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The Grand Tour: Introduction
Mac OS X (soon to be Snow Leopard) is the most technologically advanced operating system Apple has ever released, but don't let that scare you. While there's a lot of powerful stuff going on under the hood, the Mac OS makes it easy for you to work, play, and get entertainment on your Mac.
For visual reference, here's a quick guide to the lay of the land—Mac Desktop-wise.
**Lesson 1: The Finder**
—Like rummaging through your drawers and closets, the Finder is the place to, well, find stuff on your Mac. Learn how to do just that using the Finder and Finder windows.
**Lesson 2: The Desktop**
—This is your main work area. Learn more about what it is and how to use it to your organizational whim.
**Lesson 3: The Menu Bar**
—When you want to make your Mac do something, you can order a host of commands right off the menu. Learn about the menu bar and how to command your Mac to do your dirty work.
**Lesson 4: The Dock, Dock Exposé, and Stacks**
—The Dock is your personal launching pad to open applications, documents, servers, websites, and more. It's also the place to talk Trash. We'll show you how to use the Dock and customize it for your daily routine.
**Lesson 5: Applications, Files, and Folders**
—You're going to use these things frequently, so get to know what they are. We'll show you how to open and close applications, files, and folders; get more information about these items; and do various other tasks that involve them.
Here's another way to learn!
How to Use a Mac Computer
Want to know how to use a Mac computer? Luckily, Apple has designed the Mac OS to be extremely user-friendly and intuitive. If you've switched from Windows, you might have some adjusting to do. If you're a first-time computer user, the Mac computer is simple and powerful to use.
The Dock is the toolbar at the bottom or side of your desktop that has a lot of important links and tools to help you use your Macintosh computer. The Dock displays visual representations of programs and files; for example, the calendar icon looks like a desk calendar, and the trash looks like a garbage can. You can customize the Dock to hold applications you want to use regularly. The Mac OS also comes with some default icons in the Dock for you: iTunes, Safari, Mail and Address book, among others.
When you're using an application, its icon appears in the Dock, with a blue glow surrounding it. When you're done with the application, the icon vanishes from the Dock, unless it's a program that normally lives there. You can use icons in your Dock to switch back and forth between active applications, or to find minimized programs; they go back to the Dock when you're not using them, until you close them.
The Finder is the Mac equivalent of Windows Explorer and Search, all rolled into one. The Finder is pretty self-explanatory. A directory tree appears in the left column of the Finder window, and the contents of the selected directory display in the right window pane. You can double-click folders to view contents. Pressing the Back button to backs out of a folder or directory.
You can use the Applications folder to browse and select an application that you'd like to load, or the User folder to navigate personal documents, photos and other files. If you don't know where your file is stored, simply type what you're seeking in the Search field in the upper-right corner of the Finder window, and you'll get a list of matching results.
The Menu Bar
The Menu Bar at the top of the screen is your key to interacting with most applications. Many application functions live on the Menu Bar under various headings. When text on the Menu Bar is black, you can select it and perform those functions. When text is gray, those functions aren't currently available. The Menu Bar changes depending on what application you're using, so familiarize yourself with the different commands available with different applications.
Quitting and Minimizing Programs
The red button in the upper-left corner of a given window or application is the Close command, while the yellow button means minimize. Just because you close a window doesn't mean the application is closed; to quit most applications, you must select the Quit command from the application menu. You can also press the Apple button and the Q button on your keyboard simultaneously to quit an application.
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