The Mavericks Desktop on Your MacBook

By Mark L. Chambers

The Mavericks Desktop isn’t made of wood, and you can’t stick your gum underneath. However, this particular desktop on your MacBook does work much like the surface of a traditional desk. You can store things there, organize things into folders, and take care of important tasks such as writing and drawing (using tools called applications). Heck, you even have a clock and a trash can.

Follow along as you venture to your Desktop and beyond.

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Meet me at the Dock

The Dock is a versatile combination: one part organizer, one part application launcher, and one part system monitor. From the Dock, you can launch applications, see what’s running, and display or hide the windows shown by your applications.

Each icon in the Dock represents one of the following:

  • An application you can run (or that is running)

  • An application window that’s minimized (shrunk)

  • A web page URL link

  • A document or folder on your system

  • A network server, shared document, or shared folder

  • Your Trash

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The Dock is highly configurable:

  • It can appear at different edges of the screen.

  • It can disappear until you move the cursor to the edge to call it forth.

  • You can resize it.

Dig those crazy icons

By default, Mavericks always displays at least one icon on your Desktop: your Mac’s internal drive. To open a drive and view or use the contents, you double-click the icon. Other icons that might appear on your Desktop include

  • CDs and DVDs (if you have an optical drive)

  • An iPod

  • External hard drives, solid-state drives, and USB flash drives

  • Applications, folders, and documents

  • Files and folders

  • Network servers you access

There’s no food on this menu

The menu bar isn’t found in a restaurant. You find it at the top of the Desktop, where you can use it to control your applications. Virtually every application you run on your laptop has a menu bar.

To use a menu command, follow these steps:

  1. Click the menu title (such as File or Edit).

  2. Choose the desired command from the list that appears.

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Virtually every Macintosh application has some menus, such as File, Edit, and Window. You’re likely to find similar commands within these menus. However, only two menus are in every OS X application:

  • The Apple menu, which is identified with that jaunty Apple Corporation icon.

  • The Application menu, which always bears the name of the active application. For instance, the DVD Player menu group appears when you run the Mavericks DVD Player, and the Word menu group appears when you launch Microsoft Word.

You can also display a context or shortcut menu — which regular human beings call a right-click menu — by right-clicking the Mavericks Desktop, an application, a folder, or a file icon. (Because your MacBook is equipped with a trackpad, you can right-click by tapping the trackpad with two fingertips.)

There’s always room for one more window

You’re probably already familiar with the ubiquitous window itself. Both Mavericks and the applications you run use windows to display things such as

  • The documents you create

  • The contents of your drive