your real-world desktop in your office, I recommend that you keep just a few things that you need quick access to on the desktop on your computer. Maybe a few flies that you recently downloaded. Maybe a folder that you use every day. A shortcut to your hard drive is nice. But I wanna be careful about something. I think that it's important that you do not drop everything that you need directly on your desktop.
Just like your real-world desktop, it's very easy for your computer desktop to get painfully messy and cluttered to the point where you can't find anything. Besides, there's a much better system in place to take care of all that clutter, and once you make the decision to use it, you can keep things organized very easily. So, what is the system that we use to keep our files organized? Well, that's our next analogy. Here in my office, if I get too many files and documents sitting on my desk, eventually, I'm gonna wanna file away those documents that I'm not using right now.
So, I file those things away in my filing cabinet. Every single document that's important to me can be stored in this filing cabinet, and I can set up a logical order, so that any of those documents can be found quickly. So, where is the filing cabinet on your Mac? Well, that's a system known as Finder. Finder is the gateway to your hard drive. This is where you go to access the files and folders on your computer. Even if you've got five hard drives connected to your computer, you always get to them using Finder.
You can think of Finder like an application, like Microsoft Word or iTunes, but it's different from any other application because it's always running, and it's the mechanism you use to browse all of your files and folders, and even other applications. So, let's take a moment here to look at how you get to your Finder on your computer. Down here at the bottom of my screen, I've got the dock. We'll talk more about the dock later, but here in the dock there's an icon for the Finder, and if I click on that, it opens up a Finder window, and from here you could go into different folders and you can navigate through and you can find the documents that you're looking for.
I'm gonna go ahead and close this. Another way you might get to the finder is, if you've got a shortcut icon to your hard drive on your desktop. If you've got that icon, you just double-click, and it opens up a Finder window. Now, by default, this shortcut icon to your hard drive may not be on your desktop. When we get to the chapter on Finder, we're gonna talk about how to make that visible on your desktop, if it's not there already. So, that's Finder, your filing cabinet on your computer. Now, the third and final analogy that I wanna set up is something that we'll refer to as Mission Control.
To understand Mission Control, I want you to imagine that you're in charge of a business with lots of departments and lots of employees. For example, maybe you're the dockmaster at a major shipping port. As the dockmaster, you need to communicate with ship captains. You need to interface with longshoremen. You need to work with shipping companies and truck drivers. As the dockmaster, you need to work with lots of employees and contractors who'll execute each of the important jobs that need to get done at the dockyard.
As you're working with Mac OS X, I want you to think of each of the applications installed on your computer as your employees. An application is a program that runs on your computer, things like iTunes, which is the program that you might use to listen to music or watch TV shows. Or, Safari, the program that you might use to browse the Internet. Or, Microsoft Word, the program that you might use to write documents. Each of these applications is like an employee that works for you, and you have to oversee each of these employees.
You need a way to interface with them, and you need a method for helping them communicate with each other. In OS X, you have a few tools that work together to help you do this. These are the dock, which we saw a moment ago, Launchpad, which is a tool that you can use to access all the applications on your computer, and Mission Control, which is a tool that you can use to navigate between your applications that are currently running. I think the name Mission Control really communicates philosophically what we're talking about. Interfacing with the applications on your computer, and being able to easily switch between them, is what Mission Control is all about.
So, let's take a look at these three tools. Here on my computer, we saw a little bit of the dock before, that's this row down here at the bottom of my screen. If you wanna launch an application, you could just go to the icon in the dock, click on that icon, and it launches that application. So, you can see here, I've launched Safari, the web browser. I could also launch my calendar the same way. But, you'll notice, not every application on your computer is visible here in the dock, and that's one reason why we might go to Launchpad.
Now, by default, Launchpad is also in the dock, and if I click on Launchpad, I'm gonna see every application on my computer, and I can scroll through them, and if I wanna launch one of them, I just click on it here on Launchpad, and it launches that application. So, here I've launched the dictionary. Now, Mission Control is what you use when you've got a lot of applications running and you have to easily navigate between them. So, I could do things like tile out all of these open applications, and then click on the one that I want to be active.
We're gonna talk much more about this later in the course. I just wanted you to get a quick look at it to see what we're talking about. So, that sets up the dock, Launchpad, and Mission Control. Which also finishes off the analogies that I want you to keep in mind as we go through this course. You'll get plenty of opportunity to spend some time with each of these. For now, keep each these basic analogies in mind, and I think you'll be in good shape to get started. For the rest of this chapter, we'll talk about getting your Mac set up. Then, in the next few chapters, we'll dive deeper, individually, into the desktop, Finder, and Mission Control.
- Installing and running Mac OS X 10.10 for the first time
- Organizing your desktop
- Browsing file folders with Finder
- Creating, copying, moving, and renaming files and folders
- Launching and quitting applications from the Dock
- Using Dashboard Widgets and Mission Control
- Saving and searching
- Browsing the web with Safari
- Communicating with iMessage and FaceTime
- Using iTunes, QuickTime, and Maps
- Installing applications from the App Store
- Sharing over a network
- Backing up and restoring Mac OS X 10.10