The icon for your hard drive (usually called Macintosh HD) may appear in the upper-right corner of your screen. But if you begin each morning by double-clicking it, like millions of other people who've grown used to older versions of the Mac OS, you're in for a shock: Your stuff isn't there.
All you'll find in the Macintosh HD window is a set of folders called Applications, Library, and Users—folders you didn't put there. (If you upgraded an existing Mac to Mac OS X 10.5, you'll also see all your original hard drive folders nestled among them.)
Most of these folders aren't very useful to you, the Mac's human companion. They're there for Mac OS X's own use (which is why the Finder→Preferences dialog box offers a checkbox that hides their icons entirely). Think of your main hard drive window as storage for the operating system itself, which you'll access only for occasional administrative purposes.
Instead of setting up your nest—your files, folders, aliases, and so on—in the hard drive window, Mac OS X keeps all of it in your Home folder. That's a folder bearing your name (or whatever name you typed when you installed Mac OS X).
One way to find the Home folder is to double-click the Users folder, and then double-click the folder inside it that bears your name and looks like a house (see Figure 2-1). Here, at last, is the window that you'll eventually fill with new folders, organize, back up, and so on.
But Mac ...