The Mac OS X Mountain Lion Desktop

The Desktop is the backdrop for the Finder — everything you see behind the Dock and any open windows. The Mac OS X Mountain Lion Desktop is always available and is where you can usually find your hard drive icon(s).

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If you’re not familiar with the Finder’s Desktop, here are a few tips that will come in handy as you become familiar with the icons that hang out there:

  • Icons on the Desktop behave the same as icons in a window. You move them and copy them just as you would icons in a window. The only difference is that icons on the Desktop aren’t in a window. Because they’re on the Desktop, they’re more convenient to use.

  • The first icon you should get to know is the icon for your hard drive. You can usually find it on the top-right side of the Desktop. Look for the name Macintosh HD or something like that, unless you’ve already renamed it. You can see how selected and deselected hard-drive icons look in the following figure.

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    Mountain Lion is the first release of OS X that doesn’t display your disc and hard drive icons on the Desktop by default. If you don’t see your hard drive icon on the Desktop, select the check box for hard drives in Finder Preferences.

  • Other disc or hard drive icons appear on the Desktop by default. When you insert a CD or DVD, or connect an external hard drive, the disc or drive icon appears on the Desktop just below your startup hard-drive icon (space permitting).

  • You can move an item to the Desktop so you can find it right away. Simply click its icon in any window and then, without releasing the mouse button, drag it out of the window and onto the Desktop. Then release the mouse button.

At the bottom of the Finder window are two optional bars. The lower of the two is called the status bar; it tells you how many items are in each window and, if any are selected, how many you’ve selected out of the total, as well as how much space is available on the hard drive containing this window.

And just above the status bar is the path bar, which shows the path from the top level of your hard drive to the selected folder.

You can show or hide the status bar by choosing View→Hide/Show Status Bar and show or hide the path bar by choosing View→Hide/Show Path Bar. Finally, when the Toolbar is hidden, the Status Bar moves to the top of the window (the Path bar remains at the bottom of the window no matter what).

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