Excerpt from Chapter 5

In This Chapter:

Mark my words, this is the most important chapter in this book. If you don’t understand the Open and Save dialog boxes, the doohickies that appear when you choose File>>Open or File>>Save in most programs, you’ll never quite master your Macintosh. Yet mastering these essential techniques is perhaps the biggest problem many users have. I get more phone calls that begin, "Well, I saved the file, and now I don’t know where it went."

This chapter is the cure. Just pay attention and it’ll become crystal clear. And keep saying to yourself, "The Save and Open dialog boxes are just another view of the Finder." I’ll explain in a moment.

The Open and Save dialog boxes are virtually unchanged from earlier versions of the operating system, which means that they’re just as confusing now as they were before. Too bad. While Apple was souping up System 7.5, it could have made the Open and Save dialogs a little easier to use.

Never mind. They’re not that bad. And after you figure out how they work, you’ll never forget it. It will soon become second nature to you, and you’ll cruise through Open and Save dialog boxes just like the pros, barely thinking about them as your fingers type and click at high speeds.

Nested Folders and Paths (It’s Not as Bad as It Sounds)

Before we get started, I need to remind you that you work with Open and Save dialog boxes within applications. I assume that you know how to launch your favorite application and that you know how to create a new document. If you can’t do these things, I recommend that you read Poguecello’s Macs For Dummies. This book has section on getting the beginning user started with popular Mac programs.

For the rest of this chapter, I’m going to use SimpleText as the sample application. SimpleText comes with System 7.5, so you should have it too. In fact, you’ve probably already used SimpleText to read any Read Me files that came with System 7.5.

So if you want to follow along, keystroke by keystroke, launch SimpleText and use FileêNew to create a new document. Type a few words in your document like: "Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky like a Macintosh sitting on a table." Or something like that (forgive me, T.S. Eliot).

Switch from SimpleText to the Finder (you remember how). You may find the next part easier if you hide SimpleText (you know how to do that, too!) while you work in the Finder. If you’ve forgotten how to do either, pull down the Application menu, the one at the far right; everything you need is right there.

    1. Open your hard disk’s icon and create a new folder at root level (that is, in your hard disk’s window). Name this folder Folder 1 to reflect the fact that it’s one level deep on your hard disk.
    2. Open Folder 1 and create a new folder in its window. Name this folder Folder 2 to reflect the fact that it’s two levels deep on your hard disk.
    3. Open Folder 2 and create a new folder in its window. Name this folder Folder 3 to reflect the fact that it’s three levels deep on your hard disk.

You should now have a set of nested folders that looks something like Figure 5-1.

Let me make this perfectly clear: Stuff inside Folder 3 is four levels deep. Folder 3 itself is three levels deep. Folder 2 itself is two levels deep, but stuff inside Folder 2, such as Folder 3, is three levels deep. And so on. Got it?

What’s important here is that you are able to visualize the path to Folder 3. To get to Folder 3, you open Macintosh HD, open Folder 1, open Folder 2, and then open Folder 3. Remember this concept. You’ll need it in a moment when you look at the Save dialog box.

An easy way to see the path to any open folder is to Command-click on its name in the title bar of its window (hold down the Command key before you press the mouse button). This action displays a drop-down path menu for that folder starting at the Desktop level, as shown in Figure 5-2.

This path menu is live, which means that you can choose another folder from it by sliding the cursor to the folder’s name and releasing the mouse button.
Try out this feature with Folder 3. Command-click its title bar, move the cursor down until Folder 1 is highlighted, and then release the mouse button. Folder 1 will pop to the front and become the active window. Try to remember this shortcut, as Command-clicking on title bars can save you lots of time and effort.

OK, our preparatory work in the Finder is through. Use any of the techniques you know to make SimpleText the active application. And don’t forget what that path to Folder 3 looked like.

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