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Introduction > The Very Basics

The Very Basics

You'll find very little jargon or nerd terminology in this book. You will, however, encounter a few terms and concepts that you'll see frequently in your Macintosh life. They include:

  • Clicking. This book offers three kinds of instructions that require you to use the mouse or trackpad attached to your Mac. To click means to point the arrow cursor at something onscreen and then—without moving the cursor at all—press and release the clicker button on the mouse (or laptop trackpad). To double-click, of course, means to click twice in rapid succession, again without moving the cursor at all. And to drag means to move the cursor while keeping the button pressed.

    When you're told to -click something, you click while pressing the key (next to the Space bar). Such related procedures as Shift-clicking, Option-clicking, and Control-clicking work the same way—just click while pressing the corresponding key on the bottom row of your keyboard. (The Option key is called the Alt key on some non-U.S. keyboards, by the way.)

  • Menus. The menus are the words in the lightly striped bar at the top of your screen. You can either click one of these words to open a pull-down menu of commands (and then click again on a command), or click and hold the button as you drag down the menu to the desired command (and release the button to activate the command). Either method works fine.

    The Requirements

    Officially, Apple lists the requirements to run the iLife programs like this. First, you need a Mac with a G3, G4, or G5 processor inside. It should have at least 256 megabytes of memory and 4.3 gigabytes of free hard-drive space (if you plan to install all five programs). And it has to be running Mac OS X version 10.3.4 or later. (You also need QuickTime 6.5.2 or later, but it comes with iLife.)

    You also need a monitor that can display at least 1024 by 768 pixels. And you can't easily install iLife unless your Mac has a DVD-playing drive.

    Some of the programs, however, are more demanding. You can't use GarageBand's built-in instrument sounds, for example, unless your Mac has a G4 or G5 processor. iDVD won't even run unless you have a 733-megahertz G4 chip or something faster, and iMovie requires a 1-gigahertz chip if you want to edit high-definition video.

    In the real world, however, savvy Mac fans consider some of those requirements the Computer Jokes of the Day. Thes Apple specs aren't just the minimums—they're the bare, desperate, stranded-on-a-desert-island minimums.

    For example, 256 megabytes isn't nearly enough to get any meaningful work done with GarageBand or iDVD. And running iPhoto on a G3 Mac might be theoretically possible, but it's crushingly slow.

    Bottom line: A much more practical minimum for running the iLife programs is a Mac with 512 megabytes of memory (or more—much more), with at least a G4 processor, running Mac OS X 10.3 and QuickTime 6.5.1 or later.

    After that, the only requirement is a creative gene in your body.


    Apple has officially changed what it calls the little menu that pops up when you Control-click something on the screen. It's still a contextual menu, in that the menu choices depend on the context of what you click—but it's now called a shortcut menu. That term not only matches what it's called in Windows, but it's slightly more descriptive about its function. Shortcut menu is the term you'll find in this book.

  • Keyboard shortcuts. Every time you take your hand off the keyboard to move the mouse, you lose time and potentially disrupt your creative flow. That's why many experienced Mac fans use keystroke combinations instead of menu commands wherever possible. -P opens the Print dialog box, for example, and -M minimizes the current window to the Dock.

    When you see a shortcut like -Q (which closes the current program), it's telling you to hold down the key, and, while it's down, type the letter Q, and then release both keys.

If you've mastered this much information, you have all the technical background you need to enjoy iLife '05: The Missing Manual.

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