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Appendix C. Transition Glossary

Appendix C. Transition Glossary

This glossary contains definitions for some common Mac OS X terms and functions. The corresponding Windows terminology cross-references to the Mac terms. If a common Windows term or function is not listed, then it is similar to the Mac version.


The command that tells you the version of the software you’re using can be found in the application menu (the one with the name of the program), not in the Help menu, as in Windows.

Accessibility Options

See Universal Access.


A developer’s tool to write programs that run in Mac OS X as well as older versions of the Mac OS. Such applications are often referred to as “Carbonized.”


A special section of memory dedicated to items you cut and paste. When you use the Cut command, the selection is placed in the Clipboard. Paste places what is in the Clipboard at the insertion point. This is basically the same in Windows.


The Unix underpinnings of Mac OS X. Darwin is available to open-source developers.


The main area of the Mac OS screen; the part that contains icons for drives, files, folders, and the Trash.


Mimicking another program or hardware device in software. For example, the Macintosh program Virtual PC emulates the Windows environment, allowing you to run Windows programs on your Mac.

Energy Saver

The System Preferences panel that controls when your monitor, drives, and computer are turned off after a period of inactivity. It’s similar to the Power Management control panel in Windows.


The main application of the Mac OS. The Finder manages the Mac’s files and folders. It’s always running (except when using certain advanced troubleshooting techniques).

FireWire and FireWire 800

Communications standards developed by Apple. They transmit data, video, audio, and power over a single line. FireWire can transfer data at up to 400 MBps (more than 30 times faster than USB 1.2) and FireWire 800 has a data-transfer speed of 800 MBps (nearly double USB 2.0). FireWire is a popular choice for digital audio and video professionals. How popular? In 2001, Apple won an Emmy Award for FireWire’s impact on the TV industry.

Go menu

A navigational menu in Mac OS X. You can open specific folders or connect to servers from this menu.

graphical user interface

A graphical user interface, or GUI, uses a computer’s graphical capabilities to make the computer easier to use. A GUI usually features menus and icons, which represent disks, folders, and files. Commands are sent to the computer via mouse-clicks. The antithesis of a GUI is a command-line interface, where the user types commands after a prompt, such as C:>. DOS and Unix use command-line interfaces.


A graphic representation of a file, application, or folder.

insertion point

The place where items are placed in documents when you type or paste. It’s usually a blinking vertical bar.


A cross-platform programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. The theory behind Java is that a developer can write a program in Java and have it work on Windows machines and Macs without altering it.

Mac Help

Mac OS X’s built-in help system.

maximize button

While the maximize button in Windows expands the current window to fill the screen, the Mac’s button (the green one in the upper left) makes the window resize to enclose its contents.

Network Neighborhood

There is no direct analog to the Network Neighborhood on the Mac. You can find machines to connect to using the Connect to Server command in the Finder’s Go menu.

Option key

A modifier key on the Mac, whose function changes depending on what application is running.

Power Management

See Energy Saver.

Program Files folder

See Applications folder.

Quick Launch

See Dock.


Apple’s software for playing audio and video on a computer. It’s actually more complicated than that; it’s also a media-authoring platform and a file format. But if you’re like most of us—a regular old computer user—it’s just a media player. Windows Media Player is the basic counterpart to Quick-Time on Windows.

Recycle Bin

See Trash.

Regional Settings

See International.

scheduled tasks

The capability to schedule specific tasks isn’t directly included in Mac OS X but instead is found in the Unix foundation of Mac OS X. The utility is called cron. If you don’t want to work in the command line to use cron, a number of third-party utilities can handle this task.

scroll bar

The bar on the side or bottom of a window that controls what part of a document is displayed.


See Dock.


A program for accessing Mac OS X’s Unix underpinnings.

Universal Serial Bus (USB)

USB is a technology for connecting peripherals—such as pointing devices and printers—to your computer. Mac OS X supports USB, so many of your Windows peripherals will work on the Mac.


A command that takes back the previous command, “undoing” it. For example, if you deleted a word from a sentence, Undo would put it back. Undo is usually Command-Z on the Mac.


See Desktop picture.

Windows Media Player

See QuickTime.



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