Mac OS X Mountain Lion Getting Started

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Mac OS X Mountain Lion

Getting Started with OS X Mountain Lion

Launch "Mountain Lion Desktop Basics" video!Watch the video (4:25). Need help?
After installing Mountain Lion, you should spend some time getting comfortable with the interface. If you've never used OS X before, you'll need to learn the basics about getting around the desktop. In this lesson, you'll learn about the Dock, the menu bar, opening files andappsLaunchpad, and multi-touch gestures. If you're familiar with earlier versions of OS X, you'll probably find that the Mountain Lion's interface will be fairly easy to learn.
Watch the video to learn the basics of using Mountain Lion.

The Desktop

The screen that you see when your computer has finished starting up is called the desktop. The OS X Mountain Lion desktop includes a desktop background (or wallpaper), the Dock, and the menu bar. You can open files or applications from the Dock or Launchpad. You can also display filesfolders, or shortcuts on the desktop background area.
Review the interactive to learn about the Mountain Lion desktop.

Opening Files, Folders, and Apps in Lion

When you use any operating system, you'll need to know how to open filesfolders, and apps. In Mountain Lion, you can open something by clicking it in the Dock or Launchpad, or by double-clicking it if it's on the desktop or inside a folder.

If you're new to Mountain Lion, you may want to practice by doing the following steps:

  1. Open Finder by clicking the Finder icon on the left side of the Dock.
    Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionOpening Finder
  2. Close Finder by clicking the button in the top-left corner of the Finder window. Later on, we'll talk more about how to use Finder.
    Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionClosing Finder
  3. Open Launchpad by clicking the Launchpad icon on the Dock.
    Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionOpening Launchpad
  4. While Launchpad is open, click on any app to open it.
    Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionClicking an app
  5. Quit the app you just opened by clicking the app name in the top-left corner of the screen and selecting Quit.
    Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionQuitting an app
  6. If you have any icons on your desktop, double-click one of them to open it, and then close or quit it.
    Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionDouble-clicking a file to open it

When an app is open, the icon on the Dock will have a light under it. You may notice that the Finder icon always has a light under it - that's because it's always running, even if there are no Finder windows open.

Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionLights indicating which apps are open

Full-Screen Apps

Some apps in Mountain Lion have a full-screen mode that lets you just focus on one app, with no distractions. These apps have a double-arrow icon in the top-right corner. When you click the icon, the app will zoom to fill the entire screen, and everything else will be hidden. You can then use the keyboard shortcut Control-Command-F to return to the normal view. Not all apps currently support this feature. However, it is used by many of the pre-installed apps such as CalendarSafari, and iPhoto.

Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionThe double-arrow icon

The Menu Bar

The menu bar is located at the top of the screen. It is always visible except when you're running a full-screen app. The options on the menu bar will vary depending on which app you're currently using. The name of the app will appear in bold near the left side of the menu bar, and the options to the right of the name allow you to perform various tasks within the app.

Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionThe menu bar, while using FaceTime

The Apple Icon

On the left side of the menu bar is the Apple icon, which you can use to access your System Preferencesrecent documents, and more. You'll also use the Apple icon to shut down or restart your computer.

Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionThe Apple icon


On the right side of the menu bar is a magnifying glass icon. When you click it, it will open Spotlight, which is a tool you can use to search your computer. If you're having trouble finding a fileapp, or folder, you can just type the name in Spotlight, and it will show you a list of results.

Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionUsing Spotlight to search for an app

Notification Center

The Notification Center icon is located on the far right of the menu bar. When you click it, the Notification Center will appear on your desktop. It keeps track of all of the alerts you receive for upcoming calendar appointments, tweets, news feeds, and other application events. The Notification Center can be customized to show as many or as few app alerts as you desire.

Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionNotification Center

Multi-Touch Gestures

Mountain Lion allows you to use many different multi-touch gestures with your mouse or trackpad. These includepinchestapsdouble-taps, and swipes. Each gesture performs a specific task, and by learning different gestures you can increase your productivity.

In order to use multi-touch gestures, you will need the right equipment. If you have a laptop, the built-in trackpad can be used. For desktop computers, you can either use the Magic Trackpad or the Magic Mouse. One of these may have been included with your computer; if not, they can be purchased separately. Most mice are not touch-sensitive and cannot be used for multi-touch gestures.

Photo of a laptop trackpadA laptop trackpad
Photo of the Magic TrackpadThe Magic Trackpad
Photo of The Magic MouseThe Magic Mouse

To see gestures in action, watch the following video from Apple.

Examples of Gestures

Some gestures will vary depending on whether you're using a trackpad or a Magic Mouse, and there are a few that only work with trackpads. Some apps may not support all gestures, but apps made by Apple (such as Safari) tend to use them more. Therefore, you may want to practice the following gestures with Safari before you try them with other apps.

  • Pinch to Zoom (trackpad only): Place your thumb and forefinger on the trackpad and move them apartto zoom in, or move them together to zoom out.
    Photo of laptop trackpadPinching to zoom
  • Smart Zoom: Tap the trackpad twice (double-tap) with two fingers. If you are using a Magic Mouse, double-tap the mouse with one finger (make sure you are just tapping the mouse, and not clicking). The app will zoom in to the area where the mouse pointer is.
    Photo of laptop trackpadDouble-tapping with two fingers
    Photo of The Magic MouseDouble-tapping with one finger
  • Swipe to Navigate: Instead of using your web browser's back and forward buttons, you can swipe to the left or right with two fingers (on a trackpad) or one finger (on a Magic Mouse). You can also do this to scroll through different screens in Launchpad.
    Photo of laptop trackpadSwiping with two fingers
    Photo of The Magic MouseSwiping with one finger
  • View Launchpad (trackpad only): Place your thumb and three fingers on the trackpad and move them together to open Launchpad.
    Photo of laptop trackpadPinching with three fingers and thumb

There are many more gestures that you can use. To learn more, check out the About Multi-Touch Gesturespage on the Apple website.

Natural Scrolling

By default, Mountain Lion uses natural scrolling, which means that things move in the opposite direction from "traditional" scrolling. To understand this, let's compare traditional and natural scrolling.

  • Traditional scrolling: When you're viewing a web page, you can scroll down by using a downward swipe on your trackpad (using two fingers), Magic Mouse, or the scroll wheel on a more traditional mouse. Your web browser's scroll bar moves down, but the content on the page moves up. This is the way that most computers handle scrolling.
    Photo of The Magic MouseTraditional scrolling
  • Natural scrolling: With natural scrolling, you will use an upward swipe, and the content on the page moves up, almost like you are pushing the content up. This is the way that scrolling usually works on touchscreen devices like the iPad and iPhone, and it's the default option in Mountain Lion.
    Photo of The Magic MouseNatural scrolling

To Change the Scrolling Type:

If you've never used Lion before, natural scrolling may seem awkward at first. However, since it mimics the way that mobile devices work, it may not take long to get used to it. You can switch between natural and traditional scrolling in your mouse settings, to see which one you prefer.

  1. Click the Apple icon and select System Preferences.
    Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionOpening System Preferences
  2. Select the Mouse icon to go to your mouse settings.
    Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionGoing to Mouse settings
  3. Next to Scroll directionuncheck the check box to use traditional scrolling, or check it to use natural scrolling.
    Screenshot of OS X Mountain LionChanging the scroll direction



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