Intro to Mac OS X – Part I
With holiday marketing in full swing, you may have finally given into Apple’s seemingly incessant marketing campaign and purchased your first Apple computer. After getting your computer home, taking it out of the box, and guiding yourself through a simple set-up process, you arrive at a home screen that is completely alien. All of a sudden you feel homesick. You long for the comfort and familiarity of Windows 7 Windows XP. Do not fret, however. With a small amount of time you will feel right at home with your new Mac and you may never go back.
The first thing you will notice on your Mac is the home screen. A Mac’s calling card is its simplicity and aesthetic appeal.
Let’s break down the important aspects of this screenshot. The first thing that will catch your eye is what Apple calls the “Dock.”
This will be the home to all of the important applications that you want quick access too. Adding or removing icons from the Dock is simple. All you have to do to add an application is to drag the desired application from the Applications folder in finder to the Dock.
To remove an application from the Dock, two-finger click (right-click) on the application you would like to remove. Then, click Options>Remove from Dock.
The Menu Bar
Now, let’s take a look at the menu bar. The menu bar essentially breaks down into a left side and a right side. On the left side, you will notice the “Apple” menu: its essential functions include sleep, restart, shut down, and force quit.
The remaining part of the left-hand side of the menu bar is used to provide you the menu options for whatever application you have open. This will be the most confusing aspect of the menu bar for users who are new to Mac OS.
Notice how the only constant on the left-hand side of the menu bar is the Apple menu. These options will always change based on whatever window you have clicked on last. You may have several windows open at one time so getting used to these menu features may take some time to get used to.
The right side of the menu bar will contain several icons that are “locked in” to provide quick access. You will notice options for date/time, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, as well as any other applications you have allowed to appear on the menu bar. Not all applications will have this option so they will not automatically appear on this part of the menu.
Mac OS’s version of “My Computer” is finder. This is where you will go to manage your files into folders and how you will browse your Mac to find your files. You will find the icon for Finder located on the Dock.
After opening Finder, you will notice that it is separated into two categories, Favorites and Devices. The Favorites category contains links to folders on the Mac. You may add or remove folders by clicking and dragging. The Devices category shows you anything that you have connected to your Mac. This includes internal hard drives, external hard drives, USB drives, Optical drives, etc. This will be the feature that reminds new Mac users of a PC’s “My Computer” option. The navigation is very similar.
There are two things to notice about this Finder window. The two bars, one being document location and the other being drive status, are turned off by default. I like having these things open as they provide valuable information about my documents and machine. Clicking on the “View” option on the menu bar and then clicking “Show Path Bar” and “Show Status Bar” easily turn them on.
Useful Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts make our lives easier. Here are a few that will make your Mac experience even more enjoyable.
Command + Tab: This shortcut will pull up a menu of applications that you currently have running. This may be useful when you have several applications and windows open and you want to quickly navigate to one. Continue hitting Tab until you get to the application you need, and then release.
Command + Q: This shortcut allows you to quickly quit an application.
Command + Space: This shortcut instantly allows you to instantly switch from whatever application you are in to Mac’s Spotlight Search. Spotlight Search allows you to search for documents, files, etc., as well as solve math calculations and launch applications by simply pressing Enter with the application you wish to open selected.
Command + Shift + 3: This shortcut allows you to take a screenshot of the entire desktop and save it as a file automatically.
Command + Shift + 4: This shortcut allows you to capture a specific area of your desktop and the save it as a file automatically. After hitting the shortcut, you will see your cursor change to crosshairs. Click and drag this over the area you would like to capture and release.
Command + Shift + 4 + Space: This is a great shortcut if you want to capture a specific window but do not want to capture and of the background with it. After hitting this shortcut, your cursor will turn into a camera. Click the window you would like to capture and it will save automatically.