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 few 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 12.)
If the Mac asks for your password, type it and then click Log In (or press Return). You arrive at the desktop. Chapter 12 offers much more on this business of user accounts and logging in.
Thedesktop is the shimmering, three-dimensional Mac OS X landscape shown in Figure 1-2. On a new Mac, it's covered by a starry galaxy photo that belongs to Leopard's overall outer-space graphic theme.
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.
Figure 1-2. The Mac 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.
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 on System.
You may notice that icons in Mac OS X are larger than they were in previous soperating 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.
If you find it disturbing that your desktop is littered by disk icons — and you prefer the setup in Windows, where disks remain safely caged in the My Computer window — Leopard can accommodate you. Choose Finder → Preferences, click General, and turn off the checkboxes of the disks whose icons you don't want on the desktop: Hard disks, External disks, and so on.
From now on, you'll have to look in the Sidebar (Windows and How to Work Them) or the Computer window (Go → Computer) to find those disk icons.
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. In Leopard, they now rest on what appears to be a polished, highly reflective shelf.
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. When you click a program's icon, a tiny, shiny reflective dot appears under its icon to let you know that it's open. (The tiny shiny dot replaces the little black triangle of Mac OS X versions gone by.)
When you click a folder's icon, you get a stack—an arcing row of icons, or a grid of them, that indicates what's inside. See Stacks for more on stacks.
Each Dock icon sprouts a pop-up menu. To see the menu, hold the mouse button down on a Dock icon, or Control-click it, or right-click it. A shortcut menu of useful commands pops right out.
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 4 contains complete instructions for using and understanding the Dock.
The menu houses important Mac-wide commands like Sleep, Restart, and Shut Down. They're always available, no matter which program you're using. (In Leopard, the menu looks like a dark black hole. Evidently, black is the new blue.)
They're translucent.You can actually see through an open menu to whatever window is beneath. Translucent menus don't particularly help you; in fact, inLeopard, they're so see-through, they can be hard to read, especially when the document window behind them contains text. Consider them showoff-ware.
They stay down. Mac OS X 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, trigger a command from the keyboard, or buy a new computer, whichever comes first.
Actually, menus are even smarter than that. If give the menu name a quick click, the menu opens and stays open. If you click and hold the mouse button down for a moment, the menu opens, but closes again when you release the mouse button. Apple figures that, in that case, you're just exploring, reading, or hunting for a certain command.
They're logically 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 on Hiding All Other Programs).
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 (Shut Down).
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). (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 on Reassigning all documents of one type).