Explore Snow Leopard's native habitat with an expert guide!

Take Control of
Exploring & Customizing Snow Leopard

Matt Neuburg

You’ve installed Snow Leopard, and now it’s time to explore Snow Leopard’s new (and existing) features with an expert guide. You’ll learn how to customize Mac OS X’s interface, navigate quickly among apps and around your disk, and use special features like a pro.

This product has been discontinued.

Read along as Mac expert Matt Neuburg takes you on a Snow Leopard safari. With dry wit and infectious enthusiasm, Matt shines a light on the major and minor changes in Snow Leopard, with an emphasis on how to customize your Mac’s interface, navigate quickly among apps and around your disk, and use special features like a pro. Along the way, you’ll learn useful Mac OS X skills, such as how to:

  • Make your default Finder window look the way you want.
  • Set up your Dock for your needs and screen.
  • Get around using the keyboard.
  • Use any special features built into your laptop’s trackpad.
  • Zoom your screen and use tricks to help tired or weak eyes.
  • Type special characters, and type in multiple languages.
  • Find windows with Exposé and organize them with Spaces.
  • Set up Time Machine backups the smart way.
  • Set up Software Update to match your personal style.
  • Search for stuff on your Mac.

You’ll also gain confidence to explore Snow Leopard’s features further. These include new capabilities like automatic fixing of misspelled words and text substitution as you type, totally revamped Services, better control over Time Machine backups, whizzy new Exposé options, and the new keyboard switcher for multi-lingual Mac users. Matt also reminds you about how best to to customize the sidebar in your Finder windows, configure Open and Save dialogs, and arrange items on your toolbar for quick access, and he covers the Path Bar, Dashboard, status menus, login items, zooming controls, sleep vs. hibernation for laptops, and double-headed scroll arrows.

Matt even explains how Leopard’s contextual menu plug-ins and QuickTime Pro disappear in Snow Leopard. He also covers a handful of important third-party utilities, and he provides easy-as-can-be steps for a script that even beginners can run to place a new Finder window in exactly the right spot.

Specific questions answered in this ebook include:

Making things look right:

  • Where is the elusive checkbox for making my menu bar look solid?
  • Where’d the flag icon on my menu bar come from?
  • How do I best position and configure my Dock?
  • How do I add an item to Search For in my Finder window sidebar?
  • What folders should I put in Places in the Finder window sidebar?
  • How do I change which categories appear on my search results menu?
  • How do I customize my Desktop with a special color or photo?

Using a keyboard, trackpad, or mouse:

  • How do I turn off or reassign the Caps Lock key?
  • How do I start Exposé with my mouse?
  • How can I move the mouse very precisely?
  • How do I change the size of my mouse pointer icon?
  • What’s the purpose of the Ignore accidental trackpad input checkbox?
  • What is the keyboard shortcut for choosing a menu item without the mouse?
  • What if I don’t want my function keys to do hardware-related things like muting and screen dimming?

Getting things done:

  • How do I stop all the disk activity when I first boot Snow Leopard?
  • Where’s the interface for tagging files with Spotlight comments?
  • How do I limit who my child can exchange email with?
  • How can I set up my fonts so they are easier to work with?
  • How can I keep certain windows in specific Spaces?
  • How do I identify—and delete—huge files in my Time Machine backup?
  • How can I easily make my laptop sleep more quickly?

About Matt Neuburg

Matt Neuburg is a TidBITS contributing editor and the author of several books about Apple software, including Programming iOS 4. He has been programming computers for 45 years, and has written popular Mac and iOS freeware such as MemoryStick and the TidBITS News app.

  • Read Me First
  • Introduction
  • Snow Leopard Quick Start
  • Know What’s New
  • Install Intelligently
  • Block the “Big Bang”
  • Preserve the Past with Time Machine
  • Dominate the Dock
  • Straighten Out Your System Preferences
  • Handle the Hierarchy
  • Wash Your Windows
  • Control the Keyboard, Master the Mouse
  • Ease Your Eyeballs
  • Fix Your Fonts
  • Tackle Your Text
  • Customize Status Menus
  • Perform Miscellaneous Configurations
  • Find Other Customizations
  • Appendix A: Place the Finder’s Default Window
  • About This Book
  • July 4, 2012 -- We do not plan to update this book for 10.6 Snow Leopard. However, Matt has written a 10.7 Lion edition of this ebook, called Take Control of Using Lion. It explains how to handle Lion's key new features—Auto Save, Versions, Mission Control, Launchpad, gestures, full-screen mode, and more—and customize Lion to suit your needs. And, now there's also Take Control of Using Mountain Lion!

    Additional Information