Help Desk

Information Technology

Welcome to macOS 

This page is designed to be a general introduction and resource for those who are new to the Mac platform.  If you want a very brief guide on switching between Windows and Mac, Apple has an easy-to-understand guide available here

If you have specific questions about macOS, contact the CUS Help Desk at (503) 777-7525 or

Navigating around macOS

Apple Menu

The Apple Menu can be accessed by clicking on the Apple Icon in the upper left hand side of the screen.

big sur apple menu

  • About this Mac: You can find out useful information about the computer--hardware specifications, operating system, etc.
  • System Settings: This allows you to configure many system settings, such as screen saver, power options, user accounts, etc.
  • App Store: This will take you to the App Store for purchasing and downloading applications
  • Recent Items: Quick acess to your most recently used applications and files
  • Force Quit...: If a program becomes stuck or frozen you can use this to close it (may result in unsaved work)
  • Sleep: This will sleep your computer.
  • Restart: This will restart your computer.
  • Shutdown: This will shutdown your computer.
  • Lock Screen: This will take you to your computer's lock screen. You must enter your computer password before re-accessing your computer.
  • Log Out..: This will log out the current user.
The Menu Bar

At the top of your screen is a Menu bar. The menu bar is useful while using applications, or for changing settings quickly. Going from Left to Right on the Menu bar:

  • On the very left of the menu bar is an  Apple logo. This allows you to change system preferences, Force Quit applications that aren't responding, and turn off, restart, or log out of your Mac
  • Just to the right of the  is the menu for your currently selected application. When you're using an application, the menu items specific to that application will be displayed here. If you have any trouble finding a setting for an application, there's always a 'Help' menu that allows you to search for and select a menu option. It will even show you where that menu item is normally located!
  • On the far right of the menu bar are some common settings which may include:
    • Battery: Shows current battery percentage. If you click on the battery icon, it will show you what applications are using the most energy for your computer. This makes it incredibly useful to find out what's currently draining your battery.
    • WiFi: The WiFi menu will show you what network you're currently connected to, and will allow you to select networks that are currently available to your computer.
    • Spotlight: Used for searching applications and finding files on your computers
    • System Settings: A customizable drop-down menu showing a compact view of a bunch of commonly accessed preferences including Bluetooth, sound, and brightness preferences.
    • Time and Date: Clicking on this will temporarily pull up notifications and widgets along the right side of your screen.

 Menu Bar

The Dock

 At the bottom of the screen is the Dock which includes shortcuts to applications, open applications, and the Trash.

  • The dock will show your pinned applications on the left, as well as currently open applications on the right.
  • Clicking on a pinned application will launch it, and clicking on an already launched application will bring it to the front of your view. Right-clicking on launched applications will give you the option to select what window you want to go to and will also give you the option to quit out of an application.
  • To pin an application (make it stay permanently on the dock) right-click on the application and select Options > Keep in Dock. You can also right-click on pinned applications and select Options > Remove from Dock to remove them.
  • Separating the pinned applications and currently open applications is a vertical line. 
    • Clicking and dragging this vertical line will change the size of the dock to fit your preferences
    • Right-clicking on this line will bring up a few options
      • Turn Hiding On/Off: Off is similar to how Windows is by default, where the dock is always at the bottom of your screen. Turning Hiding On means that the dock will disappear until you drag your mouse to the bottom of the screen, which will bring the dock up.
      • Turn Magnification On/Off: Off is similar to how Windows is by default. Turning magnification on will make it so that the applications closest to your cursor become larger, making it easier to find applications
      • Position on screen allows you to change where the dock resides: on the bottom of your screen like on windows, or on the left or right side of your screen



The Finder allows you to navigate the macOS filesystem. The easiest way to open a Finder window is to double click the Macintosh HD icon on the desktop or by clicking on the Finder icon on the dock.
Finder icon

From the Finder window, you can easily navigate to files/folders stored on your hard drive. Items listed on the left pane allow you to quickly navigate to certain folders, such as Applications and your Home folder.

big sur finder window

Changing Settings and Preferences

System Settings

If you need to change any system-wide settings or preferences on your Mac, they will be available in the application System Settings. It may be easier to use the search box at the top to find a particular setting. Some common settings include:

  • Sound: Change your input to a different microphone, or change your sound output to different speakers or headphones
  • Displays: Change settings for the built-in display or for external monitors--resolution, monitor arrangement, etc.
  • Wallpaper: Configure your desktop background
  • Screen Saver: Configure the screensaver image
  • Lock Screen: Configure when the screensaver starts
  • Users & Groups: Add or remove user accounts, or change your computer password
  • Trackpad: Configure trackpad settings and gestures
  • Keyboard: Change any settings related to your keyboard, in particular if you want to add any international keyboards
  • Printers & Scanners: Add/delete printers

Tips & Resources

Keyboard Shortcuts

Generally, the Command Key replaces the Control key, but the Control key still exists on macOS. Full keyboard shortcuts are listed on Apple's website.

Cut Command-X
Copy Command-C
Paste Command-Y
Undo Command-Z
Print Command-P
Close Window Command-W
Switch Apps Command-Tab
Quit App Command-Q
Find Files (Spotlight) Command-Space
Force Quit App Command-Option-Esc
Screenshot Command-Shift-4
  • Rename files by clicking once to select the file, then press Return and type a new name. Press return when done.
  • Preview files without opening by selecting the file and pressing the Space key
  • Double-clicking zip files will automatically unzip them on macOS, no need to click "extract" like on Windows.
  • Activity Monitor replaces Task Manager for quitting unresponsive tasks.
  • Cmd+Shift+4 for taking screenshots. Learn more on Apple's site.
  • Double-clicking the top header of a window will maximize it without going to full-screen mode.
  • Automatically keep your system up to date by going to System Settings > General > Software Update and clicking "Automatically keep my Mac up to date."
  • Don't need a file? Delete it by dragging it to the Trash Can in the dock (or right-click on the file > Delete)
  • Use Spotlight to quickly find applications, documents, or other files on your Mac. Click the spotlight icon in the menu bar at the top right or use prese the command + spacebar keys.
Additional Resources