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Understanding Macs - Using a Mac

written by: AlexisW•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 1/11/2010

Understanding Macs is not difficult, as Apple has made the operating system intuitive and user friendly. While Mac tutorials can help in learning how to use a Mac computer, this simple guide can also get you on the path to understanding Macs and their basic features.

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    How to Use a Mac Computer

    Many people find themselves wondering how to use a Mac computer. This is especially true for those transitioning from a PC for the first time, since there are some significant differences between Macs and PCs. Fortunately, Apple has made the Mac computer and operating system completely user friendly and, according to the personal opinions of many users who have switched, easier to use then the Windows based PC. Here are the basics on how to use a Mac computer.

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    The Finder

    One of the first things you need to know about how to use a Mac computer is how to use The Finder. The Finder on the Mac computer is exactly like the Windows Explorer and Search function on a Windows based PC. The Finder works like a tree with a window that pops up on the left hand side. In this window, you can see a directory of selections including Applications and Personal Documents. When you select on of the directories, the contents of that directory will be shown to the right of the first level of directories. You can then click on the application you wish to load or the document you wish to open from the list to the right. There is also a search function here that allows you to look for a specific file in case you are unable to locate the file you are looking for.

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    The Menu Bar

    Next, learning about the Menu Bars is a good next step. If you are a Windows based PC user, have no fear. There is really no difference in the menu bar function between a Mac computer and a Windows PC. The functions that are allowed and not allowed are all based on the application that you are using. The general rule of thumb is that if the writing is in black at the top of the screen on the menu bar, it is a menu that you are able to use and you can choose any option under the menu that appears in black as well. If the menu selection is shaded in gray either on the initial menu bar at the top or on subsequent drop down bars, that part of the menu is not able to be used in the application that you are currently in.
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    Minimizing and Exiting Programs

    Minimizing and exiting programs on the Mac system is as simple as knowing the difference between the colors red and yellow. Similarly to Windows PC, the red box in the right most corner of any open program closes the program. Minimizing a program on Mac computers is a bit different. However, the process is not complicated. Rather than having a small box within a box to look for as Windows PC users have to in order to minimize program, with a Mac all you have to do is look for the color yellow. The minimize button is always located by the red close button on the top of any screen you have open in any program. Simply click on the yellow box and the screen will minimize to The Dock.

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    The Dock

    The Dock is probably the most unique feature on a Mac. It allows you to have access to applications on The Dock at the push of a button. The dock on the Mac can either be located at the bottom of the screen or on the side of the screen. All of your programs that are open will be stored on the dock when minimized and you can maximize them again by clicking on their icon on the dock. You can also store icons for frequently used programs on the dock by dragging the program icon to the dock using your house. This creates a shortcut and you can open the program by clicking on the appropriate icon displayed on the dock.