Applications and the Dock
Well, this is the reason you got your Mac—you want to get something done in an application of some sort. Makes sense. Hopefully in your Mac career you’ll find reasons to use all sorts of applications—anything from word processing to video editing or even programming and database creation—although, as with anything, there’s a first step. And the first step with applications is to get them launched and working for you.
In this chapter I’d like to take a look at how you get started with applications, some of the basic commands that you’ll find in nearly any Macintosh application, and one of the methods you’ll use for managing those applications—the Dock.
The Applications Folder
As I’ve mentioned in previous chapters, Mac OS X can be a bit of a stickler about where and how files and folders are stored in the hierarchy of folders. Well, that extends to applications, as well, which have their own folder within the hierarchy. In a typical Mac OS X installation, the Applications folder is found on the main level of the startup hard disk. You’ll find it nestled there among the Users folder, the Library folder, the System folder, and so on (see Figure 3.1).
Figure 3.1 The Applications folder is a root-level folder on your Mac’s startup disk.
Applications don’t have to be stored in the Applications folder, but they generally are. Apple puts all its own applications in that folder, or in a subfolder, such as the Utilities folder that is inside the Applications folder. And most third-party installers will also put their application’s icons (and sometimes subfolders full of support files for those applications) in the Applications folder.
Many Mac OS X application icons actually represent a special kind of folder called a package, which you treat like any other icon—drag it around, rename it, double-click it to "launch" it. Interestingly, a package isn’t simply a single file, but rather a special folder that can hold a lot of the ancillary bits and pieces that a typical application needs to get up and running. That’s why when you look into the Applications folder (by double-clicking its icon in an icon view or list view, or selecting it in a Columns view), you’ll see mostly individual icons for each application. (Some applications will have subfolders, but not many of them.) Figure 3.2 shows applications in the Applications folder.
Figure 3.2 Here’s a typical Applications folder, including some non-Apple stuff I’ve installed since getting the machine.