OS X Mavericks 101 (Prerequisites: None) - Getting Started with OS X Mavericks - OS X Mavericks For Dummies (2014)

OS X Mavericks For Dummies (2014)

Part I. Getting Started with OS X Mavericks


imageVisit www.dummies.com for great Dummies content online.

In this part…

image In the beginning: The most basic of basics including how to turn your Mac on.

image A gentle introduction to Mavericks’ Finder and its Desktop.

image Making Mavericks work the way you want it to by customizing it to suit your style.

image Your Dock: Making it work harder for you.

image Everything you need to know about Mavericks’ windows, icons, and menus (oh my)!

image All the bad puns and wisecracks you’ve come to expect.

image A plethora of Finder tips and tricks to make life with Mavericks even easier (and more fulfilling).

image Visit www.dummies.com/extras/osxmavericks for great Dummies content online.


Chapter 1. OS X Mavericks 101 (Prerequisites: None)

In This Chapter

arrow Understanding what an operating system is and is not

arrow Turning on your Mac

arrow Getting to know the startup process

arrow Turning off your Mac

arrow Avoiding major Mac mistakes

arrow Pointing, clicking, dragging, and other uses for your mouse

arrow Getting help from your Mac

Congratulate yourself on choosing OS X, which stands for (Macintosh) Operating System X — that’s the Roman numeral ten, not the letter X (pronounced ten, not ex). You made a smart move because you scored more than just an operating-system upgrade. OS X Mavericks includes several new features that make using your Mac easier and dozens of improvements that help you do more work in less time.

In this chapter, I start at the very beginning and talk about OS X in mostly abstract terms; then I move on to explain what you need to know to use OS X Mavericks successfully.

If you’ve been using OS X for a while, some of the information in this chapter may seem hauntingly familiar; a number of features that I describe haven’t changed from earlier versions of OS X. But if you decide to skip this chapter because you think you have all the new stuff figured out, I assure you that you’ll miss at least a couple of things that Apple didn’t bother to tell you (as if you read every word in OS X Help — the only user manual Apple provides — anyway!).

Tantalized? Let’s rock.

imageOne last thing: If you're about to upgrade to Mavericks from an earlier version of OS X, you might want to peruse the Appendix first. It describes the process of installing or reinstalling Mavericks in full and loving detail and has other useful information about installing Mavericks. Download the Appendix from www.dummies.com/downloads/osxmavericks.

Gnawing to the Core of OS X

The operating system (that is, the OS in OS X) is what makes a Mac a Mac. Without it, your Mac is a pile of silicon and circuits — no smarter than a toaster.

“So what does an operating system do?” you ask. Good question. The short answer is that an operating system controls the basic and most important functions of your computer. In the case of OS X and your Mac, the operating system

image Manages memory.

image Controls how windows, icons, and menus work.

image Keeps track of files.

image Manages networking.

image Does housekeeping. (No kidding!)

Other forms of software, such as word processors and web browsers, rely on the operating system to create and maintain the environment in which they work their magic. When you create a memo, for example, the word processor provides the tools for you to type and format the information. In the background, the operating system is the muscle for the word processor, performing crucial functions such as the following:

image Providing the mechanism for drawing and moving the onscreen window in which you write the memo

image Keeping track of a file when you save it

image Helping the word processor create drop-down menus and dialogs for you to interact with

image Communicating with other programs

image And much, much more (stuff that only geeks could care about)

So, armed with a little background in operating systems, take a gander at the next section before you do anything else with your Mac.

image The Mac advantage

Most of the world’s personal computers use Microsoft Windows (though more and more people are switching to the Mac these days). But you’re among the lucky few to have a computer with an operating system that’s intuitive, easy to use, and (dare I say?) fun. If you don’t believe me, try using Windows for a day or two. Go ahead. You probably won’t suffer any permanent damage. In fact, you’ll really begin to appreciate how good you have it. Feel free to hug your Mac. Or give it a peck on the disc-drive slot (assuming your Mac has one; most, including the MacBook Air and Mac Mini at this writing, don’t). Just try not to get your tongue caught.

As someone once told me, “Claiming that the Macintosh is inferior to Windows because more people use Windows is like saying that all other restaurants serve food that’s inferior to McDonald’s.”

We might be a minority, but Mac users have the best, most stable, most modern all-purpose operating system in the world, and here’s why: Unix, on which OS X is based, is widely regarded as the best industrial-strength operating system on the planet. For now, just know that being based on Unix means that a Mac running OS X will crash less often than an older Mac or a Windows machine, which means less downtime. Being Unix-based also means far fewer viruses and malicious software. But perhaps the biggest advantage OS X has is that when an application crashes, it doesn’t crash your entire computer, and you don’t have to restart the whole computer to continue working.

By the way, with the advent of Intel-powered Macs a few years ago, you can now run Windows natively. That’s right — you can now install and run Microsoft Windows on any Mac powered by an Intel processor, as I describe in Chapter 17. Don’t let that Unix stuff scare you. It’s there if you want it, but if you don’t want it or don’t care (like most of us), you’ll rarely even know it’s there. In fact, you’ll rarely (if ever) see the word Unix again in this book. As far as you’re concerned, Unix under the hood means your Mac will just run and run and run without crashing and crashing and crashing.

One last thing: As I mention in this book’s Introduction (I’m repeating it here only in case you normally don’t read introductions), OS X Mavericks comes with more than 50 applications. Although I’d love to tell you all about each and every one, I have only so many pages at my disposal. If you need more info on the programs I don’t cover, may I (again) recommend OS X Mavericks All-in-One For Dummies, written by Mark L. Chambers, or iLife For Dummies, written by my old friends Tony Bove and Cheryl Rhodes (both published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.).

A Safety Net for the Absolute Beginner (Or Any User)

In the following sections, I deal with the stuff that OS X Help doesn’t cover — or doesn’t cover in nearly enough detail. If you’re a first-time Macintosh user, please, please read this section of the book carefully; it could save your life. Okay, okay, perhaps I’m being overly dramatic. What I mean to say is that reading this section could save your Mac or your sanity. Even if you’re an experienced Mac user, you may want to read this section. Chances are you’ll see at least a few things you’ve forgotten that will come in handy now that you’ve been reminded of them.

Turning the dang thing on

Okay. This is the big moment — turning on your Mac! Gaze at it longingly first, and say something cheesy, such as “You’re the most awesome computer I’ve ever known.” If that doesn’t turn on your Mac (and it probably won’t), keep reading.

Apple, in its infinite wisdom, has manufactured Macs with power buttons on every conceivable surface: on the front, side, and back of the computer itself and even on the keyboard and monitor.

So if you don’t know how to turn on your Mac, don’t feel bad; just look in the manual or booklet that came with your Mac. It’s at least one thing that the documentation always covers.

image These days, most Macs have a power-on button near the keyboard (notebooks) or the back (iMacs). It usually looks like the little circle thingy you see in the margin.

imageDon’t bother choosing Help⇒Mac Help, which opens the Help Viewer program. It can’t tell you where the switch is. Although the Help program is good for finding out a lot of things, the location of the power button isn’t among them. If you haven’t found the switch and turned on the Mac, of course, you can’t access Help anyway. (D’oh!)

What you should see on startup

When you finally do turn on your Macintosh, you set in motion a sophisticated and complex series of events that culminates in the loading of OS X and the appearance of the OS X Desktop. After a small bit of whirring, buzzing, and flashing (meaning that the operating system is loading), OS X first tests all your hardware — slots, ports, disks, random-access memory (RAM), and so on. If everything passes, you hear a pleasing musical tone and see the tasteful gray Apple logo in the middle of your screen, along with a small spinning-pinwheel cursor somewhere on the screen. Both are shown in Figure 1-1.


Figure 1-1: This is what you’ll see if everything is fine and dandy when you turn on your Mac.

Here are the things that might happen when you power up your Mac:

image Fine and dandy: Next, you might or might not see the OS X login screen, where you enter your name and password. If you do, press Return or Enter (after you type your name and password, of course), and away you go.

imageIf you don’t want to have to type your name and password every time you start or restart your Mac (or even if you do), check out Chapter 17 for the scoop on how to turn the login screen on or off.

Either way, the Desktop soon materializes before your eyes. If you haven’t customized, configured, or tinkered with your Desktop, it should look pretty much like Figure 1-2. Now is a good time to take a moment for positive thoughts about the person who convinced you that you wanted a Mac. That person was right!

image Blue/black/gray screen of death: If any of your hardware fails when it’s tested, you may see a blue, black, or gray screen.

Some older Macs played the sound of a horrible car wreck instead of the chimes, complete with crying tires and busting glass. It was exceptionally unnerving, which might be why Apple doesn’t use it anymore.

imageThe fact that something went wrong is no reflection on your prowess as a Macintosh user. Something is broken, and your Mac may need repairs. If this is happening to you right now, check out Chapter 20 to try to get your Mac well again.

imageIf your computer is under warranty, dial 1-800-SOS-APPL, and a customer-service person can tell you what to do. Before you do anything, though, skip ahead to Chapter 20. It’s entirely possible that one of the suggestions there can get you back on track without your having to spend even a moment on hold.

image image Prohibitory sign (formerly known as the flashing-question-mark disk): Most users eventually encounter the prohibitory sign shown in the left margin (which replaced the flashing question-mark-on-a-disk icon and flashing folder icon back in OS X Jaguar). This icon means that your Mac can’t find a startup disk, hard drive, network server, or DVD-ROM containing a valid Macintosh operating system. See Chapter 20 for ways to ease your Mac’s ills.

image Kernel panic: You shouldn’t see this very often, but you may occasionally see a block of text in six languages, including English, as shown in Figure 1-3. This means that your Mac has experienced a kernel panic, the most severe type of system crash. If you restart your Mac and see this message again, look in Chapter 20 for a myriad of possible cures for all kinds of ailments, including this one.


Figure 1-2: The OS X Mavericks Desktop after a brand-spanking-new installation of OS X.

imageHow do you know which version of the Mac OS your computer has? Simple:

1. Choose About This Mac from the Apple menu (the menu with the Apple symbol in the top-left corner of the menu bar).

The About This Mac window pops up on your screen, as shown in Figure 1-4. The version you’re running appears just below OS X in the center of the window. Version 10.9 is the release we know as Mavericks.

imageIf you’re curious or just want to impress your friends, OS X version 10.8 was known as Mountain Lion; 10.7 as Lion; 10.6 as Snow Leopard; 10.5 as Leopard; 10.4 as Tiger; 10.3 as Panther; 10.2 as Jaguar; 10.1 as Puma; and 10.0 as Cheetah. And, by the way, Mavericks is the name of a famous surfing beach near Half Moon Bay, California.

2. Click the More Info button to launch the System Information application.

This app shows you much more information, including bus speed, number of processors, caches, installed memory, networking, storage devices, and much more. You can find more about this useful program in Chapter 19.


Figure 1-3: If this is what you’re seeing, things are definitely not fine and dandy.


Figure 1-4: See which version of OS X you’re running.

Shutting down properly

Turning off the power without shutting down your Mac properly is one of the worst things you can do to your poor Mac. Shutting down your Mac improperly can really screw up your hard or solid-state drive, scramble the contents of your most important files, or both.

imageIf a thunderstorm is rumbling nearby, or you’re unfortunate enough to have rolling blackouts where you live, you may really want to shut down your Mac. (See the next section, where I briefly discuss lightning and your Mac.)

imageTo turn off your Mac, always use the Shut Down command on the Apple menu or shut down in one of these kind-and-gentle ways:

image Press the Power button once and then click the Shut Down button in the Are You Sure You Want to Shut Down Your Computer Now? dialog.

image On keyboards that don’t have a Power key, press Control+Eject instead — then click the Shut Down button that appears in the Are You Sure You Want to Shut Down Your Computer Now? dialog.

imageYou can use a handy keyboard shortcut when the Shut Down button (or any button, for that matter) is highlighted in blue and pulsating slightly. Pressing the Return or Enter key is the same as clicking that button.

The Are You Sure You Want to Shut Down Your Computer Now? dialog sports a check-box option in OS X Mavericks: Reopen Windows When Logging Back In. If you check this box, your Mac will start back up with the same windows (and applications) that were open when you shut down or restarted. I think it’s pretty darn sweet! I’m happy to report that Mavericks is full of such nice little improvements.

Eternally yours . . . now

OS X is designed so that you never have to shut it down. You can configure it to sleep after a specified period of inactivity. (See Chapter 17 for more info on the Energy Saver features of OS X.) If you do so, your Mac will consume very little electricity when it’s sleeping and will usually be ready to use (when you press any key or click the mouse) in less than a minute. On the other hand, if you’re not going to be using it for a few days, you might want to shut it down anyway.

Note: If you leave your Mac on constantly, and you’re gone when a lightning storm or rolling blackout hits, your Mac might get wasted. So be sure you have adequate protection — say, a decent surge protector designed specifically for computers — if you decide to leave your Mac on and unattended for long periods. See the section “A few things you should definitely NOT do with your Mac,” elsewhere in this chapter, for more info on lightning and your Mac. Often as not, I leave it on when I’m on the road so that I can access it from my laptop via remote screen sharing. So, because OS X is designed to run 24/7, I don’t shut it down at night unless the night happens to be dark and stormy.

Most Mac users have been forced to shut down improperly more than once without anything horrible happening, of course — but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Break the rules one time too many (or under the wrong circumstances), and your most important files will be toast. The only time you should turn off your Mac without shutting down properly is when your screen is completely frozen or when your system crashed due to a kernel panic and you’ve already tried everything else. (See Chapter 20 for what those “everything elses” are.) A really stubborn crash doesn’t happen often — and less often under OS X than ever before — but when it does, forcing your Mac to turn off and then back on might be the only solution.

A few things you should definitely NOT do with your Mac

In this section, I cover the bad stuff that can happen to your computer if you do the wrong things with it. If something bad has already happened to you — I know . . . I’m beginning to sound like a broken record — see Chapter 20.

image Don’t unplug your Mac when it’s turned on. Very bad things can happen, such as having your operating system break. See the preceding section, where I discuss shutting down your system properly.

Note that this warning doesn’t apply to laptops as long as their battery is at least partially charged. As long as there’s enough juice in the battery to power your Mac, you can connect and disconnect its power adapter to your heart’s content.

image Don’t use your Mac when lightning is near. Here’s a simple life equation for you: Mac + lightning = dead Mac. ’Nuff said. Oh, and don’t place much faith in inexpensive surge protectors. A good jolt of lightning will fry the surge protector and your computer — as well as possibly frying your modem, printer, and anything else plugged into the surge protector. Some surge protectors can withstand most lightning strikes, but those warriors aren’t the cheapies that you buy at your local computer emporium. Unplugging your Mac from the wall during electrical storms is safer and less expensive. (Don’t forget to unplug your external modem, network hubs, printers, and other hardware that plugs into the wall as well; lightning can fry them, too.)

For laptops, disconnect the power adapter and all other cables (because whatever those cables are connected to could fry and fry your laptop right along with it). Once you do that you can use your laptop during a storm if you care to. Just make sure that it’s 100 percent wireless and cableless if you do.

image Don’t jostle, bump, shake, kick, throw, dribble, or punt your Mac, especially while it’s running. Many Macs contain a hard drive that spins at 4,200 revolutions per minute (rpm) or more. A jolt to a hard drive while it’s reading or writing a file can cause the head to crash into the disk, which can render many — or all — files on it unrecoverable. Ouch!

imageDon’t think you’re exempt if your Mac uses a solid-state drive with no moving parts. A good bump to your Mac could damage other components. Treat your Mac like it’s a carton of eggs, and you’ll never be sorry.

image Don’t forget to back up your data! If the stuff on your hard drive means anything to you, you must back it up. Not maybe. Must. Even if your most important file is your last saved game of Bejeweled, you still need to back up your files. Fortunately, OS X Mavericks includes an awesome backup utility called Time Machine. (Unfortunately, you need either an external hard drive or an Apple Time Capsule device to take advantage of it.) So I beg you: Please read Chapter 18 now, and find out how to back up before something horrible happens to your valuable data!

imageI strongly recommend that you read Chapter 18 sooner rather than later — preferably before you do any significant work on your Mac. Dr. Macintosh says, “There are only two kinds of Mac users: Those who have lost data and those who will.” Which kind do you want to be?

image Don't kiss your monitor while wearing stuff on your lips. For obvious reasons! Use a clean, soft cloth and/or OmniCleanz display cleaning solution (I love the stuff, made by RadTech; www.radtech.us) to clean your display.

imageDon’t use household window cleaners or paper towels. Either one can harm your display. Use a soft clean cloth, and if you’re going to use a cleaner, make sure it’s specifically designed not to harm computer displays. (And spray it on the cloth, not the screen.)

Point-and-click boot camp

Are you new to the Mac? Just figuring out how to move the mouse around? Now is a good time to go over some fundamental stuff that you need to know for just about everything you’ll be doing on the Mac. Spend a few minutes reading this section, and soon you’ll be clicking, double-clicking, pressing, and pointing all over the place. If you think you have the whole mousing thing pretty much figured out, feel free to skip this section. I’ll catch you on the other side.

Still with me? Good. Now for some basic terminology:

image Point: Before you can click or press anything, you have to point to it. Place your hand on your mouse, and move it so that the cursor arrow is over the object you want — like on top of an icon or a button.

If you’re using a trackpad, slide your finger lightly across the pad until the cursor arrow is over the object you want.

image Click: Also called single click. Use your index finger to push the mouse button all the way down and then let go so the button produces a satisfying clicking sound. (If you have one of the new optical Apple Pro mice, you push the whole thing down to click.) Use a single click to highlight an icon, press a button, or activate a check box or window.

In other words, first you point and then you click — point and click, in computer lingo.

If you’re using a trackpad, press down on it to click.

image Double-click: Click twice in rapid succession. With a little practice, you can perfect this technique in no time. Use a double click to open a folder or to launch a file or application.

Trackpad users: Press down on the pad two times in rapid succession.

image Control-click: Hold down the Control key while single-clicking. (Also called Secondary click.)

Trackpad users can either hold down the Control key while pressing down on the pad with one finger, or by pressing down with two fingers without holding down the Control key.

Control-clicking is the same as right-clicking a Windows system and displays a menu (called a contextual menu) when you Control-clicked. In fact, if you’re blessed with a two-or-more-button mouse such as the Apple Magic Mouse, you can right-click and avoid having to hold down the Control key. (You may have to enable this feature in the Mouse System Preference pane.)

imageFinally, if clicking your trackpad with two fingers doesn’t bring up the little menu, check your Trackpad System Preference pane (see Chapter 3). If you have a Mac with a built-in trackpad or Apple Magic Trackpad, you can configure it to recognize a two-fingered tap as a right-click. (You may have to enable this feature in the Trackpad System Preference pane.)

image Drag: Dragging something usually means you have to click it first and hold down the mouse button. Then you move the mouse on your desk or mouse pad so that the cursor and whatever you select moves across the screen. The combination of holding down the button and dragging the mouse is usually referred to as clicking and dragging.

image Choosing an item from a menu: To get to OS X menu commands, you must first open a menu and then pick the option you want. Point at the name of the menu you want with your cursor, press the mouse button, and then drag downward until you select the command you want. When the command is highlighted, finish selecting by letting go of the mouse button.

imageIf you’re a longtime Mac user, you probably hold down the mouse button the whole time between clicking the name of the menu and selecting the command you want. You can still do it that way, but you can also click the menu name to open it, release the mouse button, drag down to the item you want to select, and then click again. In other words, OS X menus stay open after you click them, even if you’re not holding down the mouse button. After you click a menu to open it, you can even type the first letter (or letters) of the item to select it and then execute that item by pressing the spacebar or the Return or Enter key.

A menu remains open until you click something else. Go ahead and give it a try . . . I’ll wait.

imageThe terms given in the preceding list apply to all Mac laptop, desktop, and tower systems. If you use a MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Apple Magic Trackpad, however, there are a few more terms — such as tap, swipe, rotate, pinch, and spread — you’ll want to add to your lexicon. You can read all about them in full and loving detail in Chapter 3.

Not Just a Beatles Movie: Help and the Help Menu

One of the best features about all Macs is the excellent built-in help, and OS X Mavericks doesn’t cheat you on that legacy: This system has online help in abundance. When you have a question about how to do something, the Help Center is the first place you should visit (after this book, of course).

Clicking the Help menu reveals the Search Help field at the top of the menu and the Mac Help item, which opens the Mac Help window, as shown in Figure 1-5.


Figure 1-5: Mac Help is nothing if not helpful.

The keyboard shortcut for Help appears on the Help menu as Command Key+?, but you really need to press Shift+Command Key+? to open Help using the keyboard.

imageJust so you know, this is the only shortcut I can think of in which the menu doesn’t display an up arrow (Shift+Command Key+?) to let you know that you need to press Shift.

You can find out much more about keyboard shortcuts in Chapter 3.

To use Mac Help, simply type a word or phrase in either Search field — the one in the Help menu itself or the one near the top of the Help window on the right side — and then press Return or Enter. In a few seconds, your Mac provides you one or more articles to read, which (theoretically) are related to your question. Usually. If you type menus and press Return, for example, you get 17 help topics, as shown in Figure 1-6.

As long as your Mac is connected to the Internet, search results include articles from Apple’s online support database by default. Click the magnifying-glass icon to the left of the Search field, as shown in Figure 1-6, if you want to disable this feature.


Figure 1-6: You have questions? Mac has answers.

imageI can’t think of any reason why you’d want to disable this useful feature, but I want you to know that you can if you like.

imageAlthough you don’t have to be connected to the Internet to use Mac Help, you do need an Internet connection to get the most out of it. (Chapter 10 can help you set up an Internet connection, if you don’t have one.) That’s because OS X installs only certain help articles on your hard drive. If you ask a question that those articles don’t answer, Mac Help connects to Apple’s website and downloads the answer (assuming that you have an active Internet connection). These answers are the Support Articles, denoted by a plus sign (as shown at the bottom of the window shown earlier in Figure 1-6). Click one of these entries, and Help Viewer retrieves the text over the Internet. Although this can sometimes be inconvenient, it’s also quite smart. This way, Apple can update the Help system at any time without requiring any action from you.

Furthermore, after you’ve asked a question and Mac Help has grabbed the answer from the Apple website, the answer remains on your hard drive forever. If you ask for it again — even at a later date — your computer won’t have to download it from the Apple website again.

Finally, here’s a cool feature I like to call automatic visual help cues. Here’s how they work:

1. Type a word or phrase in the Help menu’s Search field.

2. Select any item that has a menu icon to its left (such as the Secure Empty Trash item in Figure 1-7).


Figure 1-7: If you choose an item with a menu icon, an arrow points to that item in context.

The automatic visual cue — an arrow — appears, pointing at that command in the appropriate menu.