Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Mavericks Edition (2014)
Part I. Welcome to Macintosh
Chapter 2. Folders, Dock & Windows
The Mac has a desktop, just as Windows does. And it has a row of buttons for programs you use frequently, just as Windows does. And it has overlapping windows, just as Windows does. There are, however, some differences and details—which are the subject of this chapter.
Getting into OS X
When you first turn on a Mac running OS X 10.9, an Apple logo greets you, soon followed by an animated, rotating “Please wait” gear cursor—and then you’re in. No progress bar, no red tape.
What happens next depends on whether you’re the Mac’s sole proprietor or have to share it with other people in an office, school, or household.
§ If it’s your own Mac, and you’ve already been through the setup process described in Appendix A, no big deal. You arrive at the OS X desktop.
§ If it’s a shared Mac, you may encounter the newly redesigned Login screen, shown in Figure 2-1. It’s like a portrait gallery, set against a handsome piece of dark gray linen. Click your icon.
If the Mac asks for your password, type it and then click Log In (or press Return). You arrive at the desktop.
Chapter 14 offers much more on this business of user accounts and logging in.
In certain especially paranoid workplaces, you may not see the rogue’s gallery shown in Figure 2-1. You may just get two text boxes, where you’re supposed to type in your name and password. Without even the icons of known account holders, an evil hacker’s job is that much more difficult.
Figure 2-1. On Macs used by multiple people, this is one of the first things you see upon turning on the computer. Click your name. (If the list is long, you may have to swipe the trackpad to find your name—or just type its first few letters.) Inset: At this point, you’re asked to type in your password. Type it, and then click Log In (or press Return). If you type the wrong password, the box vibrates, shaking its little dialog-box head, suggesting that you guess again.
The Elements of the OS X Desktop
The desktop is the shimmering, three-dimensional OS X landscape shown in Figure 2-2. On a new Mac, it’s covered by a photo of a spectacular surfing wave; the name “Mavericks” is, after all, taken from a surfing beach in California. (If you upgraded from an earlier version of OS X, you keep whatever desktop picture you had before.)
If you’ve ever used a computer before, most of the objects on your screen are nothing more than updated versions of familiar elements. Here’s a quick tour.
If your desktop looks even emptier than this—no menus, no icons, almost nothing on the Dock—then somebody in charge of your Mac has turned on Simple Finder mode for you. Details on Use Simple Finder.
In Windows, disk icons remain safely caged in the My Computer window; they don’t appear on the desktop automatically. The Mac starts out the same way; to find the icons of disks you’ve inserted, you have to look in the Sidebar (Zoom Button) or the Computer window (Go→Computer).
If you’d like to save yourself that burrowing, though, you can choose Finder→Preferences, click General, and turn on the checkboxes of the disks whose icons you want on the desktop: hard disks, external disks, iPods, and so on.
This row of translucent, almost photographic icons is a launcher for the programs, files, folders, and disks you use often—and an indicator to let you know which programs are already open. They appear to rest on a sheet of transparent smoked glass.
Because the Dock is such a critical component of OS X, Apple has decked it out with enough customization controls to keep you busy experimenting for months. You can change its size, move it to the sides of your screen, hide it entirely, and so on. The Dock begins a complete discussion of using and understanding the Dock.
Figure 2-2. The OS X landscape looks like a more futuristic version of the operating systems you know and love. This is just a starting point, however. You can dress it up with a different background picture, adjust your windows in a million ways, and, of course, fill the Dock with only the programs, disks, folders, and files you need.
The menu houses important Mac-wide commands like Sleep, Restart, and Shut Down. They’re always available, no matter which program you’re using.
The menu bar
The first menu in every program, in boldface, tells you at a glance what program you’re in. The commands in this Application menu include About (which tells you what version of the program you’re using), Preferences, Quit, and others like Hide Others and Show All (which help you control window clutter).
The File and Edit menus come next, exactly as in Windows. The last menu is almost always Help. It opens a miniature Web browser that lets you search the online Mac help files for explanatory text.
The Four Window Views
You can view the files and folders in a desktop window in any of four ways: as icons; as a single, tidy list; in a series of neat columns; or in Cover Flow view, where you can flip through giant document icons like they’re CDs in a music-store bin. Figure 2-3 shows the four views.
Figure 2-3. From the top: the same window in icon view, list view, column view, and Cover Flow view. Very full folders are best navigated in list or column views, but you may prefer to view emptier folders in icon or Cover Flow views, because larger icons are easier to preview and click. Remember that in any view (icon, list, column, or Cover Flow), you can highlight an icon by typing the first few letters of its name. In icon, list, or Cover Flow views, you can also press Tab to highlight the next icon (in alphabetical order), or Shift-Tab to highlight the previous one.
Every window remembers its view settings independently. You might prefer to look over your Applications folder in list view (because it’s crammed with files and folders) but view the Pictures folder in icon or Cover Flow view, where the larger icons serve as previews of the photos.
To switch a window from one view to another, just click one of the four corresponding icons in the window’s toolbar (Figure 2-3).
You can also switch views by choosing View→as Icons (or View→as Columns, or View→as List, or View→as Cover Flow), which can be handy if you’ve hidden the toolbar. Or, for less mousing and more hard-bodied efficiency, press ⌘-1 for icon view, ⌘-2 for list view, ⌘-3 for column view, or ⌘-4 for Cover Flow view.
The following pages cover each of these views in greater detail.
One common thread in the following discussions is the availability of the View Options palette, which lets you set up the sorting, text size, icon size, and other features of each view, either one window at a time or for all windows.
Apple gives you a million different ways to open View Options. You can choose View→Show View Options, or press ⌘-J, or choose Show View Options from the menu at the top of every window.
In icon view, every file, folder, and disk is represented by a small picture—an icon. This humble image, a visual representation of electronic bits and bytes, is the cornerstone of the entire Macintosh religion. (Maybe that’s why it’s called an icon.)
Figure 2-4. Once you make the status bar appear, you can choose an icon size to suit your personality. For picture folders, it can often be very handy to pick a jumbo size, in effect creating a slide-sorter “light table” effect. Icons can be an almost ridiculously large 512 pixels square.
OS X draws those little icons using sophisticated graphics software. As a result, you can scale them to almost any size without losing quality or clarity. If you choose View→Status Bar so that the bottom-edge strip shown in Figure 2-4 appears, you get a size slider that you can drag to the right or left to make that window’s icons larger or smaller. (For added fun, make little cartoon sounds with your mouth.)
The Mac expands the notion of “an icon is a representation of its contents” to an impressive extreme. As you can see in Figure 2-5, each icon actually looks like a miniature of the first page of the real document.
Figure 2-5. You can page through PDF and presentation icons, or play movies and sounds, right on their icons. (Movie icons even display a circular progress bar so you know how far you are into the video.)
Because you can make icons so enormous, you can actually watch movies, or read PDF and text documents, right on their icons.
To check out this feature, point to an icon without clicking. A Play button () appears on any movie or sound file; as shown in Figure 2-5, and page buttons appear on a multipage document (like PDF, Pages, or even presentation documents like PowerPoint and Keynote). You can actually page through one of these documents right there on its icon without having to open the program!
If you Option-click the little and buttons on a PDF, PowerPoint, or Keynote icon preview, you jump to the first or last page or slide in the document.
OS X offers a number of useful icon-view options, all of which are worth exploring. Start by opening any icon-view window, and then choose View→Show View Options (⌘-J). The dialog box shown in Figure 2-6 appears.
Always open in icon view
It’s easy—almost scarily easy—to set up your preferred look for all folder windows on your entire system. With one click on the Use as Defaults button (described below), you can change the window view of 20,000 folders at once—to icon view, list view, or whatever you like.
Figure 2-6. Drag the “Grid spacing” slider to specify how tightly packed you want your icons to be. At the minimum setting, they’re so crammed it’s almost ridiculous; you may not even be able to see their full names. But sometimes, you don’t really need to. At more a spacious setting (bottom), you get a lot more white space.
The Always open in icon view option lets you override that master setting, just for this window.
For example, you might generally prefer a neat list view with large text. But for your Pictures folder, it probably makes more sense to set up icon view, so you can see a thumbnail of each photo without having to open it.
That’s the idea here. Open Pictures, change it to icon view, and then turn on Always open in icon view. Now every folder on your Mac is in list view except Pictures.
The wording of this item in the View Options dialog box changes according to the view you’re in at the moment. In a list-view window, for example, it says, “Always open in list view.” In a Cover Flow–view window, it says, “Always open in Cover Flow.” And so on. But the function is the same: to override the default (master) setting.
Browse in icon view
This option makes sure that any folders inside the current window open up into icon view, too, even if you’d previously set them to open into some other view. So if you’re looking at your Pictures folder in icon view and you open the Grand Canyon Jaw-Droppers folder inside it, that folder also will be in icon view.
Arrange By, Sort By
For a discussion of these pop-up menus, see Arrange By and Sort By.
It’s super easy to make all your icons bigger or smaller; just drag the Icon Size slider in the lower-right corner of the window.
But for the benefit of old-timers who expect to find that slider in the View Options window, well, there’s an identical slider here.
Listen up, you young whippersnappers! When I was your age, back when computers used Mac OS 9, you could control how closely spaced icons were in a window. Why, if I wanted to see a lot of them without making the window bigger, I could pack ’em in like sardines!
That feature disappeared—for seven years. But back in Mac OS X 10.5, it finally returned. Figure 2-6 shows all.
Your choices range from only 10 to 16 points, and you still can’t choose a different font for your icons’ names. But using this pop-up menu, you can adjust the type size. And for people with especially big or especially small screens—or for people with aging retinas—this feature is much better than nothing.
In fact, you can actually specify a different type size for every window on your machine. (Why would you want to adjust the point size independently in different windows? Well, because you might want smaller type to fit more into a crammed list view without scrolling, while you can afford larger type in less densely populated windows.)
Click either Bottom or Right to indicate where you want an icon’s name to appear, relative to its icon. As shown in Figure 2-7 at bottom, this option lets you create, in effect, a multiple-column list view in a single window.
Show item info
While you’ve got the View Options palette open, try turning on Show item info. Suddenly you get a new line of information (in tiny blue type) for certain icons, saving you the effort of opening up the folder or file to find out what’s in it. For example:
§ Folders. The info line lets you know how many icons are inside each without having to open it up. Now you can spot empties at a glance.
§ Graphics files. Certain other kinds of files may show a helpful info line, too. For example, graphics files display their dimensions in pixels.
Figure 2-7. The View Options dialog box for an icon view window offers the chance to create colored backgrounds for certain windows or even to use photos as window wallpaper (bottom). Using a photo may have a soothing, comic, or annoying effect—like making the icon names completely unreadable. (Note, by the way, how the icons’ names have been set to appear beside the icons, rather than underneath, in the lower illustration. You now have all the handy, freely draggable convenience of an icon view, along with the more compact vertical spacing of a list view.)
§ Sounds and QuickTime movies. The light-blue bonus line tells you how long the sound or movie takes to play. For example, an MP3 file might say “03′ 08″,” which means 3 minutes, 8 seconds.
§ .zip files. On compressed archives like .zip files, you get to see the archive’s total size on disk (like “48.9 MB”).
You can see the effect illustrated in Figure 2-6.
Show icon preview
This option is what makes icons display their contents, as shown in Figures Figure 2-4 and Figure 2-5. If you turn it off, then icons no longer look like miniature versions of their contents (tiny photos, tiny PDF files, and so on). Everything takes on generic icons.
You might prefer this arrangement when, for example, you want to be able to pick out all the PDF files in a window full of mixed document types. Thanks to the matching icons, it’s easy now.
Here’s a luxury that other operating systems can only dream about: You can fill the background of any icon-view window on your Mac with a certain color—or even a photo.
Color coordinating or “wallpapering” certain windows is more than just a gimmick. In fact, it can serve as a timesaving visual cue. Once you’ve gotten used to the fact that your main Documents folder has a sky-blue background, you can look at a screen filled with open windows and pick it out like a sharpshooter. Color-coded Finder windows are also especially easy to distinguish at a glance when you’ve minimized them to the Dock.
Background colors and pictures show up only in icon view.
Once a window is open, choose View→View Options (⌘-J). The bottom of the resulting dialog box offers three choices.
§ White. This is the standard option.
§ Color. When you click this button, you see a small rectangular button beside the word Color. Click it to open the Color Picker, which you can use to choose a new background color for the window. (Unless it’s April Fools’ Day, pick a light color. If you choose a dark one—like black—then you won’t be able to make out the lettering of the icons’ names.) The effect is shown in Figure 2-7.
§ Picture. If you choose this option, a “Drag image here” square appears. Now find a graphics file—one of Apple’s in the Desktop Pictures folder, or one of your own, whatever—and drag it into that “well.”
When you click Select, you see that OS X has superimposed the window’s icons on the photo. As you can see in Figure 2-7, low-contrast or light-background photos work best for legibility.
Incidentally, the Mac has no idea what sizes and shapes your window may assume in its lifetime. Therefore, OS X makes no attempt to scale down a selected photo to fit neatly into the window. If you have a high-res digital camera, therefore, you may see only the upper-left corner of your photo in the window. For better results, use a graphics program to scale the picture down to something smaller than your screen resolution.
Use as Defaults
This harmless-looking button can actually wreak havoc on your kingdom—or restore order to it—with a single click. It applies the changes you’ve just made in the View Options dialog box to all icon-view windows on your Mac (instead of only the frontmost window).
If you set up the frontmost window with a colored background, big icons, small text, and a tight grid, and then you click Use as Defaults, you’ll see that look in every disk or folder window you open.
You’ve been warned.
Fortunately, there are two auxiliary controls that can give you a break from all the sameness.
First, you can set up individual windows to be weirdo exceptions to the rule; see Always open in icon view.
Second, you can remove any departures from the default window view—after a round of disappointing experimentation on a particular window, for example—using a secret button. Choose View→Show View Options to open the View Options dialog box. Now hold down the Option key. The Use as Defaults button magically changes to say Restore to Defaults, which means, “Abandon all the changes I’ve foolishly made to the look of this window.”
Arrange By and Sort By
You can wield two different kinds of control over the layout of files in a Finder window: arranging and sorting.
You can perform all these obsessive reorganizations in any view: icon view, list view, column view, or Cover Flow view.
Arranging files means, “Put my files into related clumps, separated by headings that identify them.” You can arrange files in any of the views—icon, list, column, Cover Flow—and there are some incredibly useful options here.
For example, you can arrange your documents into Application groups (meaning, which program opens each one); now you can see at a glance which files will open in, say, iTunes when you double-click them. Or you can organize your Pictures folder into Date Added groups, with headings like “Today,” “Previous 7 Days,” and “Earlier.”
Figure 2-8 shows a few examples.
In icon view, the icons under each heading appear in a single row, scrolling off endlessly to the right. Use the usual sideways-scrolling gesture to flip through a row. (That is, swipe to the left on a trackpad with two fingers, or with one finger on a Magic Mouse.)
If you’re not into gestures, or if you don’t have a swipeable input device, then click the tiny Show All button at the right end of a row. Now you’ve turned off that one-row-per-heading thing, and all the icons under that heading appear in the usual rows and columns; scroll down to see them all.
Apple wants to make extra, extra sure you’re aware of the Arrange commands. It gives you four different ways to find them:
§ Choose View→Arrange By. Choose one of the criteria from the submenu. Your options are Name (alphabetically); Kind (type of file, like Images, Movies, and Documents); Application (which program opens which documents); Date (Last Opened, Added [to the window], Modified, or Created); Size; or Label (Finder label colors, described on What Quick Look Knows). Marvel as the Finder puts your files into tidy, categorized groups.
When you’re looking at the Applications folder, you get a special choice: Application Category. It clumps your programs by what they do: Productivity, Social Networking, Music, Video, Board Games, Entertainment, Utilities, Reference, Photography, and so on. Pretty cool, actually.
Figure 2-8. You can view your Finder-window files in neat little groups, separated by headings. Top left: The Applications window, in icon view, arranged by Application Category. Middle: The Documents folder, in list view, arranged by Application (meaning “which program opens this document”). Bottom: The Desktop folder, in column view, arranged by Date Added.
§ Choose from the icon. This icon appears in the toolbar of every Finder window. It contains the same options listed in the previous paragraph.
§ Right-click an empty spot in an icon-view window; choose from the Arrange By shortcut menu. Yep, it’s those same commands yet again.
§ In the View Options palette (seen in Figure 2-6), use the Arrange By pop-up menu. Yes, it’s a fourth place to find the same six options.
In each case, you can choose None to turn off the grouping altogether.
Remember, arranging (clumping) is not sorting. You can, in fact, sort the icons differently within each arranged group; read on.
Sorting means just what it says (except that it used to be called “arranging”): You can sort your files alphabetically (by Name), chronologically (by Date), in order of hugeness (by Size), and so on. See Figure 2-9.
Figure 2-9. Use either the View menu or the View Options window (right) to turn on permanent cleanliness mode. You’ve told the Mac to keep these icons on the invisible grid, sorted the way you requested. Just don’t get frustrated when you try to drag an icon and then discover that it won’t budge.
You can sort a window whether or not you’ve also arranged (grouped) it. You can even sort by different criteria. For example, you might have the programs in your Applications folder arranged by Application Category but sorted alphabetically within each category.
Once again, Apple gives you four ways to sort:
§ While pressing the Option key, choose View→Sort By. (Pressing Option turns the Arrange By submenu into the Sort By submenu.) Choose one of the criteria: Name, Size, and so on.
§ While pressing the Option key, click the icon. Once again, the Option key turns the Arrange By options into Sort By options.
§ Right-click an empty spot in an icon-view window. Press the Option key. And again, Option turns the Arrange By options into Sort By options.
§ In the View Options palette, use the Sort By pop-up menu. Hey, guess what? You didn’t have to press the Option key this time.
In icon view, you get an additional option: Snap to Grid (see Figure 2-9). It means, “Let me drag these icons into any sequence I want.” When you release each drag, the icon jumps into the nearest position on the underlying spacing grid (unless you press the ⌘ key, which gives you full manual control of the icon’s position).
This option appears only if Arrange By is set to None. After all, if you’ve asked the Mac to arrange your icons into groups, then you’ve relinquished control of their grid spacing.
Free dragging—and grid spacing
Whenever you’ve applied an Arrange or a Sort to an icon view, the icons remain rooted to an invisible underlying rows-and-columns grid. You can’t budge them.
You can, however, control how tight or loose that grid is, using the Grid spacing slider.
But there are two situations when you’re allowed to drag icons freely into any order you want:
§ Icons never snap to the grid. If both Arrange By and Sort By are set to None, then you can go nuts, freely dragging icons into sloppy, off-the-grid positions.
If, later, you become overwhelmed by shame at your untidiness, you can choose View→Clean Up (if nothing is selected) or View→Clean Up Selection (if some icons are highlighted). Now all icons in the window, or those you’ve selected, jump to the closest positions on the invisible underlying grid.
These same commands appear in the shortcut menu when you right-click or two-finger click anywhere inside an icon-view window, which is handier if you have a huge monitor.
(There’s even a Clean Up By submenu in the View menu and the shortcut menu. These commands don’t just put icons back onto the closest grid positions; they put the icons into their proper sorted positions among the other icons—by name, size, date, and so on.)
If you press Option, then the Mac swaps the wording of the command. Clean Up changes to Clean Up Selection, and vice versa.
§ Icons always snap to the grid. If Arrange By is set to None but Sort By is set to Snap to Grid, then you can drag icons into any order you like (that is, not in any particular sorted order)—but they’ll snap to the grid when you let go of the mouse button.
If you press the ⌘ key as you release the drag, you can reverse the snapping logic. That is, the icons will snap to the grid if Sort By is set to None, but you can drag them freely if it’s set to Snap to Grid. (Don’t press the key until after you’ve begun to drag.)
Although it doesn’t occur to most Mac fans, you can also apply any of the commands described in this section—Clean Up, Arrange, Sort—to icons lying loose on your desktop. Even though they don’t seem to be in any window at all, you can specify small or large icons, automatic alphabetical arrangement, and so on. Just click the desktop before using the View menu or the View Options dialog box.
In windows that contain a lot of icons, list view is a powerful weapon in the battle against chaos. It shows you a tidy table of your files’ names, dates, sizes, and so on (Figure 2-10). Very faint alternating blue and white background stripes help you read across the columns.
Figure 2-10. You control the sorting order of a list view by clicking the column headings (top). Click a second time to reverse the sorting order (bottom). You’ll find the or triangles—indicating the identical information—in email programs, iTunes, and anywhere else where reversing the sorting order of a list can be useful.
You get to decide how wide your columns should be, which of them should appear, and in what order (except that Name is always the first column). Here’s how to master these columns.
Sorting the List
Most of the world’s list-view fans like their files listed alphabetically. It’s occasionally useful, however, to view the newest files first, largest ones first, or whatever.
When a desktop window displays its icons in list view, a convenient strip of column headings appears. These headings aren’t just signposts; they’re buttons, too. Click Name for alphabetical order, Date Modified to view the newest first, Size to view the largest files at the top, and so on.
Don’t miss the tiny or that appears in the column you’ve most recently clicked. It shows you which way the list is being sorted. When it’s , then the oldest files, smallest files, or files beginning with numbers (or the letter A) appear at the top of the list, depending on which sorting criterion you have selected.
It may help you to remember that when the smallest portion of the triangle is at the top (), the smallest files are listed first when viewed in size order.
To reverse the sorting order, click the column heading a second time. Now the shows you that the newest files, largest files, or files beginning with the letter Z appear at the top of the list.
Arranging the List
You can arrange your list view into groups by name, date, kind, and so on, with tidy headings that help you make sense of it all. This unsung feature is described under Arrange By and Sort By.
Figure 2-11. Click a “flippy triangle” (left) to see the list of the folders and files inside that folder (right). Or press the equivalent keystrokes: (to open) and (to close).
One of the Mac’s most attractive features is the tiny triangle that appears to the left of a folder’s name in a list view. In its official documents, Apple calls these buttons disclosure triangles; internally, the programmers call them flippy triangles.
When you click one, the list view turns into an outline, showing the contents of the folder in an indented list, as shown in Figure 2-11. Click the triangle again to collapse the folder listing. You’re saved the trouble and clutter of opening a new window just to view the folder’s contents.
By selectively clicking flippy triangles, you can in effect peer inside two or more folders simultaneously, all within a single list-view window. You can move files around by dragging them onto the tiny folder icons.
Once you’ve expanded a folder by clicking its flippy triangle, you can even drag a file icon out of the folder so that it’s loose in the list-view window. To do so, drag it directly upward onto the column headings area (where it says Name, for example). When you release the mouse, you see that the file is no longer inside the expanded folder.
Your Choice of Columns
Choose View→Show View Options. In the dialog box that appears, you’re offered on/off checkboxes for the different columns of information OS X can show you, as illustrated in Figure 2-12.
§ Date Modified. This date-and-time stamp indicates when a document was last saved. Its accuracy, of course, depends on the accuracy of your Mac’s built-in clock.
Figure 2-12. The checkboxes you turn on in the View Options dialog box determine which columns of information appear in a list-view window. Many people live full and satisfying lives with only the three default columns—Date Modified, Kind, and Size—turned on. But the other columns can be helpful in special circumstances; the trick is knowing what information appears there.
Many an up-to-date file has been lost because someone spotted a very old date on a folder and assumed that the files inside were equally old. That’s because the modification date shown for a folder doesn’t reflect the age of its contents. Instead, the date on a folder indicates only when items were last moved into or out of that folder. The actual files inside may be much older, or much more recent.
§ Date Created. This date-and-time stamp shows when a document was first saved.
§ Date Added. This option shows when a file was added to this folder or window.
§ Size. With a glance, you can tell from this column how much disk space each of your files and folders is taking up in kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, or terabytes—whichever the Mac thinks you’ll find most helpful.
For disks and folders, you see only a dash—at first. You can, however, instruct the Mac to reveal their sizes, as described on Other View Options.
§ Kind. In this column, you can read what kind of file each icon represents. You may see, for example, Folder, JPEG Image, Application, and so on.
§ Version. This column displays the version numbers of your programs. For folders and documents, you just see a dash.
§ Comments. This rarely seen column can actually be among the most useful. Suppose you’re a person who uses the Comments feature (highlight an icon, choose File→Get Info, type notes about that item into the Spotlight Comments box). This column displays the first line of those comments about each icon, which comes in handy when tracking multiple versions of your documents, as shown in Figure 2-13.
Figure 2-13. If your monitor is big enough, you can expand the Comments column to show several paragraphs, all in a single line—enough to reveal the full life history of each icon. (To enter some comments about an icon, type into the Spotlight Comments box in its Get Info, as shown here at bottom.)
§ Tag. Tags are colored dots and identifying phrases that you can slap onto icons, wherever they appear, to help you categorize and group them. For details, see What Quick Look Knows.
Even with this column turned off, you can still see an icon’s color, of course. But only by turning on this column do you get to see the text phrase you’ve associated with each label.
Other View Options
The View Options for a list view include several other useful settings; choose View→Show View Options or press ⌘-J.
§ Always open in list view. Turn on this option to override your system-wide preference setting for all windows. See Always open in icon view for details.
§ Browse in list view. Ensures that any folder inside this one will also open up in list view, even if its regularly scheduled view is something else.
§ Icon size. These two buttons offer you a choice of icon sizes for the current window: either standard or tiny. Unlike icon view, list view doesn’t give you a size slider.
Fortunately, even the tiny icons aren’t so small that they show up blank. You still get a general idea of what they’re supposed to look like.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION: CALCULATE ALL SIZES
When I sort my list view by size, I see only dashes for folder sizes. What am I doing wrong?
Nothing at all; that’s normal. When viewing a Finder window, you see a Size statistic for each file. For folders and disks, however, you’re shown only an uninformative dash.
Most Mac fans study this anomaly momentarily, scratch their chins, and then get back to their work. Former Windows people don’t even scratch their chins; Windows PCs never show folder-size or disk-size information in list views.
Here’s what’s going on: It can take a computer a long time to add up the sizes of all files inside a folder. Your System→Library folder alone, for example, contains over 100,000 files. Instead of making you wait while the Mac does all the addition, OS X simply shows you a dash in the folder’s Size column.
On occasion, however, you really do want to see how big your folders are. In such cases, choose View→Show View Options and turn on “Calculate all sizes.” You see the folder sizes slowly begin to pop onto the screen, from the top of the window down, as the Mac crunches the numbers on the files within. (You’ll know that the crunching is still in progress, because you’ll see the size statistics for some icons appear in light gray. That’s the Mac’s way of saying, “I’m not totally sure about this folder’s size yet.”)
In fact, you can even turn on the “Calculate all sizes” option globally—that is, for all windows. In the Mac operating systems of days gone by, this act would have caused a massive slowdown of the entire computer. But remember that OS X is multithreaded; it has the opposite of a one-track mind. It’s perfectly capable of devoting all its attention to calculating your folder sizes and to whatever work you’re doing in the foreground.
Now consider this anomaly: Suppose you’ve opted to sort a particular window by folder size—in other words, you’ve clicked Size at the top of the column. Turning on “Calculate all sizes” bewilders the unprepared, as folders arbitrarily begin leaping out of order, forcing the list to rearrange itself a couple of times per second.
What’s happening, of course, is that all folders begin at the bottom of the list, showing only dashes in the Size column. Then, as the Mac computes the size of your folders’ contents, they jump into their correct sorted order at what may seem to be random intervals.
§ Text size. You can change the type size for your icon labels, either globally or one window at a time.
§ Show columns. Turn on the columns you’d like to appear in the current window’s list view, as described in the previous section.
§ Use relative dates. In a list view, the Date Modified, Date Added, and Date Created columns generally display information in a format like this: “Tuesday, March 4, 2014.” (The Mac uses shorter date formats as the column gets narrower.) But when the “Use relative dates” option is turned on, the Mac substitutes the words “Yesterday” or “Today” where appropriate, making recent files easier to spot.
§ Calculate all sizes. See the box on Calculate All Sizes.
§ Show icon preview. Exactly as in icon view, this option turns the icons of graphics files into miniatures of the photos or images within.
§ Use as Defaults. Click to make your changes in the View Options box apply to all windows on your Mac. (Option-click this button to restore a wayward window back to your defaults.)
You’re stuck with the Name column at the far left of a window. However, you can rearrange the other columns just by dragging their gray column headers horizontally. If the Mac thinks you intend to drop a column to, say, the left of the column it overlaps, you’ll actually see an animated movement—indicating a column reshuffling—even before you release the mouse button.
Adjusting Column Widths
If you place your cursor carefully on the dividing line between two column headings, you’ll find that you can drag the divider line horizontally. Doing so makes the column to the left of your cursor wider or narrower.
What’s delightful about this activity is watching OS X scramble to rewrite its information to fit the space you give it. For example, as you make the Date Modified (or Created) column narrower, “Saturday, March 8, 2014, 2:22 PM” shrinks first to “Sat, Mar 8, 2014, 2:22 PM,” then to “3/8/14, 2:22 PM,” and finally to a terse “3/8/14.”
If you make a column too narrow, OS X shortens the file names by removing text from the middle. An ellipsis (…) appears to show you where the missing text would have appeared. (Apple reasoned that truncating the ends of file names, as in some other operating systems, would hide useful information, like the numbers at the end of “Letter to Marge 1,” “Letter to Marge 2,” and so on. It would also hide the three-letter extensions, such as Thesis.doc, that may appear on file names in OS X.)
For example, suppose you’ve named a Word document “Justin Bieber—A Major Force for Humanization and Cure for Depression, Acne, and Migraine Headache.” (Yes, file names can really be that long.) If the Name column is too narrow, you might see only “Justin Bieber—A Major…Migraine Headache.”
You don’t have to make the column mega-wide just to read the full text of a file whose name has been shortened. Just point to the icon’s name without clicking. After a moment, a yellow, floating balloon appears—something like a tooltip in Microsoft programs—to identify the full name.
In fact, now you can move your mouse up or down a list over truncated file names, and their tooltip balloons appear instantaneously. (This trick works in list, column, or Cover Flow views—and in Save and Open dialog boxes, for that matter.)
The goal of column view is simple: to let you burrow down through nested folders without leaving a trail of messy, overlapping windows in your wake.
The solution is shown in Figure 2-14. It’s a list view that’s divided into several vertical panes. The first pane (not counting the Sidebar) shows whatever disk or folder you first opened.
Figure 2-14. If the rightmost folder contains pictures, sounds, Office documents, or movies, you can look at them or play them, right there in the Finder. You can drag this jumbo preview icon anywhere—into another folder or to the Trash, for example.
When you click a disk or folder in this list (once), the second pane shows a list of everything in it. Each time you click a folder in one pane, the pane to its right shows what’s inside. The other panes slide to the left, sometimes out of view. (Use the horizontal scroll bar to bring them back.) You can keep clicking until you’re looking at the file icons inside the most deeply nested folder.
If you discover that your hunt for a particular file has taken you down a blind alley, it’s not a big deal to backtrack, since the trail of folders you’ve followed to get here is still sitting before you on the screen. As soon as you click a different folder in one of the earlier panes, the panes to its right suddenly change, so that you can burrow down a different rabbit hole.
The beauty of column view is that, first of all, it keeps your screen tidy. It effectively shows you several simultaneous folder levels but contains them within a single window. With a quick ⌘-W, you can close the entire window, panes and all. Second, column view provides an excellent sense of where you are. Because your trail is visible at all times, it’s much harder to get lost—wondering what folder you’re in and how you got there—than in any other window view.
Column View by Keyboard
Efficiency fans can operate this entire process by keyboard alone:
§ You can jump from one column to the next by pressing the or keys. Each press highlights the first icon in the next or previous column.
§ You can use any of the commands in the Go menu, or their keyboard equivalents, or the icons in the Sidebar, to fill your columns with the contents of the corresponding folder—Home, Favorites, Applications, and so on.
§ The Back command (clicking the button on the toolbar, pressing ⌘-[, or choosing Go→Back) works as it does in a Web browser: It retraces your steps backward. You can repeat this command until you return to the column setup that first appeared when you switched to column view. Once you’ve gone back, in fact, you can then go forward again; choose Go→Forward, or press ⌘-].
§ Within a highlighted column, press the or keys to highlight successive icons in the list. Or type the first couple of letters of an icon’s name to jump directly to it.
§ When you finally highlight the icon you’ve been looking for, press ⌘-O or ⌘- to open it (or double-click it, of course). You can open anything in any column; you don’t have to wait until you’ve reached the rightmost column.
Figure 2-15. When you move your cursor close to one of the vertical dividing lines between columns, the cursor becomes a double-headed arrow. That’s a sign that you can now drag that line to adjust the column width.
Manipulating the Columns
The number of columns you can see without scrolling depends on the width of the window. That’s not to say, however, that you’re limited to four columns (or whatever fits on your monitor). You can make the columns wider or narrower—either individually or all at once—to suit the situation, according to this scheme:
§ To make a single column wider or narrower, drag the fine vertical line that separates it from the column to its right (see Figure 2-15).
§ To make all the columns wider or narrower simultaneously, hold down the Option key as you drag one of the divider lines.
§ To make a column precisely as wide as necessary to reveal all the names of its contents, double-click the divider line on its right side.
§ To make all columns as wide as required—when you absolutely, positively don’t want any names truncated—Option-double-click a column’s right-side divider line.
If you’re having trouble remembering all those key and click combinations, you’re not alone. Fortunately, you can use a right-click trick instead.
If you right-click or two-finger click the divider line at the right side of a column, you get a shortcut menu that offers these commands: Right Size This Column (make it exactly as wide as necessary), Right Size All Columns Individually (make every column exactly as wide as necessary), and Right Size All Columns Equally (make all columns the same width, based on whatever width is necessary to see all the names in the narrowest one).
Grouping the Column Contents
Yes, the Arrange commands are available to column view, too; you can add those gray category headings to the clumps of files in each window. And, once again, you can also use the Sort By commands to change the sequence of files within each grouping. It all works exactly as described onArrange By and Sort By.
Just as in icon and list view, you can choose View→Show View Options to open a dialog box—a spartan one, in this case—offering additional control over your column views.
§ Always open in column view. Once again, this option lets you override your system-wide preference setting for all windows. See Always open in icon view for details.
§ Browse in column view. Ensures that any folder inside this one will open up in column view when double-clicked.
§ Arrange By, Sort By. You can put column-view icons into arranged groups—and sort them within those groups—just as described on Arrange By and Sort By.
§ Text size. Whatever point size you choose here affects the type used for icons in all column views.
§ Show icons. For maximum speed, turn off this option. Now you see only file names—not the tiny icons next to them—in all column views. Weird!
§ Show icon preview. Turn off this option if you don’t want the tiny icons in column view to display their actual contents—photos showing their images, Word and PDF documents showing their first pages, and so on. You get generic, identical icons for each file type (text, photo, or whatever).
§ Show preview column. The far-right Preview column can be handy when you’re browsing graphics, sounds, or movie files. Feel free to enlarge this final column when you want a better view of the picture or movie; you can make it really big.
The rest of the time, though, the Preview column can get in the way, slightly slowing down the works and pushing other, more useful columns off to the left side of the window. If you turn off this checkbox, the Preview column doesn’t appear.
No matter what view you’re in, remember this: If you ever start dragging an icon and then change your mind, just press the Esc key or ⌘-period, even while the mouse button is still down. The icon flies back to its precise starting place. Or, if you’ve already dragged something to a new window and now you regret it, press ⌘-Z (for Undo). Too bad real life doesn’t have a similar feature.
Cover Flow View
Cover Flow is a visual display that Apple stole from its own iTunes software, where Cover Flow simulates the flipping “pages” of a jukebox, or the albums in a record-store bin (Figure 2-16). There you can flip through your music collection, marveling as the CD covers flip over in 3-D space while you browse.
The idea is the same in OS X, except that now it’s not album covers you’re flipping; it’s gigantic file and folder icons.
To fire up Cover Flow, open a window. Then click the Cover Flow button in the toolbar. Or choose View→as Cover Flow, or press ⌘-4.
Now the window splits. On the bottom: a traditional list view, complete with sortable, arrangeable columns, exactly as described above.
On the top: the gleaming, reflective-black Cover Flow display. Your primary interest here is the scroll bar. As you drag it left or right, you see your files and folders float by and flip in 3-D space. Fun for the whole family!
The effect is spectacular, sure. It’s probably not something you’d want to set up for every folder, though, because browsing is a pretty inefficient way to find something. But in folders containing photos or movies (that aren’t filled with hundreds of files), Cover Flow can be a handy and satisfying way to browse.
And now, notes on Cover Flow:
§ You can adjust the size of the Cover Flow display (relative to the list-view half) by dragging up or down on the grip-strip area just beneath the Cover Flow scroll bar.
§ Multipage documents, presentation files, movies, and sounds are special. When you point to one, you get either the button (to play a movie or sound) or and arrow buttons (to flip through a PDF, Pages, PowerPoint, or Keynote document), exactly as you can with icons in icon view.
Figure 2-16. The top half of a Cover Flow window is an interactive, scrolling “record bin” full of your own stuff. It’s especially useful for photos, PDF files, Office documents, and text documents. When a PDF or presentation document comes up in this virtual data jukebox, you can click the arrow buttons to page through it; for a movie, click the little button to play the video, right in place.
§ You can navigate with the keyboard, too. Any icon that’s highlighted in the list view (bottom half of the window) is also front and center in the Cover Flow view. Therefore, you can use all the usual list-view shortcuts to navigate both at once. Use the and keys, type the first few letters of an icon’s name, press Tab or Shift-Tab to highlight the next or previous icon alphabetically, and so on.
§ Cover Flow shows whatever the list view shows. If you expand a flippy triangle to reveal an indented list of what’s in a folder, then the contents of that folder become part of the Cover Flow.
§ The previews are actual icons. When you’re looking at a Cover Flow minidocument, you can drag it with your mouse—you’ve got the world’s biggest target—anywhere you’d like to drag it: another folder, the Trash, wherever.
§ You can use the Arrange and Sort commands. Yes, you can put the list-view portion of the window into tidy groupings—and sort within those groupings—just as described on Arrange By and Sort By.
As the preceding several thousand pages make clear, there are lots of ways to view and manage the seething mass of files and folders on a typical hard drive. Some of them actually let you see what’s in a document without having to open it—the Preview column in column view, the giant icons in Cover Flow, and so on.
Quick Look takes this idea to another level. It lets you open and browse a document at nearly full size—without switching window views or opening any new programs. You highlight an icon (or several) and then do one of these things:
§ Press the space bar. This is by far the best technique to learn. After all, unless you’re editing a file’s name, what’s the space bar ever done for you in the Finder? Nothing. But in OS X, you can highlight any icon and then tap the space bar for an instant preview.
§ Tap with three fingers. Here’s a bonus for laptops: Tap an icon with three fingers on the trackpad (don’t fully click down) to open its preview.
§ Press ⌘-Y. Another keystroke for the same function. The space bar is still better, though.
§ Click the icon at the top of the window. But who uses the mouse anymore?
§ Choose File→Quick Look.
§ Choose Quick Look from the Action menu () at the top of every Finder window.
§ Right-click (or two-finger click) an icon; from the shortcut menu, choose Quick Look.
You exit Quick Look in any one of these same ways.
Whenever Quick Look appears in a menu or a shortcut menu, its wording changes to reflect the name of the icon. For example, it might say, “Quick Look ‘Secret Diary.doc.’ ”
In any case, the Quick Look window now opens, showing a gigantic preview of the document (Figure 2-17). Rather nice, eh?
The idea here is that you can check out a document without having to wait for it to open in the traditional way—at full size. For example, you can read the fine text in a Word or PowerPoint document without actually having to open Word or PowerPoint, which saves you about 45 minutes.
You can use the usual “next page” gesture (two-finger swipe on a trackpad, one-finger swipe on the Magic Mouse) to page through PDF or iWork documents, or to move among photos if you’ve highlighted a whole bunch.
It’s astonishing how few Mac fans are aware of this incredibly useful feature. Learn it!
What Quick Look Knows
You might wonder: How, exactly, is Quick Look able to display the contents of a document without opening it? Wouldn’t it have to somehow understand the internal file format of that document type?
Figure 2-17. Once the Quick Look window is open, you can play a file (movies and sounds), study it in more detail (most kinds of graphics files), or even read it (PDF, Word, and Excel documents). You can also click another icon, and another, and another, without ever closing the preview; the contents of the window simply change to reflect whatever you’ve just clicked. Supertip: Quick Look even works on icons in the Trash, so you can figure out what something is before you nuke it forever.
Exactly. And that’s why Quick Look doesn’t recognize all documents. If you try to preview, for example, a Final Cut Pro video project, a sheet-music file, a .zip archive, or a database file, all you’ll see is a six-inch-tall version of its generic icon. You won’t see what’s inside.
Over time, people will write plug-ins for those nonrecognized programs. Already, plug-ins that let you see what’s inside folders and .zip files await at www.qlplugins.com and www.quicklookplugins.com. In the meantime, here’s what Quick Look recognizes right out of the box:
§ Graphics files and photos. This is where Quick Look can really shine, because it’s often useful to get a quick look at a photo without having to haul iPhoto or Photoshop out of bed. Quick Look recognizes all common graphics formats, including TIFF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, RAW, and Photoshop documents.
§ PDF and text files. Using the scroll bar, you can page through multipage documents, right there in the Quick Look window.
§ Audio and movie files. These begin to play instantly when you open them into the Quick Look window. Most popular formats are recognized (MP3, AIFF, AAC, MPEG-4, H.264, and so on). A scroll bar appears so that you can jump around in the movie or song.
§ Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and TextEdit documents. Naturally, since these are Apple programs, Quick Look understands the document formats.
§ Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. Because these formats are so common, OS X comes with a Quick Look plug-in to recognize them. Move through the pages using the vertical scroll bar; switch to a different Excel spreadsheet page using the Sheet tabs at the bottom.
§ Fonts. Totally cool. When you open a font file in Quick Look, you get a crystal-clear, huge sampler that shows every letter of the alphabet in that typeface.
§ vCards. A vCard is an address-book entry that people can send to one another by email to save time in updating their Rolodexes. When you drag a name out of Apple’s or Microsoft’s address books and onto the desktop, for example, it turns into a vCard document. In Quick Look, the vCard opens up as a handsomely formatted index card that displays all the person’s contact information.
§ HTML (Web pages) and Safari archived pages. If you’ve saved some Web pages to your hard drive, here’s a great way to inspect them without firing up your Web browser.
In fact, Quick Look has started seeping even faster into other programs—not just the Finder. For example, you can preview any of the following:
§ A link in a Mail message. In Mail, there’s a tiny next to each Web link. Click it to view the actual Web page it leads to, right there in a pop-up bubble!
§ An address in Mail or Safari. If you ever see a street address in an email message or on a Web page, click the tiny next to it. You’re offered the option to add this person to your address book, or to see a map of that address in Safari, courtesy of Google Maps.
§ An address in Contacts. In the Contacts program, click the label for an address (like “Work” or “Home”); from the shortcut menu, choose Map This Address. You get to see, once again, an aerial photo of that spot in Safari, thanks to Google.
§ Anything in the Spotlight menu. When you use the Spotlight search feature described in Chapter 3, point to anything in the results menu without clicking. In a moment, a big Quick Look bubble pops out to the left, showing what’s actually in that document or file.
§ Anything in Mission Control, or a Dock menu. You can also tap the space bar to get a Quick Look preview of anything in the Mission Control view or the stack, list, or grid of a Dock folder (Organizing and Removing Dock Icons).
And you were alive to see the day!
Fun with Quick Look
Here are some stunts that make Quick Look even more interesting:
§ Full screen. When you click the Full Screen button (), the Quick Look window expands to fill your screen. Keep this trick in mind when you’re trying to read Word, Excel, or PDF documents, since the text is usually too small to read otherwise. (When you’re finished with the closeup, click the Full Screen button again to restore the original Quick Look window, or the button to exit Quick Look altogether.)
How’s this for an undocumented shortcut? If you press Option-space bar, or Option-click the eyeball icon in any Finder window, you go straight into Full Screen mode without having to open the smaller Quick Look window first. Kewl.
(OK, this is actually part of the slideshow feature described below, but it’s also good for super-enlarging a single icon.)
§ Share it. Click the button in the title bar to open the Share pop-up menu—a quick way to send this document on to somebody or post it online.
§ Open with [Program Name]. This button shows up at the top-right corner of your Quick Look window. It might say, for example, “Open with Preview.”
Handy, really. It says: “Oh, so you’ve been Quick-Looking to find a particular document, and this is the one you wanted? Click me to jump directly into the program that opens it, so you can get to work reading or editing. I’ve just saved you having to close the window and double-click the icon.”
Actually, you have a much bigger target than the “Open with” button in the corner. You can double-click anywhere in the Quick Look window to open the document (in whatever program is named on the “Open with” button).
Better yet: If you click and hold your cursor on that “Open with” button, you get a secret pop-up menu of other programs that could open the file you’re looking at.
§ Keep it going. Once you’ve opened Quick Look for one icon, you don’t have to close it before inspecting another icon. Just keep clicking different icons (or pressing the arrow keys to walk through them); the Quick Look window changes instantly with each click to reflect the new document.
The Quick Look Slideshow
OS X is supposed to be all about graphics and other visual delights. No wonder, then, that it offers a built-in, full-screen slideshow feature.
It works like this: Highlight a bunch of icons, and then open Quick Look. Click the (Full Screen) button in the top right corner. The screen goes black, and the documents begin their slideshow. Each image appears on the screen for about 3 seconds before the next one appears. (Press the Esc key or ⌘-period to end the show.) It plays all documents it recognizes, not just graphics.
It’s a useful feature when you’ve just downloaded or imported a bunch of photos or Office documents and want a quick look through them. Use the control bar shown in Figure 2-18 to manage the playback.
This same slideshow mechanism is available for graphics in Preview and Mail; Preview even offers crossfades between pictures.
Figure 2-18. Once the slideshow is under way, you can use this control bar. It lets you pause the slideshow, move forward or backward manually, enlarge the current “slide” to fill the screen, or end the show. (The iPhoto button appears only when displaying photos.) The Index view is especially handy. (You can press ⌘-Return to “click” the Index View button.) It displays an array of labeled miniatures, all at once—a sort of Exposé for Quick Look. Click a thumbnail to jump directly to the Quick Look document you want to inspect.
The world discovered the miracle of tabs in Web browsers years ago. Here’s a simple software design idea, modeled after the tabs of file folders, that lets you keep many Web pages open at once in a single window. What a convenience! What cleanliness!
But it took until 2013 for someone to realize that tabs might be useful at the desktop, too. And it’s true: Mavericks offers tabs in Finder windows.
They do exactly the same job they do in a browser: They let you keep open the windows of several different containers—folders or disks—in a single window frame. That makes it easy to move icons back and forth between them (Figure 2-19), or even to view the same window twice in different views.
As a convenience, Apple designed the commands, keystrokes, and clicks to work exactly as they do in Safari, OS X’s Web browser.
Figure 2-19. Finder tabs are exactly like tabs in a Web browser window. They let you view multiple folders or the contents of disks in a single window, which conserves space beautifully. Bonus tip: If you drag a file onto a new tab (like Desktop, shown here) and let go, you’ve moved that icon into that new location. But if you move it onto the Desktop tab and pause with your finger still down, the Desktop tab springs open so that you can continue your drag into a folder you find there.
There are almost as many ways to open new tabs as there are people.
§ Press the ⌘ key as you open a folder or disk. (You ⌘-click a link to open a new tab in Safari, too.)
You can ⌘-click the names of places in the Sidebar of a Finder window, too, like Documents or Pictures.
§ Right-click (or two-finger click) a folder or disk. From the shortcut menu, choose Open in New Tab.
§ If you already have some tabs, click the button at the far right. (Even if you haven’t created any tabs yet, that button appears if you’ve made the Tabs bar visible; choose View→Show Tab Bar.)
§ Drag a disk or folder icon onto the button at the far right of the tab bar.
§ Select a folder or disk (or several). From the menu, choose Open in New Tab(s).
§ Select a folder or disk (or several), and then press Control-⌘-O.
§ Choose File→New Tab, or press ⌘-T, to open a new tab.
And what will it show? Whatever you’ve chosen in the Finder→Preferences→General→“New Finder windows show” pop-up menu. It’s usually your All My Files window, or maybe the desktop’s contents.
So why bother opening tabs? Because you can perform a few power-usery stunts now that you couldn’t before. Like this:
§ Move files around. You can drag a file or folder icon into another tab as shown in Figure 2-19.
§ View the same window twice. Put one copy of the window in list view, another in icon view. Or view different sections of a very long list of files in two side-by-side tabs.
§ Live in a desktop-free world. Click the button (upper-right corner) to put your Finder window into Full Screen mode. (OS X has had this mode before, but it’s new to the Finder in Mavericks. See Full Screen Mode for more on Full Screen mode.)
Now you can work in tabs, manipulating your files, without ever seeing the desktop.
Once you’ve got some tabs adorning your window, you can operate them thusly:
§ To switch tabs, click one, or press Control-Tab. (Add the Shift key to cycle through the tabs in reverse.) If you forget these important keystrokes, they’re listed for you as commands in the Window menu.
§ Rearrange tabs by dragging them horizontally.
§ Turn a tab into a standalone window by dragging it away from the other tabs. (Or choose Window→Move Tab to New Window.)
There’s no built-in keyboard shortcut for the Window-menu commands like Move Tab to New Window and Merge All Windows. But it’s easy enough to add a shortcut of your own, as described on Redefining a Keystroke.
§ Move a tab into a different window by dragging it. That is, you can drag a tab from one window to another.
§ Round up a bunch of open windows into a single tabbed window: Choose Window→Merge All Windows. That’s a good one.
§ To close a tab, press the usual “close window” keystroke, ⌘-W. (Or, if it’s a really slow day, choose File→Close Tab. Or move your cursor onto the tab itself and click the tiny that appears.)
§ To close all tabs, add the Option key. For example, press Option-⌘-W or Option-click the window’s red Close button.
For years, most operating systems maintained two lists of programs. One listed unopened programs until you needed them, like the Start menu (Windows) or the Launcher (Mac OS 9). The other kept track of which programs were open at the moment for easy switching, like the taskbar (Windows) or the Application menu (Mac OS 9).
In OS X, Apple combined both functions into a single strip of icons called the Dock. (And soon thereafter, Microsoft adopted the idea for Windows 7. But that’s another book.)
Setting Up the Dock
Apple starts the Dock off with a few icons it doesn’t want you to miss: Finder, Launchpad, Mission Control, App Store, Mail, the Safari Web browser, and so on. But using your Mac without putting your own favorite icons in the Dock is like buying an expensive suit and turning down the free alteration service. At the first opportunity, you should make the Dock your own.
The concept of the Dock is simple: Any icon you drag onto it (Figure 2-20) is installed there as a button.
Figure 2-20. To add an icon to the Dock, simply drag it there. You haven’t moved the original file; when you release the mouse, it remains where it was. You’ve just installed a pointer—like a Macintosh alias or a Windows shortcut.
A single click, not a double-click, opens the corresponding icon. In other words, the Dock is an ideal parking lot for the icons of disks, folders, documents, programs, and Internet bookmarks that you access frequently.
Here are a few aspects of the Dock that may throw you at first:
§ It has two sides. See the dividing line running down the Dock (Figure 2-20)? Everything on the left side is an application—a program. Everything else goes on the right side: files, documents, folders, disks, and minimized windows.
Remember this division. If you try to drag an application to the right of the line, for example, the Mac teasingly refuses to accept it. (Even aliases observe that distinction. Aliases of applications can go only on the left side, and vice versa.)
§ Its icon names are hidden. To see the name of a Dock icon, point to it without clicking. You’ll see the name appear above the icon.
When you’re trying to find a certain icon in the Dock, run your cursor slowly across the icons without clicking; the icon labels appear as you go. You can often identify a document just by looking at its icon.
§ Folders and disks sprout lists of their contents. If you click a folder or a disk icon on the right side of the Dock, a list of its contents sprouts from the icon. It’s like X-ray vision without the awkward moral consequences. Read on for details.
If you press Shift as you click, then the stack opens in slow motion. Amaze your friends.
§ Programs appear there unsolicited. Nobody but you (and Apple) can put icons on the right side of the Dock. But program icons appear on the left side of the Dock automatically whenever you open one, even if they’re not listed in the Dock. Those icons remain there for as long as they’re running.
Organizing and Removing Dock Icons
You can move the tiles of the Dock around by dragging them; the other icons scoot aside to make room.
To remove a Dock icon, just drag it away. (You can’t remove the icons of the Finder, the Trash, or any minimized document window.) Once your cursor has cleared the Dock, release the mouse button. The icon disappears in a charming little puff of animated smoke. The other Dock icons slide together to close the gap.
Pop-up Dock Folders (“Stacks”)
When you click a disk or folder icon on the Dock, you’ll witness the effect shown in Figure 2-21. In essence, OS X is fanning out the folder’s contents so you can see them. If it could talk, it would be saying, “Pick a card, any card.”
You can change how the icons in a particular stack are sorted: alphabetically, chronologically, or whatever. Use the “Sort by” section of the shortcut menu (Figure 2-21, top left).
Pop-up folders are a great idea, because they save you time and clicking. Click a folder to see what’s in it; click the icon you want inside; and you’re off and running, without having had to open, manage, and close a window.
Fan vs. grid vs. list
When you click a disk or folder icon on the Dock, what happens? You see its contents, arrayed in your choice of three displays:
§ Fan. The fan is a single, gently curved column of icons that pops out of the disk or folder icon. It’s ideal for folders that contain very few icons, because there’s room for only a handful of items in a fan (the exact number depends on your screen size). After the first few, you see only a “31 more in Finder” button, which you can click to see everything in that folder—but now you’ve wasted time, not saved it.
When your Dock is positioned on a side of the screen instead of the bottom, the fan option isn’t available.
§ Grid. If you’ve set a folder to open as a grid, you get to see many more icons in a big rectangular window. File names often get abbreviated because there’s not enough horizontal room, but you get to see many more icons this way. Actually, thanks to the scroll bar, you get to see all the icons this way. (You can also type the beginning of an icon’s name to select it.)
Figure 2-21. What happens when you click a folder in the Dock? You see its contents in one of three views. Here’s how you choose the file you’re looking for in each: Top left: In List view, the folder contents appear as a menu; you can “drill down” into subfolders, and you open something by choosing its name. Top right: In Fan view, click an icon to open it. Bottom: In Grid view, many more icons appear than can fit in Fan view. In any of the views, you can get a quick look at a document’s contents by using Quick Look. That is, highlight the icon (point without clicking, or use the keyboard to type-select), and then press the space bar. A window sprouts, showing the actual document contents.
§ List. You can also opt for a simple list of the folder’s contents, like a pop-up menu; you actually see little tiny icons for the files and folders within. The list appears much faster than a fan or a grid does.
There’s no scroll bar, but you can scroll the list nonetheless just by pointing to the top or bottom of it with your mouse. And, of course, you can type-select.
The List view also displays a little to the right of each folder within the Dock folder. That is, it’s a hierarchical list, meaning that you can burrow into folders within folders, all from the original Dock icon, and all without opening a single new window. You can stick your entire Home folder, or even your whole hard drive icon, onto the Dock; now you have complete menu access to everything inside, right from the Dock.
§ Automatic. There’s a fourth option in the shortcut menu for a Dock folder, too: Automatic. If you turn this on, then OS X chooses either Fan or Grid view, depending on how many icons are in the folder.
So how do you choose which display you want? Right-click the Dock folder’s icon and make a selection from the shortcut menu. Each disk or folder icon remembers its own fan/grid/list setting.
The Finer Points of Pop-up Dock Folders
Those were the basics of pop-up Dock folders. Here’s the advanced course:
§ Ever-Changing Folder-Icon Syndrome (ECFIS). When you add a folder or disk icon to the Dock, you might notice something wildly disorienting: Its icon keeps changing to resemble whatever you most recently put into it. Your Downloads folder might look like an Excel spreadsheet icon today, a PDF icon tonight, and a photo tomorrow—but never a folder. The annoying part is that you can’t get to know a folder by its icon.
Fortunately, this problem is easy to fix. Right-click (two-finger click) the Dock folder. From the shortcut menu, in the “Display as” section, you can choose either Folder (which looks like a folder forever) or Stack (which changes to reflect its contents.)
§ Ready-made pop-up folders. When you install OS X, you get a couple of starter Dock folders, just to get you psyched. One is Downloads; the other is Documents. (Both of these folders are physically inside your Home folder. But you may well do most of your interacting with them on the Dock.)
The Downloads folder collects all kinds of online arrivals: files you download from the Web using Safari, files you receive in a Messages file-transfer session, file attachments you get via Mail, files sent to you using AirDrop (Chapter 15), and so on. Unless you intervene, they’re sorted by the date you downloaded them.
It’s handy to know where to find your downloads—and nice not to have them all cluttering your desktop.
Once you’ve opened a stack’s fan or grid, you can drag any of the icons right out of the fan or grid. Just drag your chosen icon onto the desktop or into any visible disk or folder. In other words, what lands in the Downloads folder doesn’t have to stay there. (You can’t drag out of a list, however.)
§ Hierarchical folders. The fans and grids are hierarchical—that is, you can drill down from their folders into their folders. Figure 2-22 makes this concept clearer.
Figure 2-22 shows you how to open a folder in a grid or a list using the mouse—but you can do it all from the keyboard, too. Once a folder is selected, press Return, ⌘-O, or ⌘- to see what’s inside it; press ⌘- to backtrack to the original display. When a folder is highlighted, you can press ⌘-Return to open it in a Finder window; add the Option key to open that Finder window without closing the grid or fan.
Figure 2-22. If you spot a folder inside a list or a grid (left), click it once. You’re now looking at a fan or grid of its contents (right). You can go on burrowing like this as deeply as your folders go. You can also “back out” again by clicking the Back button in the upper-left corner.
§ Type selecting. Once a list, fan, or grid is on the screen, you can highlight any icon in it by typing the first few letters of its name. For example, once you’ve popped open your Applications folder, you can highlight Safari by typing sa. (Press Return to open the highlighted icon.)
Alternatively, you can “walk” through the fan, grid, or list by pressing the arrow keys. A highlighting effect makes it crystal clear which icon you’re selecting. Once an icon is selected, press Return to open it.
§ Two ways to bypass the pop-up. If you just want to see what’s in a folder, without all the graphic overkill of the fan or the grid, then right-click or two-finger click the Dock folder’s icon and choose the first command—Open “Applications” (or whatever the folder’s name is—from the shortcut menu. You go straight to the corresponding window.
Actually, if you really value your time, you’ll learn the shortcut: Option-⌘-click the Dock folder’s icon. That accomplishes the same thing.
Alternatively, you can ⌘-click a folder on the Dock—or, indeed, any icon on the Dock—to jump to the window that contains that folder’s icon. (Bonus: This same trick—⌘-clicking—also works in the menu of Spotlight search results.)
Three Ways to Get the Dock Out of Your Hair
The bottom of the screen isn’t necessarily the ideal location for the Dock. All Mac screens are wider than they are tall, so the Dock eats into your limited vertical screen space. You have three ways out: Hide the Dock, shrink it, or rotate it 90 degrees.
Auto-hiding the Dock
To turn on the Dock’s auto-hiding feature, choose →Dock→Turn Hiding On.
You also find this on/off switch when you choose →Dock→Dock Preferences (Figure 2-23), or when you click the System Preferences icon in the Dock, and then the Dock icon. (Chapter 16 contains much more about the System Preferences program.)
When the Dock is hidden, it doesn’t slide into view until you move the cursor to the Dock’s edge of the screen. When you move the cursor back to the middle of the screen, the Dock slithers out of view once again. (Individual Dock icons may occasionally shoot upward into desktop territory when a program needs your attention—cute, very cute—but otherwise, the Dock lies low until you call for it.)
On paper, an auto-hiding Dock is ideal; it’s there only when you summon it. In practice, however, you may find that the extra half-second the Dock takes to appear and disappear makes this feature slightly less appealing.
Figure 2-23. To make your Dock icons bigger or smaller, choose →Dock→Dock Preferences. Leave the Dock Preferences window open on the screen, as shown here. After each adjustment of the Dock size slider, try out the Dock (which still works when the Dock Preferences window is open) to test your new settings.
Many Mac fans prefer to hide and show the Dock at will by pressing the hide/show keystroke, Option-⌘-D. This method makes the Dock pop on and off the screen without requiring you to move the cursor.
Shrinking and enlarging the Dock
Depending on your screen’s size, you may prefer smaller or larger Dock buttons. The official way to resize them is shown in Figure 2-23.
There’s a much faster way to resize the Dock, though: Just position your cursor carefully on the Dock’s divider line so that it turns into a double-headed arrow (shown in Figure 2-24). Now drag up or down to shrink or enlarge the Dock.
Figure 2-24. Look closely—you can see the secret cursor that resizes the Dock. If you don’t see any change in the Dock size as you drag upward, then you’ve reached the size limit. The Dock’s edges are already approaching your screen’s edges.
As noted in Figure 2-24, you may not be able to enlarge the Dock, especially if it contains a lot of icons. But you can make it almost infinitely smaller. This may make you wonder: How can you distinguish among icons if they’re the size of molecules?
The answer lies in the →Dock→Turn Magnification On command. What you’ve just done is trigger the Dock’s swelling effect. Now your Dock icons balloon to a much larger size as your cursor passes over them. It’s a weird, magnetic, rippling, animated effect that takes some getting used to. But it can actually come in handy when you find your icons shrinking away to nothing.
Moving the Dock to the sides of the screen
Yet another approach to getting the Dock out of your way is to rotate it so that it sits vertically against a side of your screen. You can rotate it in either of two ways:
§ The menu way. From the →Dock submenu, choose Position on Left, Position on Right, or Position on Bottom, as you see fit.
§ The mouse way. While pressing Shift, drag the Dock’s divider line, like a handle, to the side of the screen you want.
You’ll probably find that the right side of your screen works better than the left. Most OS X programs put their document windows against the left edge of the screen, where the Dock and its labels might get in the way.
When you position your Dock vertically, the “right” side of the Dock becomes the bottom of the vertical Dock. In other words, the Trash now appears at the bottom of the vertical Dock. So as you read references to the Dock in this book, mentally substitute the phrase “bottom part of the Dock” when you read references to the “right side of the Dock.”
Using the Dock
Most of the time, you’ll use the Dock as either a launcher (you click an icon once to open the corresponding program, file, folder, or disk) or as a status indicator (the tiny, shiny reflective spots indicate which programs are running).
But the Dock has more tricks than that up its sleeve. You can use it, for example, to pull off any of the following stunts.
The Dock isn’t just a launcher; it’s also a switcher. Here are some of the tricks it lets you do:
§ Jump among your open programs by clicking their icons.
§ Drag a document (such as a text file) onto a Dock application (such as the Microsoft Word icon) to open the former with the latter. (If the program balks at opening the document, yet you’re sure the program should be able to open the document, then add the ⌘ and Option keys as you drag.)
§ Hide all windows of the program you’re in by Option-clicking another Dock icon.
§ Hide all other programs’ windows by Option-⌘-clicking the Dock icon of the program you do want (even if it’s already in front).
§ Switch windows in one program by pointing to that program’s Dock icon without clicking, and then doing a three-finger downward swipe on your trackpad. (This feature, called App Exposé, doesn’t work until you turn it on in System Preferences→Trackpad→More Gestures.)
If you right-click a Dock icon, or Control-click it, or click-and-hold on it, you see its very useful shortcut menu (Figure 2-25).
If you’ve clicked a minimized window icon, this shortcut menu says only Open (unless it’s a minimized Finder window, in which case it also says Close).
But if you’ve clicked any other kind of icon, you get some very useful hidden commands. For example:
§ [Window names]. The secret Dock menu of a running program usually lists one or more tiny, neatly labeled window icons, like those shown in Figure 2-25. This useful feature means you can jump directly not only to a certain program, but also to a certain open window in that program.
For example, suppose you’ve been using Word to edit three different chapters. You can use Word’s Dock icon as a Window menu to pull forward one particular chapter, or (if it’s been minimized) to pull it up—even if a different program is in front of Word. (The checkmark indicates thefrontmost window, even if the entire program is in the background. A diamond symbol means that the window is minimized and therefore not visible on the screen at the moment.)
Figure 2-25. Left: Right-click or two-finger click a Dock icon to open the secret menu. In certain recent programs, the top half of the menu lists recently opened documents, followed by currently open ones. Right: Right-click or two-finger click the divider bar to open a different hidden menu. This one lists a bunch of useful Dock commands, including the ones listed in the →Dock submenu.
In certain Apple programs like TextEdit and the iWork programs, there are actually two lists of documents, separated by a horizontal line. (You can see the effect in Figure 2-25.) The top group lists files you’ve recently opened in that program; the next batch lists currently open documents.
The Finder tile that’s always at the beginning of the Dock is, in effect, its own Window menu. Its shortcut menu lists all open desktop windows. The Window menu at the top of the Finder screen does the same thing, but the Dock is available no matter what program you’re using.
§ Show All Windows/Show Recents. When a program on the Dock is open, this command says Show All Windows; when it’s not running, it says Show Recents. Either way, it takes you to a screen where the icons of recently opened documents appear for easy clicking and reopening. (OK, they may appear. Apple programs like TextEdit and Pages show these recent icons, but non-Apple programs have to be updated before they’ll show you the recent-document icons.)
To exit the Recents screen, press Esc or ⌘-period.
§ Options. This submenu contains a bunch of miscellaneous commands:
Options→Keep In Dock. Whenever you open a program, OS X puts its icon in the Dock—marked with a shiny, white spot—even if you don’t normally keep its icon there. As soon as you quit the program, its icon disappears again from the Dock.
You can get rid of that shiny, white “running program” indicator dot, if you like. Open System Preferences→Dock and turn off “Show indicator lights for open applications.”
If you understand that much, then the Keep In Dock command makes a lot of sense. It means, “Hello, I’m this program’s icon. I know you don’t normally keep me in your Dock, but I could stay here even after you quit my program. Just say the word.” If you find you’ve been using, for example, Terminal a lot more often than you thought you would, then this command may be the ticket.
Actually, there’s a faster way to tell a running application to remain in the Dock from now on. Just drag its icon off the Dock and then right back onto it—yes, while the program is running. You have to try it to believe it.
If you don’t want a program’s icon to appear on the Dock when it’s not running, choose this command again so that the checkmark disappears.
If the program is already running, turning off Keep In Dock doesn’t immediately remove its icon from the Dock. That’s because a program always appears in the Dock when it’s open. What you’re doing here is saying, “Disappear from the Dock when you’re not running”—and you’ll see the proof as soon as you quit that program.
Options→Open at Login. This command lets you specify that you want this icon to open itself automatically each time you log into your account. It’s a great way to make sure your email inbox, your calendar, or the Microsoft Word thesis you’ve been working on is fired up and waiting on the screen when you sit down to work.
To make this item stop auto-opening, choose this command again so that the checkmark no longer appears.
Options→Show In Finder. This command highlights the actual icon (in whatever folder window it happens to sit) of the application, alias, folder, or document you’ve clicked. You might want to do this when, for example, you’re using a program that you can’t quite figure out, and you want to jump to its desktop folder in hopes of finding a Read Me file there.
Once again, there’s a much faster way to reveal a Dock icon in its enclosing window: ⌘-click its Dock icon.
§ Hide/Show. You can hide all traces of the program you’re using by choosing Hide from its Dock icon. (You could accomplish the same thing in many other ways, of course; see Exposé.)
What’s cool here is that (a) you can even hide the Finder and all its windows, and (b) if you press Option, the command changes to say Hide Others. This, in its way, is a much more powerful command. It tells all the programs you’re not using—the ones in the background—to get out of your face. They hide themselves instantly.
Once you’ve hidden a program’s windows, this command changes to say Show, which is how you make them reappear.
§ Quit. You can quit any program directly from its Dock shortcut menu. (Finder, Launchpad, and Mission Control are exceptions.) The beauty of this feature is that you don’t have to switch into a program to get to its Quit command.
(If you get nothing but a beep when you use this Quit command, it’s because you’ve hidden the windows of that program and one of them has unsaved changes. Click the program’s icon, save your document, and then try to quit again.)
If you hold down the Option key—even after you’ve opened the pop-up menu—the Quit command changes to say Force Quit. That’s your emergency hatch for jettisoning a locked-up program.
§ Miscellaneous. You might find other commands in Dock shortcut menus; software companies are free to add specialty options to their own programs.
For example, the Finder icon’s shortcut menu offers direct access to commands like Find, Connect to Server, and New Finder Window. Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel, and so on) come with an Open Recent command, with a list of documents you’ve opened recently. The Mail icon offers Get New Mail and Compose New Message commands. You get the idea.
Drag and Drop
Dock icons are spring-loaded. That is, if you drag any icon onto a Dock folder or disk icon and pause—or, if you’re in a hurry, tap the space bar—the Dock icon opens to receive the dragged file.
It opens, that is, if the spring-loaded folder feature is turned on in Finder→Preferences→General.
This technique is most useful in these situations:
§ Drag a document icon onto a Dock folder icon. The folder’s Finder window pops open so you can continue the drag into a subfolder.
§ Drag a document into an application. The classic example is dragging a photo onto the iPhoto icon. When you tap the space bar, iPhoto opens automatically. Since your mouse button is still down, and you’re technically still in mid-drag, you can now drop the photo directly into the appropriate iPhoto album or Event.
You can drag an MP3 file into iTunes or an attachment into Mail or Outlook in the same way.
Do Your Filing
Once you’ve tried stashing a few important folders on the right side of your Dock, there’s no going back. You can mostly forget all the other navigation tricks you’ve learned in OS X. The folders you care about are always there, ready for opening with a single click.
Better yet, they’re easily accessible for putting away files; you can drag files directly into the Dock’s folder icons as though they were regular folders.
In fact, you can even drag a file into a subfolder in a Dock folder. That’s because, again, Dock folders are spring-loaded. When you drag an icon onto a Dock folder and pause, the folder’s window appears around your cursor, so you can continue the drag into an inner folder (and even an inner, inner folder, and so on). Spring-Loaded Folders: Dragging Icons into Closed Folders has the details on spring-loaded folders.
When you try to drag something into a folder on the Dock, the Dock icons scoot out of the way; the Dock assumes you’re trying to put that something onto the Dock. But if you press the ⌘ key as you drag an icon to the Dock, the existing icons freeze in place. Without the ⌘ key, you wind up playing a frustrating game of chase-the-folder.
Great Things to Put in Your Dock
Now that you know what the Dock is about, it’s time to set up shop, installing the programs, folders, and disks you’ll be using most often.
They can be whatever you want, of course, but don’t miss these opportunities:
§ Your Home folder. Many people immediately drag their Home folders onto the right side of the Dock. Now they have quick access to every file in every folder they ever use.
§ The Applications folder. Here’s a no-brainer: Stash the Applications folder here so you’ll have quick pop-up menu access to any program on your machine.
§ Your Applications folder. As an even more efficient corollary, create a new folder of your own. Fill it with the aliases of just the programs you use most often and park it in the Dock. Now you’ve got an even more useful Applications folder that opens as a stack.
§ The Shared folder. If you’re using the Mac’s accounts feature (Chapter 14), this is your wormhole to all the accounts—the one place you can put files where everybody can access them (Fast User Switching).
The Finder Toolbar
At the top of every Finder window is a small set of function icons, all in a gradient-gray row (Figure 2-26). These icons start out on the toolbar:
Figure 2-26. If you right-click (or two-finger click) a blank spot on the toolbar, you get a pop-up menu that offers you a choice of looks for the buttons here: Icon and Text, Icon Only, or Text Only. In Text Only mode (bottom), the four View buttons are replaced by a little pop-up menu called View. Furthermore, the search box turns into a one-word button called Search. Clicking it brings up the Searching window.
§ Back (), Forward (). The Finder works something like a Web browser. Only a single window remains open as you navigate the various folders on your hard drive.
The Back button () returns you to whichever folder you were just looking at. (Instead of clicking , you can also press ⌘-[, or choose Go→Back—particularly handy if the toolbar is hidden, as described below.)
The Forward button () springs to life only after you’ve used the Back button. Clicking it (or pressing ⌘-]) returns you to the window you just backed out of.
§ View controls. The four tiny buttons next to the button switch the current window into icon, list, column, or Cover Flow view, respectively. And remember, if the toolbar is hidden, you can get by with the equivalent commands in the View menu at the top of the screen—or by pressing ⌘-1 for icon view, ⌘-2 for list view, ⌘-3 for column view, or ⌘-4 for Cover Flow view.
§ Arrange. This pop-up menu lets you group the files in a window by date, name, or other criteria; see Arrange By and Sort By.
§ Action (). You can read about this context-sensitive pop-up menu on Shortcut Menus, Action Menus.
§ Share (). You can read about this context-sensitive pop-up menu on New Folder with Selection.
§ Tags (). Here’s the Tags menu described on Creating Tags.
§ Search box. This little round-ended text box is yet another entry point for the Spotlight feature described in Chapter 3. It’s a handy way to search your Mac for some file, folder, disk, or program.
Hiding or Shrinking the Toolbar
With the toolbar, the Dock, the Sidebar, and the large icons of OS X, it almost seems like there’s an Apple conspiracy to sell big screens.
Fortunately, the toolbar doesn’t have to contribute to that impression. You can hide it by choosing View→Hide Toolbar or by pressing Option-⌘-T. (The same keystroke, or choosing View→Show Toolbar, brings it back.)
Of course, you can also just make it smaller by hiding the labels (or the icons), as shown in Figure 2-26.
Rearranging, Customizing, or Removing Toolbar Icons
You can drag toolbar icons around, rearranging them horizontally, by pressing ⌘ as you drag. Taking an icon off the toolbar is equally easy. While pressing the ⌘ key, just drag the icon clear away from the toolbar. You can also get rid of a toolbar icon by right-clicking (two-finger clicking) it and choosing Remove Item from the shortcut menu.
You can also drag a different set of icons onto the toolbar. That’s the purpose of the View→Customize Toolbar command.
Getting Help in OS X
It’s a good thing you’ve got a book about OS X in your hands, because the only user manual you get with it is the Help menu, a browser-like program that reads a set of help files that reside in your System→Library folder.
In fact, you may not even be that lucky. The general-information help page about each topic is on your Mac, but thousands of the more technical pages reside online and require an Internet connection to read.
You’re expected to find the topic you want in one of these three ways:
§ Use the search box. When you click the Help menu, a tiny search box appears just beneath your cursor; see Figure 2-27.
The results menu shows only the items Apple thinks are most relevant. If you choose Show All Help Topics at the bottom of the menu, the Help browser (described next) opens, showing a more complete list of Help search results.
§ Drill down. Alternatively, you can begin your quest for assistance the old-fashioned way: by opening the Help browser first. To do that, choose Help→Help Center. (That’s the wording in the Finder. In other programs, it might say, for example, “Mail Help.” Either way, this command appears only when nothing is typed in the search box. To empty the search box, click the button at the right end.)
After a moment, you arrive at the Help browser program shown at top in Figure 2-28. The starting screen offers several “quick click” topics that may interest you—presumably the ones that trigger the most help-hotline calls to Apple. If so, keep clicking text headings until you find a topic you want to read.
Figure 2-27. You can type a few words here to specify what you want help with: “setting up printer,” “disk space,” whatever. After a moment (sometimes several moments), the menu becomes a list of Apple help topics pertaining to your search. Click one to open the Help browser described next; you’ve just saved some time and a couple of steps
GEM IN THE ROUGH: MENU HELP IN THE HELP MENU
You’re floundering in some program. You’re sure there’s a page numbering command in those menus somewhere. But there are 11 menus, and 143 submenus hiding in those menus, and you haven’t got time for the pain.
That’s when you should think of using the Help menu. When you type page number (or whatever) into its search box, the results menu lists, at the top, the names of any menu commands in that program that contain the words you typed. Better still, it actually opens that menu for you, and displays a big, blue, animated, floating arrow pointing to the command you wanted. You’d have to have your eyes closed to miss it.
Simply slide your cursor over, click the menu command you wanted, and get on with your life.
This feature is especially helpful in Web browsers like Safari and Firefox, because it even finds entries in your Bookmarks and History menus!
In Safari, for example, you can pluck a recently visited site out of the hundreds in the daily History submenus, like the “Wednesday, January 4” submenu. You’ve just saved yourself a lot of poking around menus, trying to find the name of a site you know you’ve seen recently.
You can backtrack by clicking the button at the top of the window. And you can always return to the starting screen by clicking the little icon at the top.
§ Use the “Search Help” blank. Type the phrase you want, like printing or switching applications, into the search box at the top of the window, and then press Return.
Figure 2-28. The Help Center (top) likes to help with big-ticket computer tasks like joining a network, setting up your email program, or browsing the Web. Once you perform a search for some topic (middle), you get a details page (bottom) that offers a list of finely grained step-by-steps. The Help windows try to be helpful by floating stubbornly in front of all your other windows. That, actually, can be frustrating, since you can’t see the software you’re reading about. Best solution is to make the window narrow and park it at the edge of your screen.