Mac 101: All about windows

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Window behaviors

This has gone on quite long enough, but before I give you a hint about next week’s column, a couple of pointers about how windows behave.

First, you can open more than one window at a time. For example, you have one window open now. Click the Finder’s File menu and choose New Finder Window to create another window. It will open in the default view (which, again, is All My Files). In this window click the Downloads item in the sidebar. You now see the contents of the Downloads folder—if you’ve just configured your new Mac, this folder will contain a single About Download file. Your original window will still display the contents of your All My Files directory.

You can move files between folders. Try this: In the Downloads window that’s still open, click the About Downloads file and while still holding down the mouse button or trackpad, drag that file to the Documents item in the sidebar. When you do, the file’s name will turn blue and the Documents item will be highlighted. Let go of the mouse button or trackpad and the file disappears from the Downloads folder. Yet it’s still in the All My Files folder. Why? Because it’s still one of your files, it’s just been moved. (Again, the All My Files window is special in that it's not really a folder that contains specific items. Rather, it's a directory of the files you've created, which can be stored just about anywhere on your Mac.) To see where it’s gone, click on the Documents item in the sidebar. There it is. If you like, you can drag it back into the Downloads folder.

Also, the sidebar's Favorites area isn’t reserved strictly for those items Apple believes are favorites. You can add folders of your own to this area. Try this: Click the Applications item in the sidebar. In the content area you’ll see all the items in your Applications folder. Scroll down to the bottom of the window and locate the Utilities folder. Drag this folder so that it appears below the Pictures folder. As you drag you’ll see a blue line indicating where the folder will be placed. Let go of the mouse button or trackpad and a Utilities item will appear in the sidebar. Notice that the Utilities folder remains in the Applications folder. So, you haven’t removed the folder, you’ve just added a pointer to it to the sidebar.

Drag to add items to the Favorites area

In the sidebar click the Utilities item you just added. Notice that the Utilities name now appears at the top of the window and within that window you see the contents of the Utilities folder.

You can also remove items from the Favorites list. To do that, hold down the Command key (remember, you’ll find two of them—each immediately to the side of the space bar) and drag the item to the desktop. It will disappear with a puff of smoke. Note that you haven’t deleted the original folder, just its pointer.

Go ahead and click All My Files to return to the default new window view. Just to be sure you’ve understood what we’ve done so far, click the red Close button in the top-left corner. There, the window is now closed. And so is our overview of windows basics on the Mac.

Next week: About your input devices.

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