Selecting Icons

To highlight a single icon in preparation for printing, opening, duplicating, or deleting, click the icon once. (In a list or column view, as described in Chapter 2, you can also click on any visible piece of information about that file—its size, kind, date modified, and so on.) Both the icon and the name darken in a uniquely OS Xish way.


You can change the color of the oval highlighting that appears around the name of a selected icon. Choose →System Preferences, click General, and use the Highlight Color pop-up menu.

That much may seem obvious. But most first-time Mac owners 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 3-3. 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.


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

    Figure 3-3. You can highlight ...

Get Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, El Capitan Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.