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Mac OS X Basics

posted May 15, 2015, 7:58 AM by Jim McNeil   [ updated May 18, 2015, 7:57 PM ]
Desktop basics


The Dock provides quick access to frequently used applications (shortcuts).

Adding or removing an application shortcut:

To add an application shortcut to the dock, find the application in your Applications folder (finder) or in Launchpad and click and drag the file or icon down to the dock. Alternatively open the application and control click the application’s icon in the dock, select ‘options’ and click ‘keep in dock’ to retain the icon in the dock.

To remove simply click and drag the icon off the dock into an empty space above on the desktop above the dock, when the cloud icon appears above the icon click the application icon is permanently removed from the dock. Alternatively control click the application icon, select ‘options’ and click ‘remove from dock’.

Another feature of the dock is the ability to view multiple instances of a particular application in use. Control click the application icon and select ‘show all windows’. Alternatively you can cycle through multiple instances by click the application icon, once it moves to the foreground hold the command key while tapping the tilde key (~).
Launch pad

Launchpad provides access to all applications available on your mac. Click the Launchpad icon in the dock to view all available applications. Whenever new applications are installed on your mac an icon is created in Launchpad. To launch an application click the associated icon. There may be more than one screen of icons if many applications are installed. To navigate through multiple screens click and drag left or right to move to the left or right screen. Launchpad screen navigation is also available by directly clicking the small white dots near the bottom of the screen.

Icons can be grouped together in Launchpad by clicking and dragging one over another. This creates a folder into which other icons can be added. Icons can be move out of the folder back to Launchpad or into another folder by clicking and dragging the icon to a blank space in Launchpad or directly to another folder.

Folders can be renamed to reflect the group of icons contained within. To rename click the folder to expand, select the text at the top of the folder icon listing and enter the text you would like to use for the folder’s name.

Mission Control

Mission Control provides an overview of applications and documents currently in use on your desktop. Click the Mission Control icon in Launchpad, on the dock or use the keyboard shortcut, control + up arrow. Clicking any window in Mission Control brings that window to the foreground on your desktop. To close Mission Control click any empty space outside of a window or use the keyboard shortcut, control + down arrow.


Stacks can also be added to the dock. A stack is a listing of files or folders that can be quickly accessed from the dock. To add a stack, click and drag the folder you want to use from finder to the right side of the dock, release the mouse when the folder is passed the gray hashed line. To open any item in a stack click the associate icon.

The stack view style can be changed by control clicking the stack’s icon and clicking the settings you would like to use from the ‘display as’ and ‘view content as’ options. Each setting has different view and animation styles, which may be adjusted accordingly for the content contained within that stack.

You can add multiple stacks as space permits on the dock.


The menu is always available whenever any application is running in the foreground and is located along the top of the screen. The menu contains a list of commands specific to whichever application is currently running in the foreground although some of these commands are common to all applications.

Clicking a menu item will display a list of commands, to the right of these commands keyboard shortcuts are display using key icons and alphabetic or numeric key combinations. Here is a table listing the symbols and the key name.


Finder is used to navigate, access, or move files and folders on your mac. To access finder click the associated icon in the dock. Alternatively you can press the option + command + f keys simultaneously to open finder in search mode.

The section in the left side for the finder window is called the sidebar. This is used for general navigation in to file locations on the mac as well as to available devices and network locations.

Finding files


Mouse Gestures (Magic Mouse)


Screen shots:

Use the keyboard shortcuts below or install third party software:
  • Command-Shift-3: Take a screenshot of the screen, and save it as a file on the desktop
  • Command-Shift-4: then select an area: Take a screenshot of an area and save it as a file on the desktop
  • Command-Shift-4: then space, then click a window: Take a screenshot of a window and save it as a file on the desktop
  • Command-Control-Shift-3: Take a screenshot of the screen, and save it to the clipboard
  • Command-Control-Shift-4: then select an area: Take a screenshot of an area and save it to the clipboard
  • Command-Control-Shift-4: then space, then click a window: Take a screenshot of a window and save it to the clipboard

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