Navigating the Apple Menu in Mac OS X Lion - dummies

Navigating the Apple Menu in Mac OS X Lion

By Bob LeVitus

On the far left side of the Mac OS X Lion menu bar sits a little apple symbol, which, if you click it, actually displays a menu. No matter what Mac OS application is active, the apple menu is always available in the top-left corner of your menu bar.

From top to bottom, the apple menu gives you a number of options, including the following:

  • About This Mac: Choose this item to see what version of Mac OS X you’re running, what kind of Mac and processor you’re using, how much memory your Mac has, and the name of your Startup Disk. The window that appears also sports a Get Info button that will launch Apple System Profiler; there, you can find out more than you’ll probably ever want or need to know about your Mac’s hardware and software.

    If you click the version number in this window, it changes to the build number (Apple’s internal tracking number for versions). If you click the build number in this window, it changes to the serial number of your Mac. Finally, if you click the serial number of your Mac in this window, it changes to the version number again.


  • Software Update: If you’re connected to the Internet, choose this item to have your Mac check with the mothership (Apple) to see whether any updates are available for OS X or its included applications (or even for Apple-branded peripheral devices, such as the iPod or iPhone).

  • System Preferences: Choose this item to open the System Preferences window.

  • Dock (submenu): This lets you mess with options for the Dock.

  • Recent Items: This lets you quickly access applications, documents, and servers you’ve used recently.

  • Force Quit: Use this option only in emergencies. What’s an emergency? Use it when an application becomes recalcitrant or otherwise misbehaves, or refuses to quit when you say Quit.

    The reason Force Quit should be used only in an emergency is that if you use it on an application that’s working fine and have any unsaved documents, your work since the last time you saved the file will be destroyed.

    Or not. Lion introduces Auto Save and Versions, so if the app you’re using supports these new features, you shouldn’t lose any (or at least not much) of your work regardless of when you last saved.

  • Shut Down options: The commands here can tell your Mac to Force Quit when a program freezes or otherwise becomes recalcitrant: Sleep, Restart, Shut Down, or Log Out.