CS207 Lab: Mac Lab Orientation


  1. The Dock
  2. User Preferences
  3. Finder/File Management
  4. The Terminal
  5. Common Keyboard Shortcuts

1. The Dock

The dock, located at the bottom of the screen by default, is similar to the Windows taskbar. It provides quick access to the file manager, manages frequently used program icons, collects icons for running programs, provides access to frequently used folders, collects minimized windows, and holds the trash bin.

The dock can be resized by clicking and dragging on the dotted line. Other dock preferences can be set in the preferences panel.

Applications are usually to the left of the dotted line. Minimized windows, folders (especially the trash folder) and files are to the right.

In general things can be added to the dock by dragging them on. Things are removed by dragging them off. Be careful - it is easy for new Mac users to accidentally remove applications when resizing windows or starting programs.

Icons on the dock can be rearranged by dragging them around. As mentioned above, be careful when you do this - if you let go of an icon off the dock it will be removed from the dock.

1.1 Remembering Programs

Unless a program is pinned to the dock, its icon will disappear when you exit the program.

To pin a program to the dock, right click on its icon in the dock and select Options | Keep in Dock. If you do this, test the program to see if it behaves properly. If it doesn't you can drag the programs icon to the dock, which should work every time.

Don't try dragging programs to your desktop - the program will be moved or copied there which probably isn't what you wanted. There is no way to make a desktop link to most applications because of how the lab is set up.

Try pinning Firefox to the dock. Test it by quitting and restarting Firefox.

1.2 Forgetting Programs

You can remove programs from the dock similarly. Either right click the icon and select Options | Remove from Dock or drag it off the dock.

2. User Preferences

In the dock, click on the icon with gears on it to access user preferences.

The preferences you set in here will move with you to any desktop in the lab. Some of the settings in the preferences panel are system wide preferences and require an admin password which you don't have. Sorry.

The user preferences panel works a bit like a web browser. Click an icon to enter a preference category. Click Show All to return to the main panel. Click the back button to return to a previous screen.

2.1 Fixing Your Mouse

Mac mice have many buttons. Too many. And they are configured strangely by default. Here is how to configure a standard two button setup with scroll wheel:

2.2 Changing your Password

3. Finder/File Management

Finder is your file manager. Its icon is the two tone face on the Dock.

To delete a file either drag it to the Trash on the Dock, or click it and press Command-Delete.

To change the name of a file, click on the file's name and wait a few seconds. Part of the filename will be highlighted indicating that you can change it.

Normally on a Mac you would control file permissions for a file or folder from finder like this:

In the Mac Lab, however, you will have to use the Terminal and the chmod command. Good privacy settings are:

4. The Terminal

Mac OS X is based on a fork of BSD Unix called Darwin. As such it provides many Unix-like features, including a terminal program. To start it find Terminal in the Utilities folder, or search for Terminal with Spotlight.

Most Macs come configured to run the bash command line interpreter by default, but ours have been configured to use tcsh with similar features to our other Unix environments. The standard Unix plain text editors pico, vi, and emacs are all available to you. You can also make use of g++ and gcc from the command line.

If you plan to make extensive use of the terminal, you may wish to change some of the key bindings or you will likely go crazy trying to use the page-up, page-down, home and end keys. Make the following changes:

5. Common Keyboard Shortcuts

Notice that the Mac keyboard differs from the Windows keyboard:

  1. Instead of Ctrl, Windows, and Alt keys in the lower left there are Control, Option and Command keys.
  2. The Backspace key is called Delete.
  3. The Delete key is called Del and has a funny right arrow with an X in it to show that it is a forward delete key.

Certain keyboard shortcuts are common in Mac OS X native applications. Applications written for X11 are more likely to use Windows-like keystrokes.

Here is a quick list of shortcuts I use often:

Action Shortcut
Cut Command-X
Copy Command-C
Paste Command-V
Save Command-S
Go to next word Option-Right Arrow
Go to previous word Option-Left Arrow
Go to end of line Command-Right Arrow
Go to beginning of line Command-Left Arrow
Go to beginning of document Command-Up Arrow
Go to end of document Command-Down Arrow
Find in document Command-F
Find file with Spotlight Command-Spacebar
Show folder for item in Spotlight Command-Click
Delete File/Item Command-Delete
Switch Application Command-Tab
Switch Window Within Application Command-`
Hide Current Application Command-H
Hide Other Applications Option-Command-H
Close window Command-W
Quit program Command-Q
Zoom in on screen under cursor Control-Scroll wheel
Right click with one button mouse Control-Click
Force Quit Applications Command-Alt-ESC
Quick Log out Command-Shift-Q

There are many more keyboard shortcuts. Lists available on the web include: