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Using the Dock

The Dock, as shown in Figure 2.5, provides one-click access to applications, folders, documents, and the Trash.

Figure 2.5

Figure 2.5 The Dock enables you to access applications, folders, and files with a single click.

The Dock is an important part of your desktop. It is organized in two general sections. The area to the left of the application/document separation line (the white, dashed line that looks like a highway dividing line that is a few icons to the left of the Trash icon) contains application icons. On the right side of this line are icons for documents, folders, and minimized Finder or application windows and the Trash/Eject icon.

When folders appear on the Dock, by default they become stacks. When you click a stack, it pops up into a fan or appears as a grid (depending on how many items are in the folder) so that you can work with items it contains; an example is shown in Figure 2.6.

Figure 2.6

Figure 2.6 When you click a folder icon on the Dock, it expands on the desktop.

This has many purposes, including the following:

  • Shows open applications (some applications are installed on the Dock and you always see their icons there). Application icons also provide information about what is happening with those applications. For example, when you receive email, the Mail application's icon changes to indicate the number of messages you have received since you last read messages.
  • Enables you to open applications, folders, minimized windows, and documents quickly by clicking the related icon.
  • Enables you to quickly switch among open applications and windows by clicking the icon for the item you want to bring to the front.
  • Gets your attention. When an application needs your attention, its icon bounces on the Dock until you move into that application and handle whatever the issue is.
  • Enables you to control an application and switch to any windows open in an application. When you perform a secondary click on the icon of an application, a pop-up menu appears. When the application is running, this menu lists commands as well as all the open windows related to that application. When the application isn't running, you see a different set of commands, such as the Open command you can use to open the application.
  • Enables you to customize its appearance and function. You can store the icon for any item (applications, folders, and documents) on the Dock. You can control how the Dock looks, including its size; whether it is always visible; where it is located; and which applications, folder, and documents appear on it.

Two icons on the Dock are unique and are always on the Dock: the Finder and the Trash. When you click the Finder icon (anchored on the left end of a horizontal Dock or at the top of a vertical one), a Finder window opens if none is currently open. If at least one Finder window is open, clicking the Finder icon brings the Finder window you used most recently to the front.

The Trash icon stores the folders and files you delete. When the Trash contains files or folders, its icon includes crumpled paper so that you know the Trash is full. When you select an ejectable item, such as a DVD, the Trash icon changes to the Eject symbol. You can drag a disc or other ejectable item onto that icon to eject the disc, disk, or volume.

Unless an application is permanently installed on the Dock (in which case the icon remains in the same position), the icon for each application you open appears on the right (or bottom) edge of the application area of the Dock.

Unlike open applications, open documents don't automatically appear on the Dock. Document icons appear on the Dock only when you add them to the Dock manually or when you have minimized a document's window.

When you minimize a window, by default, the window becomes a thumbnail that moves onto the Dock. Minimized windows are marked with the related application's icon in the lower-right corner of the Dock icon so you can easily tell from which application the windows come.

When you quit an open application, its icon disappears from the Dock (unless you have added that application to the Dock so that it always appears there). Minimized windows disappear from the Dock when you maximize them or when you close the application from which a document window comes.

Using the Launchpad

The Launchpad provides one-click access to your applications. Click the Launchpad icon on the Dock (it is located just to the right of the Finder icon). The Launchpad fills the desktop and icons appear on the current page, as shown in Figure 2.7. To move to a different page, drag to the left or to the right or click on a page's dot at the bottom of the screen. As you drag, the page "flips" to the next page or to the previous page; if you click a dot, you jump to its page.

Figure 2.7

Figure 2.7 The Launchpad provides quick access to any application.

To open an application, click its icon. The Launchpad closes and you move into the application on which you clicked.

To access applications stored in a folder, click the folder. It expands so you can see the icons it contains. Click the icon you want to use.

Using the Dashboard

The Dashboard contains widgets, which are small, single-purpose applications. The Dashboard is always running, so its widgets are always available to you. You can open the Dashboard in the following ways:

  • Press Fn+F12 (default if you are using an Apple keyboard).
  • Click the Dashboard's icon on the Dock (it looks like a gauge).
  • Double-click the Dashboard's icon in the Applications folder.
  • Open Mission Control and move all the way to the left.

When you open the Dashboard, the widgets that are configured to open when it is activated appear. You can then use those widgets or see their information.

When you finish using widgets, close the Dashboard again by pressing Fn+F12 (Apple keyboards) or by clicking the right-facing arrow in the lower-right corner of the window.

Using Mission Control

Mission Control is a tool that enables you to see and access anything on your desktop. When you open Mission Control, thumbnails are displayed at the top of the screen for the following items, as shown in Figure 2.8:

  • Dashboard.
  • Your desktops, named as Desktop X, where X is a sequential number; spaces are collections of applications and windows that you can create.
  • Applications open in Full screen mode.
Figure 2.8

Figure 2.8 Mission Control shows you everything that's happening on your Mac.

In the center part of the screen, all the windows open in the applications are shown on the current desktop. Windows are organized by application and the application's icon and name appear with its group.

To open Mission Control, open the Launchpad and then click the Mission Control icon, or, if you use a mobile Mac or Apple Wireless keyboard, press F3. To change what you are viewing, click its thumbnail. If you click a desktop, its windows appear in the center of the screen, and you can click on one to move into it. If you click the Dashboard, it opens. If you click an application in Full Screen mode, you move into it.

To move into a specific window, open the desktop in which it resides by clicking it and then click on the window into which you want to move.

Mission Control helps you manage screen clutter from open windows. It has three modes:

  • Hide all open windows. This mode is useful when your desktop is so cluttered that you are having a hard time finding anything. Press the keyboard shortcut (the default is Fn+F11 if you are using an Apple keyboard). All the windows are moved off the screen, leaving an uncluttered desktop on which you can work. At the sides of the screen are the edges of the windows that have been moved off to the side. Press the keyboard shortcut or click anywhere in the shaded borders of the desktop to cause the windows to slide back onto the visible part of the desktop where you can use them again.
  • Open Mission Control to reduce all open windows to thumbnails. This technique (which you learned about earlier) is useful when you have a lot of open windows and want to move into a specific one. You can reduce all your windows to thumbnails and then move into the window you want to use by clicking it. Press the keyboard shortcut (Fn+F9 by default), and all the windows in the current desktop appear. If you have more than one desktop defined (you learn how in Lesson 5), click the desktop on which the window you want to use appears and then click on the window you want to use.
  • Reduce an application's windows to thumbnails. This mode is similar to the previous one, except that instead of showing all the open windows as thumbnails, it shows only the windows in the current application as thumbnails. Use this mode when you are working with multiple windows within the same application and want to jump to a specific one. Press the keyboard shortcut (Fn+F10 by default) to shrink all open windows for the current application so that they all fit on the desktop. The windows that are currently open appear as thumbnails toward the top of the screen. If you have closed windows (such as documents you are no longer using), they appear as smaller thumbnails toward the bottom of the screen. When you point to a window, it is highlighted in blue to show it will become active when you click. To move into a window, click it. The window becomes active (if you click the window for a closed document, it opens) and moves to the front so that you can use it, and the rest of the open application windows move into the background.
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