Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Mavericks Edition (2014)

Part I. Welcome to Macintosh

Chapter 4. Documents, Programs & Mission Control

The beauty of life in the Era of Switchers is that most of the big-boy programs are available in nearly identical versions for both the Mac and Windows. Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint; Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign; iTunes; Quicken; Web browsers; and many other programs are available for both systems. Sometimes you have to buy the Mac version separately; sometimes it comes in the same package.

The best part: The documents you create with the Mac versions are generally identical in format to the ones created in Windows. A Microsoft Word document, for example, requires no conversion when transferred from a Mac to a PC or vice versa. It is what it is—a .doc or .docx file.

Same thing with Excel spreadsheets (.xls), PowerPoint slideshows (.ppt), Photoshop documents (.psd), and on and on. You may occasionally encounter a tiny formatting difference—a line thickness change, a movie file that requires a plug-in—but most documents open flawlessly when moved between Macs and PCs. (Chapter 7 offers more detail on finding Mac versions of your favorite PC programs.)

But even if switching to the Mac versions of your programs is relatively easy, learning how Mac programs in general operate may require some study. As this chapter will make clear, the relationship between programs and their documents differs in several substantial ways from the way things work in Windows.

The Mac App Store

For years, people installed software onto their computers by buying disks: floppies, CDs, and, later, DVDs.

But starting with the iPhone, people installed software onto their phones by downloading it directly from the Internet. Once everybody saw how convenient (and profitable) that system was, it didn’t take Apple long to realize it could bring the same convenience to the Mac.

So now there’s the Mac App Store (Figure 4-1)—or, as the program is called in your Applications folder, just App Store. It’s an online catalog of software from huge software companies, tiny one-person software companies, and everything in between. You can read about the programs, check out customer reviews, and download them directly to your Mac. (Mavericks itself is an App Store download.)

There are some huge advantages to this system. Since there’s no box, disc, registration card, shipping, or stocking, the software can cost a lot less; Apple’s own programs certainly reflect this price advantage. Plenty of programs in the App Store are actually free.

Furthermore, Apple controls the transaction on both ends—it knows who you are—so there are no serial numbers to type in. The installation no longer interrupts you with warnings like “Please enter your password to install this software” or “This software appears to have been downloaded from the Internet”; once you click Buy, the software downloads and installs itself automatically, without any interaction from you at all.

And there are no discs to store and hunt down later. If you ever get a new Mac, or if you ever need to reinstall a program from the App Store, you just re-download it from the Purchases tab; the App Store remembers that you’re a legitimate owner. Better yet, you’ll be downloading the latest version of that program; you won’t have to install all the “.01” patches that have come along since.

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To hide an app you’ve bought so it no longer appears in Purchases, right-click its name and choose Hide Purchase. (To unhide it later, click the Account link on the main page of the App Store; under the iTunes in the Cloud heading, choose View Hidden Purchases.)

And speaking of updates: Since Apple knows what programs you have, it can let you know when new versions are available. The Notification Center can notify you about new versions of any programs you own. The updates are small files, so they download fast; the App Store delivers only the pieces that have actually changed.

There’s so much convenience here. For example:

§  You can opt to have new versions of your programs quietly and automatically downloaded and installed in the background, so that you’re never bugged about their arrival. (Open System Preferences→App Store. “Download newly available updates” downloads the new versions but asks your permission before installing them. “Install app updates” goes the next step and installs them without consulting you.)

§  “Automatically download apps purchased on other Macs” (also in System Preferences→App Store) ensures that when you download an app on one Mac, it auto-downloads on all your other ones, too (assuming they’re logged in with the same iCloud account). Handy, really.

§  If the App Store app indicates that new versions of your programs are available, then right-click (or two-finger click) the Update All button. There, for your time-shifting pleasure, is a shortcut menu containing options like Install Now, Try in an Hour, Try Tonight, and Remind Me Tomorrow. The point is to set up a downloading session for a time when (a) you’re in a WiFi hotspot or (b) you’re asleep and these big downloads won’t slow down anybody’s Internet work.

Top: Mastering the App Store won’t take you much time; just about everything you need is in the toolbar at the top, including a search box and buttons like Featured, Top Charts, and Categories, which are meant to help you dive into the enormous catalog of Mac software. The remaining tab, Purchases, shows everything you’ve ever bought using your Apple account. If you visit this page using a different Mac, you can re-download anything you’ve bought—no charge.Bottom: As with the iPhone/iPad App Store, you can read reviews of each piece of software, written by other people who’ve tried it.

Figure 4-1. Top: Mastering the App Store won’t take you much time; just about everything you need is in the toolbar at the top, including a search box and buttons like Featured, Top Charts, and Categories, which are meant to help you dive into the enormous catalog of Mac software. The remaining tab, Purchases, shows everything you’ve ever bought using your Apple account. If you visit this page using a different Mac, you can re-download anything you’ve bought—no charge. Bottom: As with the iPhone/iPad App Store, you can read reviews of each piece of software, written by other people who’ve tried it.

One final advantage of the App Store concept: If you decide to use Launchpad, described starting on Launchpad, anything you’ve bought from the App Store is easy to delete with a single click.

The only people bemoaning the App Store Era are people with slow Internet connections (or whose Internet services are limited to a certain amount of data each month). Apple cheerfully invites them to take their Macs to an Apple Store, where there’s a free, high-speed, in-store WiFi network.

To use the Mac App Store, open the App Store program in your Applications folder (or on your Launchpad).

In general, the App Store here works exactly like the iPhone/iPad App Store. Click a program’s icon to open its details page. Here you’ll find reviews and ratings from other people, a description, pictures (screenshots) of the program, and much more information to help you make a good buying decision. See Figure 4-1 for more details.

When you buy an app, Launchpad opens automatically, so you can see where it went.

Other Ways to Get Mac Software

In general, new programs arrive on your Mac via one of two avenues: as an Internet download (whether from the App Store or not), or on a CD or DVD.

Downloading Compressed Files

Programs you download from the Web (not the App Store) generally arrive in a specially encoded, compressed form. And unless you’ve changed the settings, they arrive in the Downloads folder on your Dock.

The downloaded file’s name usually has a file name extension like .zip (the standard compression file format for Windows and Mac files) or .dmg (a disk image, described below).

You may occasionally run into .tar files (tape archive, an ancient Unix utility), .gz (gzip, a standard Unix compression format), or combo formats like .tar.gz or .tgz.

Fortunately, you generally don’t have to worry about any of this; most Web browsers, including Safari, automatically unzip and unstuff downloads of all types.

Disk images (.dmg files)

Once you’ve downloaded a program, it often takes the form of a disk image file, whose name ends with the letters .dmg.

Disk images are common in OS X. All you have to do is double-click the .dmg icon. After a moment, it magically turns into a disk icon on your desktop, which you can work with just as though it were a real disk. For example:

§  Double-click it to open it. The software you downloaded is inside.

§  Remove it from your desktop by dragging it to the Trash (whose icon turns into a big silver  key as you drag), highlighting it and pressing ⌘-E (the shortcut for File→Eject), clicking its  button in the Sidebar, or right-clicking (two-finger clicking) it and then choosing Eject from the shortcut menu.

You’ve still got the original .dmg file you downloaded, so you’re not really saying goodbye to the disk image forever.

The disk image icon, the one that contains the actual software or its installer, is a phantom drive, held in memory, that will go away by itself when you log out. So after installing its software, feel free to drag it to the Trash (or highlight it and press ⌘-E to “eject” it).

Performing the installation

Once you’ve got a disk icon on your desktop—either a pseudo-disk from a disk image or a CD or DVD you’ve inserted—you’re ready to install the software. You can install many OS X programs just by dragging their icons or folders to your hard drive (usually the Applications folder). Others offer a traditional installer program that requires you to double-click, read and accept a license agreement, and so on.

Uninstalling Software

If you got a program from the App Store, it’s easy to delete from the Launchpad (Launchpad).

If you got it from some other source, well, there’s generally no Uninstall program. To uninstall a program, you just drag it (or its folder) to the Trash.

Some programs leave harmless scraps of themselves behind; to check for them, look for preference files or folders bearing the dearly departed program’s name in your Library folders (especially in Application Support) and in your Home→Library→Preferences folder.

Opening OS X Programs

You can launch (open) an application in any of several ways:

§  Single-click an icon on the Launchpad (Launchpad).

§  Single-click a program’s icon on the Dock, the Sidebar, or the Finder toolbar.

§  Use Spotlight. Hit ⌘-space bar, type the first letters of the program’s name, and then press Return.

§  Double-click an app’s icon in the Finder.

§  If you’ve added the Applications folder to your Dock, click the Dock icon to open the pop-up fan, grid, or list of icons. Then click the program you want (or even type the first few letters of its name and then press Return).

§  Highlight an application icon and then press ⌘-O (short for File→Open) or ⌘-down arrow.

§  Use the submenus of the  menu’s Recent Items→Applications command.

§  Open a document icon in any of these ways, or drag a document onto the icon of a program that can open it (whether in the Dock, the Finder toolbar, the Sidebar, or a folder window).

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If you press Option as you open an application (or anything else) in the Finder, you automatically close the window that contains its icon. Later, when you return to the Finder, you find a neat, clean desktop—no loitering windows.

Launchpad

The Launchpad app presents a dark background with evenly spaced icons that represent all your programs (Figure 4-2). You can open one with a single click.

You can open Launchpad by clicking its Dock icon or by using a four-finger pinching gesture on your trackpad. Launchpad covers your entire main monitor, hiding everything else.Use the arrow keys to navigate a page; press ⌘-arrow to move between pages; press Option to make the icons start wiggling, ready for deletion.

Figure 4-2. You can open Launchpad by clicking its Dock icon or by using a four-finger pinching gesture on your trackpad. Launchpad covers your entire main monitor, hiding everything else. Use the arrow keys to navigate a page; press -arrow to move between pages; press Option to make the icons start wiggling, ready for deletion.

Why did Apple feel the need to create yet another way to open programs?

First, because Launchpad fits right into the general theme of making the Mac look and work more like the iPad. Launchpad is a dead ringer for the Home screens of an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.

Second, it’s a much less intimidating place for technophobes to learn to love than, say, the Applications folder.

And third, it’s a lot quicker to get to than the Applications folder. You can summon it instantly, using any of these methods:

§  Put four fingers on your trackpad and pinch them together. The Launchpad appears instantly, no matter what program you were in; you don’t have to duck back into the Finder, navigate to the Applications folder, and so on.

§  Press the Launchpad key. Recent Macs have a special Launchpad icon painted right on the F4 key ().

§  Click its icon on the Dock. It’s the second one, resembling a rocket ().

§  Move the cursor into one of the screen’s four corners. To set up these options, open →System Preferences→Mission Control. Click Hot Corners to choose a corner of the screen for Launchpad.

§  Open it as you would any other program. It’s in your Applications folder.

One thing’s for sure: Sooner or later, you’ll wind up in Launchpad.

Only three visual elements appear there:

§  Icons. Each icon represents one of your programs. Apple’s programs are listed first, in alphabetical order: App Store, Automator, Calculator, and so on. Then come all your other programs, again in A-to-Z order. Click one to open that program.

Sparkly animated twinkles surround any new app you’ve installed. (You can see them at lower right in Figure 4-2.)

NOTE

The only program icon that doesn’t appear in Launchpad…is Launchpad’s. That’s a good thing. You wouldn’t want to wind up in an infinite loop, would you?

§  Search box. This box at the top of the screen lets you pluck one needle from your haystack of apps, no matter what page it’s on. You don’t have to click there first—just start typing when Launchpad is before you. With each letter you type, Launchpad hides everything but the matching app icons.

§  Home-page dots. As you install more and more programs, Launchpad makes room for them by creating additional screens. You can spread your new programs’ icons across an unlimited number of launch screens.

The little white dots are your map. Each represents one Launchpad screen. If the third one is “lit up,” then you’re on the third screen.

To move among the screens, press ⌘-arrow keys, or swipe horizontally with two fingers on the trackpad. (Magic Mouse: one finger.) Or tap directly on one of the little dots to jump to the corresponding screen.

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To exit Launchpad without opening anything, click a blank spot, tap the Esc key, or—most fun of all—spread the same four fingers on the trackpad.

Redesigning the Launchpad Screens

If you use Launchpad a lot, it’s worth taking a moment to arrange its icons into logical categories or a sensible sequence. As it turns out, you can freely drag them into new spots; the other icons scoot aside to make room.

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You can even drag an icon directly to the Dock to install it there for quicker access.

You can create additional screens, too. To do that, drag an icon to the right edge of the screen; keep your mouse button down. The first screen slides off to the left, leaving you on a new, blank one where you can deposit the icon.

You can organize your icons on these Home pages by category, frequency of use, color, or whatever tickles your fancy.

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Launchpad’s backdrop is a softly blurred version of your current Desktop picture. If the icons are still hard to read against it, press ⌘-B. With each press, you cycle through another version of that wallpaper: your original Desktop picture, the blurry version, a black-and-white version, and a blurry black-and-white version. One of those should do the trick.

Folders

The Launchpad just wouldn’t be like the iPad if it didn’t also let you organize your apps into folders. Folders let you organize your apps, de-emphasize the ones you don’t use often, and restore order to that horribly flat, multipage display of icons.

To create a folder, drag one app’s icon on top of another. OS X puts both of them into a single new folder (Figure 4-3). If they’re the same kind of app, it even tries to figure out what category they both belong to—and names the new folder accordingly (“Music,” “Photos,” “Games,” or whatever). This new name is only a proposal; an editing window also appears so that you can type a custom name you prefer.

Open a folder by clicking once, or by pressing ⌘-. A special black panel sprouts from the folder icon, revealing its contents; the rest of the screen goes dim. Now you can drag the icons around inside it. You can also edit the folder’s name (click it first).

Figure 4-3. Open a folder by clicking once, or by pressing -. A special black panel sprouts from the folder icon, revealing its contents; the rest of the screen goes dim. Now you can drag the icons around inside it. You can also edit the folder’s name (click it first).

Take an app out of a folder by dragging its icon anywhere else on the screen. The other icons scoot aside to make room. If you remove all but one app from a folder, the folder disappears.

Move a folder around by dragging, as you would any other icon.

Deleting App Store Programs

If you’ve downloaded some apps from the App Store, you’ll find a bonus feature here in Launchpad: They’re especially fun to delete.

Start by holding the mouse down on any icon until, after about a second, all the icons begin to—what’s the correct term?—wiggle. (If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, this should look familiar.)

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You can also just press the Option key to trigger the wiggling. Sometimes, every second counts.

UP TO SPEED: WHEN PROGRAMS ARE ACTUALLY FOLDERS

OS X programs don’t seem to have 50,000 support files strewn across your hard drive. Most programs just sit there, naked and shivering, in your Applications folder—seemingly unaccompanied by libraries, dictionaries, foreign language components, and other support files and folders.

The question is: Where did all those support files go?

OS X features packages or bundles, which are folders that behave like single files. Every properly written OS X program looks like a single, double-clickable application icon. Yet to the Mac, it’s actually a folder that contains both the application icon and all its hidden support files. (Even documents can be packages, including iDVD project files, Keynote files, and some TextEdit documents.)

If you’d like to prove this to yourself, try this experiment. Choose Go→Applications. See the Calculator program? Right-click (or two-finger click) it. From the shortcut menu, choose Show Package Contents. You’re asking OS X to show you what’s inside the Calculator’s “application icon” folder.

The Calculator package window opens, revealing a Contents folder you’ve never seen before. If you open this folder, you’ll find a handful of strange-looking, Unix-named folders and files that are, behind the scenes, pieces of the Calculator program itself.

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The application-as-folder trick is convenient for you, of course, because it means you’re generally free to move the application to a different window—or to uninstall the program by dragging this single icon to the Trash—without worrying that you’re leaving behind its entourage of support files. It’s also convenient for programmers, because they can update certain aspects of their applications just by replacing one of these component files, without having to rewrite the entire program.

You can even try out this programmery benefit for yourself. In the case of the Calculator and many other OS X programs, the Resources folder contains individual graphics files—PDF or TIFF files—that serve as the graphic elements you see when using the program. For example, the file lcd.tiff in the Calculator’s Resources folder contains the image of the calculator’s screen (where the numbers appear as you punch the calculator buttons).

Using a graphics program, you can change the background of this light-yellow calculator screen to, say, light blue. The next time you double-click Calculator—which you now realize is actually a folder behind the scenes—you’ll see your modified calculator design.

(P.S. There are still hundreds or thousands of support files that aren’t embedded within their programs’ icons. They’re sitting in your Library→Application Support folder, organized by software company.)

At this point, you may notice that some of them have sprouted little red X’s. Those are the ones you downloaded from the App Store.

To delete an App Store program you don’t need anymore, click that X to make it say bye-bye—instantly and for good. It doesn’t even have a layover in the Trash.

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You can’t delete non–App Store apps this way, so no X appears on those icons. Why not? Because this deletion method is so fast and permanent. It’s not much of a risk for App Store apps, because you can always download them again—but that would not be true of other apps.

Windows That Auto-Reopen

When you open a program, the Mac reads its computer code, which lies on your hard drive’s surface, and feeds it quickly into RAM (memory). During this brief interval, the icon of the opening program jumps up and down eagerly in your Dock.

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You don’t have to wait for the application to finish bouncing—you’re wasting perfectly good computing time. Just switch to another program and get back to work; the newly opened program keeps right on launching in the background. This means you, Photoshop and Final Cut nerds.

For decades, opening a program on the Mac presented exactly the same thing every time: a blank screen, or maybe a welcome screen. It was up to you to specify what document you then wanted to work on.

Now, though, whatever documents were open when you last quit that program magically reopen, ready for you to get back to work. Everything is exactly as it was, including your window and palette positions. Incredibly, any text that was highlighted when you last quit the program is still highlighted, and the insertion point is just where you left it.

This is all extremely handy if you tend to work on the same documents day after day; the auto-reopened document serves as a nice refresher on what you were in the middle of doing. You can skip fussing with the Open command, remembering what you were doing, rearranging the windows the way you like them, and so on.

Then again, maybe you can’t stand this feature.

Fortunately, it’s easy to turn it off, either globally, on a per-program basis, or on a per-Quit basis.

§  Turn off auto-reopen for good. Open System Preferences→General, and turn off “Restore windows when quitting and re-opening apps.”

§  Prevent your current setup from being memorized. You can also prevent just one particular program from reopening its documents the next time—at the time you’re quitting it. To do that, press Option while you quit the program (for example, when you choose Safari→Quit or press ⌘-Q). The Quit command magically changes to say “Quit and Discard Windows.” The next time you open the program, it will have forgotten all about your window setup.

(On the other hand, if you’ve turned off the “Restore windows” feature in System Preferences, pressing the Option key makes the Quit command say “Quit and Keep Windows.”)

§  Make a program forget its window setup as you reopen it. If it’s too late for the tip in the previous paragraph, you can force a program to start up in its empty, virginal state by pressing the Shift key as it opens. That forces the program to forget the previous window setup.

§  Turn off auto-open for one program. Suppose you like the auto-window-reopening feature in most programs. But there’s one particular program that you never want to memorize your window setup—maybe for security reasons, or maybe because you use that app for something different every day.

Before long, some shareware program will crop up to make that easy.

The Application Menu

In every app, the very first menu (to the right of the  menu) appears with bold lettering and identifies the program you’re using. It might say iTunes, or Microsoft Word, or Stickies.

This application menu (Figure 4-4) offers a number of commands pertaining to the entire program and its windows, including About, Quit, and Hide.

The first menu in every program lets you know, at a glance, which program you’re actually in. It also offers overall program commands like Quit and Hide.

Figure 4-4. The first menu in every program lets you know, at a glance, which program you’re actually in. It also offers overall program commands like Quit and Hide.

Quitting Programs

You quit a program by pressing ⌘-Q, the keyboard equivalent of the Quit command. (The Quit command is always at the bottom of the application menu.)

But OS X offers two much more fun ways to quit a program:

§  Right-click (or two-finger click) a program’s Dock icon to make its shortcut menu appear. Then choose Quit. (Or, if you do the click-and-hold thing on a program’s Dock icon, a Quit button appears just above your cursor.)

§  When you’ve pressed ⌘-Tab to summon the “heads-up display” of open programs, type the letter Q without releasing the ⌘ key. The highlighted program quits without further ado.

Force Quitting Programs

OS X is a rock-solid operating system, but that doesn’t mean that programs never screw up. Individual programs are as likely as ever to freeze—or, rather, to hang (lock up and display the “spinning beach ball of death” cursor). In such cases, you have no choice but to force quit the program—the computer equivalent of terminating it with a blunt instrument.

Doing so doesn’t destabilize your Mac; you don’t have to restart it. In fact, you can usually reopen the very same program and get on with your life.

Top: You can force quit a program from the Dock by pressing Option as you click-and-hold (or after you’ve Control-clicked). Or, if the Mac knows that the program has frozen, this command says Force Quit without your needing the Option key.Bottom: When you press Option-⌘-Esc or choose Force Quit from the menu, a tidy box listing all open programs appears. Just click the one you want to abort, click Force Quit, and click Force Quit again in the confirmation box. (Using more technical tools like the Unix kill command, there are other ways to jettison programs. But this is often the most convenient.)

Figure 4-5. Top: You can force quit a program from the Dock by pressing Option as you click-and-hold (or after you’ve Control-clicked). Or, if the Mac knows that the program has frozen, this command says Force Quit without your needing the Option key. Bottom: When you press Option--Esc or choose Force Quit from the  menu, a tidy box listing all open programs appears. Just click the one you want to abort, click Force Quit, and click Force Quit again in the confirmation box. (Using more technical tools like the Unix kill command, there are other ways to jettison programs. But this is often the most convenient.)

You can force quit a stuck program in any of several ways:

§  Click-and-hold on the program’s Dock icon, or two-finger click it, or right-click it. A Quit button appears just above your cursor. Press the Option key to make the button say Force Quit (Figure 4-5, top). Click it. Bingo—that program is outta here.

§  Press Option-⌘-Esc, the traditional Mac force-quit keystroke, or choose →Force Quit. Either way, proceed as shown in Figure 4-5 at bottom.

The only downside to force quitting a program is that you lose any unsaved changes to your open documents, along with any preference settings you may have changed while the program was open.

The “Heads-Up” Program Switcher

Just as in Windows, there’s a handy keystroke for switching from one open program to another: the ⌘-Tab keystroke (Figure 4-6).

Apple calls this row of open program icons a “heads-up display,” named after the projected data screen on a Navy jet windshield that lets pilots avoid having to look down at their instruments.

Figure 4-6. Apple calls this row of open program icons a “heads-up display,” named after the projected data screen on a Navy jet windshield that lets pilots avoid having to look down at their instruments.

You can use this feature in three different ways, which are well worth learning:

§  If you keep the ⌘ key pressed, each press of the Tab key highlights the Dock icon of another program, in left-to-right Dock order. Release both keys when you reach the one you want. OS X brings the corresponding program to the front. (To move backward through the open programs, press Shift-⌘-Tab.)

§  If you leave the ⌘ key pressed, you can choose a program by clicking its icon with your mouse or by pressing the  or  keys.

§  A single press of ⌘-Tab takes you to the program you used most recently, and another, separate ⌘-Tab bounces back to the program you started in.

Imagine, for example, that you’re doing a lot of switching between two programs, like your Web browser and your email program. If you have five other programs open, you don’t want to waste your time ⌘-Tabbing your way through all the open programs just to get back to your Web browser.

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Here’s a related keystroke, equally awesome. If you press ⌘-tilde (the ~ key next to the number 1), you switch to the next window in the same program.

Full Screen Mode

Features are great and all. But the more of them your software accumulates, the more toolbars and icon panels fill the screen, and the bigger the clutter problem becomes. After awhile, all that “chrome” (as software designers call it) winds up crowding out the document you’re actually trying to work on.

That’s why Apple invented Full Screen mode. It’s not available in all programs, but it’s showing up in more and more of them. In Mavericks, you’ll find the Full Screen button () in the upper-right corner of App Store, Calendar, Chess, Final Cut Pro, Font Book, Game Center, GarageBand, iBooks, iMovie, iPhoto, iTunes, Keynote, Mail, Maps, Messages, Notes, Photo Booth, Preview, Safari, and others.

When you click that button, the Mac hides the menu bar, scroll bars, status bars, and any other bars or palettes surrounding your work area. The window’s edges expand all the way to the edges of the screen (Figure 4-7).

Top: So much for the glorious Web. You’re seeing a Web page segment, swimming in an ocean of toolbars, scroll bars, status bars, menu bars, and distracting desktop.Bottom: In Full Screen mode, Safari stretches to the very edges of your screen, and everything else disappears. (Your address bar and tab bars are still available in this case.)Each full-screen app becomes its own desktop in Mission Control. And you can put a full-screen app on each of your monitors, too.Tip: Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a keyboard shortcut for bringing the menu bar back, if nothing else, so that you can check your battery level and the time of day? There is: Press ⌘-space bar. That’s the keystroke for Spotlight, the Mac’s master search bar—but it also makes the menu bar appear. Press the same keystroke to hide the menu bar again.

Figure 4-7. Top: So much for the glorious Web. You’re seeing a Web page segment, swimming in an ocean of toolbars, scroll bars, status bars, menu bars, and distracting desktop. Bottom: In Full Screen mode, Safari stretches to the very edges of your screen, and everything else disappears. (Your address bar and tab bars are still available in this case.) Each full-screen app becomes its own desktop in Mission Control. And you can put a full-screen app on each of your monitors, too. Tip: Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a keyboard shortcut for bringing the menu bar back, if nothing else, so that you can check your battery level and the time of day? There is: Press -space bar. That’s the keystroke for Spotlight, the Mac’s master search bar—but it also makes the menu bar appear. Press the same keystroke to hide the menu bar again.

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You may as well learn the keyboard shortcut to enter Full Screen mode: Control-⌘-F. The same keystroke leaves Full Screen mode, but you can also tap the Esc key for that purpose.

The menu bar is still available; move the pointer to the top of the screen to make it reappear.

Mission Control: Death to Window Clutter

In its day, the concept of overlapping windows on the screen was brilliant, innovative, and extremely effective. (Apple borrowed this idea—well, bought it in a stock swap—from a research lab called Xerox PARC.) In that era before digital cameras, MP3 files, and the Web, managing windows was easy this way; after all, you had only about three of them.

These days, however, managing all the open windows in all the open programs can be like herding cats. Off you go, burrowing through the microscopic pop-up menus of your Dock, trying to find the window you want. And heaven help you if you need to duck back to the desktop—to find a newly downloaded file, for example, or to eject a disk. You’ll have to fight your way through 50,000 other windows on your way to the bottom of the “deck.”

Mission Control tackles this problem in a fresh way. The concept is delicious: With one mouse click, keystroke, or finger gesture, you shrink all windows in all programs to a size that fits on the screen (Figure 4-8), like index cards on a bulletin board, clumped by open program. Now you feel like an air-traffic controller, with all your screens arrayed before you. You click the window or program you want, and you’re there. It’s fast, efficient, animated, and a lot of fun.

Now, if you’ve ever used earlier versions of OS X, you may remember three other window-management features: Exposé, which also served to shrink windows so you could find them; Spaces, which provided virtual side-by-side monitors; and Dashboard, which presented a gaggle of tiny, single-purpose apps on a single screen.

Mission Control combines all three of those features—Exposé, Spaces, and Dashboard—into one.

Starting and Stopping Mission Control

Mission Control is a program, just like any other. So you can open it with a click on its Dock icon, from Launchpad, from the Applications folder, and so on.

But it’s really meant to be opened quickly, fluidly, naturally, whenever the mood seizes you—with a gesture. On the trackpad, that’s a swipe upward with three fingers. (On the Magic Mouse, it’s a double-tap with two fingers—taps, not clicks.)

NOTE

You can change this gesture so that it requires four fingers, if you like, in System Preferences→Trackpad (or Mouse)→More Gestures→Mission Control. Use the pop-up menu.

Or you can press the dedicated  key (formerly the Exposé key), if you have one, on the top row of your keyboard. Substitute the F9 key if you don’t.

And even that’s just the beginning of the ways you can open Mission Control; read on.

NOTE

To exit Mission Control without clicking any of your windows or virtual screens, swipe down with three fingers. Or tap the Esc key.

Top: Quick! Where’s the Finder in all this mess?Bottom: With a four-finger upward swipe on the trackpad, you can open Mission Control and spot that window, shrunken but not overlapped. Each program’s thumbnail cluster offers an icon and a label to help you identify it. These aren’t static snapshots of the windows at the moment you Mission Controlled them. They’re live, still-updating windows, as you’ll discover if one of them contains a QuickTime movie or a Web page that’s still loading.

Figure 4-8. Top: Quick! Where’s the Finder in all this mess? Bottom: With a four-finger upward swipe on the trackpad, you can open Mission Control and spot that window, shrunken but not overlapped. Each program’s thumbnail cluster offers an icon and a label to help you identify it. These aren’t static snapshots of the windows at the moment you Mission Controlled them. They’re live, still-updating windows, as you’ll discover if one of them contains a QuickTime movie or a Web page that’s still loading.

Mission Control keystrokes

You can reassign the Mission Control functions to a huge range of other keys, with or without modifiers like Shift, Control, and Option. To view your options, choose →System Preferences and then click the Mission Control icon.

Here you’ll find four pop-up menus. The first, Mission Control, lets you specify how you want to open Mission Control. The other three—“Application windows,” “Show Desktop,” and “Show Dashboard”—correspond to the three functions of the older Exposé and Dashboard features, described later in this chapter.

Within each pop-up menu, for example, you’ll discover that all your F-keys—F1, F2, F3, and so on—are available as triggers. If, while the pop-up menu is open, you press one or more of your modifier keys (Shift, Option, Control, or ⌘), all these F-key choices change to reflect the key you’re pressing; now the pop-up menu says Shift-F1, Shift-F2, Shift-F3, and so on. That’s how you can make Shift-F1 trigger Mission Control, for example.

These pop-up menus also contain choices like Left Shift, which refers to the Shift key on the left side of your keyboard. That is, instead of pressing F9 to open Mission Control, you could simply tap the Shift key.

NOTE

This is only an example. Repeat: This is only an example. Actually using the Shift key to open Mission Control is a terrible, terrible idea, as you’ll quickly discover the next time you try to type a capital letter. This would work only for hunt-and-peck typists who never use the Shift key on one side.

If you have a laptop, you’ll also find out that you can tap the Fn key alone for Mission Control—and this time, it’s a great choice, because Fn otherwise has very little direction in life.

If your mouse has more than one button, you see a second column of pop-up menus in System Preferences (Figure 4-9). Each pop-up menu offers choices like Right Mouse Button and Middle Mouse Button. Use these pop-up menus to assign Mission Control (or Exposé or Dashboard) to the various clickers on your mouse: right-click to hide all windows, middle-click to reveal the desktop, and so on.

Note, by the way, that on a laptop, the wording isn’t “right mouse button”—it’s “secondary mouse button.” Which means “right-click.” Which means that on a laptop, you can set it up so that a “right-click” trackpad gesture triggers one of these functions. See Right-Clicking and Shortcut Menus for all the different ways you can trigger a right-click.

Screen corners

If you click Hot Corners, you see a little map of your screen, including all four corners. Using the little pop-up menus, you can assign a window-management feature to each corner; for example, if you choose Mission Control from the first pop-up menu, then when your pointer hits the upper-left corner of the screen, you’ll open Mission Control. (Launchpad is an option here, too.)

Depending on the size of your screen, this option can feel awkward at first. But if you’ve run out of keystrokes that aren’t assigned to other functions, be glad that Apple offers you this alternative.

You can trigger Mission Control in any of five ways: by clicking its icon, with a finger gesture, by twitching your cursor into a certain corner of the screen (Hot Corners), by pressing a key (bottom half of this box), or by clicking the extra buttons on a multibutton mouse, including Apple’s Mighty Mouse. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from setting up all of these ways, so you can press or swipe in some situations and twitch or click in others.

Figure 4-9. You can trigger Mission Control in any of five ways: by clicking its icon, with a finger gesture, by twitching your cursor into a certain corner of the screen (Hot Corners), by pressing a key (bottom half of this box), or by clicking the extra buttons on a multibutton mouse, including Apple’s Mighty Mouse. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from setting up all of these ways, so you can press or swipe in some situations and twitch or click in others.

Managing Windows in Mission Control

Once you open Mission Control, you see two major elements: your Spaces (virtual screens) at the top, and the actual window thumbnails below that.

You can click anything here to jump to it: Jump to a different Space (desktop) by clicking its thumbnail, switch to a different program by clicking its icon, or click one of the window miniatures.

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Try holding down the Shift key as you do it. You’ll enjoy watching all your windows shift around with OS X’s patented slow-motion animation, which can be quite a sight.

Or, if you decide to abandon ship and return to whatever you were doing, swipe down with three fingers on the trackpad (two on the Magic Mouse), or press the Esc key.

The trouble with miniaturized windows is that, well, they’re miniaturized. The more windows you have open, the smaller they are, and the harder it is to see what’s in them.

If you need a little help identifying a window miniature, you have three options:

§  Point to the cluster of windows in one app and do a two-finger swipe up on the trackpad. OS X helpfully spreads the window thumbnails out and enlarges them a little bit, so it’s easier to tell them apart and click the one you want.

§  Point to a window thumbnail without clicking. OS X puts a colored border on it to show that it’s highlighted; now press the space bar. That, of course, is the Quick Look keystroke, and it works here, too. It magnifies the window you’re pointing to, making it full size—big enough for you to read its contents and identify it.

§  Press ⌘-~. That keystroke takes you into one-app Exposé, described later in this chapter.

Spaces in Mission Control

Mission Control’s other star feature, Spaces, gives you up to 16 full-size monitors. Ordinarily, of course, attaching so many screens to a single computer would be a massively expensive proposition, not to mention detrimental to your living space and personal relationships.

Fortunately, Spaces monitors are virtual. They exist only in the Mac’s little head. You see only one at a time; you switch using Mission Control or a gesture.

But just because the Spaces screens are simulated doesn’t mean they’re not useful. You can dedicate each one to a different program or kind of program. Screen 1 might contain your email and chat windows, arranged just the way you like them. Screen 2 can hold Photoshop, with an open document and the palettes carefully arrayed. On Screen 3: your Web browser in Full Screen mode.

You can also have the same program running on multiple screens—but with different documents or projects open on each one.

These desktops are also essential to OS X’s full-screen apps feature, because each full-screen app gets its own Spaces desktop.

Creating a Desktop

Mission Control starts you off with two Spaces (or “desktops,” as they’re labeled). One of them shows the Dashboard, described later in this chapter; the other shows your regular Mac world. If you’ve clicked the  button in an app to make it full screen, it fills an additional desktop unto itself.

To create another desktop, enter Mission Control. You can now proceed in either of two ways:

§  The long way. Point to the upper-right corner of the screen, or just press the Option key; a big  button slides into view (Figure 4-10). Click it to create a new mini desktop in the top row.

Now it’s time to park some windows onto the new desktop. Either drag a window thumbnail onto the blank desktop—or, to move all of one program’s windows there, drag the application icon. All the windows go along for the ride.

NOTE

If you’ve positioned your Dock against the right side of the screen, the  button appears when you point to the upper-left corner. And to create a new screen by dragging a window’s or program’s icon (see “The short way,” next), drag to the upper-left corner of the screen.

Create a new blank Space by clicking the big button. Or save time and energy by dragging a window, or a whole program’s icon, into the empty space at the right end of the Spaces thumbnails. You’ve just created a Space and loaded it up with windows in one fell swoop.

Figure 4-10. Create a new blank Space by clicking the big  button. Or save time and energy by dragging a window, or a whole program’s icon, into the empty space at the right end of the Spaces thumbnails. You’ve just created a Space and loaded it up with windows in one fell swoop.

§  The short way. Drag one window thumbnail into a blank spot at the upper-right corner of the screen—or, to move all of one program’s windows there, drag the application icon. Again, all the windows go along for the ride.

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There are two ways to move a window to a different Space without opening Mission Control first. First, you can drag a window (using its title bar as a handle) all the way to the edge of the screen. Stay there with the mouse button still down. After about a second, you’ll see the adjacent screen slide into view; you’ve just moved the window.

Second, switch to the new Space. Hold your mouse down on the app’s icon; from the shortcut menu, choose Options→Assign To→This Desktop. The Mac whisks that app’s windows from whatever other screen they’re on to this screen.

Switching Spaces

Once you’ve got Spaces set up and turned on, the fun begins. Start by moving to the virtual screen you want; it’s like changing the channel. Here are some ways to do that:

§  Swipe horizontally on your trackpad with three fingers. (On the Magic Mouse, it’s two fingers.) If you have a trackpad or a Magic Mouse, this is definitely the method to learn; it’s fast, fluid, and happy.

You can change this gesture so that it requires an additional finger, if you like, in System Preferences→Trackpad (or Mouse)→More Gestures.

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If you perform this swipe slowly, you can drag the next Space only partway onto the screen. That’s sometimes handy when you want to get your bearings or to just peek into the next screen.

§  Enter Mission Control. Click the desktop you want.

§  Press Control- or Control- to rotate to the previous or next desktop.

§  While pressing the Control key, type the number of the desktop you want. For example, hit Control-3 to jump to your third screen. (You have to turn on this feature first, though. See Figure 4-11.)

To control Spaces from the keyboard, open →System Preferences→Keyboard. Click Keyboard Shortcuts and then Mission Control. As shown here, Apple has preassigned keyboard shortcuts to your various Spaces—but they’re not turned on yet. Turn on the checkboxes for the shortcuts you want. (You can change those shortcuts here, too.)

Figure 4-11. To control Spaces from the keyboard, open →System Preferences→Keyboard. Click Keyboard Shortcuts and then Mission Control. As shown here, Apple has preassigned keyboard shortcuts to your various Spaces—but they’re not turned on yet. Turn on the checkboxes for the shortcuts you want. (You can change those shortcuts here, too.)

When you make a switch, you see a flash of animation as one screen flies away and another appears. Now that you’re “on” the screen you want, open programs and arrange windows onto it as usual.

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What if you’re using Spaces and you want to drag something from one screen (like a photo in iPhoto) into a window that’s on a different screen (like an outgoing email message)?

Two ways; take your pick. First, you can start dragging whatever it is—and then, in mid-drag, press the keystroke for Mission Control (usually Fn-F9); complete the drag directly onto the other Space, and even into the relevant window in that Space.

Another approach: Start dragging. With the mouse button still down, press ⌘-Tab to open the application switcher. Continue the drag onto the icon of the receiving program, and still keep the mouse button down. OS X switches to the appropriate virtual screen automatically.

Rearranging Spaces

Here’s something handy in Mavericks: You can rearrange the Spaces. Open Mission Control, then drag the Space thumbnails around horizontally.

You can even drag the Dashboard out of its traditional left-side position. Put it off to the right of the other Spaces, for all Apple cares.

Spaces and Multiple Monitors

Here’s another favor Apple’s done for you in Mavericks: If you have a second monitor connected to your Mac (or even several), each one can have its own set of Spaces.

Make sure “Displays have separate Spaces” is turned on in the Mission Control panel of System Preferences. (You can see this checkbox in Figure 4-0.)

GEM IN THE ROUGH: PINNING ONE APP TO ONE SPACE—OR TO ALL SPACES

Usually, you slap each app (or each window) onto only one Spaces desktop. Your Web browser on Space 1. Email on Space 2. iTunes on Space 3. And so on.

Sometimes, though, you might find it useful to keep an app’s windows on all your desktops—perhaps because you use it so often that you want it always with you. The Finder and System Preferences are great examples. Or maybe your calendar app, your browser, or your email program.

To do that, make sure that the program’s icon is in your Dock (either because you’ve put it there or because the program is running). Hold the mouse button down on the program’s icon until the shortcut menu appears. From this menu, choose Options.

You’ll see two useful options. One, Assign To→All Desktops, puts this program’s windows on all your desktops. Wherever you go, there you are.

The other one, Assign To→This Desktop, gives you yet another quick way to move an app’s windows—from whatever desktop they’re on now to the one you’re using at the moment. You’ve just “pinned” that app to that Space, and that’s where it will stay. That’s a convenience for neat freaks who like to know exactly where each app will live.

From now on, each monitor has its own set of Spaces. When you use one of the gestures or keystrokes for switching Spaces, you affect the Spaces on only one monitor: the one that contains your cursor at the moment.

Pictures for Every Desktop

Unless you intervene, OS X uses your main desktop’s background picture for all additional Spaces.

Coolly enough, though, you can set a different wallpaper photo (desktop background) to each Space. You might find it easier to get your bearings that way. When you restart the computer, the Mac will remember not just which Spaces you had open and what was on them, but also what pictures lay behind them.

You can go about assigning desktop pictures in two ways. First, switch to the Space whose picture you want to change. Then:

§  Open System Preferences→Desktop & Screen Saver→Desktop.

§  Right-click (or two-finger click) a blank spot on the existing desktop background. From the shortcut menu, choose Change Desktop Background.

NOTE

In both cases, you may have to move the System Preferences window onto your current Space. You can do that by popping into Mission Control.

Either way, you wind up in the Preferences panel for choosing desktop wallpaper. Click the backdrop you want for this screen. Then switch to the next Space and repeat.

Deleting a Desktop

To delete a desktop, enter Mission Control. Point to one of the screen thumbnails without clicking until a  appears in its corner; click it. The desktop disappears, and whatever windows were on it get shoved onto Desktop #1, your main desktop.

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If you don’t have the 1½ seconds to wait for the  to appear, then press Option as you point. The Close button appears instantly.

By the way, this trick doesn’t work for apps running in Full Screen mode. You can’t get rid of their desktops unless you first switch to them and get out of Full Screen mode.

Dashboard

As you know, the essence of using a computer is running programs, which often produce documents. In OS X, however, there’s a third category: a set of weird, hybrid entities that Apple calls widgets. They appear, all at once, on a virtual desktop—the leftmost of the ones in Mission Control, unless you’ve moved your desktops around.

NOTE

Apple thought that parking the Dashboard widgets on their own little virtual screen was a convenient place to keep them. They do, after all, feel like they constitute a separate little software world.

But if you prefer the Old Way of the Dashboard, where widgets appeared in front of whatever window you have open, then open →System Preferences. Click Mission Control, and then turn off “Show Dashboard as a space.” From now on, Dashboard widgets appear as a constellation of little app windows on top of whatever else you were doing, just as they did in the pre-Lion days.

Here, for example, is how you can find them:

§  If your F4 key bears the Dashboard logo (), then press it.

NOTE

On recent Macs, F4 bears a Launchpad icon () instead. On the very oldest Mavericks–capable Macs, the Dashboard keystroke is usually F12. Or, on laptops where F12 is the  key, you have to hold down the Fn key (lower-left corner).

In all of these cases, you can change the Dashboard keystroke to whatever you like, as described below.

§  Swipe with three fingers on your trackpad—repeatedly, if necessary—until you reach the far-left “desktop.” (On the Magic Mouse, swipe with two fingers.)

§  Open Mission Control; click the Dashboard thumbnail at the top left of the screen.

§  Dashboard is an actual program, with an icon of its own in your Applications folder. You can open it with a double-click or by using any of the usual program-opening tricks.

In any case, you now see the display shown in Figure 4-12. Welcome to the Dashboard.

The Dashboard is a fleet of miniprograms that convey or convert all kinds of useful information, on a Spaces screen all their own. You get rid of Dashboard either by pressing the same key again (F4 or whatever), by swiping three fingers to the right on your trackpad, or by clicking anywhere except on a widget.

Figure 4-12. The Dashboard is a fleet of miniprograms that convey or convert all kinds of useful information, on a Spaces screen all their own. You get rid of Dashboard either by pressing the same key again (F4 or whatever), by swiping three fingers to the right on your trackpad, or by clicking anywhere except on a widget.

These weird, hybrid entities aren’t really programs or documents. What they most resemble, actually, is little Web pages. They’re meant to display information, much of it from the Internet, and they’re written using Web programming languages like HTML and JavaScript.

Mastering the basics of Dashboard won’t take you long at all:

§  To move a widget, drag it around the screen. (Click anywhere except on a button or a control.)

§  To close a widget, press the Option key as you move the mouse across the widget’s face. You’ll see the  button appear at the widget’s top-left corner; click it.

§  To open a closed widget, click the big  button at the bottom of the screen. Now the Widget browser appears (Figure 4-13), as described in the following section. Open the widget you want by clicking its icon.

The Widget browser works exactly like the Launchpad. Move widget icons around by dragging. Drag one widget on top of another to create a folder. Search using the box at the top of the screen. Start them wiggling, for ease of mass deletion, by holding your cursor down on any icon, or by clicking the big button. Read pages 148–152 again, taking care to mentally substitute the word “widget” for “app.”

Figure 4-13. The Widget browser works exactly like the Launchpad. Move widget icons around by dragging. Drag one widget on top of another to create a folder. Search using the box at the top of the screen. Start them wiggling, for ease of mass deletion, by holding your cursor down on any icon, or by clicking the big  button. Read pages 148–152 again, taking care to mentally substitute the word “widget” for “app.”

§  To hide one of Apple’s widgets, or to delete one you’ve installed yourself, use the Widget browser described next.

The Widget Browser

The Widget browser screen appears when you click the big  button at the bottom of the Dashboard. As shown in Figure 4-13, it’s simply a master collection of every widget on your Mac, even the ones that you haven’t dragged onto the main Dashboard screen. Its goal in life: Managing all your other widgets.

For example, you can enter icon-deleting mode by holding your cursor down on any one of them; they all start wiggling—and displaying the  button at the top-left corner.

NOTE

Even in wiggling-icon mode, you’re not allowed to delete Apple’s widgets—only ones you’ve downloaded and installed yourself.

But what you’ll do here most often is simply click a widget’s icon to install it onto the main Dashboard screen.

(To close the browser without pulling a new icon out of it, click anywhere on the background.)

The Widget browser also harbors the godlike power of the More Widgets button, described later.

Dashboard Tips

Dashboard is crawling with cool tips and tricks. Here are a few of the biggies:

§  To refresh a certain widget—for example, to update its information from the Internet—click it and press ⌘-R. The widget instantly twist-scrambles itself into a sort of ice-cream swirl (you’ve got to see it to believe it) and then untwists to reveal the new data.

§  You can open more than one copy of the same widget. Just click its icon more than once in the Widget browser. You wind up with multiple copies of it on your screen: three World Clocks, two Stock Trackers, or whatever. That’s a useful trick when, for example, you want to track the time or weather in more than one city, or when you maintain two different stock portfolios.

§  If you keep the Shift key pressed when you click the big  button, the Widget browser fades in, in gorgeous slow motion. Aren’t you just glad to be alive?

Dashboard Preferences

To change the Dashboard keystroke to something other than F4 or F12, choose →System Preferences and then click Mission Control.

Here you’ll discover that you can choose almost any other keyboard combination to summon and dismiss the Dashboard, or even choose a screen corner that, when your mouse lands there, acts as the Dashboard trigger. This works exactly as described on Mission Control keystrokes.

NOTE

Yes, yes, you can also change the Dashboard keystroke on the Keyboard→Shortcuts pane of System Preferences. But if you use the Mission Control pane instead, then you can set up a screen corner or a mouse button to trigger Dashboard—not just a keyboard combo.

Widget Catalog

About 15 standard widgets come preinstalled. True, they look awfully simple, but some of them harbor a few secrets.

Calendar

Sure, you can always find out today’s date by clicking the clock on your menu bar. But this one is so much nicer looking. And besides, you can use this calendar to look ahead or back, or to check your schedule for the day. As you click this widget, it cycles through three degrees of expansion; see Figure 4-14.

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Press Shift as you click to see the panels expanding or collapsing in slow motion.

Click the “today’s date” panel to expand the second panel, which shows the month. (Click and to move a month at a time.) Click a third time to reveal whatever’s on the calendar for the remainder of the day today, as recorded in Calendar.

Figure 4-14. Click the “today’s date” panel to expand the second panel, which shows the month. (Click  and  to move a month at a time.) Click a third time to reveal whatever’s on the calendar for the remainder of the day today, as recorded in Calendar.

Contacts

The concept is to give you faster access to your own address book. It’s filled with clickable shortcuts. For example:

§  Search box. Type a few letters of somebody’s name here. As you type, the widget fills with matching names from the Contacts program.

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Actually, it shows you entries with text that match any part of each person’s “card,” not just names. For example, you could type 212 to find everyone with that area code, or cherr to find someone whose name you’ve forgotten—but you know she lives on Cherrystone Avenue.

When you spot the name of the person you’re looking for, click it to open that person’s full Rolodex card.

§  Phone number. Click it to fill your screen with the phone number, big enough to see from outer space. Or at least from across the room as you dial the number on your landline.

§  Email address. Click to fire up your email program, complete with a fresh outgoing message already addressed to this person.

§  Mailing address. Clicking the mailing address fires up your Web browser and takes you to MapQuest.com, already opened up to a map that reveals the pinpoint location of the specified address. Very, very slick.

Dictionary

Apple has provided about 65,000 different ways to access its built-in dictionary/thesaurus (like the Dictionary app or the Spotlight menu), and here’s another one. Just type the word you want and press Return. Instantly, a handy definitions panel drops down. Use the  and  buttons in the upper-left corner to walk through your most recent lookups and the pop-up menu to specify whether you want to search the dictionary, the thesaurus, or the Apple terminology glossary.

Once you’ve looked up a word, you can look up new words by typing only the first few letters. (You don’t even have to press Return.) The Dictionary or Thesaurus automatically displays the definition for the first matching word. If you click  in the lower-left corner, the panel spins around to reveal, in addition to a font-size control, the Oxford American Dictionaries logo. Someday when you’re feeling curious, click it. (It fires up the Oxford University Press Web page.)

Flight Tracker

This handy widget (Figure 4-15) lets you find out which flights fly between which cities—and if the flight is already en route, it shows you where it is on the map, how high it’s flying, how fast, and whether or not it’s going to be on time.

Top: Most of the time, Flight Tracker is like a teeny, tiny travel agent, capable of showing you which flights connect to which cities. But if one of the flights is marked “Enroute,” then double-click it.Bottom: You see an actual map of its progress, as shown here. You also get to see its speed and estimated arrival status (early, late, or on time), and even which terminal it will use upon landing. If you click the plane, you can zoom in on it.

Figure 4-15. Top: Most of the time, Flight Tracker is like a teeny, tiny travel agent, capable of showing you which flights connect to which cities. But if one of the flights is marked “Enroute,” then double-click it. Bottom: You see an actual map of its progress, as shown here. You also get to see its speed and estimated arrival status (early, late, or on time), and even which terminal it will use upon landing. If you click the plane, you can zoom in on it.

This may look like a small window, but there’s a lot going on here:

§  Flight Finder. If you’re planning a trip, the widget can show you a list of flights that match your itinerary. Use the pop-up menus to specify the arrival and departure cities, and which airline you want to study, if any. (Actually, it’s usually faster to type the name of the city into the box, if you know how to spell it, or, better yet, its three-letter airport code.) Then click Find Flights or press Return.

After a moment, the right side of the screen becomes a scrolling list of flights that match your query. You can see the flight number, the departure and arrival times, and the name of the airline.

This is a great tool when a friend or relative is flying in and you’re unsure of the flight number, airline, or arrival time.

§  Flight Tracker. Most of the time, the status column of the results says “Scheduled,” meaning that you’re looking at some future flight. Every now and then, however, you get lucky and it says “Enroute.” This is where things get really fun: Double-click that row of results to see the plane’s actual position on a national or international map (Figure 4-15, bottom).

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If you click the little  button before performing a flight search, the panel flips around to reveal the logo of the company that supplies the flight data. Click the logo to open its Web page.

Movies

Look up the local movie-theater listings for any day this week—without having to endure the hassle of the newspaper, the hellish touchtone labyrinth of a phone system, or the flashing ads of a Web site.

When you open this widget, you see a miniature movie poster that changes to a different current movie every 3 seconds. At any point, you can click the poster itself to see something like Figure 4-16.

The Movies widget starts out with a slideshow of movie posters.But on the back, shown here, you can read about current movies in theaters, find out which theaters they’re in, and see today’s showtimes. The pop-up menu at upper right lets you see the schedule for Today, Tomorrow, and the following four days.

Figure 4-16. The Movies widget starts out with a slideshow of movie posters. But on the back, shown here, you can read about current movies in theaters, find out which theaters they’re in, and see today’s showtimes. The pop-up menu at upper right lets you see the schedule for Today, Tomorrow, and the following four days.

In the left column, you get a scrolling list of movies in your area. The one whose poster you clicked is highlighted, but you can click any one of them to see, at bottom, all the details: release date, rating, length, cast, genre, a plot synopsis, and a link to the preview (trailer). (After you’ve watched the trailer, click the left-pointing arrow button at the lower-left corner of the widget.)

The center column lists the theaters near you where the selected movie is playing. Click a theater to see the movie showtimes in the right column.

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So how does the widget know what’s “near you”? Because you’ve told it. You’ve clicked the  button to flip the widget around to the back, where you can input your Zip code or your city and state.

Incidentally, you’re not stuck with this “Choose a movie, and we’ll show you the theaters” view. See at the top left, where the titles “Movies” and “Theaters” appear? Click Theaters to reverse the logic. Now you’re in “Choose a theater, and we’ll show you what movies are playing there” mode. This view is much better when, for example, there’s only one theater worth going to and you want to know what your options are there.

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To return to the original cycling movie-poster display, click an empty part of the title bar.

Stickies

Stickies is a virtual Post-it note widget that lets you type out random scraps of text—a phone number, a Web address, a grocery list, or whatever.

Of course, OS X already comes with a Stickies program. So why did Apple duplicate it in Dashboard? Simple—because you can call this one up with a press of your Dashboard keystroke, making it faster to open.

Stocks

Hey, day traders, this one’s for you. This widget lets you build a stock portfolio and watch it rise and fall throughout the day (Figure 4-17, top right).

To set up your portfolio, click the little  button at the bottom of the window. The widget flips around, revealing the configuration page on the back:

§  Add a stock to your list by typing its name or stock abbreviation into the box at the top; then click the  button or press Return. If there’s only one possible match—Microsoft, for example—the widget adds it to the list instantly. If there’s some question about what you typed, or several possible matches, you’ll see a pop-up menu listing the alternatives so you can click the one you want.

§  Remove a stock from the list by clicking its name and then clicking Remove.

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Ordinarily, the widget displays the ups and downs of each stock as a dollar amount (“+.92” means up 92 cents, for example). But if you turn on “Show change as a percentage,” then you see these changes represented as percentages of their previous values.

But why bother? Once you’re looking at the actual stock statistics, you can switch between dollar and percentage values just by clicking any one of the red or green up/down status buttons.

More of Apple’s built-in widgets. Clockwise from top left: Translation, Stocks, Tile Game (showing a penguin photo dragged in to replace the original picture), and Weather.

Figure 4-17. More of Apple’s built-in widgets. Clockwise from top left: Translation, Stocks, Tile Game (showing a penguin photo dragged in to replace the original picture), and Weather.

Click Done to return to the original stock display. Here’s your list of stocks, their current prices (well, current as of 20 minutes ago), and the amount they’ve changed—green if they’re up, red if they’re down. Click a stock’s name to see its chart displayed at the bottom. (You control the time scale by clicking one of the little buttons above the graph: “1d” means one day, “3m” means three months, “1y” means one year, and so on.)

Finally, if you double-click the name of the stock, you fly into your Web browser to view a much more detailed stock-analysis page for that stock, courtesy of Quote.com (Lycos Finance).

Translation

The next time you travel, go somewhere that has wireless Internet access wherever you go (yeah, right). You’ll be able to use this module to translate your utterances—or those of the natives—to and from 13 languages.

Just choose the language direction you want from the “from” and “to” pop-up menus, and then type a word, sentence, or paragraph into the Translate From box. In a flash, the bottom of the window shows the translation, as shown at top left in Figure 4-17. (Don’t click the curvy double-headed arrow button to perform the translation; that button means “Swap the ‘to’ and ‘from’ languages.”)

Of course, these translations are performed by automated software robots on the Web. As a result, they’re not nearly as accurate as what you’d get from a paid professional. On the other hand, when you’re standing in the middle of a strange city and you don’t know the language—and you desperately need to express yourself—what Dashboard provides may just be good enough.

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Your first instinct may be to assume that this module is designed for translating things you want to say into the local language. However, you may find it even more useful for translating foreign-language paragraphs—from email or Web pages, for example—into your own language so that you can read them.

Weather

This famous Dashboard module shows a handy current-conditions display for your city (or any other city) and, if you choose, even offers a six-day forecast (Figure 4-17, lower left).

Before you get started, the most important step is to click the  button at the lower-right corner. The widget flips around, and on the back panel, you’ll see where you can specify your city and state or Zip code. You can also specify whether you prefer degrees Celsius or degrees Fahrenheit and whether you want the six-day forecast to show both highs and lows. (It ordinarily shows only the highs.) Click Done.

Now the front of the widget displays the name of your town, today’s predicted high and low, the current temperature, and a graphic representation of the sky conditions (sunny, cloudy, rainy, and so on). Click anywhere to reveal the six-day forecast.

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Evidently, the Weather widget team members at Apple were really proud of their artwork. Lest you miss out on seeing all the beautiful weather graphics, they’ve given you a secret keystroke that reveals all 19 of the gorgeous and witty sky-weather graphics.

All you have to do is hold down ⌘ and Option as you click repeatedly on the widget. You’ll see that, for the town of Nowhere, the weather changes every time you click.

World Clock

Sure, this clock shows the current time, but your menu bar does that. The neat part is that you can open up several of these clocks—click World Clock in the Widget bar repeatedly—and set each one to show the time in a different city. The result looks like the row of clocks in a hotel lobby, making you look Swiss and precise.

To specify which city’s time appears on the clock, click the  button at the lower-right corner. The widget flips around, revealing the pop-up menus that let you choose a continent and city.

More Widgets

Thousands of new widgets, written by other people, are available on the Web: games, chat and email notifiers, gas-price reporters, calculators and translators, news and sports updaters, finance and health trackers, and on and on.

To see Apple’s current list of goodies, use one of these tactics:

§  The short way. Right-click (or two-finger click) the Dashboard icon in the Dock. From the shortcut menu, choose More Widgets.

§  The long way. In Dashboard, open the Widgets browser; click More Widgets.

Either way, you go to the Apple Dashboard downloads page. Some of the most intriguing widget offerings include the Yahoo Local Traffic widget (gives you the traffic conditions in your area), Air Traffic Control (identifies wireless AirPort base stations within range of your laptop), and TV Tracker (shows what you could be watching on TV right now instead of working). There are also FedEx package trackers, joke-of-the-day widgets, comic-strip-of-the-day widgets, and many other varieties. (See Figure 4-18.)

Not all good things come from Apple. Here’s a representative sample of widgets written by other people. Clockwise from top left: Facebook Alert, Dashboard Aquarium, Scenario Poker, and Dancing Gingerbread Man.

Figure 4-18. Not all good things come from Apple. Here’s a representative sample of widgets written by other people. Clockwise from top left: Facebook Alert, Dashboard Aquarium, Scenario Poker, and Dancing Gingerbread Man.

Installing a widget

When you download a widget, OS X asks if you’re sure you want to install it. If you confirm, OS X downloads it and then displays it proudly in the Widget browser. Click it to open. (Behind the scenes, it’s been copied into your Home→Library→Widgets folder. Only you will see that Dashboard widget, because it’s been copied into the Widgets folder of your account. Anyone else who has an account on this Mac won’t see it.)

Web Clips

You don’t have to be satisfied with Apple’s widgets or the several thousand that other people have written. You can make a Dashboard widget of your own.

Web Clips exploit an inescapable characteristic of widgets: An awful lot of them exist to deliver real-time information from the Web—weather, stocks, flights, and so on.

But what if your interest isn’t snowstorms, stocks, or sports? What if it’s The New York Times front page? Or the bestselling children’s books on Amazon? Or the most-viewed video on YouTube? Or some cool Flash game?

That’s the beauty of Web Clips, a joint venture of Dashboard and the Safari Web browser. They let you turn any section of any Web page into a Dashboard widget that updates itself every time you open it. It’s like having a real-time keyhole peek at all your favorite Web sites at once.

Creating a Web Clips widget

Here’s how you go about creating a do-it-yourself widget:

1.    In Safari, go to the Web page that contains the information you want to snip. Choose FileOpen in Dashboard.

The screen goes dark, with only a small window of white. As you move your cursor around the page, the white rectangle conveniently snaps to fit the various rectangular sections of the page (Figure 4-19).

Drag the little round handles to make the white box just big enough to surround the part of the page you want to enshrine. Or drag inside the box to move the whole thing.

Figure 4-19. Drag the little round handles to make the white box just big enough to surround the part of the page you want to enshrine. Or drag inside the box to move the whole thing.

Your job is to make a frame around the part of the page that usually shows the information you want. If the Web site ever redesigns its pages, it’ll wreck your widget—but what the heck. It takes only 5 seconds to make it again.

2.    Adjust the corner or side handles to enclose the piece of page you want. When you’re finished, click Add or press Return.

Now Dashboard’s Widget browser opens automatically. But wait—what’s this? There’s a new widget here that wasn’t here before!

At this point, you can dress up your widget, adding a little polish to this raw clipping you’ve ripped out of a Web page. Click the  button that appears when you move your mouse to the lower-right corner. The widget flips around to reveal the controls shown in Figure 4-20.

Top: Click a frame style to give your widget better-looking edges. If the widget plays sound, then it keeps playing when you close the Dashboard, unless you turn on “Only play audio in Dashboard.”Bottom: Click Edit to return to the front of the widget, where you can adjust its position on the underlying Web page.

Figure 4-20. Top: Click a frame style to give your widget better-looking edges. If the widget plays sound, then it keeps playing when you close the Dashboard, unless you turn on “Only play audio in Dashboard.” Bottom: Click Edit to return to the front of the widget, where you can adjust its position on the underlying Web page.

Here you can click one of the frame styles to give your widget a better-looking border.

If you click Edit, the widget flips around to face you again, and here’s where it gets weird: You can reposition your widget’s contents as though they were a window on a Web page that’s visible behind it. Drag the widget contents in any direction within the frame, or resize the frame using the lower-right resize handle. Click Done.

You can make as many Web Clips widgets as you want.

But here’s a big screaming caution: If you close one of these homemade widgets, it’s gone forever (or at least until you recreate it). Web Clips are never represented as icons on the Widget bar, as ordinary widgets are. Ah, well—easy come, easy go, right?

Exposé

Before Mission Control, there was Exposé. It was flexible, it was novel, it was a little confusing. It was meant to help you manage a screen full of chaotic, overlapping windows. And it’s still around, in two forms: one-app Exposé and desktop Exposé.

One-App Exposé

When you trigger Mission Control, you see the thumbnails of all windows in all apps.

But sometimes it’s useful to see only the windows of one app arrayed before you—the app you’re using.

That’s great when you’re Web browsing or word processing. This Exposé function makes the program’s windows spread out, and shrink if necessary, so you can click the one you want (Figure 4-21, top).

Here’s how Apple intends for most people to trigger this option:

§  Swipe down on your trackpad with three fingers. You’re shown the miniatures of your current app’s windows. If you point to an icon on the Dock before you swipe, you trigger Exposé for that app instead. (There’s no equivalent on the Magic Mouse—although if you install the free BetterTouchTool, you can dream up a gesture of your own.)

NOTE

You have to turn this feature on in System Preferences→Trackpad→More Gestures. Once you’ve done that, you can change this gesture to four fingers on the trackpad using the pop-up menu—handy if you find yourself triggering the function by accident.

§  Press Control-F3 (). That’s the keystroke on aluminum keyboards. (If you have a plastic keyboard, press F10 or Fn-F10, whichever works.)

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As noted in the box on A Tedious Side Note about the Aluminum Apple Keyboards, you can also press Fn-F10 or, with some tweaking, F10 alone. Or you can change the keystroke altogether as described on Redefining a Keystroke.

§  Enter Exposé from the heads-up display. The heads-up display is the OS X application switcher—the row of “These are your open programs” icons—which appears when you press ⌘-Tab.

The cool thing is that once you’ve got that heads-up display open, you can press  or  to enter Exposé for whatever program’s icon is highlighted! From there, release the keys and hit Tab to cycle through your open apps.

Top: When you trigger one-app Exposé, you get a clear shot at any window in the current program (TextEdit, in this example). In the meantime, the rest of your screen attractively dims. In model Apple apps, like TextEdit and Preview, you even get a little row of icons at the bottom. They represent recently opened files, ready for clicking.Bottom: Trigger desktop Exposé when you need to duck back to the desktop for a quick administrative chore. Here’s your chance to find a file, throw something away, eject a disk, or whatever, without having to disturb your application windows.Tap the same key again to turn off Exposé. Or click a window edge peeking out from all four edges of the screen.

Figure 4-21. Top: When you trigger one-app Exposé, you get a clear shot at any window in the current program (TextEdit, in this example). In the meantime, the rest of your screen attractively dims. In model Apple apps, like TextEdit and Preview, you even get a little row of icons at the bottom. They represent recently opened files, ready for clicking. Bottom: Trigger desktop Exposé when you need to duck back to the desktop for a quick administrative chore. Here’s your chance to find a file, throw something away, eject a disk, or whatever, without having to disturb your application windows. Tap the same key again to turn off Exposé. Or click a window edge peeking out from all four edges of the screen.

§  Use Dock Exposé. Click the program’s Dock icon and hold the button down for half a second. (Or, for faster service, right-click or two-finger click the program’s Dock icon.)

This feature has one chief advantage over the keystroke method: You can Exposéize any program’s windows, not just the one you’re using at the moment.

§  Shove your mouse into whatever corner of the screen you’ve chosen. See Mission Control keystrokes for instructions.

Once you’ve triggered Exposé, you’re not quite finished yet. As shown in Figure 4-21, beneath the window thumbnails, you get to see the icons of documents you’ve worked on recently in this app (at least in enlightened Apple programs like TextEdit).

Desktop Exposé

The other flavor of Exposé is surprisingly handy. It sends all windows in all programs cowering to the edges of your screen, revealing the desktop beneath in all its uncluttered splendor (Figure 4-21, bottom).

Here’s the keystroke scheme:

§  Current keyboards: Press ⌘-F3 (). That’s the trigger for current aluminum keyboards and laptops.

NOTE

Once again, you can also press Fn-11, or (if you set it up) F11 by itself. See the box on A Tedious Side Note about the Aluminum Apple Keyboards.

§  Plastic keyboards: Press F11.

The windows fly off to the edges of the screen, where they remain—forever or until you tap the keystroke again, click a visible window edge, double-click an icon, or take some other window-selection step.

TROUBLESHOOTING MOMENT: A TEDIOUS SIDE NOTE ABOUT THE ALUMINUM APPLE KEYBOARDS

In the beginning, you could trigger the three Exposé modes described on these pages with three simple keystrokes: F9, F10, and F11.

Then Apple’s aluminum keyboards and laptops came along. On these, Apple devoted the F3 key to Exposé functions—and reassigned the F9, F10, and F11 keys to speaker-volume control!

You can make them operate as in the days of yore—by adding the Fn key. That is: Fn-F9 for Mission Control, Fn-F10 for one-app Exposé, and Fn-F11 for desktop Exposé. (Details on the Fn key appear on What the Special Mac Keys Do.)

So here’s the point: On modern Macs, you have a choice of two Exposé keystroke suites: the F3 key (by itself, with Control, and with ⌘)—or the Fn key plus F9, F10, and F11.

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Actually, it’s even more complicated than that. If you find yourself using Exposé more than you use the volume keys, you can get rid of the requirement to press Fn. Open System Preferences→Keyboard→Keyboard. Here you’ll find a checkbox that reverses this logic. It’s called “Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys.”

If that checkbox is on, then you can use F9, F10, and F11 to trigger Mission Control and Exposé. Now you need the Fn key only when you want those keys to adjust the volume.

This is a spectacular opportunity to save headache and hassle in situations like these:

§  You’re writing an email message, and you want to attach a file. Tap the desktop Exposé keystroke, and then root around in the Finder until you locate the file you want. Begin to drag it, and then, without releasing the mouse button, tap the desktop Exposé keystroke again to bring back your email window. (Or drag the attachment directly onto your email program’s icon on the Dock and pause until its window thumbnails appear.)

Move your cursor, with the file in mid-drag, directly over the outgoing message window; release the cursor to create the attachment. You’ve just added an attachment from the desktop in one smooth motion.

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You can apply the same life-changing shortcut to dragging a graphic into a page-layout program, a folder of photos into iPhoto, a sound or graphic into iMovie, and so on.

§  You want to open a different document. For many people, having access to the entire Finder beats the pants off having to use the Open dialog box. Double-clicking the icon you want automatically opens it and turns off Exposé.

§  You’re on the Web, and you want to see if some file has finished downloading. Trigger desktop Exposé to survey the situation on your desktop.

If the layer of open programs is the atmosphere, the Finder is the earth below—and the ability to teleport back and forth is a huge timesaver.

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You can switch between the two Exposé modes (one-app or desktop), even after you’ve triggered one. For example, if you three-finger downswipe to shrink only that program’s windows, you can then press ⌘-F3 to see the desktop. In fact, you can also get to one-app Exposé from within Mission Control—just press ⌘-~.

Exposé Tip-O-Rama

Just having your world o’ windows spread out like index cards is magic enough. But these windows are live. You can work with them. Let us count the ways.

§  Tab through Exposé’d apps. Once you’ve started one-app Exposé and a program’s windows are arrayed before you, press the Tab key. With each tap, you cycle through the open apps, each getting the Exposé treatment in turn. It’s an informative way to inspect what’s happening in each open program without losing your way. (Pressing ⌘-~ does the same thing.) Shift-Tab, as usual, cycles through the programs in the opposite direction.

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You can also switch to another app’s micro-windows by clicking its Dock icon.

§  Change Exposé’d apps using the heads-up display. Here’s another way to change programs once you’re in one-app Exposé: Press ⌘-Tab to bring up the heads-up display (yes, even while your windows are shrunken). Tab your way through the program icons (Figure 4-21) until the one you want is selected, and then release the keys. That program’s windows spring to the front, still miniaturized and arrayed for your selection pleasure.

§  Hold down instead of two presses. Most of the time, you’ll probably use Exposé in two steps. You’ll tap the keystroke once to get the windows out of the way and tap it again to bring them back (if, indeed, you haven’t clicked a window to bring them back).

In some cases, though, you may find it easier to hold down the relevant key. For example, hold down ⌘-F3 (Show Desktop) to see if a file is finished copying to the desktop, and then release the keys to bring back all the windows. (Actually, you can let go of the ⌘ key as soon as you’ve entered Exposé.) For quick window-clearing situations, that method saves you the step of having to press the keystroke a second time to turn off Exposé.

§  Use the spring-loaded Dock. This trick is great when you want to drop a file from one program into a particular window belonging to another.

The most common example: You want to add an attachment to an outgoing email message. In the Finder, locate the file’s icon. Drag it directly onto your email program’s Dock icon—and pause with your finger still on the button. After a half-second, Exposé happens, showing all your email program’s open windows. Now continue your drag onto the miniaturized window of the outgoing message so it’s highlighted, tap the space bar to open it, and then release. Presto! The file is attached.

This trick also works great when you want to drop a photo into a newsletter, for example, or a text clipping into a word-processing document.

§  Dip into Quick Look. Once you’ve got shrunken windows on the screen, tap your arrow keys to highlight a window (or point with your mouse at them without clicking). A bright-blue border moves from window to window.

At any point, you can press the space bar to make that one window return to life size. You haven’t really activated it—you can’t edit it—but at least you can see it at full size.

And here’s the very cool part: Once you’ve triggered Quick Look like this, you can press the arrow keys to zap other miniwindows back to full size, without having to exit Quick Look. Or, again, point to other windows without clicking. Each zooms in to 100 percent size. (All of this is much easier to do than to imagine.)

You can keep examining your windows at full size until you spot the one you’re after; now tap Return (or click the mouse in the window) to exit Quick Look and Exposé. You’ve just opened that window, and you’re ready to roll.

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Keep in mind that you can change all of these Exposé triggers—keyboard shortcuts, hot corners, and so on. See Exposé.

Hiding Programs the Old-Fashioned Way

When it comes to getting windows out of your way, nothing can touch Mission Control and Exposé for speed and entertainment value. Once you’ve mastered those features, the traditional rituals of hiding windows will seem charmingly quaint. “When I was your age,” you’ll tell your grandchildren, “we used to have to hold down the Option key to hide windows!”

But you know the drill at software companies: They giveth, but they never taketh away. All the old techniques are still around for the benefit of Mac fans who use them by force of habit.

Hiding the Program You’re Using

For the purposes of this discussion, when a program is hidden, all its windows, tool palettes, and button bars disappear. You can bring them back only by bringing the program to the front again (by clicking its Dock icon again, for example).

If your aim is to hide only the frontmost program, OS X offers a whole raft of approaches. Many of them involve the Option key, as listed here:

§  Option-click any visible portion of the desktop. The program you were in vanishes, along with all its windows.

§  Option-click any other program’s icon on the Dock. You open that program (or bring all its windows to the front) and hide all the windows of the one you were using.

§  Option-click any visible portion of another program’s windows. Once again, you switch programs, hiding the one you were using at the time.

§  From the application menu, choose Hide iPhoto (or whatever the program is). The application menu is the boldfaced menu that bears the program’s name.

§  From the program’s Dock icon shortcut menu, choose Hide. You open the shortcut menu, of course, by right-clicking (or two-finger clicking). You also get a Hide button if you click-and-hold on the Dock icon for half a second.

§  When you’ve highlighted a program’s icon by pressing ⌘-Tab to rotate through the running programs, press the letter H key. The program hides itself instantly. Leave the ⌘ key down the whole time and, after pressing the H, press Tab again to move on to the next program. If you release the keys while “stopped” on the program instead, you’ll bring it forward rather than hiding it.

§  Press ⌘-H. This may be the easiest and most useful trick of all (although it doesn’t work in a few oddball programs). Doing so hides the program you’re in; you then “fall down” into the next running program.

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Consider this radical timesaving proposal: Never quit the programs you use frequently. Instead, simply hit ⌘-H whenever you’re finished working in a program. That way, the next time you need it, the program launches with zero wait time.

There’s a limit to this principle; if you have only 2 gigabytes of memory and you keep 20 programs open, and one of them is Photoshop, you’ll incur a speed penalty. In more moderate situations, though, OS X’s virtual-memory scheme is so good that there’s almost no downside to leaving your programs open all the time.

To unhide a program and its windows, click its Dock icon again, choose the Show All command in the application menu, or press ⌘-Tab to summon the heads-up application display.

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The Dock continues to display the icons of all running programs without any indication that you’ve hidden them. Fortunately, that’s easy enough to fix. All you need is the free program TinkerTool, which is available on this book’s “Missing CD” page at www.missingmanuals.com. It offers a simple checkbox that makes hidden programs appear with transparent Dock icons.

Hiding All Other Programs

Choosing Hide Others from your program’s application menu means, of course, “Hide the windows of every program but this one.” It even hides your Finder (desktop) windows, although desktop icons remain visible.

Better yet, there’s a keystroke for this command: Option-⌘-H. That’s one small step for keystrokes, one giant leap for productivity geeks.

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If you right-click (or two-finger click) a program’s Dock icon, you get its shortcut menu, including a Hide command. If you press Option, it changes to say Hide Others. It’s a lot more work than the methods described above, but, you know. One strives for thoroughness.

If this trick interests you, you might also enjoy its corollary, described next.

The Bring-Forward, Hide-All-Others Trick

Here’s a terrific technique that lets you bring one program to the front (along with all its open windows) and hide all other windows of all other open programs—all with one click.

You might think of it as Hero mode, or Front-and-Center mode, or Clear My Calendar mode.

In any case, the trick is to Option-⌘-click the lucky program’s icon on the Dock. As it jumps to the fore, all other windows on your Mac are instantly hidden. (You can bring them back, of course, by clicking the appropriate Dock icons.)

Hiding (Minimizing) Individual Windows

You can also hide or show individual windows of a single program. In fact, Apple must believe that hiding a window will become one of your favorite activities, because it offers at least four ways to do it:

§  Choose Window→Minimize Window, if your program offers such a command, or press ⌘-M.

§  Click the Minimize button on the window’s title bar.

§  Double-click the window’s title bar. (If this doesn’t work, choose →System Preferences→Appearance. Make sure “Double-click a window’s title bar to minimize” is turned on.)

In any case, the affected window shrinks down until it becomes a new icon on the right side of the Dock. Click that icon to bring the window back.

How Documents Know Their Parents

Every operating system needs a mechanism to associate documents with the applications that created them. When you double-click a Microsoft Word document icon, for example, it’s clear that you want Microsoft Word to launch and open the document.

So how does OS X know how to find a document’s mommy?

It actually has two different mechanisms.

§  File name extensions. A file name extension is a suffix following a period in the file’s name, as in Letter to Mom.doc. (It’s usually three letters long, but it doesn’t have to be.) These play a role in determining which documents open into which programs.

That’s how Windows identifies its documents, too. If you double-click something called memo.doc, it opens in Microsoft Word. If you double-click memo.wri, it opens in Microsoft Write, and so on.

NOTE

OS X comes set to hide most file name extensions, on the premise that they make the operating system look more technical and threatening. If you’d like to see them, however, then choose Finder→Preferences, click the Advanced button, and then turn on “Show all filename extensions.” Now examine a few of your documents; you’ll see that their names display the previously hidden suffixes.

You can hide or show these suffixes on an icon-at-a-time basis, too (or a clump-at-a-time basis). Just highlight the icon or icons you want to affect, and then choose File→Get Info. In the resulting Info window, proceed as shown in Figure 4-22.

§  Your preferences. If you’ve used the Always Open With command to specify which program opens your document, that’s the one that opens; this preference overrides the file name extension system. OS X memorizes that new pairing.

It’s possible to live a long and happy life without knowing anything about these suffixes and relationships. Indeed, the vast majority of Mac fans may never even encounter them. But if you’re prepared for a little bit of technical bushwhacking, you may discover that understanding document-program relationships can be useful in troubleshooting, keeping your files private, and appreciating how OS X works.

Top: In the Info window, open the Name & Extension pane. Now you can see what OS X really thinks your file is called. Turn “Hide extension” on if you’d rather not see the file name suffix in the Finder.Bottom: If you try to add a suffix of your own, OS X objects, in effect saying, “Hey—I’ve already got a file name extension for this, even if you can’t see it. Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” (And you can turn off this warning, if you like. Choose Finder→Preferences→Advanced pane. Turn off “Show warning before changing an extension.”)

Figure 4-22. Top: In the Info window, open the Name & Extension pane. Now you can see what OS X really thinks your file is called. Turn “Hide extension” on if you’d rather not see the file name suffix in the Finder. Bottom: If you try to add a suffix of your own, OS X objects, in effect saying, “Hey—I’ve already got a file name extension for this, even if you can’t see it. Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” (And you can turn off this warning, if you like. Choose Finder→Preferences→Advanced pane. Turn off “Show warning before changing an extension.”)

Reassigning Documents to Programs

Unfortunately, file name extensions aren’t always especially specific. Suppose you’ve downloaded a graphic called Sunset.jpg. Well, almost any program these days can open a JPEG graphic—Photoshop, Pages, Word, Preview, Safari, and so on. How does OS X know which of these programs to open when you double-click the file?

Fortunately, you can decide. You can reassign a document (or all documents of its kind) to a specific program. Here’s the rundown.

Reassigning a certain document—just once

Double-clicking a graphics file generally opens it in Preview, the graphics viewer included with OS X. Most of the time, that’s a perfectly good arrangement. But Preview has only limited editing powers. What if you decide to edit a graphics file more substantially? You’d want it to open, just this once, into a different program—Photoshop Elements, for example.

To do so, you must access the Open With command. You can find it in three places:

§  Highlight the icon and then choose File→Open With.

§  Highlight the icon and then open the  menu. In the menu, choose Open With.

Top: The shortcut menu offers a list of programs capable of opening an icon. If you were to press the Option key right now, the words “Open With” would suddenly change to say “Always Open With.”Bottom: If you choose Other, you’re prompted to choose a different program. Turn on Always Open With if you’ll always want this document to open in the new parent program. Otherwise, this is a one-time reassignment.

Figure 4-23. Top: The shortcut menu offers a list of programs capable of opening an icon. If you were to press the Option key right now, the words “Open With” would suddenly change to say “Always Open With.” Bottom: If you choose Other, you’re prompted to choose a different program. Turn on Always Open With if you’ll always want this document to open in the new parent program. Otherwise, this is a one-time reassignment.

§  Right-click (or two-finger click) the file’s icon. From the shortcut menu, choose Open With.

Study the submenu for a moment (Figure 4-23, top). The program whose name says “(default)” indicates which program usually opens this kind of document. From this pop-up menu, choose the name of the program you’d rather open this particular file, right now, just this once.

Reassigning a certain document—permanently

After opening a TIFF file in, say, Photoshop Elements for editing, you haven’t really made any changes in the fabric of your Mac universe. The next time you double-click that file, it opens once again in Preview.

If you wish this particular file would always open in Photoshop Elements, the steps are slightly different. In fact, there are three different ways:

§  In the Choose an Application dialog box (the one that appears when you double-click a document whose “parent” program isn’t clear), turn on Always Open With (shown at bottom in Figure 4-23).

§  Start out with one of the previously described techniques (for example, File→Open With, or right-click the file’s icon and choose Open With)—but after you see the menu, press the Option key, too. Before your very eyes, the Open With command changes to say Always Open With.

GEM IN THE ROUGH: USING THE DOCK OR SIDEBAR FOR DRAG-AND-DROP

The Mac is smart about the relationship between documents and applications. If you double-click a TextEdit document icon, for example, TextEdit opens automatically and shows you the document.

But it’s occasionally useful to open a document using a program other than the one that created it. Perhaps, as is often the case with downloaded Internet graphics, you don’t have the program that created it, or you don’t know which one was used. This technique is also useful if you want to open a ReadMe file into your word processor, such as Word, instead of the usual TextEdit program.

In such cases, the Dock is handy: Just drag the mystery document onto one of the Dock’s tiles, as shown here. Doing so forces the program to open the document—if it can. (Dragging onto a program’s icon in the Sidebar or even the Finder toolbar works just as well.)

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Incidentally, in general only the Dock icons of programs that can, in fact, open the file you’re dragging become highlighted. The others just shrug indifferently or even scoot aside, thinking that you’re trying to drag the file into the Dock.

Pressing Option-⌘ as you drag forces Dock icons to be more tolerant. Now all of them “light up” as your document touches them, indicating that they’ll try to open your file. Even so, a “could not be opened” error message may result. As they say in Cupertino, sometimes what a can really needs is a can opener.

§  Highlight the icon, and then choose File→Get Info. Open the “Open with” panel. Choose a new “parent” program’s name from the pop-up menu. You’ll see that the word “(default)” changes position, now tacking itself onto the name of the program you’ve chosen.

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You can use a similar trick to reassign the parenthood of a whole flock of selected icons at once. Once you’ve selected them, keep the Option key pressed as you choose File→Show Inspector. In the Open With section of this specialized Get Info window, choose a new program from the pop-up menu. The message at the top of the window—“22 items,” for example—reminds you that you’re changing the whole batch at once.

Reassigning all documents of one type

So much for reassigning one document (or a group of documents) at a time. What if you’re, say, writing a book about OS X, and you’ve been taking a lot of screenshots? OS X saves each captured screen illustration as a graphics file in something called PNG format. That’s all fine, except that every time you double-click one of these, it opens into Preview, where you can’t paint out unwanted details.

You could reassign all these files, one at a time, to a different program, but your grandchildren would have grandchildren by the time you finished. In this case, you want to tell OS X, “For heaven’s sake, make all PNG files open in Photoshop from now on!”

To make it happen, start by highlighting any PNG file. Choose File→Get Info. (The shortcut menus won’t help you in this case.) Open the “Open with” panel.

From its pop-up menu, choose the program you want to open this kind of document from now on.

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If the one you prefer isn’t listed, use the Other option, which opens the Choose an Application dialog box so you can navigate to the one you want, as shown in Figure 4-23 at bottom. Find and double-click the program.

Or, instead of choosing Other, you can also choose App Store. It’s Apple’s way of saying, “Hey—if you don’t have a program that can open this document, maybe you should just go buy one right now!”

This time, follow up by clicking Change All beneath the pop-up menu. (This button is dimmed until you’ve actually selected a different program from the pop-up menu.) Confirm by clicking Continue or pressing Return.

From now on, double-clicking any similar kind of document opens it in the newly selected program.

Keyboard Control

OS X offers a fantastic feature for anyone who believes life is short: keyboard-controllable menus, dialog boxes, pop-up menus, and even Dock pop-up menus. You can operate every menu in every program without the mouse.

In fact, you can operate every control in every dialog box from the keyboard, including pop-up menus and checkboxes. And you can even redefine many of the built-in OS X keystrokes, like Shift-⌘-3 to capture the screen as a graphic.

In fact, you can even add or change any menu command in any program. If you’re a keyboard-shortcut lover, your cup runneth over.

Here are some of the ways you can control your Mac mouselessly. In the following descriptions, you’ll encounter the factory settings for the keystrokes that do the magic—but as you’ll see in a moment, you can change these key combos to anything you like. (The System Preferences→Keyboard→Keyboard Shortcuts tab contains the on/off switches for these features.)

NOTE

On modern-day aluminum keyboards, the keystrokes described below may not work unless you also press the Fn key simultaneously.

If that seems just a tad clumsy, you can eliminate the Fn-key requirement either by using the “Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys” option described in the box on A Tedious Side Note about the Aluminum Apple Keyboards—or by choosing a different keystroke altogether (Control Dialog Boxes).

NOSTALGIA CORNER: WINDOW LAYERING

OS X takes a layered approach to your programs’ windows. They’re not all in front or all in back; it’s entirely possible to wind up with the windows of different programs sandwiched and layered, front to back.

Suppose, for example, you have Microsoft Excel in the foreground but Word in the background. If you click within a visible portion of a background window, you bring only that window of Word to the front.

The remedy for this situation, if it bothers you, is the Window→Bring All to Front command, which appears in the Finder and in many other programs. It brings all a program’s windows to the front. (You can do the same thing by simply clicking the program’s Dock icon, or using the ⌘-Tab “heads-up” display.)

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Layered windows shine when you’re comparing two documents in two different programs, because they free you of the window clutter of other open documents. But the time will come when you’re ready to bring all a background program’s windows to the front. Get into the habit of clicking its Dock icon, or pressing ⌘-Tab to select its icon, rather than clicking inside one window. When you do that, all open windows in that application come forward, from wherever they may be.

Control the Menus

When you press Control-F2, the  menu is highlighted. At this point, you can “walk” to another menu by pressing the  or  keys (or Tab and Shift-Tab). When you reach the menu you want, open it by pressing , space, Return, or Enter.

Walk down the commands in the menu by pressing  or , or jump directly to a command in the menu by typing the first couple of letters of its name. Finally, “click” a menu command by pressing Enter, Return, or the space bar.

You can also close the menu without making a selection by pressing Esc or ⌘-period.

Control the Dock

Once you’ve pressed Control-F3, you can highlight any icon on the Dock by pressing the appropriate arrow keys (or, once again, Tab and Shift-Tab).

Then, once you’ve highlighted a Dock icon, you “click” it by pressing Return or the space bar. Again, if you change your mind, press Esc or ⌘-period.

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Once you’ve highlighted a disk or folder icon, you can press the  or  keys to make its shortcut menu appear. (If you’ve positioned the Dock vertically, then use  or  instead.)

Cycle Through Your Windows

Every time you press Control-F4, you bring the next window forward, eventually cycling through every window in every open program. Add the Shift key to cycle through them in the opposite order.

You may remember that OS X offers a different keystroke for cycling through the different windows in your current program (it’s ⌘-~, the tilde symbol at the upper left on your keyboard). Control-F4, on the other hand, tours all windows in all programs. Both keystrokes are useful in different situations.

Control the Toolbar

This one is on the unpredictable side, but it more or less works in most programs that display an OS X–style toolbar: the Finder, System Preferences, and so on.

When you press Control-F5, you highlight the first button on that toolbar. Move the “focus” by pressing the arrow keys or Tab and Shift-Tab. Then tap Return or the space bar to “click” the highlighted button.

Control Menulets

Here’s a gem you may not have heard about: You can operate menulets—those menu-bar status indicators for your speaker volume, wireless networks, and so on—from the keyboard, too.

This time, the trick is to hit Control-F8. That highlights the leftmost Apple menulet. Now you can use your  and  arrow keys to move around the menu bar; when you’ve highlighted the one you want, press Return or the space bar to “click” that menu and open it.

Control Dialog Boxes

You can also navigate and manipulate any dialog box from the keyboard.

See the dialog box shown in Figure 4-24? If you turn on “All controls” at the bottom, then pressing the Tab key highlights the next control of any type, whatever it may be—radio button, pop-up menu, and so on. Press the space bar to “click” a button or to open a pop-up menu. Once a menu is open, use the arrow keys (or type letter keys) to highlight commands on it, and use the space bar to “click” your choice.

If you choose All Applications from the top pop-up menu, you can change the keyboard combo for a certain command wherever it appears. You could, for example, change the keystroke for Page Setup in every program at once. (Beware the tiny yellow triangles; they let you know if a chosen keystroke conflicts with another OS X keystroke.)

Figure 4-24. If you choose All Applications from the top pop-up menu, you can change the keyboard combo for a certain command wherever it appears. You could, for example, change the keystroke for Page Setup in every program at once. (Beware the tiny yellow triangles; they let you know if a chosen keystroke conflicts with another OS X keystroke.)

Changing a Menu Keyboard Shortcut

Suppose you love iPhoto (and you will). But one thing drives you crazy: The Revert to Original command, which discards all the changes you’ve ever made since taking the photo, has no keyboard shortcut. You must trek up to the menu bar every time you need that command.

This is why OS X lets you add keyboard shortcuts to menu commands that lack them—or change the commands in programs whose key assignments break with tradition. (It works in any program that uses the standard OS X menu software, which rules out older versions of Microsoft Office.) Here’s the routine:

1.    Choose System PreferencesKeyboard. Click the Shortcuts tab, and then click Application Shortcuts in the left-side list.

You’re shown a list of any keyboard assignments you’ve created so far.

2.    Click the  button just beneath the list.

The dialog box shown in Figure 4-24 appears.

3.    Indicate which program needs behavior modification.

In this example, you’d choose iPhoto from the Application pop-up menu. (If the program’s name doesn’t appear in the pop-up menu, then choose Other; navigate to, and double-click, the program you want.)

4.    Carefully type in the name of the menu command whose keyboard shortcut you want to change or add.

Type it exactly as it appears in the menu, complete with capitalization and the little ellipsis (…) that may follow it. (You make the ellipsis character by pressing Option-semicolon.)

5.    Click in the Keyboard Shortcut box. Press the new or revised key combo you want.

For example, press Control-R for iPhoto’s Revert to Original command. You’ll see the Mac’s notation of your keystroke appear in the Keyboard Shortcut box—unless, of course, the combo you selected is already in use within that program. In that case, you hear only an error sound that means “Try again.”

6.    Click Add.

The dialog box closes. By scrolling down in your Keyboard Shortcuts list, you see that the keystroke you selected has now been written down for posterity under the appropriate program’s flippy triangle. (To get rid of it, click its name and then click the  button beneath the list.)

The next time you open the program you edited, you’ll see that the new keystroke is in place.

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To delete or change one of your custom menu shortcuts, open System Preferences→Keyboard→Keyboard Shortcuts. Click Application Shortcuts in the list at left. Click the command you’d like to edit. Press Delete to get rid of it; or, to try a different key combo, click where the existing keyboard shortcut appears and then press a new one.

Redefining a Keystroke

As you’ve no doubt become painfully aware, there are hundreds of keyboard combinations for the various OS X functions and settings. That’s good, because keyboard shortcuts are efficient and quicker than using the mouse. But that’s also bad, because there’s no way you’ll be able to remember all of them—and some of the most useful shortcuts are ridiculous, multikey affairs that you’ll never remember at all.

In the keyboard-shortcut center, shown in Figure 4-25, you can look over all the common OS X hidden keyboard functions—for Mission Control, Exposé, Spotlight, Dashboard, the Dock, and many others—and change them.

The keyboard-shortcut center lets you redefine the keystrokes that trigger many OS X features, menu commands, and software you’ve built yourself using Automator (which you can read about on this book’s “Missing CD” page.)

Figure 4-25. The keyboard-shortcut center lets you redefine the keystrokes that trigger many OS X features, menu commands, and software you’ve built yourself using Automator (which you can read about on this book’s “Missing CD” page.)

Here’s how it goes:

1.    Choose System Preferences. Click Keyboard. Click the Shortcuts tab.

You arrive at the dialog box shown in Figure 4-25.

2.    In the left-side list, click the category or function you want.

Your choices include Launchpad & Dock, Mission Control, Keyboard & Text Input, and so on. When you click a category name, you see the available shortcuts.

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You don’t have to be content with changing one of these keyboard shortcuts. You can also turn it off by clicking the corresponding checkbox. That’s great if one of Apple’s predefined keystrokes—for a function you don’t even use—is interfering with one in a program you like.

3.    Click the command you want to change. Then click the current keyboard combination (or the “add shortcut” button, if there is no existing shortcut).

Suppose, for example, that you wish the Show Desktop Exposé keystroke were something easier to remember, like Control-D. So in step 2, you’d click Mission Control. In this step, you’d click Show Desktop. Then you’d click where it currently says “F11.”

4.    Press a new key combination.

In this example, you’d press Control-D.

Be careful, though. OS X keystrokes take precedence over all others. So if you choose a keystroke like ⌘-P for something, well, by golly, you’ll no longer be able to use ⌘-P to print anything in any of your programs. Think before you assign. Run a couple of tests afterward.

The Save and Open Dialog Boxes

When you choose File→Save, you’re asked where you want the new document stored on your hard drive, what you want to call it, and what Finder tags (Spring-Loaded Folders: Dragging Icons into Closed Folders) you want applied to it. The resulting dialog box is a miniature Finder. All the skills you’ve picked up working at the desktop come into play here.

To give it a try, launch any program that has a Save or Export command—TextEdit, for example. Type a couple of words, and then choose File→Save. The Save sheet appears (Figure 4-26).

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In most programs, a quick glance at the Close button in the upper-left corner of a document window tells you whether it’s been saved. When a small dot appears in the red button, it means you’ve made changes to the document that you haven’t saved yet. (Time to press ⌘-S!) The dot disappears as soon as you save your work.

In programs that offer the Auto Save and Versions features described later in this chapter, like TextEdit, the red-dot convention has been retired. Instead, when you’ve made changes to a document since saving it, you see the light-gray word Edited in the title bar.

Sheets

In the days of operating systems gone by, the Save dialog box appeared dead center on the screen, where it commandeered your entire operation. Moreover, because it seemed stuck to your screen rather than to a particular document, you couldn’t actually tell which document you were saving—a real problem when you quit out of a program that had three unsaved documents open.

In most Mac programs, there’s no mystery regarding which document you’re saving, because a little Save dialog box called a sheet slides directly out of the document’s title bar.

Better still, this little Save box is a sticky note attached to the document. It stays there, neatly attached and waiting, even if you switch to another program, another document, the desktop, or wherever. When you finally return to the document, the Save sheet is still there, waiting for you to type a file name and save the document.

The Mini Finder

Of course you, O savvy reader, have probably never saved a document into some deeply nested folder by accident, never to see it again. But millions of novices (and even a few experts) have fallen into this trap.

When the Save sheet appears, a pop-up menu shows you precisely where the Mac proposes to put your newly created document: usually in the Documents folder of your own Home folder. For many people, this is an excellent suggestion. If you keep everything in your Documents folder, it will be extremely easy to find, and you’ll be able to back up your work just by dragging that single folder to a backup disk.

As shown at top in Figure 4-26, the Where pop-up menu gives you direct access to some other places where you might want to save a newly created file. (The keystrokes for the most important folders work here, too—Shift-⌘-H for your Home folder, for example.)

Top: The Save dialog box, or sheet, often appears in its compact form.Right: If you open the Where pop-up menu, you’ll find that OS X lists all the places it thinks you might want to save your new document: online (iCloud), on the hard drive, in a folder you’ve put into your Sidebar (“Favorites”), or into a folder you’ve recently opened.Bottom: If you want to choose a different folder or to create a new folder, click the button (next to the Save As box) to expand the dialog box. Here you see the equivalent of the Finder—with a choice of icon, list, or column view. Even the Sidebar is here, complete with access to other disks on the network.Tip: In most programs, you can enlarge the Save or Open dialog box by dragging one of its edges. You can also adjust the width of the Sidebar by dragging its right edge.

Figure 4-26. Top: The Save dialog box, or sheet, often appears in its compact form. Right: If you open the Where pop-up menu, you’ll find that OS X lists all the places it thinks you might want to save your new document: online (iCloud), on the hard drive, in a folder you’ve put into your Sidebar (“Favorites”), or into a folder you’ve recently opened. Bottom: If you want to choose a different folder or to create a new folder, click the  button (next to the Save As box) to expand the dialog box. Here you see the equivalent of the Finder—with a choice of icon, list, or column view. Even the Sidebar is here, complete with access to other disks on the network. Tip: In most programs, you can enlarge the Save or Open dialog box by dragging one of its edges. You can also adjust the width of the Sidebar by dragging its right edge.

In any case, when you save a file, the options in the Where pop-up menu have you covered 90 percent of the time. Most people work with a limited set of folders for active documents.

But when you want to save a new document into a new folder, or when you want to navigate to a folder that isn’t listed in the Where pop-up menu, all is not lost. Click the  button identified in Figure 4-26. The Save sheet expands into a very familiar sight: a miniature version of the Finder.

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You can switch back and forth between the compact and expanded versions of this dialog box by pressing the undocumented shortcut ⌘-=.

There’s your Sidebar, complete with access to the other computers on your network. There are the / buttons. There are your little buttons for icon, list, column, and (in most programs) even Cover Flow views.

Incredibly, you can even add new folders to the Favorites listing (drag them into the Sidebar here, either from the desktop, if it’s visible, or right out of the dialog box in front of you) or remove them (drag them out of the Sidebar here). The whole Save box is getting to be more Findery every year.

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In column view, your first instinct should be to widen this window, making more columns available. Do so by carefully dragging either edge of the dialog box. The Mac remembers the size for this Save sheet independently in each program.

And in list view, how’s this for a tip? If you right-click (or two-finger click) one of the column headings, like Name or Date Modified, you get a secret pop-up menu of column names: Last Opened, Size, Kind, Label, and so on. That’s right: You can customize the list view within an Open or Save dialog box. You can sort, too, by clicking one of the column headings, just as at the desktop.

Most of the familiar Finder navigation shortcuts work here, too. For example, press the  and  keys to navigate the columns, or the  and  keys to highlight the disk and folder names within a column. Once you’ve highlighted a column, you can also type to select the first letters of disk or folder names.

In fact, you can use Quick Look (Using the Dock) in the Open and Save dialog box, too. Highlight a file or folder in the list and tap the space bar to view it in a full-size window.

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Even in the Save or Open dialog box, you can highlight an icon (or several) and then press ⌘-I. You switch back to the Finder, where the Get Info box is waiting with the date, size, and other details about the selected icons.

When you’re finished playing around, open the folder where you want to save your newly created document and then click Save to store it there.

Alternatively, click New Folder (or press the usual New Folder keystroke, Shift-⌘-N) to create a new folder inside the folder you’re looking at.

You’ll be asked to type the new name for the folder. After you’ve done so, click Create (or press Return). The new folder appears and opens before you, empty. You can now proceed with saving your new document into it, if you like.

The next time you save a new document, the Save sheet reappears in whatever condition you left it. That is, if you used column view the last time, it’s still in column view. At any time, you can collapse it into simplified view, shown at top in Figure 4-26, by clicking the  button to the right of the Where pop-up menu.

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For years, there’s been a keyboard shortcut for the Don’t Save button that appears when you close a new document without saving it: ⌘-D. In Mavericks, however, modern Apple programs like TextEdit, Preview, Grab, Pages, and Keynote present a Delete button instead of a Don’t Save button. In that case, you can press ⌘-Delete to “click” it instead of using the mouse.

Spotlight

The search box at the top of the Open and Save dialog box is a clone of the Finder’s search box (Chapter 3). Press ⌘-F to make your insertion point jump there. Type a few letters of the name of the file or folder you’re looking for, and up it pops, regardless of its actual hard-disk location.

Your savings: 5 minutes of burrowing through folders to find it, and several pages of reading about how to navigate the Save and Open boxes.

Insta-Jumping to a Folder Location

Whether you’re using the mini-sheet or the expanded view, you can save yourself some folder-burrowing time by following this very weird tip: You can specify a folder location by dragging the icon of any folder or disk from your desktop directly into the Save or Open sheet. OS X instantly displays the contents of that folder or disk. This feature is totally undocumented—but well worth learning.

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If, when the Save box is in its expanded condition, you click the name of an existing file, OS X thoughtfully copies the name of the clicked file into the Save As text box (which otherwise said “Untitled” or was blank).

This trick can save you time when you’re saving a second document with a slightly modified name (“Oprah and Me: The Inside Story, Chapter 1” and then “Oprah and Me: The Inside Story, Chapter 2”). It’s also useful if you want to replace the original file with the new one you’re saving. Instead of having to type out the entire name of the file, you can just click it.

The File Format Pop-Up Menu

The Save dialog box in many programs offers a pop-up menu of file formats below the Save As box. Use this menu when preparing a document for use by somebody else—somebody whose computer doesn’t have the same software. For example, if you’ve used a graphics program to prepare a photograph for use on the Web, this menu is where you specify JPEG format (the standard Web format for photos).

The Open File Dialog Box

The dialog box that appears when you choose File→Open is almost identical to the expanded Save File sheet. Because you encounter it only when you’re opening an existing file, this dialog box lacks a Save button, a Tags box, a file name field, and so on.

NOTE

Furthermore, the Open dialog box gives you access only to disks, folders, and documents that you can actually open at this moment. For example, when you’re using GarageBand, picture files show up dimmed.

But the Open box adds a special Sidebar category called Media (see Figure 4-27), which gives you direct access to all your photos, music, and movies. Apple figures you might want to import these items into a document you’re working on.

The Media Browser is built right into the Open dialog box. That is, you get miniature listings of your iTunes, iPhoto, and movie files right in the Sidebar, for convenience in importing them into (for example) Keynote, PowerPoint, or a Web design program.

Figure 4-27. The Media Browser is built right into the Open dialog box. That is, you get miniature listings of your iTunes, iPhoto, and movie files right in the Sidebar, for convenience in importing them into (for example) Keynote, PowerPoint, or a Web design program.

Most of the other Save File dialog box controls are equally useful here. That handy Spotlight search bar is still there, only a ⌘-F away. Once again, you can begin your navigation by seeing what’s on the desktop (press ⌘-D) or in your Home folder (Shift-⌘-H). Once again, you can find a folder or a disk by beginning your quest with the Sidebar and then navigate using icon, list, or column view. And once again, you can drag a folder, disk, or file icon off your desktop directly into the dialog box to specify where you want to look. (If you drag a file icon, you’re shown the folder that contains it.)

When you’ve finally located the file you want to open, double-click it or highlight it (which you can do from the keyboard), and then press Return, Enter, or ⌘-O.

In general, most people don’t encounter the Open File dialog box nearly as often as the Save File dialog box. That’s because the Mac offers many more convenient ways to open a file—double-clicking its icon in the Finder, choosing its name from →Recent Items, and so on—but only a single way to save a new file.

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Certain anointed apps, like TextEdit and Pages, present a new twist to the Open dialog box: the iCloud button, for saving your documents online. Details begin on Revert.

Auto Save and Versions

In the beginning, Jobs created the Save command—because computers were slow.

Every time you saved, your work was interrupted for a few seconds (or a lot of seconds) as the very slow program on your very slow computer saved your work onto a very slow floppy disk.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why most programs still don’t autosave: because the interruptions were just too annoying.

Apple figured it was high time to revisit that scenario. Computers now have plenty of horsepower. They could be saving your work continuously, and you’d never even know it. Why shouldn’t all programs save your work as you go, automatically and invisibly? As long as you also have the option to rewind and take your document in a different direction, what could possibly be the harm?

And so it is that, in OS X today, Auto Save is here. Unfortunately, it’s available in only a few programs. You’ll find it in Apple’s showcase programs: Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Preview, and TextEdit.

In these programs, your document is saved every time there’s even the tiniest pause in your typing or working—in the background. No progress bar, no interruption. If you quit or close the document without remembering to save, no problem: Your work will be there when you open the document again later.

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“But wait a minute,” cry the masses—“I like being able to close a document without saving changes! Sometimes all I wanted to do was fool around, play ‘what-if’ games—and then close it without saving changes!”

Just for you, Apple offers a pair of sneaky little checkboxes in System Preferences→General. First, “Ask to keep changes when closing documents.” If that’s turned on, then when you close a document with unsaved changes, the Mac asks if you want to keep the edits, just as it does in all other programs.

But if you quit the program without saving, your changes are auto-preserved; Auto Save apps autosave your documents when you quit their programs, so you can pick up where you left off the next time. You can override that, too, if you like; turn on “Close windows when quitting an application,” also in System Preferences→General. Now you’ll get the “Save changes?” box when you quit the app with unsaved changes.

Versions

In those enlightened programs that work with Auto Save, there’s a more complicated but more powerful feature at work: Versions. It’s an invisible paper trail of every in-progress condition of your document—and you can return to any earlier version at any time. You can even return to an earlier version and copy just a chunk of it into the current version, which is great when one paragraph of your previous draft was gold but the rest was junk.

The Versions world of document management is quite a bit different from the old setup. Here’s what you need to know:

§  All the version information is stored in the same original document file. (It’s not like there’s a rat’s nest of icons for each thing you’re working on.) But when you send the document to somebody else (by email or network, for example), the Mac sends only the current version, stripping out all the history. Nobody will ever know how much you labored over your work (or how little).

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Behind the scenes, the various versions of each document are saved in an invisible folder on your hard drive called .DocumentRevisions-V100. But you probably guessed that.

§  OS X creates a new snapshot of your document once an hour. You can also create new snapshots manually at even shorter intervals—by using the File→Save command (⌘-S), as you always have.

These snapshots, or versions, represent rewind points that you can return to later, even months or years after you first created the document. Thoughtfully enough, the Mac records, invisibly, only what’s changed between versions, so your files don’t get all big and bloated.

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All right, you don’t have total time-rewinding control. OS X stores hourly versions for a day, daily versions for a month, and weekly versions for all previous months.

§  There’s a secret menu in the title bar. Point to the name of your document. In Auto Save–compatible files, a little  appears in the title bar (Figure 4-28).

§  The Save As command is hidden in these programs. It appears in the File menu only when you hold down the Option key.

Apple is hoping that you’ll learn to use the new way. When you want to spin off a different version of a document—to experiment with taking it into a radical new direction, for example—choose File→Duplicate. Before your very eyes, a copy of the open window springs into existence. If the original was called “Kumquat Tarts,” then the new one is called “Kumquat Tarts copy”—but that name is highlighted, selected, right in the title bar.

To leave your duplicated document in the same folder as the original, just type a new name and press Return. To file it in a different folder, choose File→Save. You get the standard Save dialog box, where you can choose a name and a folder for it.

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You can also choose to move a document to a different folder later right there in the program—a first in the Mac operating system. Just choose File→Move To and choose a new storage bin for it. (You can even store it in iCloud at this point; see Saving, Opening, and Moving Files.) Or use the secret menu-bar menu shown in Figure 4-28.

Point to the title of your document to see this secret menu, updated for Mavericks. It lets you rename the document, change its tags, or file it into a new folder, without ever leaving the window.

Figure 4-28. Point to the title of your document to see this secret menu, updated for Mavericks. It lets you rename the document, change its tags, or file it into a new folder, without ever leaving the window.

Rewinding to an earlier version

The point of all of this, of course, is to make it easy to go back in time—to undo the mediocre work you’ve done, or to resurrect some genius work that you later deleted.

The quick way is to choose File→Revert to→Last Saved (or Last Opened). That command restores the document to the last snapshot version (or to the way it was when you most recently opened it, if no new versions have been created). That, of course, is nothing new; lots of programs have Revert to Saved commands that work similarly.

What’s new is that you can revert your document to any snapshot, even an ancient one from weeks or months ago.

To do that, choose File→Revert to→Browse All Versions.

After a moment, you see the stunning display shown in Figure 4-29. On the left, you see your document in its current condition. On the right, you see a stack of windows that represent all the different snapshots of your document, going back in time. (And behind it all, you see another sort of version: Apple’s animated, starry version of the galaxy.)

You can have all kinds of productive fun in this version browser:

§  Compare the current version (on the left) with the next-most-recent one (on the right). These are live documents, so you can scroll through them as necessary. If you decide to stick with the latest edition on the left, just click Done. You leave the starry version-history world and go back to editing.

§  Zoom back in time to inspect older versions (snapshots) of your document. On the right side of the screen, you see earlier versions of the document—maybe even dozens of them, stretching back in time.

You can click individual windows’ title bars to see what’s in them. You can also click or drag your cursor through the notches at the right side. It’s like a time ruler that flies through the windows into the past. (As you go, the time/date stamp below the right-side window identifies where you are in time—that is, which version you’re examining.)

If you’ve ever used OS X’s Time Machine feature, this display should look familiar. It’s your chance to go back in time to recover an earlier, better version of your document (or just a part of it).

Figure 4-29. If you’ve ever used OS X’s Time Machine feature, this display should look familiar. It’s your chance to go back in time to recover an earlier, better version of your document (or just a part of it).

§  Restore an earlier version. If you finally find the incarnation of the document you consider superior to your current one, click Restore. You leave Starry Versionland and return to your document, which has now been rewound to its earlier condition.

If you later decide you should not have gone back to that earlier version, no problem. Your later version—the one you started out with—is still in the version browser, too. So you can fast-forward back to it, if necessary.

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If you press Option, then the Restore button changes to say Restore a Copy. In other words, you’ll create a previous-version duplicate of the document, without disturbing the current condition of the one you’ve just been working on.

UP TO SPEED: THE COLOR PICKER

Here and there—in System Preferences, iMovie, TextEdit, Microsoft Office, and many other programs—OS X offers you the opportunity to choose a color for some element: for your desktop background, a window, or something.

The dialog box that appears offers a miniature color lab that lets you dial in any color in the Mac’s rainbow—several color labs, actually, arrayed across the top, each designed to make color choosing easier in certain circumstances:

Color wheel. Drag the scroll bar vertically to adjust the brightness, and then drag your cursor around the ball to pick the shade.

Color sliders. From the pop-up menu, choose the color-mixing method you prefer. CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. People in the printing industry will feel immediately at home, because these four colors are the component inks for color printing. (These people may also be able to explain why K stands for black.)

RGB is how a TV or computer monitor thinks of colors: as proportions of red, green, and blue light. Gray Scale means shades of gray, like a black-and-white TV. And HSB stands for hue, saturation, and brightness—a favorite color-specifying scheme in scientific circles.

In each case, just drag the sliders to mix up the color you want, or type in the percentages of each component.

Color palettes. This option presents canned sets of color swatches. They’re primarily for programmers who want quick access to the standard colors in OS X. The Web Safe Colors list is useful for Web designers, too; they can use it to ensure that the colors they choose will display properly on other computers.

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Image palettes. Here’s the visible rainbow arrayed yet another way: in cloudy, color-arranged streaks. (Cool tip: If you drag a graphics file directly into the dialog box, it appears in the spectrum’s place. That’s a handy trick if you’re trying to identify the color of a certain spot of an image, for example. And don’t miss the pop-up button at the bottom of the dialog box, which offers a few other stunts.)

Crayons. Now this is a good user interface. You can click each crayon to see its color name: Mocha, Fern, Cayenne, and so on. (Some interior decorator in Cupertino had a field day naming these crayons.)

In any of these color pickers, you can also “sample” a color that’s outside the dialog box—a color you found on a Web page, for example. Just click the magnifying-glass icon and then move your cursor around the screen. You’ll see the sliders and numbers change inside the dialog box automatically when you click.

Finally, note that you can store frequently used (or frequently admired) colors in the tiny palette squares at the bottom. To do that, drag the big rectangular color swatch (next to the magnifying glass) directly down into one of the little squares, where it will stay fresh for weeks.

If you don’t have space for all the colors you want at the bottom of the window, you can drag the dot below the squares down to make room for more.

§  Restore part of an earlier version. Often, the current version of your work is generally good, but you really wish you could recover one magical sentence or paragraph or section—something you’ve since edited or deleted.

You can do that in Starry Versionland, too, because Copy and Paste work here!

Use the time ruler to find the earlier edition of your document, the one containing the good stuff. Then drag through the desired text or graphics in the window on the right, as shown in Figure 4-29. Now copy the highlighted material (either press ⌘-C, or move your mouse to the top of the screen so that the menu bar appears, and choose Edit→Copy). Click in the current version of the document, the one at left, and now paste (⌘-V, or use the menu bar). Click Done to complete this astonishing act of salvation.

§  Delete a version. Once you’ve found a draft you never want to see again, move your cursor to the top of the screen; the menu bar appears. Choose File→Revert To→Delete This Version.

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If you press Option, the command says Delete Old Versions; it gets rid of all old versions of the file.

Revert

Even though Auto Save is constantly backing up your document, it also remembers how the file looked the moment you opened it. And you want to know what’s crazy? It can revert to that condition even if you’ve been manually saving your work all along! That’s better than the old Revert command ever was. Just choose File→Revert to→Last Saved (or Last Opened).

Documents in the Cloud

Truth is, “cloud” is an annoying buzzword. Most of the time, when people say “in the cloud,” they mean “online” or “on the Internet”—terms that have served us perfectly well for years.

In any case, it’s true: You can now save your files online, into an iCloud storage locker. The advantage here is that your file is now available for opening or editing from any computer you use, including iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches.

Only a few programs offer this option—and, at the outset, only Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Preview, and TextEdit.

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If you’d rather not see the  iCloud buttons shown in Figure 4-30, open System Preferences→iCloud and turn off Documents and Data. That makes the iCloud option disappear from the Save and Open boxes.

In fact, in Mavericks, you can use the Options button (in that same System Preferences panel) to turn off iCloud saving for individual programs, so that some do and some don’t.

Saving, Opening, and Moving Files

Using this feature couldn’t be simpler:

§  Save a document to iCloud by choosing File→Save in the usual way. When the Save box appears, choose iCloud from the Where pop-up menu (Figure 4-30, top), if it’s not already selected. Or choose an iCloud folder’s name, if you’ve made one.

§  Open a document later from iCloud by choosing File→Open in the usual way. The usual Open dialog box has a new button that wasn’t there before: iCloud. Click it to see the list of documents you’ve saved online (Figure 4-30, bottom).

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You can also add documents to your iCloud storage locker by dragging their icons into the Open dialog box shown in Figure 4-30, right off the desktop in the Finder.

§  Move a document between your Mac and iCloud by choosing File→Move To. You get a tiny version of the Save sheet, where you can choose either iCloud or any folder on your Mac. When you click Move, that file physically moves—from iCloud to your Mac, or vice versa.

UP TO SPEED: WHERE YOUR FREE HOUR OF BATTERY LIFE CAME FROM

In Mavericks, some of the features Apple worked hardest on are things you’ll never even see.

One big category: technologies designed to save battery power. Since 75 percent of new Macs are laptops, battery life is a big, big deal.

Here are some of these behind-the-scenes juice-preservation techniques, bearing the names Apple has given them:

App Nap. When a program’s window is completely covered up by other windows, the Mac slows down that background app. (Ditto for Safari background tabs.)

Slower means less power-hungry—as much as 23 percent, Apple says. (If the app is doing something in the background, like downloading or playing music, then App Nap doesn’t kick in.) The instant you bring the program to the foreground, it snaps back to full speed.

Timer Coalescing. Mavericks attempts to consolidate processing tasks and feed them to your Intel chip in bursts. That way, the processor earns tiny micro-vacations—idle time. More idle time means less power use. Your savings this time: as much as 72 percent.

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iTunes HD Playback Efficiency. By reducing the frequency of hard-drive access during iTunes video and audio playback, Apple says Mavericks uses up to 35 percent less energy.

Safari Power Saver. Flash videos and animations are famous battery hogs. So when Safari spots a Flash video off at the edges of a Web page—on the side or the top, for example—it concludes that what you’ve got here is an ad. And it stops the ad from playing until you click on it. (You see a banner on the video that says “Safari Power Saver. Click to start Flash Plug-In.”)

Apple says all of its power-saving features together can extend a MacBook Pro’s battery charge by as much as an hour. Not bad, eh?

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The dialog box shown in Figure 4-30 shows your iCloud-saved documents and lets you open them, even when you’re offline. How? Turns out your Mac stores a secret “local” copy. The changes you make won’t update the online copy until you’re online again, but at least you’re never cut off from your own files.

Top: iCloud-aware programs like TextEdit propose saving new documents online.Bottom: When you click the iCloud button in the top-left corner of the Open box, you see all the documents you’ve saved online, from newest to oldest. You can switch between list and icon views (lower left). You can create folders by dragging one icon onto another. You can even send these documents to others, using the button.

Figure 4-30. Top: iCloud-aware programs like TextEdit propose saving new documents online. Bottom: When you click the iCloud button in the top-left corner of the Open box, you see all the documents you’ve saved online, from newest to oldest. You can switch between list and icon views (lower left). You can create folders by dragging one icon onto another. You can even send these documents to others, using the  button.

All of this hints at a crazy new conception of file storage. You can’t start at the desktop. You have to open the program you want first, and then open up the document you want from within it.

The Open and Save dialog boxes for iCloud-stored files have some traditional features—list view and icon view, for example, a search bar, and the ability to put things in folders (see Figure 4-30)—but not very many. iCloud’s “desktop” for your files is about where the Mac was in 1989.

Documents Across Devices

Some programs are available for more than one machine—including Apple’s own iWork suite (Numbers, Pages, Keynote). Those programs are available for Mac, iPhone/iPod Touch, and iPad.

In that delicious situation, you can create or edit a document on one kind of machine and marvel as iCloud automatically syncs it with all your other devices. You can edit a Pages file on the Mac, jump on a train, and continue editing it on your iPad; any changes you make are saved back to the online copy.

All you have to do is open System Preferences→iCloud and turn on Documents & Data.

From now on, any documents you save to iCloud, as described above, are available on other Macs, iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches.

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In a pinch, you can even edit Pages, Numbers, and Keynote documents on any computer, even a Windows PC. That’s because at iCloud.com, you can run online versions of these programs. Handy, really.