The Dock

For years, most operating systems maintained two different lists of programs. One listed unopened programs until you needed them, like the Start menu in Windows. The other kept track of which programs were open at the moment for easy switching, like the Windows taskbar.

In Mac OS X, Apple combined both functions into a single strip of icons called the Dock. (And soon thereafter, Microsoft adopted the idea for Windows 7. But that’s another book.)

Setting Up the Dock

Apple starts the Dock off with a few icons it thinks you’ll enjoy: Launchpad, iTunes, the Safari Web browser, and so on. But using your Mac without putting your own favorite icons in the Dock is like buying an expensive suit and turning down the free alteration service. At the first opportunity, you should make the Dock your own.

The concept of the Dock is simple: Any icon you drag onto it (Figure 2-14) is installed there as a button.

A single click, not a double-click, opens the corresponding icon. In other words, the Dock is an ideal parking lot for the icons of disks, folders, documents, programs, and Internet bookmarks that you access frequently.

Here are a few aspects of the Dock that may throw you at first:

  • It has two sides. See the whitish dotted line running down the Dock? That’s the divider (Figure 2-14). Everything on the left side is an application—a program. Everything else goes on the right side: files, documents, folders, disks, and minimized windows.

    It’s important to understand this division. If you try ...

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