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Introduction > The Very Basics

The Very Basics

To use this book, and indeed to use a Macintosh computer, you need to know a few basics. This book assumes that you're familiar with a few terms and concepts:

  • Clicking. This book gives you three kinds of instructions that require you to use the mouse that's attached to your Mac. To click means to point the arrow cursor at something on the screen and then—without moving the cursor at all—to press and release the clicker button on the mouse (or your 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 pressing the button.

    When you're told to -click something, you click while pressing the key (which is 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 at the bottom of your keyboard.

  • Menus. The menus are the words at the top of your screen: File, Edit, and so on. (the menu at the top left corner of your screen is a menu, too.) Click one to make a list of commands appear, as though they're written on a window shade you've just pulled down.

    Some people click to open a menu and then release the mouse button; after reading the menu command choices, they click again on the one they want. Other people like to press the mouse button continuously after the initial click on the menu title, drag down the list to the desired command, and only then release the mouse button. Either method works fine.

  • Keyboard shortcuts. If you're typing along in a burst of creative energy, it's sometimes disruptive to have to take your hand off the keyboard, grab the mouse, and then use a menu (for example, to use the Bold command). That's why many experienced Mac fans prefer to trigger menu commands by pressing certain combinations on the keyboard. For example, in most word processors, you can press -B to produce a boldface word. When you read an instruction like "press -B," start by pressing the key; while it's down, type the letter B, and then release both keys.

  • Icons. The colorful inch-tall pictures that appear in your various desktop folders are the icons—graphic symbols that represent each program, disk, and document on your computer. If you click an icon one time, it darkens; you've just highlighted or selected it, in readiness to manipulate it by using, for example, a menu command.

Sidebar 3. Version 10.2.3 and Beyond

Only a few months after the debut of Mac OS X 10.2, Apple began its traditional flood of system updates: multi-megabyte installers that patch holes, fix bugs, improve compatibility with external gadgets, and make the whole system work more smoothly.

Version 10.2.1, for example, introduced a long list of bug fixes in several broad categories:

Disc Burning Enhancements improve compatibility of burned CDs with Windows and fixes bugs in iTunes CD burning and Disk Utility. The 10.2.1 update also makes the Mac compatible with a long list of new CD burners.

Digital Hub Enhancements fix glitches with certain cameras, scanners, and camcorders, and fix the "mouse and keyboard don't work after waking" problem.

Networking and Mail Enhancements include fixes for various mail-importing, mail-sending, ISP-connecting, and Mac OS X Server problems.

Printing Enhancements remove certain error messages and add more HP printer compatibility.

Miscellaneous Enhancements include fixes for slow Web graphics, Entourage glitches, "ticking hard drive" problems, missing Help files, certain "wake from sleep" irregularities, and certain kernel panics.

Version 10.2.2 was a similar touch-up, featuring stability tweaks to Address Book, iChat, the built-in firewall, Mail, Print Center, Rendezvous, Sherlock, and file sharing with Windows.

The 10.2.3 update of January 2003 offered a few more meaningful fixes (plus a long list of obscure ones). For example, when you burn CDs destined for use on Windows machines, they're no longer cluttered with Mac-specific (and, on the Mac, invisible) files and folders like the Desktop folder. Navigating the columnar Open and Save dialog boxes by keyboard behaves more like it does in Finder list views. And you can drag documents onto the Print Center program icon to print them. (If you drag a folder onto Print Center, you even get a printout of its contents.) Predictably, version 10.2.3 is also compatible with even more CD burners and digital cameras.

You don't have to do anything in particular to get these updates: One day you'll be online with your Mac, and a Software Update dialog box will appear before you, offering you the chance to download and install the patch. Almost always, doing so is a good idea—but be prepared to download corresponding patches for Photoshop, Office, and your other programs.

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

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