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Tips & Tricks for OS X

Your preliminary guide to the new system By Dave Nagel
The final release of Mac OS X has been out just a little more than a week now, so, if you're one of the daring who chose to install it despite very legitimate concerns, you're probably still wondering what's going on. Why can I hide my windows? How do I change the look of this thing? Why do I have to wait for Classic to load just so I can launch an application?

Well, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your OS X installation.

You can actually install OS X on the same disk partition as any other operating system. You don't have to get rid of your OS 8.6 or OS 9.0.4 just because the OS X installer forces you to install OS 9.1. One of the nice new features of 9.1 and X is the ability to select a startup folder, rather than just a startup disk. So, when you want to go from OS X to OS 9.0.4, for example, you can simply select System Preferences > Startup Disk, and pick your OS 9.0.4 folder for the next time that you reboot your computer.

Now, one of the obvious questions in your mind should be, "How do I then get back to OS X?" Well, there are two options here. If you have your old OS on a separate drive or partition from your two new OSes, you can simply select Control Panels > Startup Disk and select the drive that has OS X on it. By default, however, this will boot OS 9.1, assuming it's on the same volume as OS X. From OS 9.1, you can then select Control Panels > Startup Disk and pick the individual System Folder you want to boot from (just as in OS X).

However, if you want to save time, you can take your Startup Disk Control Panel from your OS 9.1 folder and copy it to your older System Folder(s), thereby giving you the exact same Startup Disk functionality in those older OSes as you get in 9.1 and X.

One of the more frustrating things about OS X is the amount of time it takes to load the Classic environment when you want to use an older application. It takes exactly the same amount of time as it takes to load OS 9.1. In fact, that's exactly what it's doing. You can take away a bit of this frustration by setting Classic to load at startup. This way, the loading will already be out of the way when you want to launch an older Classic application. (Just select Apple Menu > System Preferences > Classic, and then check the box labeled "Start up classic on login to this computer.") While Classic is loading at startup, you can go about your business as usual, using any OS X application you want, such as Mail or Internet Explorer 5.1. Once Classic has loaded, switching back and forth between Classic and Native application is as quick and easy as doing it with your old OS.

Speaking of Internet Explorer 5.1, there's an interesting feature of OS X that it doesn't take advantage of completely. I don't know exactly how this works, but OS X and OS 9.1 can somehow magically share Clipboards, meaning that you can copy and paste between OS X and Classic applications. Explorer 5.1, however, does not allow you to use the copy function, though you can still paste into its text fields from Classic or Native applications.

Also on the topic of Classic, are you wondering where your old Desktop folder went off to? It's actually on the same volume as OS X. The hierarchy is OS X Volume > Users > Your Name > Desktop.

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