Customising Mac OS X 10.1

Here's a run-down on making use of some of 10.1's features, plus some examples that may also apply to OS X 10.0.


Overall performance has picked up in 10.1, and is noticeable when resizing windows or opening applications, for example. Beyond that, you are able to tweak a wide range of settings. To set the number of recent applications and documents that will be displayed, from the Apple-Recent Items menu go to Apple-System Preferences. (see FIGURE 1). Click on General, and you can change the number of recent items to be displayed from five to 50. In this General section you can also change the colour scheme and font size, and elect to place scroll arrows at both the top and bottom of windows.

With OS X 10.0 you manually had to choose to display removable media, such as CDs, on the desktop. From my own use of 10.1, this appears to no longer be the case, but if you wish to make sure simply go to Finder-Preferences. Here, you can set Finder Preferences such as this and other options like "Always open folders in a new window". You can also define the icon size and other information to be displayed for any folder (including the desktop) by pressing -J.


OS X 10.0 introduced the Dock, a replacement for the old Application menu, and further enhancements have been made in 10.1. Most notably, you can now move the Dock to the left and right, as well as the bottom of the screen to where it was restricted previously. To do this, go to Apple-Dock-Dock Preferences. You can adjust the size of the Dock (which by default is quite large), as well as adjust the amount of magnification, choose whether or not to hide and show automatically the dock as it is needed, and set the effects shown when minimising or opening applications. You can still use - to switch between applications - you will notice that the Dock will be displayed, magnifying the icon of the application currently selected as well as displaying its name.


Although seasoned users normally prefer to burn CDs with third-party applications such as Toast, the Finder now lets you burn CDs quickly and easily. Assuming your Mac is equipped with a CD drive capable of burning, place a blank CD into the drive; a dialogue box should appear asking if you'd like to prepare the CD for burning. Enter a name for the CD and click Prepare. Wait a few moments and a CD icon with the name you entered should appear on the desktop. Double-click this icon and a folder window will open; you can then drag any files that you wish to burn into it. When you're done, make sure you've selected the folder of the CD to be burned then go to File-Burn Disc. You will be given the options of Eject, Cancel or Burn; click Burn and the CD will start burning.


As already covered, you can access the System Preferences from the Apple menu. Once there (and as seen in FIGURE 1), click on the Network icon. From here you can set up your Internet account with details provided by your ISP or, if you're on a network sharing a connection, you can set yourself an IP address. Do this before moving on to networking with Windows.


Traditionally, Mac users needing to network with Windows machines resorted to third-party software such as DAVE (, which now supports OS X. A new feature in OS X 10.1 is the built-in ability to connect to an SMB server, SMB being the native sharing protocol for Microsoft Windows operating systems.

In FIGURE 2 you can see the network address I've entered into the Address field. This address will connect me to my Windows PC's MP3 directory that, from the Windows PC, I have assigned to be shared across the network. To bring up the OS X Connect to Server screen, navigate to the Go menu, then Connect to Server, or press -K. The syntax for entering the network address is smb://ServerName/ShareName/ . Once you've clicked Connect, you will be asked for the workgroup, user name and password. Remember that the server name might be an IP address or DNS name. More detailed information on performing these tasks can be found at

Once you have made a successful network connection, the network location will appear on your desktop. One neat thing you can do at this stage is drag the network shortcut to your Finder toolbar for easy access.

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