When you first turn on a Mac that’s running Mac OS X 10.3, an Apple logo greets you, soon followed by an animated, liquidy blue progress bar.
Figure 1-1. Left: On Macs configured to accommodate different people at different times, 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 scroll to find your name—or just type the first couple letters of it.) Right: At this point, you’re asked to type in your password. Type it and then click Log In (or press Return or Enter; pressing these keys usually “clicks” any blue, pulsing button in a dialog box). If you’ve typed the wrong password, the entire dialog box vibrates, in effect shaking its little dialog-box head, suggesting that you guess again. (See Chapter 11.)
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 Mac OS X setup process described in Appendix A, no big deal. You arrive at the Mac OS X desktop.
If it’s a shared Mac, you may encounter the Login dialog box, shown in Figure 1-1. Click your name in the list (or type it, if there’s no list).
If the Mac asks for your password, type it and then click Log In (or press Return). You arrive at the desktop. Chapter 11 offers much more on this business of user accounts and logging in.
The desktop is the shimmering, three-dimensional Mac OS X landscape shown in Figure 1-2. If you’re coming to Panther from Mac OS 9 or Windows, don’t panic. 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 barer 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 in Section 126.96.36.199.
Figure 1-2. The Mac OS X landscape looks like a futuristic version of Windows or the Mac OS. 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.
Here they are, just where they’ve always been: the icons of your hard drive and any other disks attached to your Mac. Double-click to open one, as always.
You may notice that icons in Mac OS X are much larger than they were in previous operating systems. You can make them almost any size you like, but Apple made them bigger for two reasons. First, in this era of monitors with ever larger resolution, the icons on our screens have been getting ever smaller and harder to see.
Second, Apple thinks its Mac OS X icons look really cool.
This ribbon 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.
In principle, the Dock is very simple:
Programs go on the left side. Everything else goes on the right, including documents, folders, and disks. (Figure 1-2 shows the dividing line.)
You can add a new icon to the Dock by dragging it there. Rearrange Dock icons by dragging them like tiles on a puzzle. Remove a Dock icon by dragging it away from the Dock, and enjoy the animated puff of smoke that appears when you release the mouse button. (You can’t remove the icon of a program that’s currently open, however.)
Click something once to open it. A tiny triangle underneath a program’s icon lets you know that it’s open.
Each Dock icon sprouts a pop-up menu. For example, a folder’s icon can show you what’s inside it. To see the menu, hold the mouse button down on a Dock icon, or Control-click it, or right-click it (if you have a two-button mouse).
Because the Dock is such a critical component of Mac 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. Chapter 3 contains complete instructions for using and understanding the Dock.
The menu houses important Mac-wide commands like Sleep, Restart, and Shut Down. In Mac OS X, this menu never changes; it looks the same on every Mac OS X computer in the world. That’s why Mac-wide commands like Sleep, Restart, and Shut Down are here: so that they’ll always be available, no matter which program you’re using.
Every popular operating system saves space by concealing its most important commands in menus that drop down. Mac OS X’s menus are especially refined:
They’re translucent. You can actually see through an open menu to whatever window is beneath. This feature doesn’t particularly help you—in fact, critics claim that it makes the commands in the menu harder to read. But only an operating system with graphics software as powerful as Mac OS X’s could even pull off such a sophisticated graphics treat. Consider translucent menus a bit of showoff-ware.
They stay down. For years, Macintosh menus remained open for only 15 seconds before snapping closed again. That’s because when a menu was open, all other Macintosh activity stopped.
Mac OS X, however, is multithreaded, which means that it’s perfectly capable of carrying on with its background activities while you study its open, translucent menus. Therefore, Mac OS X menus stay open until you click the mouse, press a key, or buy a new computer, whichever comes first.
They’ve been rearranged. The first menu in every program, which appears in bold lettering, tells you at a glance what program you’re in. The commands in this Application menu include About (which indicates what version of the program you’re using), Preferences, Quit, and commands like Hide Others and Show All (which help control window clutter, as described in Section 4.4).
In short, all of the Application menu’s commands actually pertain to the application you’re using.
The File and Edit menus come next. As in the past, the File menu contains commands for opening, saving, and closing files (see the logic?). The Edit menu contains the Cut, Copy, and Paste commands.
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 (Section 1.8).
You can operate them from the keyboard. Once you’ve clicked open a menu, you can highlight any command in it just by typing the first letter (g for Get Info, for example)—a nifty and unheralded enhancement in Mac OS X 10.3. (It’s especially great for “Your country” pop-up menus on Web sites, where “United States” is about 200 countries down in the list. Now you can type united s to jump right to it.)
You can also press Tab to open the next menu, Shift-Tab to open the previous one, and Enter to “click” the highlighted command.
All that’s left is figuring out a way to open the menu from the keyboard to start the process (details in Section 4.6).
Otherwise, aside from the new typeface (Lucida Grande), the menu bar looks and works much as it has in operating systems past.