Help Desk

Information Technology

Welcome to macOS 

This page is designed to be a brief introduction and resource for those who are new to the Mac platform. The information on this page focuses on macOS Big Sur (11), with pictures from macOS Big Sur 11.6, but the basic principles apply to earlier versions of macOS. For information on which operating systems to use, visit our Supported Operating Systems page.

The Mac Desktop

big sur desktop 

  1. The Apple Menu
  2. The Dock
  3. Finder/Filesystem Navigation 
  4. System Preferences


Using the Apple Menu

big sur apple menu

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

About this Mac: You can find out useful information (hardware specifications, operating system version) about your computer with this selection. 

System Preferences: This allows you to access the System Preferences which is where you configure many system settings, such as screen saver, power options, user accounts, etc. You are notified when a software update is available, which you can also check in System Preferences. It is recommended that you check this periodically to make sure that you are running the most up to date version of macOS. You can also configure Software Update to check for updates automatically.

App Store: This will take you to the App Store.

Recent Items: This will list all of the most recently used files on your computer.

Force Quit...: If a program becomes stuck or frozen you can use this to close it. You will lose any unsaved work if you do this.

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 Dock

 big sur dock

The Dock serves the dual function of both launching frequent applications and keeping them organized. To launch an application all you have to do is click on its icon in the dock, if the program is running already when you click on the icon it will bring the application's windows forward. You can add and remove applications on the dock by either dragging them off or dragging them on from the applications folder. Application windows that have been minimized will appear on the right side of the dock. The dock is also home to the trashcan where you drag files to delete them.

For more information on how to use and modify the Dock, please visit our Dock webpage.


big sur finder dock

big sur finder window

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. 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.

System Preferences

 big sur system preferences

System Preferences, much like the Control Panel in Windows, is a place where you can change many aspects of your system. From appearance to security settings to how your computer responds when a CD or DVD is inserted. Two of the more important categories are "Printers & Scanners" and "Accounts." Printers & Scanners allows you to add and remove printers from your computer (for Reed printer installation go here.) Accounts allows you to add and edit user accounts, and includes tasks such as changing your password. 

Further Resources

For additional Mac resources, please check out the links below.


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