Mac OS 7.6 for Dummies


If nothing else, Apple Computer has grown adept at maintaining suspense when it comes to new releases of its user-friendly operating system, Mac OS. But Mac OS 7.6 is finally here, and with its combination of performance enhancements, bug fixes, additional features, and new technologies, it almost seems worth the wait.

In Mac OS 7.6 For Dummies, Mac guru Bob LeVitus gives you the rundown on what's new, what's different, and what will and won't ...

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If nothing else, Apple Computer has grown adept at maintaining suspense when it comes to new releases of its user-friendly operating system, Mac OS. But Mac OS 7.6 is finally here, and with its combination of performance enhancements, bug fixes, additional features, and new technologies, it almost seems worth the wait.

In Mac OS 7.6 For Dummies, Mac guru Bob LeVitus gives you the rundown on what's new, what's different, and what will and won't work with your existing software and hardware. In plain English, LeVitus reveals how to . . .

  • Put to use recent Apple innovations, such as Cyberdog, HotSauce, OpenDoc, and QuickTime 2.5
  • Get on the Internet with Mac OS 7.6 -- it's never been easier
  • Customize the look and feel of your Mac with new OS options
  • Conserve RAM and hard disk space by discarding programs and files you don't need -- you'll also boost performance this way
  • Automate not only the Mac OS but also your favorite applications by using AppleScript, Apple's easy-to-use programming language
  • Organize the icons on your desktop as well as all the folders and files on your hard disk so that you don't have to waste time hunting for them
  • Resolve extension and control panel conflicts that can hobble your Mac -- you'll be grateful for the much-improved Extensions Manager control panel built into Mac OS 7.6
  • Use networking, file sharing, and printing sharing to make your organization more productive and more creative
  • Take advantage of virtual memory without slowing system performance to a crawl

Plus, because Mac OS 7.6 contains so many new ways of doing things, Mac OS 7.6 For Dummiesfeatures a free "cheat sheet" that you can cut out and keep handy for quick solutions and shortcuts.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764501036
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/1998
  • Series: For Dummies Series
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.15 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Table of Contents



Why a Book for Dummies?
How to Use this Book
How This Book Is Organized
Part I: Basic Training
Part II: Making It Purr
Part III: U 2 Can B A Guru
Part IV: The Infamous Part of Tens
Part V: Appendixes
Icons Used in This Book
One Last Thing
Part I: Basic Training

Chapter 1: Mac OS 7.6 101 (Prerequisites: None)

What Is System Software?
What Does System Software Do?
A Safety Net for the Absolute Beginner -- or Any User
What You Should See after Turning the Power On
What's Happening Here? (The Startup Process Revealed)
You're not a failure
Question Mark and the Mysterians
The ultimate startup disks
Now what?
One Last Thing before You Move On...

Chapter 2: Meet the Desktop

I Think ICON, I Think ICON
The look you want to know better
Open sesame
The name game
Other various and sundry icons
Windows (Definitely Not the Microsoft Kind)
Doin' windows
Zooming right along...
Cutting windows down to size
A scroll new world
Transportable windows
Ladies and gentlemen, activate your windows
Shuttin' yo' windows
The remarkable WindowShade effect
Congrats: You now do windows
Disk Could Be the Start of a Beautiful Friendship
Initialization and erasure
Surprise: PC disks work as well!
Getting disks out of your Mac
Up the Organization: Copying and Moving Files and Folders
Know when to hold 'er, know when to folder
Meet the desktop

Chapter 3: A Bevy of Delectable Menus

Menu Basics
Command performance
It's elliptical
Dialog box featurettes
File Management and More: Meet the File Menu
New Folder (Command-N)
Open (Command-O)
Print (Command-P)
Close Window (Command-W)
Get Info (Command-I)
Sharing (no keyboard shortcut)
Duplicate (Command-D)
Make Alias (Command-M)
Put Away (Command-Y)
Find (Command-F)
Find Again (Command-G)
Page Setup (no keyboard shortcut)
Print (no keyboard shortcut)
The Edit Menu (Which Shoulda Been Called the Clipboard Menu)
Undo (Command-Z)
Cut (Command-X)
Show Clipboard (no keyboard shortcut)
Copy (Command-C)
Paste (Command-V)
Clear (no keyboard shortcut)
Select All (Command-A)
A View from a Window: The View Menu
By Icon
By Small Icon
The list views
Another way to switch between list views
The triangles
Don't Label Me: Introducing the (Near-Worthless) Label Menu
Something Special in the Menu Bar: The Special Menu
Clean Up
Empty Trash
Eject Disk and Erase Disk
Shut Down
Not Just a Beatles Movie: Help and the Help Menu
About Help (no keyboard shortcut)
Show Balloons (no keyboard shortcut)
Mac OS Guide (Command-?)
Shortcuts (no keyboard shortcut)
Apply Yourself: The Application Menu

Chapter 4: Polishing the Apple (Menu)

About This Computer (Yours)
From the Desk (Accessories) of...
Profile THIS: Apple System Profiler
Sounds good to me: AppleCD Audio Player
A calculated risk: Calculator
Be choosy: Be a Chooser user
Finder of lost files: Find File (again)
Fakin' it with Graphing Calculator (Power Macs only)
Better than puzzles of old, it's Jigsaw Puzzle
The key to all your fonts: It's Key Caps
Take note of the Note Pad
Remote Access Disconnect
The not-so-scrappy Scrapbook
Don't be stuck up: Use Stickies
Another way to shut down
Those Interestingly Named Folders in the Apple Menu
The Control Panels folder
Recent Applications, Recent Documents, and Recent Servers
Automated Tasks
Roll Your Own: Customizing Your Apple Menu
Doing the right thing with your desk accessories
Putting your stuff into the Apple menu
My Deep, Dark Secret

Chapter 5: Save Yourself Heartache: Master the Save and Open Dialog Boxes

Nested Folders and Paths (It's Not as Bad as It Sounds)
Save Your Document before It's Too Late
The rest of what you should know about Save dialog boxes
The buttons
It Looks Like Save, It Acts Like Save, So Why Is It Called Save As?
Open (Sesame)
Using the Open dialog box
A really big show -- Show Preview
Weird folder or file names
Part II: Making It Purr

Chapter 6: File Management Made Simple

Launcher (Or Not)
Getting Yourself Organized (Or Something Like It)
And it's root, root, root for the root level
Documentary evidence: the Documents folder
Other folders at root level
Apply here: the Applications folder
The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread: Aliases
Icons on the desktop
Smart Apple menu tricks
Macstyles of the Not So Rich and Famous
Robin Williams: Renaissance Woman
Steven Bobker: The Godfather of MacUser
Lofty Becker: Triple Threat
Glenn Brown: Federal Agent and Extension King
Rich Wolfson: The Unkempt Professor
Robyn Ray: Bad Influence
Guy Kawasaki: A Marketing Pro

Chapter 7: Publish or Perish: The Fail-Safe Guide to Printing

Ready: Choosing a Printer in (What Else?) the Chooser DA
If you have an AppleTalk printer
If you have a serial printer
If you have a SCSI or server-based printer
The AppleTalk Active/Inactive radio buttons
Before you close the Chooser...
Set: Setting Up Your Page with Page Setup
Paper type
Page orientation
PostScript options
The Print Dialog Box: Printing to Most Printers
The Print-->General dialog box
The Print-->Background Printing dialog box
The Print-->Cover Page dialog box
The Print-->Color Matching dialog box
The Print-->Layout dialog box
The Print-->Error Handling dialog box
The Print-->Save As File dialog box
One last thing...
The Hip New Thing: Desktop Printers
What is a desktop printer, anyway?
Using desktop printers
What is QuickDraw GX (And Should I Use It?)
What you get when you install QuickDraw GX
Another GX advantage: The print to disk PDD format
QuickDraw GX: The last word
Font Mania
How to install fonts
Type formats
Font advice in brief

Chapter 8: File Sharing for the Rest of Us

What It Is
Portrait of a LocalTalk network
Getting Turned On
Setting Up Sharing Setup
Get a network identity
Turn file sharing and program linking on
Users and Groups and Guests (Oh My)
Be our guest
Removing Users or Groups
Access and Privileges (Who Can Do What)
Sharing a folder or disk
Setting access privileges
Useful settings for access privileges
The Actual Act of Sharing
Connecting to a shared disk or folder
Getting on your own computer from a remote computer
Disconnecting from a shared folder or disk
A Few Other Things You Ought to Know
Monitoring file sharing
Changing your password
Unsharing a folder or disk
Logging on remotely via modem

Chapter 9: Memory and Other Seemingly Complicated Arcana

Baby, Baby, Where Did Our RAM Go?
System software memory theory: Where some of the RAM goes...
Application memory theory: Where the rest of the RAM goes
In summation
Memories Are Made of This: The Memory Control Panel
Cashing in with the disk cache
How to set your disk cache
It's not real, it's virtual (memory)
Faster than a speeding bullet: It's a RAM disk
Part III: U 2 Can B A Guru

Chapter 10: Surefire, Easy-to-Use, No- (Or Low-) Cost Timesaving Tips

Let Your Fingers Do the Flying
Use those keyboard shortcuts
Learn to type better
Why Living Color May Not Be So Great
Monitor settings
Window color considerations
A Mac with a view
What Else Can I Do?

Chapter 11: Advanced Techniques for Beginners

Souping Up Your Apple Menu
Space cowboy
Divide and conquer
Look, ma, no dividers!
Start Up Your Mornings Right
Control Strip Poker
On becoming a (Control Strip) item. Or not.

Chapter 12: Control Tweaks

Apple Menu Options
AutoRemounter (PowerBooks Only)
ColorSync System Profile
Control Strip
Date & Time
To set the date or time
Time and date formats
The rest of it
Desktop Patterns
Dial Assist
Editor Setup (OpenDoc Only)
Energy Saver
Extensions Manager
File Sharing Monitor
General Controls
Desktop options
Shut Down Warning
Folder Protection
Insertion Point Blinking
Menu Blinking
Mac OS Easy Open
MacLinkPlus Setup
Monitors & Sound
Alerts (beep sounds)
PC Exchange
QuickTime Settings
Remote Access Setup
Sharing Setup
Startup Disk
Users and Groups

Chapter 13: How to Write an AppleScript in 21 Minutes

What the Heck Is an AppleScript, Anyway?
What the Mac OS Installer Installs and Where It Installs It
The AppleScriptLib and AppleScript extensions
The Scripting Additions folder
AppleScript Guide
Script Editor
The Automated Tasks folder
But wait, there's more
What it all means
Writing a Simple Script
If a Script Is Any Good, It Should Be Saved

Chapter 14: What Can Stay and What Can Go

Reclamation Theory
Life After Death: The Truth about Restoring Deleted Files
Back up first
Install Mac OS: Restorer of lost items
What, Exactly, Are Extensions and Control Panels?
Disabling 'em all with the Shift key
Discriminating disabling with Extensions Manager
Control Panels
Control panels by RAM used
Control panels by disk space used
System extensions
Chooser extensions
Other items in the Extensions folder
Folders in the Extensions folder
Extensions by RAM used
Extensions by disk space used
The Rest of the Stuff inYour System Folder

Chapter 15: Internet-Working

Internet Overview (Brief)
Getting Set Up for Surfing
It starts with the modem
Your Internet service provider and you
Go configure: PPP and TCP/IP
One Cool Puppy: Meet Your New Cyberdog
Logging On
Meet your pup
Riding the Information Superhighway
Part IV: The Infamous Part of Tens

Chapter 16: Ten Pieces of System Software You Might Someday Need

PowerBook Options and Other Stuff
Easy Access
OpenDoc & OpenDoc Essentials
Open Transport PPP
QuickDraw 3D
Apple Remote Access Client
English Text-to-Speech
QuickDraw GX
LaserWriter Utility
Paper Type Editor
Type 1 Enabler

Chapter 17: Ten Ways to Make Your Mac Better by Throwing Money at It

Chapter 18: At Least Ten Things to Try when Good System Software Goes Bad

Dem Ol' Sad Mac Chimes of Doom Blues
Flashing Question Mark Problems
Start with something easy: Rebuild the desktop
Send for the Ambulance: Run Disk First Aid
Installing new hard disk drivers
The latest dance craze: Zapping the PRAM
SCSI voodoo
Reinstalling the System software
If nothing has worked so far
If You Crash at Startup
Restart without extensions and control panels
Resolving extension and control panel conflicts
Dealing with recalcitrant extensions and control panels
How to perform a clean System reinstallation
Part V: Appendixes
Appendix A: Anyone Can Install Mac OS 7.6
Installing Mac OS 7.6
Custom Installs
OpenDoc Essentials
QuickDraw 3D
Apple Remote Access Client
Open Transport PPP
English Text-to-Speech
Optional Mac OS Items

Appendix B: Back Up Now or Regret It Later
Backing Up Is (Not) Hard to Do
The manual, "brute force" method
Commercial backup software
Why You Need Two Sets of Backup Disks


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First Chapter

Chapter 5
Save Yourself Heartache: Master the Save and Open Dialog Boxes

In This Chapter

  • Nested folders and paths
  • Save your document before it's too late
  • Save versus Save As?
  • The Open dialog box

Mark my words, this is the most important chapter in this book. If you don't understand the Open and Save dialog boxes, the doohickies that appear when you choose File-->Open or File-->Save in most programs, you'll never quite master your Macintosh. Yet mastering these essential techniques is perhaps the biggest problem many users have. I get more phone calls that begin, "Well, I saved the file, and now I don't know where it went."

This chapter is the cure. Just pay attention and it'll become crystal clear. And keep saying to yourself, "The Save and Open dialog boxes are just another view of the Finder." I'll explain in a moment.

The Open and Save dialog boxes are virtually unchanged from earlier versions of the operating system, which means that they're just as confusing now as they were before. Too bad. While Apple was souping up Mac OS 7.6, it could have made the Open and Save dialog boxes a little easier to use.

Never mind. They're not that bad. And after you figure out how they work, you'll never forget. Using them will soon become second nature to you, and you'll cruise through Open and Save dialog boxes just like the pros, barely thinking about them as your fingers type and click at high speeds.

Nested Folders and Paths (It's Not as Bad as It Sounds)

Before we get started, I need to remind you that you work with Open and Save dialog boxes within applications. I assume that you know how to launch your favorite application and that you know how to create a new document. If you can't do these things, I recommend that you read Mr. Pogue's Macs® For Dummies® (IDG Books Worldwide, Inc.). That book has a section on getting the beginning user started with popular Mac programs.

For the rest of this chapter, I'm going to use SimpleText as the sample application. SimpleText comes with Mac OS 7.6, so you should have it. In fact, you've probably already used SimpleText to read any Read Me files that came with Mac OS 7.6.

So if you want to follow along, keystroke by keystroke, launch SimpleText and use File-->New to create a new document. Type a few words in your document, like "Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky like a Macintosh sitting on a table." Or something like that (forgive me, T. S. Eliot).

Switch from SimpleText to the Finder (you remember how). You may find the next part easier if you hide SimpleText (you know how to do that, too!) while you work in the Finder. If you've forgotten how to do either, pull down the Application menu, the one at the far right; everything you need is right there.

  1. Open your hard disk's icon and create a new folder at root level (that is, in your hard disk's window). Name this folder Folder 1 to reflect the fact that it's one level deep on your hard disk.
  2. Open Folder 1 and create a new folder in its window. Name this folder Folder 2 to reflect the fact that it's two levels deep on your hard disk.
  3. Open Folder 2 and create a new folder in its window. Name this folder Folder 3 to reflect the fact that it's three levels deep on your hard disk.

You should now have a set of nested folders looking something like Figure 5-1.

Let me make this perfectly clear: Stuff inside Folder 3 is four levels deep. Folder 3 itself is three levels deep. Folder 2 itself is two levels deep, but stuff inside Folder 2, such as Folder 3, is three levels deep. And so on. Got it?

What's important here is that you are able to visualize the path to Folder 3. To get to Folder 3, you open Macintosh HD, open Folder 1, open Folder 2, and then open Folder 3. Remember this concept. You'll need it in a moment when you look at the Save dialog box.

An easy way to see the path to any open folder is to Command-click its name in the title bar of its window (hold down the Command key before you press the mouse button). This action displays a drop-down path menu for that folder starting at the desktop level, as shown in Figure 5-2.

This path menu is live, which means that you can choose another folder from it by sliding the cursor to the folder's name and releasing the mouse button.

Try out this feature with Folder 3. Command-click its title bar, move the cursor down until Folder 1 is highlighted, and then release the mouse button. Folder 1 will pop to the front and become the active window. Try to remember this shortcut, because Command-clicking title bars can save you lots of time and effort.

Okay, our preparatory work in the Finder is through. Use any of the techniques you know to make SimpleText the active application. And don't forget what that path to Folder 3 looks like.

Save Your Document before It's Too Late

Back in SimpleText, it's time to save your masterpiece. Choose File-->Save (Command-S). This command brings up the Save dialog box (shown in Figure 5-3). Don't panic. These dialog boxes are easy as long as you remember that they're just another view of the folder structure in the Finder.

When the Save dialog box appears, the first thing I want you to do is click the Desktop button to view the icons on your desktop.

The Save dialog box contains that other view of your hard disk I talked about earlier. You're looking at the icons on your desktop right now. You know that they're the icons on your desktop because the active item is the desktop. Its name appears on the drop-down menu at the top and center.

In programs other than SimpleText, the Save dialog box may look slightly different because it contains additional options. Don't worry. The Save dialog box always works the same, no matter what options are offered. Once you can navigate with the SimpleText Save dialog box, you'll be able to navigate with any program's Save dialog box. So don't worry if the one you're used to seeing doesn't look exactly like Figure 5-3; just follow along and learn.

Click Macintosh HD (that is, your hard disk, whatever its name is) in the scrolling list (known as the file list box) and then click the Open button or press the Return or Enter key on your keyboard. (In all dialog boxes, the Return or Enter key activates the default button, which is the one with the heavy border around it.) Double-clicking Macintosh HD will open it as well.

Open Folder 1 the same way. Open Folder 2 the same way. Open Folder 3 the same way. Your Save dialog box should look like Figure 5-4.

In other words, you navigate through folders in the Save dialog box the same way you navigate through folders in the Finder: by opening them to see their contents.

In the Save dialog box, the name at the top in the drop-down menu is the name of the active item (a folder, disk, or the desktop). Think of the active item in a Save dialog box as the active window in the Finder. That's where your file will be saved if you click the Save button. That's an important concept. The file will always be saved in the active folder (or disk or the desktop) -- the folder (or disk or the desktop) whose name appears at the top of the dialog box in the drop-down menu.

To make comprehension easier, think back to when I asked you to remember the path to Folder 3 in the Finder. Now look at the current path to Folder 3 in the Save dialog box by clicking the drop-down menu. Like the drop-down path menu in the Finder (Command-click the window's name in the title bar), the drop-down menu in the Save dialog box is also live, so if you slide the cursor down to another folder (or Macintosh HD or the desktop), that item will become the active item (see Figure 5-5).

The Save (and Open) dialog boxes treat disk icons and the desktop the same as they treat folders. Though they're not really folders, you can save items to the desktop or root level (your hard disk's window).

You always move through the hierarchy in the same way. The desktop is the top level. When you're at the desktop level, you can see all mounted disks and any folders on the desktop. If you open a disk icon, you see its folder structure. You always navigate up and down the tree. Your most deeply nested folders are at the very bottom; the desktop is at the very top.

If you have more than one disk mounted, make sure that the disk name, which appears in the top right next to a little disk icon (hard disks have a hard disk icon; floppies, a floppy disk icon), is correct. If it's not, navigate back up to the desktop level and choose the correct disk.

Get into the habit of noticing the disk name in the Open and Save dialog box if you often have multiple disks mounted. Nothing is more frustrating than saving a file to the wrong disk and not being able to find it later.

Your file is saved to the active item in the drop-down menu when you click Save. In other words, when the desktop is the active item (as it is in Figure 5-3), your document will be saved on the desktop if you click the Save button. When Macintosh HD is the active item, your document will be saved in the Macintosh HD window if you click the Save button. When Folder 3 is the active item, your document will be saved in Folder 3 if you click the Save button. Try these steps:

  1. In the Save dialog box, navigate to Folder 3; that is, make Folder 3 the active item.
  2. When Folder 3 appears as the active item, select the words "untitled 1" and type in a more descriptive name. (I called mine Masterpiece.)
  3. Click the Save button (or press the Enter or Return key).

That's it. If you switch to the Finder and open up Folder 3 (if it's not already open), you'll see that the file is saved right there in Folder 3.

Congrats. That's all there is to it. You now know how to navigate in a Save dialog box.

Remember the path I asked you to remember, the one you saw when you Command-clicked the title bar of Folder 3's window? Just remember that the path in the Save dialog's drop-down menu (shown in Figure 5-5) is the same.

If that information makes sense to you, you're golden. If you're still a little shaky, go back and try the exercise again and keep trying to understand the relationship between the three folders that you created (one inside the other inside the other) and the drop-down path menus you see when you Command-click Folder 3's title bar or click its name in the drop-down menu in the Save dialog box. Keep reviewing the illustrations. Eventually it'll just click, and you'll slap yourself in the head and say, "Now I get it."

Don't read on until you get it. This idea of paths and navigating is crucial to your success as a Macintosh user.

There's a little more, but if you get it so far, you're home free.

The rest of what you should know about Save dialog boxes

One thing you need to know is that the file list box and the file name field are mutually exclusive. Only one can be active at a time. You're either navigating the folder hierarchy or you're naming a file. When a Save dialog box first appears, the file name field is active, ready for you to type a name (as shown on the right in Figure 5-6).

Notice the border around the file list box when it is active. Also notice how the bottom button changes from Open to Save when the file name field is active. You'll hear more about this phenomenon in a few pages.

When you want to navigate, click anywhere in the file list box to make it active. In Figure 5-6, this box is beneath the active item (Macintosh HD), which contains several folders. When you click anywhere in the box, it becomes active and displays a double-lined border around it. If you type something while the file list box is active, the list will scroll and select the folder that most closely matches the letter(s) you typed. Go ahead and give it a try. It's easier to experience than explain.

For what it's worth, you can also type the first letter or two in any Finder window to select the icon closest alphabetically to the letter or letters you typed.

When the file list is active, the letters that you type do not appear in the file name field. If you want to type a file name, you have to activate the file name field again in order to type in it. Here's how:

Regardless of which is active at the time, when you press the Tab key on your keyboard, the other will become active. So if the file name field is active, it becomes inactive when you press Tab, and the file list box becomes active. Press Tab again and they'll reverse -- the file name field becomes active again.

If you don't feel like pressing the Tab key, you can achieve the same effect by clicking either the file list box or the file name field to activate them.

Try it yourself and notice how visual cues let you know which is active. When the file list is active, it displays a border; when the file name field is active, the file list has no border and the file name field is editable.

The buttons

There are five buttons in SimpleText's Save dialog box: Eject, Desktop, New Folder, Cancel, and Open/Save. The first four are straightforward and almost explain themselves, but the fifth requires a bit of concentration.

Ejector seat

The Eject button is only active when an ejectable disk is selected in the file list box. It's mostly used to save a file to a different floppy than the one currently in the drive. Use the Eject button to eject that floppy so that you can insert another. When you insert a floppy disk, it becomes the active item automatically. You can tell because its name appears in two places (see Figure 5-7).

  • At the top-right of the Save (or Open) dialog box above the buttons
  • In the drop-down menu above the file list box

Do it on the desktop

The Desktop button takes you rocketing up the hierarchy of folders to the very top level, as high as you can go. When you click the Desktop button, the desktop becomes the active folder (I know that the desktop isn't really a folder, but play along) in the Save dialog box. From here you can navigate your way down into any subfolder.

If you get lost in a Save (or Open) dialog box, the best thing to do is click the Desktop button and start from the top (the desktop), which should make it easy to find your way to the folder you desire. Just remember to navigate down through folders in the same order you would in the Finder.

Something new: the New Folder button

This button is a nice touch. If you click the New Folder button, a new folder is created inside the active folder in the Save dialog box. You can then save your document into it. Not every program has this button; in fact, most don't. So don't get too used to it.

What usually happens is that you don't think about needing a new folder until the Save dialog box is on-screen. And in most Save dialog boxes, there's not a thing you can do about it.

What I do in these cases is save my file on the desktop. Later, when I'm back in the Finder, I create a new folder in the proper place on my hard disk and then move the file from the desktop to its folder.

That's an 86: Cancel

The Cancel button dismisses the Save dialog box without saving anything anywhere. In other words, the Cancel button returns things to the way they were before you brought up the Save dialog box.

The keyboard shortcut for Cancel is Command-period (the Esc key sometimes works too). I said it before and I'll say it again: Command-period is a good command to memorize. It cancels almost all dialog boxes, and it also cancels lots of other things. If something is going on (for example, your spreadsheet is calculating or your database is sorting or your graphics program is rotating) and it's taking too long, try Command-period. It works (usually).

The Open/Save button: the exception to the rule

If you've been paying extra careful attention to the illustrations, you've no doubt noticed that the button near the bottom sometimes says Save and other times says Open. I even called your attention to it a few pages ago. So? What gives?

In particular, how do you save something when there's no Save button (see Figure 5-8)?

Say I want to save the file A Magnus Opum in Folder 1. I navigate my way to Folder 1. I see it at the top in the drop-down menu. I'm ready to save it, but there's no Save button, as is the case in Figure 5-8.

That's because Folder 2 is selected in the file list box, and if a folder is selected in the file list box, the button says Open, not Save. To deselect Folder 2, click anywhere in the file list box except on Folder 2 or press the Tab key. When Folder 2 is no longer selected in the file list box, the Open button becomes the Save button, and you can now save (see Figure 5-9).

I know. It doesn't really make sense, but that's how it works. Try it a couple of times. It's not as straightforward as other parts of the Mac interface, but once you get it, you get it for life.

I could have just as easily pressed the Tab key instead of clicking. The net result would be exactly the same -- the Open button would change to the Save button.

If this little section confuses you, look again at Figures 5-8 and 5-9. Folder 1 is where I want to save the file. But there's no Save button in Figure 5-8 because a folder, Folder 2, is currently selected. When I click anywhere in the file list box (anywhere except on Folder 2) or press the Tab key on my keyboard, Folder 2 is deselected, the Open button changes into the Save button, and I can save the file named A Magnus Opum in Folder 1.

If you still aren't sure what all this stuff means, try it. It's not particularly intuitive, but it's relatively easy to get the hang of.

  1. Select Folder 2 in the file list box of the Save dialog box (Folder 1 is the active folder).
  2. Click the file list box anywhere but on Folder 2. Notice the Open or Save button before and after you click.
  3. Press the Tab key. Notice the Open or Save button before and after you press Tab.

When the button says Save and you click the button or press Return, the file is saved in Folder 1. When the button says Open (because Folder 2 is selected) and you click the button or press Return, you move down one level and Folder 2 becomes the active folder.

Got it?

It Looks Like Save, It Acts Like Save, So Why Is It Called Save As?

The Save As command, which you'll find in the File menu of almost every program ever made, lets you save a file that's already been saved and give it a different name.

Why might you want to do that? Let's say you have two sisters, Jodie and Zelda. You write Jodie a long, chatty letter. You save it as Letter to Jodie. Now you decide you want to send it to Zelda too, but you want to change a few things. So you change the part about your date last night (Zelda isn't as liberated as Jodie) and replace all references to Steve (Jodie's husband) with Zeke (Zelda's husband). Aren't computers grand?

Save Early, Save Often = No Heartache

This is as good a time as any to talk about developing good saving habits. Needless to say, it's a very good idea to save your work every few minutes.

After you've saved a file for the first time (and named it something distinctive), you should (re)save it every few minutes while you work on it. You won't see the Save dialog box again; saving after you've named and saved a file once is transparent.

In most programs, either choose File-->Save or use the keyboard shortcut Command-S. Think of Save as updating the file on your disk to include everything you've done since your last save.

Here's my advice:

  • Always save before you switch to another program.
  • Always save before you print a document.
  • Always save before you stand up.

If you don't heed this advice and your Mac crashes while switching programs, printing, or sitting idle (which, not coincidentally, are the three most likely times for it to crash), you'll lose everything you've done since your last save.

So save early and save often. Command-S is the keyboard shortcut for Save in almost every program I know. Memorize it. See it in your dreams. Train your finger muscles to do it unconsciously. Use it (the keyboard shortcut) or lose it (your unsaved work).

You've made these changes to Letter to Jodie, but you haven't saved again since you decided to make the changes. So now the document on your screen is actually a Letter to Zelda, but its file name is still Letter to Jodie. Think of what would happen if you were to save now.

I'll tell you: If you save now, the file named Letter to Jodie will reflect the changes you just made. The stuff in the letter that was meant for Jodie will be blown away and replaced by the stuff you said to Zelda. If you save now, the file name Letter to Jodie will be inaccurate.

That's what Save As is for. If you use Save As now (it's a different command from Save -- look on the File menu and see), you get a Save dialog box where you can type in a different file name. You can also navigate to another folder, if you like, and save the newly named version of the file there.

Now you have two files on your hard disk -- Letter to Jodie and Letter to Zelda. Both contain the stuff they should.

That's what Save As is for.

It might not be obvious at first, but you can also use Save As to provide a backup when you make massive changes to a document. I use it to hang on to earlier versions of stuff I write. It's kind of like a giant Undo command.

For example, I finished writing this chapter late last night. This morning I had a whopper of an idea about how to make the step-by-step instructions clearer. This is where the giant Undo comes into play -- I wanted to retain the option of going back to the way the chapter was if my great idea doesn't work out.

So I opened the file (it's called MOS764D.Ch05 if you must know) and used Save As to save a new version for me to experiment with (I called this one MOS764D.Ch.05 Rev1).

I then worked on MOS764D.Ch.05 Rev 1 for a couple of hours, saving every few minutes as a conscientious Macintosh user should. In the end, I hated it. So I dragged MOS764D.Ch.05 Rev 1 to the Trash and thanked my lucky stars that I'd had the presence of mind to use Save As before I began revising.

I'm now putting the finishing touches on MOS764D.Ch05, picking up where I left off last night. Had I not done a Save As before I started this morning, things would have been much harder.

Open (Sesame)

You already know how to use the Open dialog box; you just don't know you know yet.

Using the Open dialog box

Guess what? If you can navigate using a Save dialog box, you can navigate using an Open dialog box. They work exactly the same way except for a couple of very minor differences.

First, there's no file name field. Of course not. This dialog box is the one you see when you want to open a file! There's no need for the file name field 'cause you're not saving a file.

There's also no New Folder button. You don't need it when you're opening a file. (It sure comes in handy when you're saving a file though, doesn't it? Sure wish every program had one.)

Anyway, that's it. Those are the differences. Navigate the same way as you would in a Save dialog box. Don't forget your mantra, "The Open and Save dialog boxes are just another view of the Finder."

Figure 5-10 shows two different ways of viewing the same file. The Open dialog box, at top, has navigated to the file Masterpiece in Folder 3. I clicked the drop-down menu in the Open dialog box to show you the path to the file Masterpiece.

Below the Open dialog box is the Finder view of the path to the file Masterpiece.

If you aren't 100-percent comfortable with the relationship between the two views, please go back and try the hands-on exercises earlier in this chapter again. Please. Keep reviewing the pictures and instructions until you understand this concept. If you don't, your Mac will continue to confound and confuse you. Do yourself a favor -- don't read any further until Open and Save dialog boxes feel like the most natural thing in the world to you.

A really big show -- Show Preview

Okay, there's something else about the Open dialog box that's different. As you can see back in Figure 5-10, the Open dialog box for SimpleText has a check box called Preview. What does this little box do? It lets you create little previews for PICT files, which are the type of files created by many popular graphics programs. Click the check box and then click the Create button when a PICT file is highlighted in the file list. After a moment, a little picture will appear (see Figure 5-11). From now on, every time that file is highlighted in an Open dialog box, its preview picture automatically appears (as long as the Show Preview check box remains checked).

As you might guess, previews are a nice feature to have. Many graphics programs include previews in their Open dialog boxes. At least one, Adobe Photoshop, creates a custom icon for its documents that reflects their contents when it saves them (see Figure 5-12).

Unfortunately, you have to be in the Icon view, which you know I dislike, to see these icons. Still, they're pretty cute.

Weird folder or file names

Every so often, you'll see some weird folder names -- such as Move & Rename, or Network Trash Folder, or Desktop DB or DF, or VM Storage -- in the Open dialog box (see Figure 5-13), but you don't see these folders when you look at the corresponding windows in the Finder. Don't worry. It's perfectly natural.

In Figure 5-13, you can see that there are two items shown in the Open dialog box that don't appear in the Macintosh HD window in the Finder. The Macintosh HD window says it contains five items; all five are showing in its window.

Here's what's going on:

Move & Rename and VM Storage are invisible files. You aren't supposed to see them. The System uses them to keep track of stuff that you don't need (or want) to know about. They're invisible when you look in the Macintosh HD window, but they show up in some applications' Open dialog boxes. This anomaly is known as a bug. You shouldn't be able to see those files. Just ignore them and they won't bother you. If you're lucky, you won't even see them on your Mac (many people don't).

How many of you have done the math and come up short? There are six folders in the Open dialog box. Two of them are invisible in the Finder. But there are five items in the Macintosh HD window. Add two invisible folders and there should be seven in the Open dialog box, not six. Why don't things add up?

Bzzzzt. Time's up. The items don't add up because you can see the SimpleText application's icon in the Finder but not in the Open dialog box (because SimpleText can't open itself).

Selectively displaying certain items in Open dialog boxes is a feature of most applications. When you use a program's Open dialog box, only files that the program knows how to open appear in the file list. In other words, the program filters out files that it can't open, so you don't see them cluttering up the Open dialog box. Pretty neat, eh?

On the other hand, not seeing every item in an Open dialog box can be a little disconcerting when you're trying to envision the correlation between the Finder and the Open dialog box. Stuff you see in the Finder doesn't always appear in the Open dialog box. That's why I showed you the Save dialog box first. It always includes everything. In a Save dialog box, items that you can't select appear grayed out, but they do appear. Open dialog boxes usually show only files that you can select and open with the current application.

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