Get Info HERE!!The Essential Mac

MacLingo A-G
MacLingo H-Z


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A pointer to a file, folder, or program. An alias is not a copy of the item, but only a pointer to it — double click on the alias and the original file, folder or program opens. It is a great organizational tool.

Apple Menu
That nice rainbow-colored little Apple™ logoapple in the upper left corner of the monitor — always accessible. When selected, a cool menu of handy stuff appears: Control Panels, Calculator, Chooser, etc. This is also a great place to put aliases to your favorite programs, important files, or anything else to which you need quick access.

application menuApplication menu
Menu at the top right-hand corner of the computer monitor showing all the programs currently open.

see Crash

Boot (aka Re-boot)
To start up (or restart) your computer, as in "Netscape crashed again, you need to reboot." Supposedly evolved because the computer is "pulling itself up by its bootstraps."

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Close box
boxSmall white or grey box located on the far left side of the title bar of an active window — closes the window when clicked.

Command key
keyKey on the keyboard with the Apple and "cloverleaf" symbols on it, used in conjunction with other keys to execute menu commands from the keyboard. (sometimes called Open Apple key)

Control key
Key on the keyboard that provides access to alternate keyboard combinations, usually to produce special characters or execute software menu commands.

Control Panel
Small, supplemental programs that help customize and improve the functionality of the MacOS, usually accessed from the Apple Menu.

bomb!An error that prevents any software from continuing to operate. Sometimes an "alert" dialog box appears, containing the bomb icon, an error code, and the Restart or Continue buttons. Often referred to as a "bomb", as in "Dang, Internet Explorer bombed again!"

Little arrow (or hand, I-beam, clock, whatever) that shows where you are on the computer screen — manipulated by the mouse or often can be moved by using the arrow keys on the keyboard. The cursor defines the "active spot" on the screen where the next event will happen, i.e. your next character will be typed. In a word processing program you actually have two cursors, a blinking line, insertion point cursor, that shows where the next typed character will go, and an I-beam cursor that is controlled by the mouse and allows you to make selections.

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As files are saved and deleted and saved and deleted, bits of data are stored in different parts of your hard drive, wherever space is available — the operating system remembers where all the fragments are. After a while, as data are spread out all over your hard drive, your computer slows down. A defragmentation program goes through your hard drive and groups data from each file so they are stored sequentially on your hard drive. Good maintenance practice, as in "Your computer is running slow, time to defragment your hard drive."

All of the visible area on your computer monitor when no file window is open. Evolved from the metaphor for your computer as a work space just like your desk is a work place for your papers and files, as in "So I could find it quickly, I saved that file to the desktop."

Dialog box
A small window that appears on the screen when you need to supply information or choose options for an application or the System software (e.g. Save, Cancel, OK). The MacOS often signals that a dialog box will come up when a menu command is followed by an ellipsis (three dots).

Click the mouse button twice quickly (this was invented early in the Mac's history to substitute for a second mouse button) and has strengthened all our index fingers, eh. Double-clicking activates whatever you were pointing at with the cursor (e.g. launches a program, opens a file, opens a folder). Double clicking often substitutes for selecting an item by clicking once and then clicking on an "OK" button or pressing the Return key.

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Small utility programs that add basic features to and extend the functionality of the operating system. Also called Init — initialization program — because they run automatically on startup.

Extensions Conflict
Two extensions (and possibly Control Panels) cannot get along inside of your Mac's operating system. Some conflicts are subtle — a certain program behaves oddly or crashes often, other times your Mac will bomb on startup. Conflicts are often perfectly logical — two extensions trying to control the same thing (e.g. two different CD-ROM drivers), others are totally mysterious.

The program that creates the desktop you see when you boot your Mac; it launches automatically at start up and is always running in the background. The Finder is the part of the System Software that provides file and disk management. It has the menus: Finder menus

Floppy disk (aka disk or diskette)
A small magnetically coated piece of plastic used to store data. Macs use 3.5" floppy disks, in a rigid plastic protective case. "High density" disks store 1.4 megabytes of data (1400K), "Double Sided Double Density" disks store 800 K, "Single sided" disks (400K) make good coasters.

Floppy drive
The slot in your computer where a floppy disk is inserted to read from or write to.

folderElectronic equivalent of a paper folder — used to organize files, programs and other folders. Similar to "directories" in other computer systems. Folders inside of other folders are said to be nested.

Collection of letters, numbers, and symbols displayed in a recognizable and specific style. Computer usage of font is synonymous with typeface. Postscript typefaces are divided into two fonts: a bit-mapped screen font for viewing characters on your monitor and a printer font for printing out, like to a laser printer.

Graphical User Interface. The Mac was the first computer to use a graphical display by which the user controls and interacts with the computer, instead of the old system of typed C:/ommands. Many other computer systems have copied this idea, you can even find a GUI for a DEC Alpha.

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