Read Me First – Free 1 Hour seminar

1 Day-Free

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Find out what most tech writers hope you already know in this free ebook by Tonya Engst. Tonya takes you behind the scenes, explaining why tech writers write the way they do and helping you decode the directions for everything from Desktops to directories, keys to menus, and paths to preferences.

Although Read Me First: A Take Control Crash Course has plenty of basic information about using the Mac (and a few chapters about iOS), its focus is not on helping inexperienced users master important basics. Instead, it focuses on explaining the assumptions that tech writers make when writing directions.

Identifying the Active App

The name of the menu next to the Apple  menu at the upper left is the name of the active app, the one that’s in front of all others. For example, if the Finder is active, the application menu will be labeled “Finder.”

Deal with “Empty” Apps

It can be confusing when an active app has no open windows. Here are some ways you can find or open an app’s windows to work with it:

• Click the File menu, and choose New or Open.

• If there’s a Window menu, click it to see if it lists windows that aren’t visible. Choose one from the menu to open it.

• Click and hold on the app’s icon in the Dock. If the names of minimized windows appear on the popover, choose one to open it.

Handle Spotlight

To see what Spotlight can find and prioritize your results list:

1. Click the Apple  menu and choose System Preferences.

2. Click Spotlight.

3. Click Search Results.

4. Drag categories to re-order them; check or uncheck boxes to turn entire categories on or off.

Use the Go Menu

The Finder’s Go menu provides quick access to default Mac locations:

• Choose an item from the Go menu to jump to Documents, Desktop, Downloads, Home, and more.

• Go menu keyboard shortcuts work in any Save dialog, so you can press Shift-Command-O (that’s a letter O, not a zero) to navigate to the Documents folder.

Customize Finder Window Sidebars

For quick access to other folders that you use regularly, add them to your sidebar:

• Find the folder in the Finder window and drag its icon into the sidebar. The actual folder remains where it was on your Mac’s drive, but you can now access the folder by clicking it in the sidebar of any Finder window or Save dialog.

• Some items can be added to (or removed from) the sidebar most easily in Finder > Preferences > Sidebar.

• To remove a folder, hold down the Option key while you drag it off. The actual folder is not deleted; it stays where it was on your drive.

What’s the Desktop?

The Desktop is both a folder within

your Home folder and the colored

backdrop behind all your windows.

Find Downloads

The default Downloads folder is both a folder within your Home folder and a “stack” accessible via an icon in your Dock (the icon changes depending on the last-downloaded item).

Follow the Path

If you’re not sure where on your drive a file or folder selected in a Finder window is, here’s how to find out:

• Look at the Path Bar at the bottom of the window. (If you can’t see it, choose View > Path Bar.)

• Choose View > as Columns to switch to Column view, and then scroll left in the window to see each enclosing folder.

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