Mac OS X Tiger/Using this Wikibook

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Using this Wikibook[edit]

The team of authors writing this wikibook use a few tricks to make things easier for you. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with them now. If you are confused about the concepts some of these tricks deal with, you'll probably pick them up as you become more comfortable using your computer.

Menu Arrows[edit]

Arrows > Like > These are used to show hierarchy in menus. For example, "Open the menu labeled File, open the menu inside labeled Open With, and then click on the item labeled Preview" could be abbreviated to "File > Open With > Preview".

The File-system[edit]

Likewise, slashes/like/these are used for file locations. "/Applications/Utilities" is shorthand for "Open your hard drive window. Inside is a folder labeled Applications. Open it. Inside the Applications folder is another another folder labeled Utilities. Open that."

If a file location begins with a slash, it means that the location is given from your main hard drive. If a file location begins with a tilde (~), it means that the location is given from your home folder. You'll learn about these places in Chapter 3.

Shortcut Shorthand[edit]

The second most important use of the keyboard (after inputting data) is executing "keyboard shortcuts". A keyboard shortcut, also known as a keystroke, is a sequence of keys that activates a command or feature in the frontmost program.

A keystroke is activated by holding down one or more "modifier keys" and then pressing another key, usually a letter. The combination of modifier keys changes (modifies) the function the letter keys on your keyboard.

There are four modifier keys on the Mac keyboard. Their names, markings, and the symbols used to represent them in this Wikibook are listed in the table below.

Table 1 - Mac Modifier Keys.
Name Marked With Symbol
Control Control/ctrl ^
Command ⌘, 
Option Option, Alt
Shift Shift

Info Symbol NOTE: Some Mac laptop keyboards aren't quite large enough to fit every key on them. Apple solves this problem by doubling up two functions on one key. To switch a laptop key to its second meaning, hold down the special laptop-exclusive fifth modifier key, called "Function" and marked with "Fn".

Around the Mac OS and in this wikibook, keystrokes are written using shorthand. Modifier keys are represented by the symbols listed in Table 1. "Press the "B" key while holding down Command" is written as "⌘B". "Press the "B" key while holding down Command and Option simultaneously" is written as "⌘⌥B".

Books BACKGROUND: Ever wonder why Apple uses that little cloverleaf (⌘) as the official symbol for the command key? In the original 1984 Mac, the plan was to use the Apple logo as the symbol for it, but this made menus full of keyboard shortcuts look very cluttered. So the lead Mac designer leafed through a book of symbols and found the squiggle we now know as the command key symbol, which is used on Swedish campground signs to mark places of interest.


There are a few sets of words used in this wikibook that mean the exact same thing and are used interchangeably. They are:

  • Application, App, Program, Piece of Software
  • Users, Accounts, and User Accounts
  • Delete and Backspace - Both refer to the key without a ⌦ symbol

Commonly Confused Keys[edit]

Apple Keyboards have a few keys that are named differently from their PC counterparts, and many users call keys by unofficial names. This section will clarify different keys on the Apple Keyboard.

  • PC keyboards have two enter keys. On the Mac, one of them is called Return. However, both keys do the same exact thing 99 percent of the time. Therefore, the terms "enter" and "return" are often used interchangeably.
  • Most Mac keyboards have two delete keys. One has a ⌦ on it to indicate that it deletes the next character rather than the previous one. To avoid confusion between these two delete keys, it's acceptable to refer to the one with a ⌦ as "forward delete" and the one without as "backspace".
  • The key with an Apple logo and a squiggle is often called the Apple key. This is incorrect. The correct name of the key is "Command".
Info Symbol NOTE: This wikibook assumes you are using an American keyboard. Apple's foreign keyboards often feature different keys and symbols than their American counterparts.

Windows versus windows[edit]

Windows with a capital "W" is the Mac OS competitor produced by Microsoft. A window with a lowercase "w" is the paradigm modern computer interfaces are built around, which is what Microsoft named its operating system after.

Info Boxes[edit]

A computer book mainstay, info boxes have called attention to important tips and warnings for ages. This wikibook is no exception, and it uses four different flavors of info box. These four kinds are shown below:

Info Symbol NOTE: These boxes contain handy "sidebar" information that doesn't quite mesh with the rest of the chapter. It's recommended that you read them, since they're often quite interesting.
Warning WARNING: Look out! Not reading these yellow boxes could cause major headaches and the loss of time, data, or equipment!
Purple Hat TRICK: Essential? Maybe not. Fun? Of course. Learn about hidden features and keystrokes in these boxes.
Books BACKGROUND: Gather 'round a Background box for a bit of Macintosh history! These boxes are often quite interesting, and are a must for the budding Mac fanatic.


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