Chapter 5. Dock, Desktop & Toolbars

When you fire up a Mac, the first thing you see is the desktop—the great-great-grandchild of the original Mac’s home-base screen that changed the world in 1984. There’s the Dock, full of unfamiliar icons on a see-through shelf. There are those Finder windows, slick and textureless with their solid-gray title bars. And then there’s the shimmering backdrop of the desktop itself.

This chapter shows you how to use and control these most dramatic elements of macOS High Sierra’s home base.

The Dock

For years, most operating systems maintained two lists of programs. One listed unopened programs until you needed them, like the Start menu (Windows) or the Launcher (Mac OS 9). The other kept track of which programs were open at the moment for easy switching, like the taskbar (Windows) or the Application menu (Mac OS 9).

In OS X, Apple combined both functions into a single strip of icons called the Dock.

Apple’s thinking goes like this: Why must you know whether or not a program is already running? That’s the computer’s problem, not yours. In an ideal world, this distinction should be irrelevant. A program should appear when you click its icon, whether it’s open or not—just as on an iPhone or an iPad.

“Which programs are open” already approaches unimportance in macOS, where sophisticated memory-management features make it hard to run out of memory. You can have dozens of programs open at once.

And that’s why the Dock combines the launcher and status functions ...

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