Introduction to Mac OS X
Instructor: Nadine Wettlaufer


The MacOS X Desktop

MacOS X uses the metaphor of a desktop to help organize and facilitate what you want to do on the Mac. The desktop looks like this:

[MacOS X Desktop]

Important parts of the Desktop:

What is the Finder?

The finder is a basic Mac application that runs all the time. It is the Mac OS running constantly in the background, sort of like how Windows runs constantly on a PC. The Finder is where we run and quit programs, copy files/folders, trash files/folders, connect to servers, open disks and drives, eject disks, adjust volume, and do various tasks involving files/folders.

So that you can switch to it at any time, the blue Finder icon is always in the Dock, on the extreme left hand side: [Finder icon]

If you double-click on a folder, disk, or a drive, the window that opens is always part of the Finder. Here is the window you get when you double-click on the Hard Drive:
[hard drive window]

Finder Windows

Finder windows in OS X look like the above graphic. They let you navigate through the files and folders on your computer.

Changing View Settings:

The finder window above is set to List view, with the Name column selected (which lists files in alphabetical order by name).

Different Views display Files and folders in different ways. The buttons for changing a window's View are located towards the top left of the window.

The 3 Window Views in OS X are:
Icon View:

Clicking the Icon View button (furthest left of the three view buttons) shows all folders and files in that Window as icons, with the corresponding file or folder name below each icon:
[icon view]

List View:

Clicking the List View button (the middle of the three view buttons) shows all folders and files in that Window in a list.
[list view]

The advantage of List View is that a lot of files and folders can be listed and visible, along with a lot of information about each file and folder. Information about each item in the list includes the file/folder Name, the Date Modified, the Size, and the Kind. Notice that these are the names of the four columns you see in a window's List View. If you click on the name of one of these four columns, the files/folders will be listed in order according to that attribute.

Notice that Date Modified has been clicked in the above illustration.
Column View:

Clicking the Column View button (furthest right of the three view buttons) shows all folders and files in that Window listed in a column. If you click on any folder in that column list, that folder's contents will then be displayed in the next column to the right. And any folder clicked on in this new column will display its contents in yet another column to the right, etc., etc...
[column view]

There may end up being so many columns in the window that they can't all be visible at the same time. In this case, you will notice that a sideways scroll bar will appear at the bottom of the window, to allow you to scroll to the left or right in order to see all the columns in the window.

If you ever get lost or disoriented using Column View, remember that you can always click on the Macintosh HD shortcut on the left size of the window (or on the Applications or Documents shortcut) to reset the window to display a certain location,

The Forward and Back Buttons

Each Finder window has a Forward button and a Back button near the top left of the window: [forward and back buttons]

If you have been clicking around inside the window, going into various folders, you can use the Back button to back up to whatever you were looking at previously with the window.

This works a bit like the back button in a web browser -- it doesn't matter what the last folder contents in the window were, or where they are located on the computer; what matters is what contents you looked at last using the widow, and then what you looked at before that in the window, and before that, etc. The Back button backs you up through each in the reverse order you looked at them.

Similarly, the Forward button will move you forward through what you have looked at in that window.

The Three Very Top Left Window Buttons

Finder windows, as well as many windows in other programs, can be closed, minimized, or resized using the three buttons at the top left side of the window: [Three Top Left Buttons] Minimizing:

Here, a browser window is being minimized using the yellow button:
[browser Minimize Button]

The minimized window zooms down into the right end of the Dock (by the Trash Can). An icon representing the window will stay in the Dock, waiting until you wish to use the window again. The window is not closed, just out of your way.
[Minimized window icon ]

When you put the mouse over the window icon in the Dock, the name of the window displays. To maximize the window (make it return to normal), click on the window icon in the Dock. It will return to its previous size and position, and its icon will disappear from the Dock.

Most kinds of windows, in the Finder or in another program, can be minimized this way.

Adjusting Volume on the Mac:

At the top right of the desktop, there will usually be a volume menu that you can use to adjust the volume of your computer. Click on the speaker icon and a volume slider appears. Drag up to increase volume, and down to decrease the volume: [Volume menu]

An alternative to using the volume menu may be on your Mac keyboard. Look at the four buttons at the top right of most Mac keyboards. The three buttons should control volume. One button increases volume, one decreases it, and one is a mute button. Press the mute button once to turn volume off, and press it again to turn it on again.

To Run a Program/Application:

Programs and applications are the same thing.

All programs that are currently running will have an icon in the Dock. Even programs that do not usually have icons in the Dock will show up in the Dock while they are running (when you quit a program whose icon is not usually in the Dock, the icon disappears from the Dock).

You have several choices for how to run Applications in OS X:
1) Look under the Apple menu > Recent Items
2) Click application icons in the Dock
3) Find the program in the Applications folder on the hard drive

  1. Look under the Apple menu > Recent Items: (but remember that the only programs listed here will be those programs which have been used most recently):

    [Recent Items]

    Choosing an application out of the list will start that application up. Not all applications installed on the computer will be represented in the Recent Items list. If you can't find what you need in the dock, try one of the following options instead:

  2. Click the application icons in the dock (but remember that not all applications will be in the dock, and each computer may have different icons in the dock):

    [The Dock]

    Clicking an application icon in the dock will start that application up. Not all applications installed on the computer may be represented in the dock. If you can't find what you need in the dock, try the following option instead:

  3. Find the program where it is installed on the hard drive, in the Applications folder (this works on all Macs with OS X):

    1. Double-click on the hard drive on the desktop. [Hard drive] The hard drive icon will be towards the top right of the screen.

    2. A window will open:
      [hard drive window]

    3. Click on the icon named Applications, which may be along the top edge of the window, or, as in this case, along the side. Now you will be able to see the folders of all Applications available on this computer.

      [applications window]

    4. Double-click on the folder of the program you want to run.

    5. Then, in the window, find the program and double-click on it.

    6. That program will start up.

Open a File in a Program:

There are several ways to open up a file in a program: With the File Menu, choose Open:

When the name of program you want to work in is visible at the top left of the screen, and you wish to open up a file to work on, or to see, choose File > Open like so: [file open] OR, in some browsers: [file open]

A window will then come up to let you find the file on the hard drive that you wish to open.

Use the Command + o shortcut:

As an alternative to the above, when the name of program you want to work in is visible at the top left of the screen, hold down the Command key, and, at the same time, press o (not zero). This will bring up the window to let you find the file on the hard drive that you wish to open.

Drag File to Program Icon in Dock:

Sometimes you will not be in the program that you wish to work in, but you have the file you want to work on in front of you. If the program you need is showing its icon in the Dock, you can simply drag the file you wish to open onto the program's icon in the Dock like so, and then release your mouse: [drag to icon in dock]

Here, a .psd file on the Desktop is dragged to the Photoshop icon so that the icon hilights. When the mouse is released, the .psd file will open into Photoshop.

Save a File in a Program:

When you need to save a file, you have two basic options: If the Save window opens after you have used one of the above options, you may sometimes find that the window is quite short, without a way to easily view where you are saving:

[save with closed window navigation]

Notice that there is a menu of choices beside the word "Where:" -- this lets you choose a recently used folder, or certain shortcut folders. However, these may not get you where you want to save the file, so notice where the mouse is in the illustration above. Clicking on the button the mouse is over will open the window's navigation options, which will look like so:

[save with open window navigation]

Now you have the option of using a standard method of finding where you want to save the file. Note the shortcuts to the hard drive, the Desktop, and the Documents folder (among others) that are on the left side of the newly opened navigation area in the window.

Once you have navigated to the place you wish to save your file, click the Save button.

See all Programs that are currently running:

All programs that are currently running will have an icon in the Dock, so look at the Dock to help see what's running. Even programs that do not usually have icons in the Dock will show up in the Dock when they are running (when you quit a program whose icon is not usually in the Dock, the icon disappears from the Dock).

Any application icon in the Dock that has an indicator symbol under it is currently running (an indicator symbol like a glowing white dot, or a black triangle, etc).

[Applications running in dock]

Here, the Finder, Netscape, and Photoshop are running.
Want another (faster) way to see which applications are running? Look under "Switch Programs With a Keyboard Shortcut" topic further below.

Switch from one program to another program that's already running:

The program name visible towards the top right of the screen (right beside the blue apple) is the name of the program currently in use. To switch to another program, you can use the Dock:

In the Dock, clicking on the icon of the program that you want to switch to will bring the program to the front (if it was already running) or will start the program running and bring it to the front (if the program wasn't already running). Remember, the little black triangles under the icons in the Dock indicate which programs are currently running.

So, if I clicked on the Netscape icon in the dock, I would then see Netscape's name near the top left of the screen (and I might also see a Netscape window on screen):
[Netscape name shows]

Switch Programs With a Keyboard Shortcut:

On the PC, people use the Alt and the Tab keys to quickly switch between programs that are running. You can do a similar thing in Mac OS X like this:
  1. Hold down the Command key

  2. At the same time, press AND release the Tab key once

  3. An application switching display will show up (it shows all applications that are running):

    [Alt + Tab application switching]
    Here there are three programs running. TextEdit is currently the selected application.

  4. Keep holding the Command key while pressing and releasing the Tab key to change which application is currently selected.

  5. When the desired program is selected, release the Command key. OS X will stop switching programs and will go into the one you selected.

Quit programs that are running that you are not using:

It is not a good idea to let programs that you are not using continue to run. The more programs that are running, the slower the computer will work. Too many programs running can crash the computer.

So the best policy is to A) quit programs that you are not currently using, and B) try to avoid running 5 or more programs at a time (this number is approximate, and will vary from computer to computer, or with what you are trying to do on the computer at any given time). If a computer is giving you trouble, it could be that too many programs are running for what you are trying to do on the computer.

As soon as you sit down at a computer, you should check to see which programs are running, and quit those programs you do not need. Remember, little black triangles under program icons in the Dock indicate which programs are currently running.

Also note that programs can be running even if none of their windows are open. Closing a program window does not automatically quit the program on a Mac.

You have several choices for how to quit programs that you are not using:

Emptying the Trash in Mac OS X:

In OS X, the trash is located in the dock, at the end on the right-hand side.

How the Trash looks when it's empty: [trash]

The trash allows you to delete files (like the recycle bin does in Windows). Just drag the files or folders you want to delete over the trash icon in the dock, and then release your mouse when the trash icon hilights. This should put those files or folders into the trash, ready to be deleted. The trash icon will change to indicate that there are things inside it to be deleted.

If you have things in the trash from your hard drive, and you also drag things to the trash from your USB drive, emptying the Trash will delete everything in the Trash no matter where it came from. Yes, this means that you will free up the space on your USB drive that was being taken up by trashed things from the USB drive.

How the Trash looks when it's got things inside it to be deleted: [trash is full]

Empty the trash to delete files inside of it - shortcut key method:

  1. Go to the dock.

  2. Hold down the Control key AND click on the Trash icon.

  3. A small menu will pop up from the Trash icon: [empty trash menu]

  4. Click on Empty Trash from the small menu. This will delete the files from the trash.

  5. Release the Control key.

Empty the trash using the menu:

  1. Switch to the Finder.

  2. Choose Finder > Empty Trash from the menu.

PC User Confusion about how Drives work on a Mac:

PCs usually label their hard drives as drive C or drive D, and their disc drives as drive D or drive E, etc. In contrast, Macs do not use letters to identify their drives. The hard drive on a Mac is simply referred to as the hard drive, and is often named Macintosh HD. If you look at the desktop of your computer, near the top right of the screen should be an icon with the name Macintosh HD. This is the Mac's hard drive, where you can store files and find programs to run. [Hard drive]

How to Insert a Disc using the Disc Drive:

Macs often don't have buttons on the front of the case to eject the disc (or the drive tray, in older computers). On the more recent Mac keyboards, the button at the very top right of the keyboard is the eject button for the Disc drive.

On Macs with a drive tray, once you have put your disc into the drive tray, just press the same button to close the tray so the disk goes into the computer.

When a Disc is put into the Drive It Shows Up on the Desktop

On a Mac, when you put a disc into the drive (like a CD, DVD), or when you connect a USB drive, a disc icon shows up on the desktop on the right side of the screen.

A CD inserted into the computer shows up like this: [CD icon on desktop]

A USB drive connected to the computer shows up like this: [USB icon on desktop]

Double-click on the disc icon that shows up to open a window to see what's on the disk.

Ejecting a Disc or Drive

To eject a drive, CD or DVD:

  1. Drag the disc icon on the desktop to the Trash

  2. Notice that the Trash icon changes to say Eject: [ejecting disc]

  3. When the Trash changes to the Eject icon, release the mouse

  4. The disc/drive icon should disappear, and the disc should eject or the drive should disconnect

Disconnecting from a USB Drive


To disconnect from a USB drive:

  1. To be safe, close any files you have been editing that need to be on the USB, and copy those files on to the USB. (Do not try to disconnect a USB when files you have been saving on it are still open. Some programs will corrupt your files if they are still open when disconnecting the USB.)

  2. Drag the drive icon on the desktop to the Trash

  3. Notice that the Trash icon changes to say Eject: [ejecting disk]

  4. When the Trash changes to the Eject icon, release the mouse

  5. The drive icon should disappear, and it should be safe (after about 5 seconds) to disconnect the physical drive cable or pull out the USB key drive.

Deleting files off of Drives on a Mac is DIFFERENT than for a PC!

On a PC, whenever you drag files into the Recycling Bin from the hard drive, you also have to empty the Recycling Bin in order to delete those files. On a Mac it is the same.

However, on a Mac, when you drag files from a disk other than the hard drive into the Trash, it does NOT work the same as on a PC:
On a Mac, when you drag files from a USB key drive (or other external drive) into the Trash, the files sit in the Trash and are still taking up space on that drive! The files are _not_ erased from the Trash. (In contrast to a PC, where the files dragged from a USB drive into the Recycle Bin would be deleted automatically.)

On a Mac, you must empty the Trash yourself (by going to the Finder and choosing Finder > Empty Trash) so the USB or other drive can be rid of the files and get the space back that the files were using.

Copying Files off of a Drive/Disc

If you double-click on a drive icon you get a window opening to show what's on the drive.

Be aware that if you want to copy files off the drive, you should usually copy them onto the hard drive by following these steps:
  1. double-click on the hard drive icon
  2. in the window that opens, double-click on the Documents folder
  3. drag the files you want to copy from the drive window to the Documents folder window, and release your mouse
  4. the files should copy into the Documents folder on the hard drive.
You should always put your files in the Documents folder, not in any other location on a lab computer, unless you make folder for yourself on the desktop. But remember, you should usually trash anything you leave on the desktop before you leave that computer.

Watch for the little plus sign (+) beside your mouse pointer icon when copying to or from a drive or USB key drive:
a + beside your mouse means a new copy is going to be made in the place you're dropping the file.
However, no + sign means you are just moving the file to the location you are dragging it to (so the file will no longer be in the original location, only in the new location). Actually copying the file would give you a file in the original location, AND one in the new location.

Starting a Mac in the DM Lab:

Press the round power button on the front or back of the computer itself. This button should be the largest one, and will generally be towards the bottom.

Restarting or Shutting Off a Mac in OS X:

Restarting the Mac will make it shut off for a moment and then immediately start up again.
This is easier on the computer, but occasionally will not solve crashes or other problems.

Shutting Down the Mac means that it will shut off.
If you are having technical problems, and you have already tried restarting (above) you should next try shutting down, and then starting the computer back up after a minute.

  1. Go to the apple menu at the top left of the screen.

  2. Hold your mouse down on it and then choose Restart or Shut Down:


If a Mac crashes:

If your Mac crashes or freezes, and you have waited a minute to see if it is going to recover, here are some things you can try, in the best order to try them in...

Cancel the operation in progress:

This may force the program to stop doing whatever it's doing that has frozen operations:
Hold down the Command key and press period (.) at the same time:
Command + .

If this doesn't work, progress to the options below...

Force-Quitting a program:

This should force the crashed program you are in to quit:
Hold down the Escape key, and the Option key, and the Command key at the same time:
esc + option + Command

If this doesn't work, progress to the options below...

Restart or Shutdown using Apple Menu:

Use the instructions in the section above to restart or shut down the computer.
The computer should shut down for a moment, and then start back up.

If this doesn't work, progress to the options below...

Forced Shutdown using button:

Hold down on the glowing power button (usually on the front of the Mac) for 10 seconds. The computer will shut down.
After a minute, you can press the power button again, and the computer will start up.

Quitting Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Netscape, or Internet Explorer on a Mac:

Unlike on a PC, when you close the Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc... window on a Mac you have not quit the program! If you check the applications running with the dock, the browser program name will still be listed, showing that it is still running.

Before closing the Netscape window:
[netscape window open]

After closing the Netscape window:
[netscape still runs]
Notice how Netscape application name is still showing up beside the apple menu at the top left. This proves that Netscape is still running.

To quit Firefox, Chrome, Netscape, Safari, or Internet Explorer:
  1. To quit the current program, select the program's name menu (at the top, towards the left), then slide your mouse down and choose Quit:

    [quitting netscape menu]

  2. The program will no longer be running, and it will no longer be indicated in the dock as a running application.

Open a new browser window in Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Explorer:

In Firefox, Safari, or Explorer, choose File, and then New Window.
   (I could also write this as   File > New Window)

Command + N (holding down the Command key and the N key) is the keyboard shortcut for opening a new window in Firefox, Chrome, IE, and Safari, as well in as many other programs.

Some Shortcut Keys for Mac OS X

shift + Command + n       - create a new folder
     (works while in the Finder)

Command + c       - copy
     (works while in a program, and in the Finder it copies the last file(s) selected)

Command + v       - paste
     (works while in a program, and in the Finder it pastes a duplicate version of the last file you copied into the location you have told it to paste into)

Command + s       - save
     (works while in a program)

Command + o       - open a file
     (works while in a program, and in the Finder it opens the last file/folder you clicked on)

Command + n       - new window or document
     (works in the Finder and in many programs)

Command + q       - quits programs
     (works while in a program)

Command + tab       - (hold Command, press tab repeatedly) change quickly between programs that are running
     (works while in a program or in the Finder)

Command + delete       - sends the selected file/folder to the Trash without having to drag it
     (works in the Finder)

force quitting a program:     esc + option + Command
     (works while in a program or in the Finder)

finding files quickly in a folder:
    if you list files alphabetically in list mode in a Finder window, (see information far above in these notes about Finder Windows and changing views) you can find a file quickly by hitting the first letter of the file's name -- the list in the window will jump down and hilight the first filename that starts with that letter.