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Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Yosemite Edition by David Pogue

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Selecting Icons

To highlight a single icon in preparation for printing, opening, duplicating, or deleting, click the icon once. Both the icon and the name darken in a uniquely OS Xish way.

That much may seem obvious. But most first-time Mac users have no idea how to manipulate more than one icon at a time—an essential survival skill in a graphic interface like the Mac’s.

Selecting by Clicking

To highlight multiple files in preparation for moving or copying, use one of these techniques:

  • Highlight all the icons. To select all the icons in a window, press ⌘-A (the equivalent of the Edit→Select All command).

  • Highlight several icons by dragging. You can drag diagonally to highlight a group of nearby icons, as shown in Figure 3-2. In a list view, in fact, you don’t even have to drag over the icons themselves—your cursor can touch any part of a file’s row, like its modification date or file size.

    Tip

    If you include a particular icon in your diagonally dragged group by mistake, ⌘-click it to remove it from the selected cluster.

  • To highlight consecutive icons in a list. If you’re looking at the contents of a window in list view or column view, you can drag vertically over the file and folder names to highlight a group of consecutive icons, as described above. (Begin the drag in a blank spot.)

    There’s a faster way to do the same thing; see Figure 3-3.

    Left: To select a block of files in list view, click the first icon. Then, while pressing Shift, click the last one. OS X highlights those files and all the files in between your clicks. This technique mirrors the way Shift-clicking works in a word processor and in many other kinds of programs.Right: To remove one of the icons from your selection, ⌘-click it.

    Figure 3-3. Left: To select a block of files in list ...

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