The following sections cover some of the basic features used to navigate and troubleshoot on a Mac.
Spotlight is a search feature that can be found in the right-hand corner of the Menu Bar or in the upper right-hand corner of Finder. In both instances, it is represented as a magnifying glass.
From the Menu Bar:
The search results will start to appear as Spotlight scans the system for the file(s) or application you are looking for; these results are displayed by category (such as documents, folders, web searches, etc.). You can also access Spotlight at any time by pressing Command + Spacebar.
The Dock is a customizable bar found on the bottom or side of the screen; think of it as the Mac equivalent of the Taskbar on a Windows computer. This bar provides easy access to the most used applications on your Mac, as well as minimized windows and applications currently running. Depending on your version of macOS, currently running applications will have a black dot or a blue light below the icon in the dock.
On the Dock, you will find common applications like Finder and Trash. Finder (the blue face on the left) is a way you can locate files and/or open applications, similar to File Explorer on a PC. Trash (the waste bin on the right) serves the same purpose as the Recycle Bin on a PC.
The Dock is completely customizable and allows you to easily add or remove your favorite applications.
Mac laptops do not have a conventional right-click option on the trackpad. You have two options to right-click:
- Hold down the Control key while clicking or
- Place two fingers on the trackpad while clicking.
To install an application on a Mac, you will first have to download the install file from the Internet. The downloaded file can be located in the Downloads folder (bottom-right section of the Dock) or in Finder on the left-hand side under Downloads.
On the Dock:
Double-click on the file to open the application installer. In some instances, you may need to drag the application into your Applications folder; in others, the application installer will do it for you. Please note when installing an application on a Mac, the Application installer will treat the file as a removable drive and will appear on the desktop.
Example: Google Chrome requires you to drag-and-drop the application into the Applications folder.
Don’t forget to remove the file image from your computer when the application has been installed. To do this, click-and-drag the Application installer drive from your desktop to the Trash.
For assistance removing applications from your Mac, refer to Uninstalling Programs and Applications.
Setting Default Programs
Some files require a specific application to be seen or utilized properly (i.e. eBooks). eBooks by default will open with Preview (Macs native PDF viewer); however, GCU eBooks are only compatible with Adobe Reader. To make sure the PDF opens with Adobe Reader instead of Preview, follow the steps to Change the Default Programs Your Files Open With.
Determining Your Operating System
To view important information about your Mac, such as your operating system, simply click on the Apple icon in the upper left-hand corner of the Menu Bar and select About This Mac.
A small window will appear displaying the operating system version, processor, and memory on the computer.
In the same window, you will also find two more options; Software Update, which checks the web for all available updates and System Report, which provides more detailed information about the system, such as the serial number and hardware specifications.
Depending on the version of Mac OS you are currently using, the steps required to update will differ. Some updates will notify you that restart is required in order to install the updates. See the steps below for the appropriate process:
- To check for updates on a Mac, select the Apple icon in the left-hand corner of the Menu Bar, then select Software Update from the About This Mac window.
- This option will open the App Store application and search for any available updates for the system. From the Updates tab, you can easily install all available updates. Some updates will notify you that restart is required in order to install the updates.
- Select the Apple icon in the upper left-hand corner and access the System Preferences.
- Then, select Software Update.
You can also continue to update your device through the App Store:
- Select the Apple icon in the upper left-hand corner and access the App Store.
- Then, select Updates.
On a Mac, the Command key functions just like the Control key on a PC; however, Macs also have a Ctrl key which has a different functionality and is not as frequently used. Some common keyboard shortcuts found on a PC can easily be done on a Mac. Here are a couple examples:
The Select All shortcut is done by holding the Command key and pressing the letter A.
If an application is not responding or you would like to completely close an application, hold Command and press the letter Q to Quit the application. You can also open Force Quit Applications (the Mac counterpart to Windows Task Manager) by pressing Command + Option + Escape. When the Force Quit window opens, select the application you would like to quit, and then click Force Quit.