Getting To Know You

After clicking on that Done button mentioned in Part I, you will be launched head-first into the OS X universe, specifically into the new Finder. At first, things may not look so different. Youill see one or more hard drive icons in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. Thereis also the familiar menu bar, complete with the beloved Apple menu, across the top of your screen. The point where you know you arenit in Kansas any more is the Dock occupying the bottom of your screen. This is the new control center for Mac OS X, so get used to it.

Driving Around

Before we delve into the Dock, learning how to navigate among your drives is a good place to start. If you double-click on a drive, youill be presented with a window that is definitely not what youire used to under good oli OS 9. What is familiar is the name of the drive on the top of the window, some scroll bars and arrows, and icons to represent the items on the drive.

But thereis now red, yellow and green buttons in the upper left-hand corner of the window, plus a row of several other buttons (known as the Toolbar) with titles such as Back, View, Computer, Home, Favorites and Applications. Although you can get rid of the Toolbar by clicking on the clear button in the upper right-hand corner of the window, you should keep it around for now, since it can definitely help you learn about the way the new Finder expects you to navigate the system.

Different Views

The new red, yellow and green buttons are to close, dock and resize a window, respectively. They do roughly the same thing as the widgets that used to be on the top of OS 9 windows. Where things get different is the items in the Toolbar, starting with the Back button, which will take you back if you have been clicking on folders. Back to where? Back to the folder that is the parent of the one you are in.

Like it or not, when you double-click on a folder, the default behavior is to replace the contents of the window with the contents of the new folder. A minor paradigm shift, and it does help conserve screen real estate. As previously mentioned, you can dismiss the Back button and other icons. This has the effect to reverting to the old paradigm of having a double-click open a new window.

Next in line is the View icon, which will let you select either an Icon, List or Column view. Icon and List are familiar, but the Column view is something new. A definite NeXT influence, if any of you have played with NeXTSTEP. A Column view window contains two or more columns of information. Items at the left are near the root of your storage device, items to the right are deeper within it. If you single click on a folder on the left, the contents will be shown in the column to the right. If you single click on a document on the left, a detailed summary of the contents will be shown on the right. A double-click, as expected, will launch the document.

Hiding Something From You

In the past, the Mac OS would show all of the files on your drive, if you knew where to look. Although purists may want to see every single file on the drive, there are some files that you donit want an average user to touch. Mac OS X enforces this by hiding portions of the system that you donit need to see. But to answer critics over the years, you can invoke a command-line UNIX interface, and explore the file system to your heartis content. But with all of the nastiness that is in the lower levels of a UNIX file system, this is best left to the experts. Effectively, Apple has given us the best of both worlds.

Whois Your Daddy?

We were pleased to see that most documents, when double-clicked on, would launch the application that created the document. Knowing which application created a document is an issue with any operating system. While UNIX and Windows rely on the archaic but effective filename suffix (.exe, .tiff, .bmp and so on) the Mac OS would hide this from the user by embedding a filetype and creator code in the document. Mac OS X seems to be able to deal with both systems. When launching older documents, the application (often in the Classic environment) would launch and load the document.

Your Favorite Places

Now to the last of the goodies in the Toolbar. They are the Computer, Home, Favorites and Applications buttons. As we mentioned, the Finder under Mac OS X enforces a select view of the items on your drive. These icons will help you navigate to the locations on your drive that youill most likely need to get at. The good news is that you can modify the items in the toolbar, by selecting Customize Toolbar... from the View menu. You can also drag a particular folder or document to the Toolbar.

The Computer choice shows you the view of your system from the top, drives and all. Home is your personal home directory. Since Mac OS X (like UNIX, which is the core) can handle multiple users, this personal space makes sure that each user has their own area to store files. Favorites initially contains your Documents and Home directory. Finally, the Applications icon leads you to the place where your Applications should reside.

Some Basics

Once youive learned how to move about, youill want to check out some of the new applications that are included with X. If youive been paying attention, youill know that you just need to click on the Applications icon in the Toolbar to see them... </body>