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Pitfalls

 
Pitfall Example What to do
Forgetting the menu bar. Calculator:  can't find a feature that should be there This appears like an object on the screen, but actually it has a set of menus like any other application. Explore the menus in the menu bar:  you can use it to do currency conversion and load the conversion table from the Internet.
Forgetting option-click to hide the windows of the application you are leaving. the screen becomes very cluttered with windows and you get lost. To switch between applications, hold down the option-key. This will hide (but not close, nor move, nor minimise) the windows of the application you leave.
Forgetting that applications may be active but have no open windows. you go to or start an application, but it seems not to do anything. Inspect the menu bar: if the first menu gives the name of the desired application, then it definitely is active.  However, it may just have no windows open.  Closing all windows of an application do not make it quit.  Do not be afraid that you will have to restart an application when you close its last window:  Mac applications remain in memory until you tell them to quit (there are afew exceptions).
The media gets "stuck" in the machine. A Mac only gives you back media that it has finished with and refuses to eject things it is still working on. Ensure no application is still using the media you want to eject.  If necessary, quit those applications.  In the Finder, use the eject icon to eject media.  To eject CDs or DVDs you can also use the key on the keyboard.  If your keyboard does not have an eject key, try F12.
Waiting for one task to end before starting another. Waiting for Illustrator to start before starting Word. This was necessary in OS 8 and to some extent in OS 9, but is completely gone in OS X.  You no longer need to wait for one application to finish opening before starting another one and you do not need to acknowledge any dialog box before switching to another application.  For example, you can switch to the Finder and do some file operations there while an application is waiting for you to answer a file dialog.
Files locked by applications. File cannot be moved, trashed or otherwise be manipulated in the Finder or by another application. Word (and some other Microsoft applications) does not release the files it has opened.  So, even though you have saved the document and closed its window, Word will still lock the file.  You cannot move it or delete it:  you will have to quit from Word first!  A few other applications do this.
Getting stuck in dialog boxes. An application wants you to do something which requires you to do something else first, in another application. In OS 8 or OS 9 you had no other choice than to "Cancel" the dialog, get out of the application, use the other application to do the other thing, and then returning to the first application to finish the task.  In OS X there is no such limitation:  just leave the dialog box hanging and do the other thing, then come back to it.
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next planned revision: 2009-01