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Mac OS X Leopard: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Windows and How to Work Them

In designing Mac OS X, one of Apple's key goals was to address the window-proliferation problem. As you create more files, stash them in more folders, and launch more programs, it's easy to wind up paralyzed before a screen awash with cluttered, overlapping rectangles.

That's the problem addressed by Exposé, a useful feature that's probably worth at least $34 of Mac OS X's $130 price, and Spaces, which is easily worth another $17.35. They're described in detail on pages Exposé: Death to Window Clutter and Multiple-button mouse clicks.

There are some handy clutter and navigation controls on the windows themselves, too. For example:

The Sidebar

The Sidebar is the pane at the left side of every Finder window, unless you've hidden it (and, by the way, also at the left side of every Open dialog box and full-sized Save dialog box).

The Sidebar has been overhauled in Leopard. Now this list has as many as four different sections, each preceded by a collapsible heading:

  • Devices. This section lists every storage device connected to, or installed inside, your Mac: hard drives, CDs, DVDs, iPods, memory cards, USB flash drives, and so on. The removable ones (CDs, DVDs, iPods, and so on) bear a little gray logo, which you can click to eject that disk.

  • Shared. It took 20 years for an operating system to list all the other computers on the home or small-office network, right there in every window, without any digging, connecting, button-clicking, or window-opening. But here it is: a complete list of the other computers on your network whose owners have turned on File Sharing, ready for access. See Chapter 13 for complete details.

  • Places. This primary section of the sidebar lists places (in this case, folders) where you might look for files and folders. Into this list, you can stick the icons of anything at all—files, programs, folders, disks, or whatever—for easy access.

    Each icon is a shortcut. For example, click the Applications icon to view the contents of your Applications folder in the main part of the window (Figure 1-3). And if you click the icon of a file or program, it opens.

  • Searches. The "folders" in this new Sidebar section are actually canned searches that execute instantly when you click one. If you click Today, for example, the main window fills with all files and folders on your computer that you've changed today. Yesterday and Past Week work the same way.

The Sidebar makes navigation very quick, because you can jump back and forth between distant corners of your Mac with a single click. In column view, the Sidebar is especially handy because it eliminates all of the columns to the left of the one you want, all the way back to your hard-drive level. You've just folded up your desktop! Good things to put here: favorite programs; disks on the network to which you often connect; a document you're working on every day; and so on. Folder and disk icons here work just like normal ones. You can drag a document onto a folder icon to file it there, drag a downloaded .sit file onto the StuffIt Expander icon there, and so on. In fact, the disks and folders here are even spring-loaded ().

Figure 1-3. The Sidebar makes navigation very quick, because you can jump back and forth between distant corners of your Mac with a single click. In column view, the Sidebar is especially handy because it eliminates all of the columns to the left of the one you want, all the way back to your hard-drive level. You've just folded up your desktop! Good things to put here: favorite programs; disks on the network to which you often connect; a document you're working on every day; and so on. Folder and disk icons here work just like normal ones. You can drag a document onto a folder icon to file it there, drag a downloaded .sit file onto the StuffIt Expander icon there, and so on. In fact, the disks and folders here are even spring-loaded (Spring-Loaded Folders: Dragging Icons into Closed Folders).

The All Images, All Movies, and All Documents searches round up everything in those file-type categories, no matter what folders they're actually sitting in.

These insta-searches are very useful all by themselves, but what's even better is how easy it is to make your own search folders to put here. Smart Folders has the details.

Fine-tuning the Sidebar

The beauty of this parking lot for containers is that it's so easy to set up with your favorite places. For example:

  • Remove an icon by dragging it out of the Sidebar entirely. It vanishes with a puff of smoke (and even a little whoof sound effect). You haven't actually removed anything from your Mac; you've just unhitched its alias from the Sidebar.

    Tip

    You can't drag Shared items out of the list. Also, if you drag a Devices item out of the list, you'll have to choose Finder→Preferences to put it back in; see the box on Title Bar.

  • Rearrange the icons by dragging them up or down in the list. (You're not allowed to rearrange the computers listed in the Shared section, though.)

  • Install a new iconby dragging it off your desktop (or out of a window) into any spot in the Places list of the Sidebar. Unlike previous versions of Mac OS X, you can't drag icons into any old section of the sidebar—just the Places place.

    Tip

    You can also highlight an icon wherever it happens to be and then choose File→Add to Sidebar, or just press ⌘-T.

  • Adjust the width of the Sidebar by dragging its right edge—either the skinny divider line or the extreme right edge of the vertical scroll bar, if there is one. You "feel" a snap at the point when the line covers up about half of each icon's name. Any covered-up names sprout ellipses (…) to let you know (as in "Secret Salaries Spreadsh…").

    Note

    The Leopard Sidebar is a lot less flexible than the old one. For example, you can no longer drag the divider bar so far to the left that it hides the icons' names. It stops just to the left of the end of the longest name.

    Nor can you hide the Sidebar completely by double-clicking the dividing line, by pressing Control-Option-⌘-T, or by dragging the line all the way to the left. None of those methods work anymore; the only way to hide the Sidebar is to use the Old Finder Mode button.

  • Hide the Sidebar by clicking the Old Finder Mode button, a white, capsule-like button in the upper-right corner of the window, or using its menu equivalent (View→Hide Toolbar). (See Old Finder Mode: The Toolbar Disclosure Button for more on the Old Finder Mode button.)

    Then again, why would you ever want to hide the Sidebar? It's one of the handiest navigation aids since the invention of the steering wheel. For example:

  • It takes a lot of pressure off the Dock. Instead of filling up your Dock with folder icons (all of which are frustratingly alike and unlabeled anyway), use the Sidebar to store them. You leave the Dock that much more room for programs and documents.

  • It's better than the Dock.In some ways, the Sidebar is a lot like the Dock, in that you can stash favorite icons there of any sort. But the Sidebar reveals the names of these icons, and the Dock doesn't.

  • It makes disk-ejecting easy.Just click the button next to any removable disk to make it pop out. After 20 years, the Mac finally beats the "It's illogical to eject a disk by dragging it to the Trash!" problem. (For other ways to eject disks, see Flash drives.)

  • It makes disc-burning easy.When you've inserted a blank CD or DVD and loaded it up with stuff you want to copy, click the radioactive-looking Burn button next to its name to begin burning that disc. (Details on burning discs in Chapter 11.)

  • You can drag onto its folders and disks.That is, you can drag icons onto Sidebar icons, exactly as though they were the real disks, folders, and programs that they represent.

  • It simplifies connecting to networked disks. Park your other computers' hard drive icons here, as described in Chapter 12, and you shave several steps off the usual connecting-via-network ritual.

Title Bar

The title bar (Figure 1-4) has several functions. First, when several windows are open, the darkened title bar, window name, mini-icon, and colored left-corner buttons tell you which window is active (in front); in background windows, these elements appear dimmed and colorless. Second, the title bar acts as a handle that lets you move the window around on the screen.

appear dimmed and colorless. Second, the title bar acts as a handle that lets you move the window around on the screen.

Of course, you can also move Mac OS X windows by dragging any "shiny gray" edge; see Figure 1-4.

Tip

Here's a nifty keyboard shortcut: You can cycle through the different open windows in one program without using the mouse. Just press ⌘-~ (that is, the tilde key, to the left of the number 1 key). With each press, you bring a different window forward within the current program. It works both in the Finder and in your everyday programs, and it beats the pants off using the mouse to choose a name from the Window menu.

Mac OS X is no longer made of simulated brushed aluminum. Now it's accented with strips of gradient gray (that is, light-to-dark shading). Any of these gradient gray strips are fair game as handles to drag the window.

Figure 1-4. Mac OS X is no longer made of simulated brushed aluminum. Now it's accented with strips of gradient gray (that is, light-to-dark shading). Any of these gradient gray strips are fair game as handles to drag the window.

After you've opened one folder that's inside another, the title bar's secret folder hierarchy menu is an efficient way to backtrack—to return to the enclosing window. Get in the habit of right-clicking (or Control-clicking, or ⌘-clicking) the name of the window to access the menu shown in Figure 1-5. (You can release the Control or ⌘key immediately after clicking.)

By choosing the name of a folder from this menu, you open the corresponding window. When browsing the contents of the Users folder, for example, you can return to the main hard drive window by Control-clicking the folder name Users and then choosing Macintosh HD from the menu. (The option to Control- or right-click for this function is new in Leopard.)

Tip

Keyboard lovers, take note. Instead of using this title bar menu, you can also jump to the enclosing window by pressing ⌘-up arrow, which is the shortcut for the Go→Enclosing Folder command.

Control-click (or right-click, or ⌘-click) a Finder window's title bar to summon the hidden folder hierarchy menu. This trick also works in most other Mac OS X programs. For example, you can ⌘-click a document window's title to find out where the document is actually saved on your hard drive.

Figure 1-5. Control-click (or right-click, or ⌘-click) a Finder window's title bar to summon the hidden folder hierarchy menu. This trick also works in most other Mac OS X programs. For example, you can ⌘-click a document window's title to find out where the document is actually saved on your hard drive.

Pressing ⌘-down arrow takes you back into the folder you started in, assuming that it's still highlighted. (This makes more sense when you try it than when you read it.)

Once you've mastered dragging, you're ready for these three terrific title bar tips:

  • Pressing the ⌘ key lets you drag the title bar of an inactive window—one that's partly covered by a window in front—without bringing it to the front. (Drag any empty part of the title bar—not the title itself.)

    By the way, you can close, minimize, or zoom a background window without the help of the ⌘key. Just click one of those three corresponding title-bar buttons normally. Mac OS X does its thing without taking you out of your current window or program.

    Tip

    In previous Mac OS X versions, you could press the ⌘ key to operate any control—resize boxes, pop-up menus, and even scroll bars—in a background window without bringing it to the front. But no longer; in Leopard, you can't operate those window features when they're in the background, with or without the ⌘ key.

  • By double-clicking the title bar,you minimize the window, making it collapse into the Dock exactly as though you had clicked the Minimize button (assuming you haven't turned off this feature in System Preferences, of course).

  • The Option key means "Apply this action to all windows in the current program." For example, Option-double-clicking any title bar minimizes all desktop windows, sending them flying to the Dock.

Close Button

As the tip of your cursor crosses the three buttons at the upper-left corner of a window, tiny symbols appear inside them: x, -, and +. Ignore the gossip that these symbols were added to help color-blind people who can't distinguish the colors red, yellow, and green. Color-blind people are perfectly capable of distinguishing the buttons by their positions, just as they do with traffic lights.

Instead,these cues appear to distinguish the buttons when all three are identical shades of gray, as they are when you use Graphite mode(page142).They also signal you when it's time to click. For example, as described in the previous section, you can use these three buttons even when the window is not frontmost.You know the buttons are ripe for the clicking when you see the little symbols appear under your cursor.

The most important window gadget is the Close button, the red, droplet-like button in the upper-left corner (Figure 1-6). Clicking it closes the window, which collapses back into the icon from which it came.

Tip

If, while working on a document, you see a tiny dot in the center of the Close button, Mac OS X is trying to tell you that you haven't yet saved your work. The dot goes away when you save the document.

When Steve Jobs unveiled Mac OS X at a Macworld Expo in 1999, he said that his goal was to oversee the creation of an interface so attractive, "you just want to lick it." Desktop windows, with their juicy, fruit-flavored controls, are a good starting point.

Figure 1-6. When Steve Jobs unveiled Mac OS X at a Macworld Expo in 1999, he said that his goal was to oversee the creation of an interface so attractive, "you just want to lick it." Desktop windows, with their juicy, fruit-flavored controls, are a good starting point.

The universal keyboard equivalent of the Close button is ⌘-W (for window)—a keystroke well worth memorizing. If you get into the habit of dismissing windows with that deft flex of your left hand, you'll find it far easier to close several windows in a row, because you don't have to aim for successive Close buttons.

In many programs, something special happens if you're pressing the Option key when using the Close button or its ⌘-W equivalent: You close all open windows. This trick is especially useful in the Finder, where a quest for a particular document may have left your screen plastered with open windows for which you have no further use. Option-clicking the Close button of any one window (or pressing Option-→-W) closes all of them.

On the other hand, the Option-key trick doesn't close all windows in every program—only those in the current program. Option-closing a Pages document closes all Pages windows, but your Finder windows remain open.

Moreover, Option-closing works only in enlightened applications. (In this department, Microsoft is not yet enlightened.)

Minimize Button

Click this yellow drop of gel to minimize any Mac window, sending it shrinking, with a genie-like animated effect, into the right end of the Dock, where it then appears as an icon. The window isn't gone, and it hasn't even closed. It's just out of your way for the moment, as though you've set it down on a shelf. To bring it back, click the newly created Dock icon; see Figure 1-7, as well as Chapter 4 for more on the Dock.

Minimizing a window in this way is a great window-management tool. In the Finder, minimizing a window lets you see whatever icons were hiding behind it. In a word processor, this technique lets you type a memo that requires frequent consultation of a spreadsheet behind it.

Clicking the Minimize button sends a window scurrying down to the Dock, collapsing in on itself as though being forced through a tiny, invisible funnel. A tiny icon appears on the lower-right corner of its minimized image to identify the program it's running in.

Figure 1-7. Clicking the Minimize button sends a window scurrying down to the Dock, collapsing in on itself as though being forced through a tiny, invisible funnel. A tiny icon appears on the lower-right corner of its minimized image to identify the program it's running in.

Tip

If you enjoy the ability to roll up your windows in this way, remember that you actually have a bigger target than the tiny Minimize button. The entire title bar becomes a giant Minimize button when you double-click anywhere on it. (That's an option in the Appearance panel of System Preferences, described in System Preferences.)

Better yet, you can also minimize the frontmost window of almost any program (including the Finder) from the keyboard by pressing ⌘-M. That's a keystroke worth memorizing on Day One.

The Minimize button harbors a very entertaining hidden feature. If you Option-click it, all windows in the current program shrink away simultaneously—great when you've got several Web browser windows open, for example, or an abundance of word processor documents.

You might expect that Option-clicking one minimized window on the Dock would un-minimize all of a program's windows—and indeed, that's true for Cocoa programs (page185). But if it's a Carbon program, like the Finder, you have to click the windows one at a time on the Dock to bring them back.

Tip

Mac OS X can even change menu commands as you press modifier keys. For example, open a couple of Finder windows and then click the Window menu. Focus your eyes on the Minimize Window command. Now press Option and watch both the wording and the listed keyboard equivalent change instantly to Minimize All (Option-⌘-M).

The Option key works wonders on the File menu, too.

Zoom Button

A click on this green geltab (see Figure 1-6) makes a desktop window just large enough to reveal all of the icons inside it (or, in application programs, large enough to reveal all the text, or graphics, or music). If your monitor isn't big enough to show all the icons in a window, the zoom box resizes the window to show as many as possible.

In either case, a second click on the Zoom button restores the window to its previous size. (The Window→Zoom command does the same thing.)

The Folder Proxy Icon

Each Finder-window title bar features a small icon next to the window's name (Figure 1-8), representing the open window's actual folder or disk icon. It's a stand-in—a proxy—for the folder itself.

By dragging this tiny icon, you can move or copy the folder into a different folder or disk, into the Sidebar, into the Trash, or into the Dock without having to first close the window.

Tip

You have to hold down the mouse button on the folder proxy icon until the icon darkens before dragging. (It darkens in a fraction of a second.)

When you find yourself confronting a Finder window that contains useful stuff, consider dragging its proxy icon to the Dock. You wind up installing its folder or disk icon there for future use. That's not the same as minimizing the window, which puts the window icon into the Dock, and only temporarily at that. (Note: Most Mac OS X document windows also offer a proxyicon feature, but produce only an alias when you drag the proxy to a different folder or disk.)

Figure 1-8. When you find yourself confronting a Finder window that contains useful stuff, consider dragging its proxy icon to the Dock. You wind up installing its folder or disk icon there for future use. That's not the same as minimizing the window, which puts the window icon into the Dock, and only temporarily at that. (Note: Most Mac OS X document windows also offer a proxyicon feature, but produce only an alias when you drag the proxy to a different folder or disk.)

When you drag this proxy icon to a different place on the same disk, the usual folder dragging rules apply: Hold down the Option key if you want to copy the original disk

or folder; ignore the Option key to move the original folder. (You'll find details on moving and copying icons in the next chapter.)

The Finder Toolbar

Chapter 4 describes this fascinating desktop-window element in great detail.

Two Clicks, One Window

In Mac OS X, double-clicking a folder in a window doesn't leave you with two open windows. Instead, double-clicking a folder makes the original window disappear (Figure 1-9).

Tip

If you Option-double-click a folder, you don't simply replace the contents of a fixed window that remains onscreen; you actually switch windows, as evidenced by their changing sizes and shapes.

To help you avoid window clutter, Apple has designed Mac OS X windows so that double-clicking a folder in a window (top) doesn't actually open another window (bottom). Every time you double-click a folder in an open window (except in column view), its contents replace whatever was previously in the window. If you double-click three folders in succession, you still wind up with just one open window.

Figure 1-9. To help you avoid window clutter, Apple has designed Mac OS X windows so that double-clicking a folder in a window (top) doesn't actually open another window (bottom). Every time you double-click a folder in an open window (except in column view), its contents replace whatever was previously in the window. If you double-click three folders in succession, you still wind up with just one open window.

So what if you've now opened inner folder B, and you want to backtrack to outer folder A? In that case, just click the tiny button—the Backbutton —in the upper-left corner of the window (shown in Figure 1-9), or use one of these alternatives:

  • Choose Go→Back.

  • Press ⌘-[ (left bracket).

  • Press ⌘-up arrow.

  • Choose Go→Enclosing Folder.

None of that helps you, however, if you want to move a file from one folder into another, or compare the contents of two windows. In that case, you probably want to see both windows open at the same time.

You can open a second window using any of these techniques:

  • Choose File→New Finder Window (⌘-N).

    Tip

    What folder contents fill the "new" window that appears when you use this command? Usually, it's your Home folder, the folder that contains your entire universe of files, folders, and settings.

    But you can choose any window you want. To make the change, choose Finder→Preferences. Click the General icon. Change the "New Finder windows open" pop-up menu to whatever folder you'd like to use as the starting point for your computing life. Your Home folder is a good choice, but you're also free to choose your Documents folder, your iDisk, or any folder at all. Now every new Finder window shows you that specified folder, which is a much more useful arrangement.

  • ⌘-double-click a disk or folder icon.

  • Double-click a folder or disk icon on your desktop.

Choose Finder→Preferences and turn on "Always open folders in a new window." Now when double-clicked, all folders open in to their own new windows. (This is the option for veteran Mac fans who don't care for the new behavior.)

Switch to Old Finder Mode, described next.

Old Finder Mode: The Toolbar Disclosure Button

The upper-right corner of every Finder window contains a little button that looks like a half-inch squirt of Crest toothpaste. When you click it, you enter Old Finder Mode.

Tip

You can also turn Old Finder Mode on or off by pressing Option-⌘-T, the equivalent for the View→Hide Toolbar command.

"Old Finder Mode," of course, isn't the technical Apple term, but it should be. It was designed for people who come to Mac OS X from an earlier version of the Mac OS, like Mac OS 9, and lose half their hair when they discover how different things are in Mac OS X.

In this mode, three of the biggest behavioral differences between Mac OS X and its predecessor disappear:

  • The Sidebar and the toolbar blink out of sight.

  • Double-clicking a folder now works like it did back in 2000. Every time you doubleclick a folder, you open a new corresponding window.

  • You can add a Mac OS 9–style information strip at the top of the window, which tells you how many icons are in it ("14 items," for example) and the amount of free space remaining on the disk. Just choose View→Show Status Bar—a command that's dimmed at all timesexcept when you're in Old Finder Mode.

    (When you're not in Old Finder mode, this information strip appears at the bottom of every Finder window, as shown in Figure 1-6. And the Show Status Bar command is always dimmed.)

Leaving Old Finder mode

When you've had enough of Old Finder Mode, you can return to regular Mac OS X mode either by clicking the Toolbar Disclosure button again, by pressing Option-⌘-T again, or by choosing View→Show Toolbar.

Note

You'll find this little white toolbar-control nubbin in a number of toolbar-endowed programs, including Mail, Preview, and others. Clicking it always makes the toolbar go away.

Scroll Bars

Scroll bars appear automatically in any window that isn't big enough to show all of its contents. Without scroll bars in word processors, for example, you'd never be able to write a letter that's longer than your screen is tall. You can manipulate a scroll bar in three ways, as shown in Figure 1-10.

Mac OSX offers an intriguing scroll bar option called"Jump to here."Ordinarily, when you click in the scroll bar track above or below the gelatinous handle, the window scrolls by one screenful. But your other option is to turn on "Scroll to here" mode in the Appearance panel of System Preferences (Accounts). Now when you click in the scroll bar track, the Mac considers the entire scroll bar a proportional map of the document, and jumps precisely to the spot you clicked. That is, if you click at the very bottom of the scroll bar track, you see the very last page.

Three ways to control a scroll. The scroll bar arrows (lower right) appear nestled together when you first install Mac OS X, as shown here. If you, an old-time Windows or Mac OS 9 fan, prefer these arrows to appear on opposite ends of the scroll bar, visit the Appearance panel of System Preferences, described on .

Figure 1-10. Three ways to control a scroll. The scroll bar arrows (lower right) appear nestled together when you first install Mac OS X, as shown here. If you, an old-time Windows or Mac OS 9 fan, prefer these arrows to appear on opposite ends of the scroll bar, visit the Appearance panel of System Preferences, described on Accounts.

Position your mouse inside a Finder list-view window. You can scroll up and down by pressing ⌘ and Option as you drag. As you drag, the cursor changes shape, becoming a white-gloved butler's hand. Where can you get that kind of service these days? (This trick now works in icon views, too, which it didn't in Mac OS X 10.4; it actually lets you scroll diagonally, which is even more useful.)

Figure 1-11. Position your mouse inside a Finder list-view window. You can scroll up and down by pressing ⌘ and Option as you drag. As you drag, the cursor changes shape, becoming a white-gloved butler's hand. Where can you get that kind of service these days? (This trick now works in icon views, too, which it didn't in Mac OS X 10.4; it actually lets you scroll diagonally, which is even more useful.)

Tip

No matter which scrolling option you choose in the Appearance panel, you can always override your decision on a case-by-case basis by Option-clicking in the scroll bar track. In other words, if you've selected the "Jump to here" option, you can produce a "Jump to the next page" scroll by Option-clicking in the scroll bar track.

It's worth noting, however, that the true speed expert eschews scroll bars altogether. Your Page Up and Page Down keys let you scroll up and down, one screen at a time, without having to take your hands off the keyboard to grab the mouse. The Home and End keys, meanwhile, are generally useful for jumping directly to the top or bottom of your document (or Finder window). And if you've bought a mouse that has a scroll wheel on the top, you can use it to scroll windows, too, without pressing any keys at all.

And then there's the utterly obscure, but charming, diagonal-scrolling method, newly enhanced in Leopard, which is shown in Figure 1-11.

Resize Handle

The lower-right corner of every standard Mac OS X window is ribbed, a design that's meant to imply that you can grip it by dragging. Doing so lets you resize and reshape the window (Figure 1-6).

Path Bar

This little item, new in Leopard, appears when you choose View→Show Path Bar. It's a tiny map at the bottom of the window that shows where you are in the folder hierarchy. If it says Casey Pictures Picnic, well, then, by golly, you're looking at the contents of the Picnic folder, which is inside Pictures, inside your Home folder.

Tip

Each of the tiny folder icons in this display is fully operational. You can double-click it to open it, or even drag things into it.

Status Bar

The information strip at the bottom of a window tells you how many icons are in the window ("14 items," for example) and the amount of free space remaining on the disk. (If you miss seeing the status bar at the top of every window—what are you, some kind of radical?—see Old Finder Mode: The Toolbar Disclosure Button.)

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