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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—to 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 continuously 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 in the lower corner of your keyboard.

  • Menus. The menus are the words in the lightly striped bar at the top of your screen. The menu titles are slightly different in each of the Office programs. 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.

  • 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. -B, for example, is a universal keyboard shortcut for boldface type throughout Office X (as well as in most other Mac programs). -P opens the Print dialog box, -S saves whatever document you're currently working in, and -M minimizes the current window to the Dock.

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

  • Pop-up buttons. The tiny arrows beside many of Office X's buttons are easy to overlook—but don't. Each one reveals a pop-up menu of useful commands (see Figure I-2). For instance, the arrow button next to the Undo button on the Standard toolbar lets you choose any number of actions to undo. Meanwhile, the arrow next to the New button in Entourage lets you specify what kind of item you want to create anew—an appointment for the calendar, an address book entry, and so on.

  • Choice is good. Microsoft wouldn't be Microsoft if it didn't offer you several ways to trigger a particular command. Sure enough, everything you could ever wish to do in Office X is accessible by a menu command or by clicking a toolbar button or by pressing a key combination. Some people prefer the speed of keyboard shortcuts; others like the satisfaction of a visual command array available in menus or toolbars.

    Figure I-2. The tiny arrows on Office X toolbars are a fascinating hybrid interface element called, in this book, pop-up button. Whenever you see the tiny black triangle pointing down from a toolbar icon (like the one next to the New button shown here), that's your cue to click the triangle and hold the cursor down for a pop-up list of options.

    One thing is for sure, however: You're not expected to memorize all of these features. In fact, Microsoft's own studies indicate that most people don't even know about 80 percent of its programs' features, let alone use them all. And that's OK. Great novels, Pulitzer Prize–winning articles, and successful business ventures have all been launched by people who never get past Open and Save.

    On the other hand, as you skim this book, be aware that the way you've been doing things in Word or Excel since 1998 may no longer be the fastest or easiest. Every new keystroke or toolbar you add to your repertoire may afford you more free time to teach ancient Greek to 3-year-olds or start your own hang gliding club.

    As for the programmers in Redmond, let them obsess about how many different ways they can think of to do the same thing. You are under no obligation to try them all.

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