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The Dock

Most operating systems maintain two different lists of programs. One of them lists unopened programs until you need them, like the Start menu (Windows) or the Launcher (Mac OS 9). The other list keeps track of which programs are open at the moment, so that you can switch among them easily, like the taskbar (Windows) or the Application menu (Mac OS 9).

In Mac OS X, Apple combined both functions into a single strip of icons called the Dock.

Apple’s thinking goes like this: Why must you know whether or not a program is already running? That’s the computer’s problem, not yours. In an ideal world, this distinction should be irrelevant. A program should appear when you click its icon, whether it’s open or not—like on a PalmPilot, for example.


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