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Getting Around Mac OS X

Tips for navigation and basic operations in the new OS By Dave Nagel
Some time ago I wrote up a short list of tips and tricks for getting around Mac OS X. But a few things have changed since that time, and more and more of you are making the switch, so I thought I'd go ahead and revisit the topic now.

OS X's navigation differs in several ways from that of OS 9. Most of the differences are in the area of keyboard shortcuts?closing all windows, hiding applications, etc. And there are also differences in basic system operations, such as force quitting applications. The differences are mainly cosmetic ones, but, in some cases, you get added functionality as well.

Basic operations and networking
One of the most exciting features of OS X in terms of operations is the ability to force quit applications without bringing down your whole system. In other words, you can quit an application that freezes up and then get back to work without further interruption. Frequently in OS 9, a force quit would either take down your system on the spot or destabilize your system to the point that it would crash within a few minutes of a force quit.

To force quit an application, hold down Command-Option-Escape. This will call up a dialog box that allows you actually to select which application or applications (by name) you'd like to quit. When you're done selecting the applications, click the close button in the upper left of the force quit dialog (or hit Esc or Command-W).

This can also be done to applications running in the Classic environment. However, keep in mind that Classic is OS 9, and force quitting a Classic application is likely to bring down the Classic environment. In this case, OS X will keep chugging along as if nothing had happened, and you can just go back into your System Preferences and relaunch the Classic environment.

Speaking of System Preferences, in case you didn't know it, this is the replacement for the Mac OS Control Panels folder. It actually resembles the ancient Control Panel from System 6 more than the later Control Panels folder in that all of your settings are accessed from a single pane. One of the big differences with the new way of doing things is that you will no longer find settings for your individual devices in this area. Instead, manufacturers who produce drivers for Mac OS X (such as Wacom) are now including utilities for adjusting driver settings. So, instead of accessing a device's settings through a Control Panel, you now access them through stand-alone applications.

Another big operational difference in OS X is in networking. Actually, the big, big difference is that OS X handles networking a lot better than OS 9. The small difference is in how you access network volumes. In OS X, there's no such thing as the Chooser. Instead, in the Finder, you'll see a menu called "Go." At the very bottom of this menu is an item labeled "Connect to Server." (You can also use the Command-K shortcut.) This shows you all of the local servers and also lets you type in an IP address for remote servers. It actually took me quite a while to find this feature. In fact, for a full day I couldn't figure out what happened to the Chooser. But this new method is actually easier.

Also on the topic of networking is selecting a printer to print to. Once again, there's no Chooser. Instead, there's an application in your Utilities folder (Macintosh HD/Applications/Utilities) called Print Center. This lets you set up all of the printers on your network, after which you won't have to worry about it again.

My last tip about networking involved Internet access. In OS X, there's a PPPoE client built in, so you can access any service that uses PPPoE, even if the service (such as Pac Bell) claims not to support OS X. In your Applications folder, you'll find a little application called "Internet Connect." Launch this, enter your account information and then select the Option that let's you connect automatically anytime you use a TCP/IP application. Voila! No more annoying PPPoE client software cluttering up your life.

Navigation and shortcuts
I'm not going to go into detail on every new keyboard shortcut in OS X. Instead, here's an abbreviated list of things new and improved in OS X to help you get around.

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