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Working on the Lion Desktop

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In this lesson, you learn how to use the Lion desktop so you can work efficiently with your Mac.
This chapter is from the book

Navigating the Desktop

The desktop is where all your Mac activities start; the Finder is the Mac application that provides the desktop and controls what you can do there. Figure 2.1 shows a typical desktop. The major elements with which you work are described in the following list:

  • Apple menu. In the upper-left corner of the desktop is the Apple menu. As you learned in Lesson 1, "Getting Started with Mac OS X Lion," this menu is always on the far left end of the menu bar and contains system-level commands, such as those you use to shut down your Mac.
  • Menu bar. At the top of the desktop is the menu bar. The first section of this (starting from the left side) is the menu bar for the application you are using. When you are working on the desktop, this is the Finder menu. When you are working with other applications, this menu is the name of the application. You learned how to use menus in Lesson 1.
  • Configurable menus. Toward the middle and right side of the menu bar are configurable menus; these are configurable because you can determine whether they appear. For example, you can show or hide the Wi-Fi menu; when shown, you can use this menu to manage your Wi-Fi network connection.
  • Spotlight. At the far right end of the menu bar is the Spotlight search tool, which has the magnifying glass icon. You learn about this later in this lesson.
  • Dock. By default, the Dock is located on the bottom of the window (as you learn in Lesson 5, "Personalizing Lion," you can change its location). You learn about the Dock later in this lesson.
  • Finder window. Finder windows show you the contents stored on your Mac; these include applications, folders, documents, and other files. You use Finder windows to move to, view, and take action on files and folders.
Figure 2.1

Figure 2.1 The desktop is the starting point for all your Mac activities.

To perform a task, such as opening a document, you follow a similar pattern, which is the following:

  1. Open a Finder window (if there isn't one open already).
  2. Select the starting point.
  3. Navigate to the end point.
  4. Take action.

Sometimes, there are fewer steps. For example, if what you want to use is on the Dock, these steps collapse into one, which is to click the icon for what you want to open. And sometimes you start with a search instead of choosing a starting point, but the general flow of performing tasks is similar.

As you navigate, you move into and around in folders to get to the specific item with which you want to work. How you do this depends on the Finder window view you are using; you read more on these later in this lesson.

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