Join Christopher Breen for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding the Mac desktop, part of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Essential Training.
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OK so now you know how to control things on your Mac. Now let's get an idea of exactly what's on your Mac. Now as you have started up, you see this space. There are certain elements on this space that you need to be aware of. This space is called the Desktop. The idea is that the Macintosh has a graphical user interface and the initials for that are gui. You may hear me throw that term around every so often. And the idea is that you are working in an environment that's very similar to a real live desk.
You've got your stuff on it, you can file things away on it, you can put them in piles and you can manage the material that's on your computer, and that's what the Desktop is about. It's supposed to be a virtual representation of your workspace. So on your workspace there are certain discrete elements. Up in the upper right-hand corner, you will see your Macintosh hard drive. The Macintosh hard drive is where all your data is stored. So if you create e-mail messages, if you create word processing documents, if you've got photos of your kids, all that stuff is stored somewhere on your Mac's hard drive.
I showed you earlier how to open that hard drive. Let's take a look at it. We double-click it and you notice inside are folders. These are directories, these are places where you store information. These folders, you can put folders inside folders inside folders inside folders, just as you can with a real filing cabinet. So in this Applications folder, I double-click it to open, and look. Here is another folder. I double-click that and there's more stuff inside. This is called a hierarchical filing system where you put things inside other things, and it's a way to keep organized. This hierarchy is reflected throughout the Macintosh operating systems interface. So we'll close this window by clicking the Close button and we'll look down at the bottom of the Mac's screen and here you'll find the Dock.
The Dock is a place to store applications. It will also show you applications that are running. It also has a Trash Can, and it's a place to put folders full of documents. One of the really nice things about the Dock is that it will tell you what these things are. Just take your cursor and hold it over an item and up pops a little word bubble that tells you what that thing is. So in this case here's the Trash. We're going to talk about the Trash later. This is a folder, it's actually the Downloads folder for your user account.
And then all the way across are other items and these are applications. Applications are the programs that your Macintosh runs and the most common applications are stored by default in the Mac's Dock. Again, you can mouse over them and they will tell you what they are. At the very far left of the Dock you will find an application called the Finder. Now what is the Finder? You may think, Oh it must be something that finds things on my Macintosh.
Well, that's not really true. The Finder has the ability to find things but what it really is, it's sort of the home base application for your Macintosh. When you want to do general housekeeping chores, for example you want to throw away something, and then you want to empty your Trash, you'll find the command for doing that in the Finder. Now beneath any application that's running you will see this little blue dot. Its pretty faint. It's a little hard to see some times, but if you look carefully, you will find that blue dot. That blue dot indicates that this program is open, and it's running.
Right now we only have the Finder running and the Finder runs at all times. You will always see a blue dot under the Finder. But if I had this Mail application open for example, you would see a blue dot there. Currently you don't. Now up at the top of the Macintosh screen you will find the menu bar. The menu bar is called that because it's a fairly accurate description of what it does. Let's say you walk into a restaurant. You sit down and you want something to eat. How do you order? Well you don't yell out across the room, Hey cook I would really like some green beans and lima beans please, because I have this thing about beans. I just love beans. Well, suppose you were at an Indian restaurant or a Chinese restaurant and they don't serve lima beans. You need to know what they have at the restaurant and so they give you a menu and then you can make choices. That's what the Macintosh does. It provides this menu bar and within the menu bar are commands under each menu heading.
And these commands tend to be consistent. So for example I go to the File menu. I click on it and you're going to find commands for new things. This is consistent regardless of whether you're in the Finder or you're within some kind of application. So let's say for example, I want to create a new Finder window. I take my mouse. I scroll down here. I select that. I click the mouse to let go. And I've done exactly what I've asked the Mac to do. I've created a new Finder window. I'm going to close this by clicking the Close button here.
So we have File command. This is for doing things like creating new things. You want to create a new document, for example regardless of which application you're in, it's going to create something new, a new painting, a new word processing document. The next menu in line is the Edit menu, and this is a menu you're going to find in all applications, not just the Finder. In the Edit menu you do things like Cut, Copy and Paste text or elements. You'll also find the Select All command here, so if you a lot of different elements on the screen within the application choosing Select All will cause all those elements to be highlighted or to be selected.
You'll notice that these are grayed out. There's nothing currently in the Finder that I can Cut, Copy or Paste and so they're grayed out. I can't do anything with them. If I see a black command, for example Select All, that means it's active and I can do something with it. Next in line is the View menu. Now this is usually found in other applications as well. If I had a Finder window open for example, I can view it in different ways, as Icons, List, Columns or as Cover Flow. I'm going to cover all this later. The View again. Show me how things are arranged and I want to change the way those things are arranged on the Desktop or within a certain application.
The Go menu will take you to common places on your computer within the Finder. So for example if I want to go directly to my Computer I can choose this, this Computer command or I can go to my Home folder, or I can go to the Desktop. I can get on to a Network Server, for example. I can go to my .Mac iDisk. I can go to the Applications folder. I can go to the Utilities folder. Or I can go to ecent folders that I visited earlier. If I want to be very specific about a folder I can choose Go to Folder and then I can actually enter the path name for it. That's more complicated than we want to get into now. And if I have a server that's connected to my Mac I can choose the Connect to Server command, and I can enter that server's address all or look for it over the network.
The commands in the Window menu are grayed out because there's nothing showing on the Desktop. There are no windows but were there windows I would be able to choose which window I would like to be the frontmost by choosing its name here. This Help command is, well it's very helpful. This is the way you learn about the application or the Mac OS. In the Help menu you click in the Search field. You enter some kind of query, something you want to know, and the help system will pop up and it will hopefully provide you a list of answers to your question.
So this is what the Finder menubar looks like but what if you were to launch an application. Let's see. Let's launch Safari for example. Here's Safari up. Now notice the application menu bar. Some of the commands have changed and some of them have not. So File command. Again, you have some kind of new command. I talked about that earlier. The Edit, again Copy, Cut, Paste, Select All, that's here. View, some way of viewing items within the application. But some new commands appear. And this is going to happen regardless of which application you opened.
You're going to have some consistent elements such as File, Edit and View and Window but you may have new commands up here as well. So in Safari for example we have a History menu. We also have a Bookmarks menu. But consistent, is the Help menu. Again, if you ever need help this is the way to get it. And finally on the right side of the menu bar I already showed you this icon. Here this is for the International System Preference. A very helpful icon on the very far right is Spotlight. This is the search feature that works throughout the Macintosh operating system. If you need to find a file you open Spotlight, you type in the name of the file or something that the file contains and Spotlight will attempt to find it for you. I'm going to talk about Spotlight in greater depth later in these tutorials.
- Installing and getting familiar with Leopard
- Using the Finder and getting file information
- Searching with Spotlight and creating Smart Folders
- Organizing files
- Configuring the Dock
- Choosing System Preferences
- Exploring iLife applications
- Working with Safari
- Customizing widgets
- Personalizing Mail settings
- Playing and ripping an audio CD in iTunes
- Using Disk Utility to keep the Mac healthy