The Dock is one of the most used features of OSX and will be worth the time for you to get familiar with. It combines the functions of the Launcher and the Application Switcher found in "Classic" Mac OS systems.
The icons to the left of the vertical separation line are applications, to the right are volumes, folders, files, minimized windows and the Trash.
Applications that have the triangles below them are running, those without are in the Dock and can be started (launched) by clicking on them. In order to keep a program in the Dock, for easy access, click and hold on the icon until the menu pops up as in the screen shot below and choose "Keep In Dock". You can also drag the application icon from a finder window onto the dock and it will remain there.
To remove an icon from staying in the Dock, just drag the icon off of the dock, and "Poof" it's gone. Don't worry, the application is not deleted and is still available in the Applications folder. You can move the icons around by dragging the icons to the position of your choice, so long as you understand the demarcation the vertical separation line represents.
You do have the ability to customize the dock in a number of other ways. Below is a screen shot of the Dock Preference Pane. Here you can change the size and position of the Dock also control the "eye candy" available (magnification and minimize effect). You also can choose to hide the Dock when not in use. To bring it back into view, move your cursor to the edge of the screen you have chosen for the Dock's position. I suggest you play with these settings and see which are most comfortable for you. The only suggestion I would make is that if your system resources (memory, speed etc.) are slim, don't use or minimize the "Eye Candy". As you will see, I like my Dock on the right side of my screen and a fairly small size to accommodate many items.
You can also access the Dock Preferences by moving your cursor over the separation line until it turns to the symbol shown at the right, click while holding the Control key and the contextual menu will appear giving you immediate access to most of the preferences and to the Dock Preference panel itself.
If you click and hold on the icon of an active application you will be presented with all the open windows of that application. As you can see, I have a number of Internet Explorer windows open and can easily move between them no matter what windows are in the way.
Here are a few tips that can make the dock even more useful.
Drag the icon of your hard drive to the dock, you will have access to all your folders from the dock without having to navigate to them in the Finder. (as shown to the right)
Drag the icon of your desktop to the dock and no matter how many windows you have open, you will have easy access to all that sits on your desktop.
Once you have them set up, connected and added to your keychain, you can drag any networked volumes to the dock for nearly instant access, you will have to only be patient enough for the connection to be established.
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©2005-2009 Jeff Overton -
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