Mac 101


Dock: The Dock is the bar of icons that sits at the bottom or side of your screen. It provides easy access to some of the applications on your Mac (such as Mail, Safari, Address Book, and QuickTime Player), displays which applications are currently running, and holds windows in their minimized state. It's also the place to find the Trash (its icon looks like a waste basket). For your convenience, you can add your own applications, files, and folders to the Dock too.

-TO ADD: click the Launchpad icon in the Dock and drag the application icon to the Dock; the icons in the Dock will move aside to make room for the new one. If you want to add a file or folder to the Dock, just drag its icon from any Finder window (or the desktop) and drop it on the Dock.

-TO REMOVE:  drag its icon off the Dock onto the desktop; the icon will disappear in a poof of smoke. Don't worry, you didn't permanently remove the item from your computer; you simply got rid of its Dock icon.

To select an item in the Dock, just click its icon. When an application is running, the Dock displays a blue dot beneath the application's icon As you open applications (or open files to launch applications), their respective icons appear in the Dock, even if they weren't there originally. That means if you've got a lot of applications open, your Dock will grow substantially. If you minimize a window (click the round, yellow button in the upper-left corner of any window), the window gets pulled down into the Dock and waits until you click this icon to bring up the window again.


Finder: Finder allows you to visually access practically everything on your Mac, including applications, hard disks, files, folders, and CDs. You can use the Finder to organize all your files and folders as you want, search for stuff anywhere on your Mac, delete things you don't want, and more.

To see your files, click the Finder icon in the Dock, and then click "All My Files" in the sidebar.


Finder windows include a sidebar on the left side. Items are grouped into categories: favorites, shared, devices—just like the Source list in iTunes. The favorites portion contains favorite links to folders, which includes Desktop, Documents, Movies, Music, Pictures, and the Applications folder. The shared portion contains computers that are connected to your computer though the network. The device portion contains mounted and accessible volumes you have, such as a hard disk, USB flash drive, network volume, DVD, and so forth. For further details click here.


Stacks: A stack is a Dock item that gives you fast access to a folder. When you click a Stack, the files within spring from the Dock in a fan or a grid, depending on the number of items (or the preference you set). OS X starts you off with two default Stacks: one for downloads and the other for documents. The Downloads Stack contains files you download from Safari, Mail, and iChat. The Documents Stack is a great place to keep things such as presentations, spreadsheets, and word processing files. You can create as many Stacks as you wish simply by dragging folders to the right side of your Dock.

Tip: Within the Stack, you can click and drag on the icons in your fan or grid stack to another folder, the Trash, an external disc icon, your desktop, or other locations.


Mission Control: Get a bird’s-eye view of all the open windows and apps on your Mac. Just swipe up with three fingers on your trackpad or click the Mission Control icon in the Dock, and your desktop zooms out to Mission Control. For a detailed description of how it works click here


Spotlight: Use Spotlight to search for files such as documents, emails, dates in iCal, and webpages that you've visited. Spotlight also does math equations!


Pointing, clicking, and getting around: When you move your mouse or finger on a trackpad, you control a pointer (also known as a cursor) that moves across your screen. The pointer allows you to select and interact with the various items on your screen, including selecting files, clicking buttons, dragging sliders, and so on. Sometimes the pointer may look like a hand, a crosshair, an I-beam, or another icon, depending on what you're doing and the application you're using.


Mac Store: You can find much more software for your Mac online with the Mac App Store. Simply click its icon in the Dock to visit the App Store. After purchasing and downloading, applications are automatically installed in your Applications folder, and added to the Launchpad. To get updates for Mac App Store applications, simply open App Store and click the Updates tab.


Updating your software: Your Mac has a built-in feature called Software Update that allows it to automatically check for available updates from Apple daily, weekly, or monthly when your computer is connected to the Internet. It takes into account the software you have installed on your computer, and new updates released by Apple so that it only shows you the relevant updates.

To update: You can either wait for it to make its scheduled check for updates (every week by default), or manually check for updates by choosing Software Update from the Apple (?) menu.


Time Machine: Time Machine is the built-in backup that works with your Mac and an external drive or Time Capsule. Connect the drive, assign it to Time Machine, and start enjoying some peace of mind. Time Machine automatically backs up your entire Mac, including system files, applications, accounts, preferences, music, photos, movies, and documents. But what makes Time Machine different from other backup applications is that it not only keeps a spare copy of every file, it remembers how your system looked on any given day—so you can revisit your Mac as it appeared in the past. For more information on backing up files using Time Machine click here.