Getting to Know the Mac Operating System

If all has gone well you should see the Macintosh desktop. One clue that you have been succesful is if you see an arrow on the screen (pointing to about the 11-oclock position). If you have not used a mouse before, move it around on its pad and note how the arrow moves in response. The arrow is called the mouse cursor, and it is used to point at objects on the screen.

If you are not accustomed to using a mouse, take a few moments to practice pointing at objects on the screen.

Mousing Around

Let's begin by learning about the mouse. The mouse button is usually used to select or open an object on the screen. Selecting an object is accomplished by pointing the mouse at the object and clicking once, opening is is similar, but requires a double-click (clicking the left button twice in rapid succession).

To illustrate, there should be a tiny picture (called an icon) in the upper right corner of your computer's screen. Different institutions use different pictures and names for this icon, so we will refer to it using the generic term hard drive icon. Point the mouse at your hard drive icon and click the left mouse button. The icon should darken, indicating it has been selected.

Next, double-click while pointing at your hard drive icon, to open it. A new window should appear listing some of the folders and files that are in your computer's hard drive.

Moving back and forth between windows is easy -- if you have your browser running, you can select it by just moving the mouse over any part of the browser and clicking the mouse button. Note that the titlebar at the top of the selected window darkens to indicate that the window is selected. Since you may have multiple windows on your screen at the same time, the MacOS darkens the titlebar of whichever window is currently selected, which is known as the active window.


Operations with the Mouse Button

One of the most common things people want to do with windows is reposition them on the screen. This is quite easy in the MacOS: just point the mouse at the titlebar of the window, hold down the mouse button, and move the mouse until the window is where you want it. This is called dragging the window. Then release the mouse button and the window will stay put (until you drag it somewhere else). This is called dropping the window. Dragging and dropping makes it easy to reposition a window.

The controls for a window are distributed around the edges. If we want to resize a window we will use the resize box in the lower right-hand corner of the window. Click and then drag the corner of the window in or out until it is the size you want. By dragging, dropping, and resizing you can arrange the objects on your screen according to your personal tastes.

In the upper right corner of the window are two controls for changing the size in a more limited fashion. The zoom box (box inside a box) allows one to either enlarge (zoom in) or shrink (zoom out) the window. Clicking it again restores it to its previous position and size. Take a moment to try it with your hard drive's window.

The collapse box will hide the contents of the window completely leaving only the title bar on the screen. Try it with your hard drive's window.

In the upper left corner of every window is the close box. Clicking it causes your window to close. Take a moment and try it with your hard drive window.

With most well behaved Macintosh programs closing a window does not terminate the program. It merely closes that window. To terminate the program you need to select Quit from the File menu (or use the keyboard shortcut). Also with most Macintosh program if you quit a program or close a window, the program will ask you if you want to save any unsaved work.

Unfortunately, the programs you create will not be well-behaved. If you click the close box of one of your programs,it will terminate that program immediately.

Navigating in Your Computer

Ok! We're ready to explore! If your Macintosh has a floppy disk drive, insert a floppy disk into it. If you have a zip drive, you can insert a zip disk instead.

If your disk is already formatted for storing files, a new disk icon should appear on the right side of your screen. If your disk was not formatted, you will see a message indicating that the disk needs to be initialized. Go ahead and initialize it, and the icon will (eventually) appear.

Double-click this icon to open it and view the contents of whatever disk you placed in the drive. If this is a new disk, its window may well be empty.

Each of the icons can be explored in exactly the same way as we just saw -- by double-clicking on the icon for that device, and then in its window, clicking on whatever icon(s) you want to examine next.



Very soon, we'll be entering and running a simple Java program. But when we are done, we'd like to be able to save your program somewhere "safe" -- somewhere that, if the power goes off, your program can still be retrieved. To save your program safely, the computer stores it on magnetic media (usually a hard or floppy disk) in a container called a file.

During this course, we'll create dozens of files, and so some means of organizing them is needed. Just as the documents in a filing cabinet are often kept in manila file folders, MacOs lets us create a folder container in which we can store related files.

To do so, begin by making sure that your hard disk window is selected. (Your instructor may instead have a particular folder on the desktop where you are to work. If so, open this folder instead.) Then point the mouse at your File menu near the top left of your screen and click and hold the mouse button to display the File Menu. Move the mouse downwards until it points at the File -> New Folder choice, and release the mouse button when the choice darkens. You should see a folder icon labeled untitled folder appear in your active window.

When the new folder appears its name is automatically selected, so that you can give it a more descriptive name. Since we are creating a folder in which to store our labs, type labs to rename this folder appropriately.

On most text based operating systems, a folder is usually called a directory. You should be familiar with both terms.

Viewing the Contents of a Folder

To see what's inside of a folder is easy -- just double-click on the folder icon to open it! Take a moment to look inside your labs folder. It should be empty, since we have not yet put anything into it. Note that a new window appears but the old one remains nearby -- you can always return to the 'parent' window by clicking on it.

For practice, navigate back to the window containing labs and make three other folders: one named "practice", one named "projects" and one named "myLib".


Discarding a Folder

We made practice just for practice, to learn how to get rid of unwanted folders. Click on practice, drag it to the Trash icon (the icon will darken when the mouse is properly positioned over it) and drop it there. Your folder should disappear "into" the Trash, and if the Trash was empty, its icon should bulge to indicate that it is no longer empty.

If you throw something away and later decide you want to get it back, you can open the Trash by double-clicking on it and drag what you want to retrieve from the window back to your hard disk or floppy disk. If you are certain that you will not want to retrieve anything from the Trash, you can empty the trash by pointing the mouse at the Special menu, and choosing the Special -> Empty Trash menu choice. This operation cannot be undone, so use it with caution.

Moving a File/Folder

Moving a file or folder is easy. Click and hold down on the file/folder you wish to move. Then drag it to the new location. This will move the file as long as the place you move it to is on the same physical disk, otherwise it will make a copy.

Copying a File/Folder

If we want to make a copy we have two choices. We can use Edit -> Duplicate and then move the copy we just made. An easier way to drag the file/folder to the desired location while holding down the option key. Instead of doing a move, we will get a copy in the new location.


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