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Lesson 4. Introduction to Mac OS X Appli... > Know the Common Elements of Mac OS X...

Know the Common Elements of Mac OS X Applications

Most Mac applications have these features in common.

Windows and window controls When you open an application, you'll actually be working in a window. If you worked through Lesson 3, you already know all about windows, even ones you haven't seen before. You see the same red, yellow, and green buttons to close, minimize, and resize the window. The document name and a tiny icon appear in the title bar. You can drag the title bar or any edge to move the window.

Application menu The application menu (directly to the right of the blue Apple menu) always tells you the name of the currently active application, the one you're working in (even if there is no document window open on the screen). You'll always find the Quit command at the bottom of this menu.

File and Edit menus You'll always find File and Edit as the first two menus to the right of the application menu.

Although each application includes specific features in its menus, in the File menu you'll always find the commands to open an existing document or create a new one, save the document or save as with another name, close the active window, and print the active document.

From the Edit menu you can always undo or redo, cut, copy, paste, select all, and check the spelling.

Preferences Every application has its own preferences where you can customize the application to suit yourself. You'll always open the preferences from the application menu (see the previous page). Typically you'll see a Toolbar across the top of the preferences pane; single-click an icon in that Toolbar to set the preferences for that particular feature.

Safari preferences. The Tabs pane is selected.

Toolbars Many applications have a Toolbar across the top of the window. Usually you can customize this Toolbar: check the View menu for a command called “Customize Toolbar….” In Safari, it's called “Customize Address Bar….”

Search Just about every application has a search feature. You might find it in the upper-right corner of the window or, as in iCal, at the bottom of the window (or press Command F). Just exactly what the search feature searches depends on the application. See the individual overviews on the following pages.

Sidebars or drawers Many applications have a sidebar, a drawer, or some other sort of pane on the side of the window. Single-click the icons you see in a sidebar-like feature to display its particular contents in the window.

Open and Save As dialog boxes Whenever you open an existing document or save a new one, the dialog boxes you see always look familiar. See page 53 for tips on how to get around these dialog boxes.

Help files Every application has a Help menu with Help files specific to that application. You can either use the menu you see on your screen or press Command ? to bring up the files. You'll find a search box where you can type in key words, then hit Return to display the answers.

Special collections Several applications use collection metaphors such as Albums in iPhoto, Playlists in iTunes, Bookmark collections in Safari, and Mailboxes in Mail. Use these to store and organize your stuff.

Action button and menu In many applications, you'll see the Action button (shown to the left) that displays the Action menu. Every application has different options—always click on it to see what is available.

Preview before you print At the bottom of the Print dialog box is a button called “Preview.” Click this to open your document in the Preview application where you can see what it will look like when printed.

Smart Folders Many applications have some version of Smart Folders that automatically update themselves according to your specified criteria. For instance, the Address Book has Smart Groups that will add appropriate contacts to themselves, and iTunes has Smart Playlists that will add music to themselves. Mail has Smart Mailboxes. See Lesson 12 on Spotlight to learn how to take advantage of this great feature.

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