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Introduction > The Very Basics

The Very Basics

To use this book, and indeed to use any kind of computer, you need to know a few basics. This book assumes that, as somebody who's used Windows, you're already familiar with a few terms and concepts:

  • Clicking. 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 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 at the top left corner of your screen is a menu, too.) Click any of these 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.

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

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