Dialogs in Max OS X Mountain Lion
Dialogs in Max OS X Mountain Lion and other operating systems are special windows that pop up over the active window. You generally see them when you select a menu item that ends in an ellipsis (. . .).
Dialogs can contain a number of standard Macintosh features, such as radio buttons, pop-up menus, tabs, text-entry fields, and check boxes. You see these features again and again in dialogs. Take a moment to look at each of these.
Radio buttons: Radio buttons are so named because, like the buttons on your car radio (if you have a very old car), only one at a time can be active. (When they’re active, they appear to be pushed in, just like the old radio buttons.) Radio buttons always appear in a group of two or more; when you select one, all the others are automatically deselected.
Here’s a nifty and undocumented shortcut: You can usually select check boxes and radio buttons by clicking their names (instead of the buttons or boxes).
Tabs: When a dialog contains more information than can fit in a single window the info may be divided among panes denoted by tabs. In the figure, the New Document tab is selected on the left, and the Open and Save tab is selected on the right.
Pop-up menus: These menus are appropriately named because that’s what they do: They pop up when you click them. In the figure, the Document Type menu has been clicked and is popped up; the other pop-up menus — Opening Files, Saving Files (mostly obscured by the popped-up Document Type menu), Styling, and Encoding — are unclicked and unpopped.
You can always recognize a pop-up menu because it appears in a slightly rounded rectangle and has a double-ended arrow symbol (or a pair of triangles, if you like) on the right.
Have you figured out yet what radio buttons, tabs, and pop-up menus have in common? Hint: All three enable you to make a single selection from a group of options. (Well, okay, that was more of an answer than a hint.)
Text-entry fields: In text-entry fields, you type text (including numbers) from the keyboard. In the figure, the Width, Height, Author, Organization, and Copyright options are text-entry fields.
Check boxes: The last item that you see frequently is the check box. In a group of check boxes, you can select as many options as you like. Check boxes are selected when they contain a check mark, and they’re deselected when they’re empty.
Some applications have tri-state check boxes. These special check boxes are empty when nothing in the group is selected, sport an x when everything in the group is selected, and sport a minus sign (–) when some items in the group are selected and some are not. This type of check box is often used for the Custom Install screen of OS X installers.