Making OS X More Familiar

Mac OS X illustrates Apple's readiness to embrace a modern operating system. With features such as protected memory, preemptive multitasking, and the powerful Unix just below its surface, OS X provides functionality that OS 9 and its predecessors can't touch.

But in reworking Mac OS from the ground up, Apple turned the way you interact with your operating system inside out. The user interface is now a very different--some might say frightening--thing. Fortunately, there are ways to make OS X look, feel, and act more like the Mac OS you've been using since the days when Reagan was in the White House and most things cost, well, less than they do today.

We'll show you how to make OS X a bit more familiar by automating the log-in process, changing the look of Finder views, and more.

Armed with a bottle of Extra Strength Tylenol, Lab Analyst GIL LOYOLA spends his days learning the intricacies of OS X. Associate Editor JONATHAN SEFF is still too scared to install the OS X beta on his computer.

1. Automate the Log-in Process   OS X requires you to log in each time you boot up your computer. But just as you save your passwords for e-mail programs, you can automate the log-in process as well.

When starting up OS X, you're confronted with the new Login screen A . Users of OS 9's Multiple Logins feature may be used to something like this, but if you're the only one who uses your Mac, this added security measure can be more trouble than it's worth.

Choose System Preferences from the Desktop menu. Click on the Login panel, and choose the Login Window tab. From there, select the Automatically Log In option B and enter your name and password C , just as you would when logging in to OS X. Finally, be sure to click on the Set button D ; if you don't, your information will not be saved. Now you won't be prompted to log in every time you start your Mac.

2. Hide the Dock   The new Dock feature in OS X is a convenient way to see what applications are running and an easy place to store oft-used (or minimized) files. But you might not want it around--for a number of reasons. In addition to having an unfamiliar look, the Dock slows down scrolling in Classic applications.

OS X's Dock A is similar to Windows' Taskbar. It shows open programs and holds items such as documents and sound files. If you don't like it, you can hide it.

Select Dock & Desktop Preferences from the Desktop menu, and choose the Dock tab. Next, select the Auto Hide And Show option B . Now when you move your mouse pointer over the bottom of your desktop, the Dock will pop up temporarily (you'll need it for dragging items to the Trash, which is at the right end of the Dock) but will disappear when the cursor moves away.

3. Change the View Setting   OS X's Finder has several viewing options, and the newest is a stranger to most Mac users. Its hierarchical interface is vaguely similar to that of Windows. Luckily, Apple responded to early complaints and added two more-familiar options.


If you prefer a more conventional look D , select the Icon view E from the Finder tool bar.

You can also choose the List view F , to see folders and programs G as they would appear in OS 9's List view. (In case you were wondering, OS 9's Button view is gone for good.)

4. Open a New Window   In Mac OS X's Finder, windows function differently: only one window's contents are visible at a time. Double-clicking on a folder, for example, replaces your window's contents with those of the folder you just opened. But there's a quick fix.

Viewing the contents of only one folder at a time is something you can get used to. But this amnesiac feature can make it difficult to remember where you came from and to navigate around your computer. In the Dock & Desktop Preferences window, click on the Finder tab. Select the In A New Window radio button A .

Voilà! Windows will revert to their familiar stacking behavior B . You can even reverse the settings for individual folders by holding down the option key while opening a window.

5. Drag Icons to the Desktop   One thing you'll notice about the OS X desktop is the absence of icons. Except for the Dock, the desktop is completely empty. But you can make your desktop look and act like cozy ol' OS 9.

Over the years, we've gotten used to dropping files and folders (or their aliases) onto the desktop. But in OS X, not even the hard drive is accessible from the desktop A on start-up.

To put an alias of your hard drive on the desktop (where it belongs!), simply drag and drop it from the Finder B . To get an alias of a folder or program onto the desktop, drag the icon while holding down the 1 and option keys. Unfortunately, you can't bring the Trash icon to the desktop--Trash is accessible only through the Dock.

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