OS X: Basic Concepts

OS X: Basic Concepts – It’s easy to get used to a interface OS X offers, as well as to an Apple-style mouse and keyboard, and all the basics of the OS X environment.

OS X: Basic Concepts

Note that if your mouse hovers over an item, command or button, you’ll see a small label to pop up to tell you a little bit more about what you are about to click!

Dialog Box

Whenever an application needs your input, it will display a Dialog Box. If you see a button highligthed in blue, it means that the button can be activated either by clicking or hitting the Enter key. As a rule, you can activate a button by holding down the ᴂ key while hitting the first letter of the word displayed on the button.


Finders doesn’t look as an application, but it is one, however inseparable from OS X as a whole.

This application allows you to find files and organize them into folders. You can copy, delete them, launch applications, switch between tasks, connect to servers and more. Finder is complete with menus, preferences and an icon showing the Mac smiley face which is welded to the Dock. But unlike most other applications, Finder doesn’t feature a “quit” option. Nevertheless, if the Finder app ever freezes up or misbehaves in any other way, you can always relaunch it.

Home Folder

Home Folder is the place where all the documents are stored on your Mac which uses OS X. All the files, including those needed to make your computer work, are stored there. If a Mac has various accounts set up by its users, each account will have its own Home Folder. All of them can be found in Macintosh HD – Users.


Applications (apps for short) or programs are pieces of software, that users open when they want to do anything, from writing a text to finding where to sell their old electronics online for top dollar. An app can live anywhere in the system. Usually they are concentrated in the Application folder.


When you delete an unnecessary file, it goes to the Trash, where it stands until the Trash is emptied. To empty the Trash, choose Empty Trash option from the Finder menu. You can also click and hold the Trash icon on the Dock. You can also use the combination of ᴂ + and . When you empty the Trash, its icon changes to let you know at a glance that it’s empty.

Don’t forget that even when you empty the Trash the file remains on the drive and can be potentially recovered. To delete the Trash’s contents for good, select Secure Empty Trash from the Finder menu.

Or yes, there exist apps even to contemplate some animated pictures while you trash files and folders. You can find and download these pictures if look for FunTrash freeware apps.

Disks and Drives

If you connect an external hard drive, a virtual drive file or a key drive to your computer, it will appear on the desktop and in the sidebar of any Finder window. It usually appears with a white disk drive icon, ready to be open up. You can thus add, copy, remove files and perform other operations using that disk.

As to CDs and DVDs, they also appear on the desktop and in sidebars when inserted. If their color is blank, you can drag files onto them. If you want to write a disk, select it on a Finder sidebar and then press Burn.

Important: Don’t just unplug an external drive if you’ve finished using it, as you may damage it permanently. Eject it by pressing the eject icon next to its name in the sidebar of any Finder window. Alternatively, you can drag the drive or disk to the Trash. It will morph into an eject icon the moment you start dragging.

Software Update

Apple ongoingly updates all of its products to add additional features, to make them more stable and faster, and so on. Whenever connected, you can click on Software update in the Apple Menu to check for the latest updates. OS X will install all the updates for you. Anyway, OS X will, by default, automatically check for updates every few weeks.

When you check for updates, you can choose between them: What updates to install and what updates to ignore. However, unless you a specific reason not to (for example, your Internet connection is very slow), install all the updates Apple offers. At the very least, you should install everything related to security. Indeed, with regard to online threats of any kind, updating, keeping your system in a save heaven thanks to updates is much more important than installing third-party antivirus software.

Software Update has its own panel in System Preferences. You can go there and choose the option Stop OS X checking for updates automatically. You can see there what updates have already been installed and make other changes.

Mac Help

Mac OS X comes with a nice Help tool. If you want to know something or if you get stuck, you can always select Mac Help in Finders Help Menu. Alternatively, you can use the shortcut ᴂ + +?

To Switch Off Mac

To switch off the computer, select Shut Down from the Apple menu. You can just leave it on, and in a few minutes the Mac will go into a low-energy Sleep mode. In this case it can be quickly awoken when you need it. Shutting the lid will have the same effect, and you’ll be able to carry it around in Sleep mode.

When various users have set up their accounts on the same Mac, it’s possible to use Log Out option from the Apple menu to return to the screen, where the next user can log in to work on that Mac.

Besides OS X is equipped with good and powerful power-management features. You’ll find them under the Energy Saver panel or System Preferences. You can schedule your Mac to switch on and off at the same time each day. You can also set how long the computer should wait before entering Sleep Mode. You can alter there the setting for battery use on a laptop.

What Is Where On Mac

Apple Menu is always in display whichever application you are using. The Apple Menu holds Log Out and Shut Down options, System preferences, access do Dock, access to Software Update and more, For example, to find out about your computer’s hardware, click About This Mac in the Apple Menu to learn about its basic specs. Then you can hit More info for the full version. You can also customize the Apple Menu.


The place for storing files currently in use and other documents. The desktop is also located in a Desktop folder within your Home folder. You can customize desktop by choosing windows, files, menu bar and so on of your preference.

Finder Window

When you double-click a folder to view its content, you reveal the content in one of Finder Windows. You may want to customize them.


The Dock is home of quick links to applications, Stacks, folders, minimized windows and the trash. Users also use the Dock to switch between open applications. You’ll find more about the dock, on this page:

Macintosh HD

This this the default name for your Mac Hard Drive, In the family tree of folders, this folder in at the top.

System Preferences

System Preferences is the home of scores and settings. This pane can be accessed through the Apple Menu or clicking on the Cog Icon on the Dock. Some items can be marked with a grey color in the System Preferences pane. This means that you can’t access that item.

Info Panel

To view details about any file or folder, select it and hit ᴂ I. The panel will open. You can use these elements to change apps which open a file or for changing icons. To learn more about these items, visit this page :

Simple Finder

Important tip: Simple Finder is relatively new and it’ rather feature-stripped version of OS X which you can use if you are really confused about your Mac. This simplified version uses bigger icons and simplified versions of the menus and so on.


  • Apple electronic devices are perfectly balanced system in and out. Still, if you look for new models, we at iGotOffer will be glad to take in your used models and help you save for the new device.

Operating System Basics. Video uploaded by Brian Will, on October 10, 2013. Essential concepts of operating systems. Part of a larger series teaching programming.


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