Mac Basics

Dear Readers,

Get to know the Mac desktop

At the top of the screen is the menu bar and at the bottom is the Dock. In between is what’s called the desktop. The desktop is where you do your work.

A Mac desktop set to the dark appearance, showing an app window, the Dock and the menu bar, which are dark.

Change the desktop picture

You can choose a different macOS desktop picture — dynamic ones automatically change throughout the day — or use one of your own photos. See Customise the desktop picture.

Change the desktop appearance

You can choose a light or dark appearance for the menu bar, desktop picture, Dock and built-in apps. See Use a light or dark appearance.

Use notifications on the desktop

Notifications appear in the top-right corner of the desktop to let you know about upcoming events, incoming emails or messages, and more; you can ask for a reminder, reply to a message and more, right from the notification. You can customise how and when notifications appear. To pause them when you need to concentrate on a task, turn on a Focus.

Organise files on the desktop

If you like to keep files handy on the desktop, you can use stacks to neatly group files by type or other criteria along one side of the desktop — whenever you add a file to the desktop, it automatically goes into a stack. See Use desktop stacks.

Find a window on the desktop

If your desktop is covered by open windows, you can use Mission Control to move them aside to get to the desktop, or to show a simple view of everything that’s open on the desktop, so it’s easy to spot the window you need. See See open windows and spaces in Mission Control.

Use multiple desktops

You can create additional desktop spaces to organise tasks on specific desktops. For example, you can manage email on one desktop while focusing on a project using another desktop, and easily switch between the two. You can even customise each desktop to suit the task you’re working on. See Work in multiple spaces.

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