Macintosh Basics Chapter Three

by Jim Breen
from the May 2003 Newsletter

Actrix has many customers who are using Macintosh systems and some information and tips on how these customers can get the most out of their internet experience and be able identify and rectify common problems should be useful.

Last month Jim Breen dealt with some basic sites and downloads for Macintosh systems as well as using Mac Help. This month he continues with Part 1 of two sections on Practical and System Tips - Ed.


Allocating memory

Unlike OS X, older Mac systems do not automatically manage memory requirements of a program and sometimes it is necessary to increase this especially if strange thing are happening or you are getting frequent Type 2 or 3 errors. To adjust the memory available to a program, first make sure the program is closed (see item on closing programs).

  1. Find the folder the program is in and then click on the program icon once to highlight it. In this example I am using Internet Explorer.
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  2. Go to File/Get Info/Memory.
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  3. Increase the preferred size by 2000k or whatever you think it may need. Of course it will all depend on how much RAM (Random Access Memory) you have installed and how much is available for allocation.
  4. Close the screen by clicking in the top left corner and restart your program.

Closing Programs

When you click in the top left corner of a program and it disappears, the program is not actually closed and is still using system resources. If you select the Finder in the top right corner you will see it still listed there. To close a program select it in the Finder and then go to File/Quit. Keep a watch on the Finder to avoid having too many programs open at once as they will use up all available memory unless of course you have a large amount of installed RAM.

Control Strip

If you have the Control Strip selected you should have a small grey tab showing in the bottom left corner of the screen. If you can't see this, go to Apple Menu/Control Panels/ Control Strip. Select the button, Show Control Strip and close the window. If you now click on the grey tab showing, it will expand to various icons which allow you quick access to things like sound, screen resolution, etc. You can also open Remote Access from here and connect and disconnect your modem.

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Click on the end of the control strip to retract it again.

Force Quit

If a program stops responding or freezes up, it is sometimes possible to close this program and to avoid having to do a complete restart on your computer to get things working normally again. To do this hold down the Command (Apple key) and Option keys together and press Esc. Restart the program, but if you are still having trouble shut down the computer and restart.

Managing Trash

To place items in the Trash you can either drag and drop them onto the hilighted trash icon or highlight the item and go to File/Move to trash. If you want to retrieve something from the Trash double click the Trash and drag the item out again. Remember to empty the trash from time to time as these items are using up disk space. Go to Special menu at the top and select Empty Trash.

Screen Shot

If you want to take a snapshot of what is on your screen there are several ways to this. Press down Command, Shift, 3, then release the keys. You will immediately hear a camera shutter type noise. The computer has taken a screen shot, or picture, of your entire screen. To find the file containing the image, open your HD folder and look for the Picture 1 icon. Double click on the icon to open the file and then you can print it.

To take a picture of just a section of the screen, hold down Command, Shift, 4, then release the keys. This will change your arrow cursor to a crosshair. Now, press-and-drag the crosshair cursor to make a frame around the image you want to capture, then release the mouse button. You will hear the shutter sound. This produces a file on your HD and you open it the same way as described above.

Managing Memory

Modern Mac systems are designed to operate with Virtual Memory turned on as this way programs use less memory for operation. To check or adjust Virtual Memory go to Apple menu/Control panels/memory.

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It is normal on Power Macs to have Virtual Memory on and the amount selected in the box to be 1MB more then the built-in memory. If you need extra memory to run a particular program or run several programs at once it is quite acceptable to increase the number in the box to to make this Virtual Memory available for use. There may be a decrease in speed for some things but generally it works very well.