This chapter shows you the basics of working with the BeOS: starting it up and shutting it down, working with the mouse and keyboard, and mastering the fundamentals of the user interface. Chapter 3, "Learning Be Application Basics," picks up where this one leaves off, showing you the basic techniques you use with Be applications. Subsequent chapters show you how to use the applications that come with the BeOS. This chapter discusses the following topics:
|Starting the BeOS
|Getting to Know the BeOS Workspace
|Using the Mouse
|Using the Keyboard
|Working With Menus
|Working With the Tracker
|Taking a Screen Shot
Starting the BeOS
Once you've set up your computer and installed the BeOS, you can start using it.
When a BeBox is on, two columns of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) become active on its front. The green LEDs at the bottoms of the columns act as power indicators: They glow whenever the BeBox is turned on. The upper LEDs show the relative load on the BeBox's two PowerPC processors; the more LEDs are lit, the harder the PowerPCs are working. The Pulse application provides a similar display. The amber LED at the bottom of the right column is a disk activity light; whenever the BeOS uses an IDE or SCSI disk, the amber LED glows.
When you install the BeOS on a disk, the Installer asks if you want to change the boot preference to that disk.
Regardless of the boot preference and what disks are inserted or attached, you can select a boot disk in the boot selection screen. You can boot from DR8.x disks in addition to Preview Release disks. Open the boot selection screen by pressing and holding down the left shift key after you start the BeOS -- as soon as you see the Be logo start to appear. On a Power Macintosh, open the boot selection screen by holding down the left Shift key immediately after you double-click BeOS Launcher.
Each bootable disk is listed by its device name and by the name it has in the Tracker (formerly called the Browser). Disks formatted using the Preview Release appear as type "bfs"; disks formatted using DR8.x appear as type "ofs." Disks with no Be system software on them aren't included in the list.
In the below example, the BeOS CD in an IDE CD-ROM drive is selected, with the option to boot off of a Preview Release-formatted IDE disk named "Melbourne" and a DR8-formatted SCSI disk named "Burning Van."
For more information about SCSI IDs and IDE disks, see your computer's owner's guide.
If you are copying or moving files or emptying the trash when you choose Shut Down or Restart, a dialog asks you to confirm that you want to shut down or restart the BeOS when these tasks are complete.
There are two ways to reset the BeOS. The nostalgic way is to press "Control-Alt-Delete." In other words, press the following three keys at the same time:
WARNING: Do not use the Interrupt button in the Preview Release of the BeOS, because the interaction between the Interrupt button and the Debugger is broken.
Take a moment to identify the following features of the Be workspace:
Using the Mouse
The mouse controls items on the screen. When you move the mouse, a small icon called the cursor moves across the screen. The cursor changes shape depending on what you're doing. It appears as a hand for selecting items and choosing from menus, an I-beam for selecting text, and so on.
|Means To Do This
|Move the mouse without pressing a mouse button.
|Press and quickly release a mouse button without moving the mouse.
|Press and hold down a mouse button without moving the mouse.
|Press and hold down a mouse button while you move the mouse.
|Press and release a mouse button twice in quick succession.
|Like double-clicking, but thrice.
|Double-click and drag
|Like double-clicking, but hold down a mouse button instead of releasing it the second time, then move the mouse.
You can adjust how the BeOS interprets multiple clicks and how rapidly the cursor moves across the screen when you move the mouse.
Using the Keyboard
Most of the keyboard keys should be familiar to you from typing class. However, the BeOS uses some of the keys on a PC keyboard in ways you might not guess:
|PC Key Label
|Mac Key Label
|BeOS Key Name
|Used with other keys as a shortcut to choosing menu items.
|Ctrl (on left)
|Used to type special characters, particularly when you're working in the Terminal application.
|Ctrl (on right)
|Used to type special characters, such as symbols and accented characters.
|Enter (or arrow)
|Used to end a paragraph when you're typing. Also used as a shortcut for clicking on-screen buttons, opening files, and other common tasks.
|Used as a shortcut to clicking Cancel in many panels and to close open menus.
|Used to tab. Also used to select objects in windows and panels so you can manipulate them from the keyboard.
|Used to move the cursor in text, to select items, and so on.
Many keyboard shortcuts in the BeOS are common in other operating systems. The table below lists frequently used keyboard shortcuts that you'll find helpful while working with the BeOS.
|PC Key Label
|Mac Key Label
|Function in the BeOS
|Close a window
Working With Windows
The BeOS displays information in windows, areas on the screen with some of the following features:
Moving a Window
To move a window drag it by its tab or border. The border includes the tab and the gray area on extreme edges of the windows where there is no scroll bar. For most Tracker windows, this means you can drag the window by its borders including the tab.
Resizing a Window
You can change the size and dimensions of a window by dragging its resize knob. The resize knob is located on the bottom right of the window and is identified by the triangular dotted area.
Scrolling the Items in a Window
Sometimes a window contains more icons, more text, or a bigger picture than can fit. You can move the contents of the window within the window to see the items or parts of the document that aren't visible by scrolling. When a window contains more than you can see in it, its scroll bars become active to show that you can scroll to see more. Initially, windows in the BeOS have proportional scroll bars, so called because their scroll knobs change size to give you a rough idea of what proportion of the contents of a window is visible. When you can see almost everything the window contains, the scroll knob is almost as long as the scroll bar; when you can only see a tiny part of what the window contains, the scroll knob becomes small in relation to the whole scroll bar.
|Click a scroll arrow.
|Move the contents of the window a little.
|Press a scroll arrow.
|Keep moving the contents of a window slowly.
|Drag a scroll knob.
|Scroll the contents of the window quickly.
|Click in a scroll bar.
|Scroll by a windowful.
You can also:
|Press Page Up.
|Scroll up a windowful.
|Press Page Down.
|Scroll down a windowful.
|Scroll all the way to the top.
|Scroll all the way to the bottom.
The content of a window also scrolls when you select an item that's not in view; for example, when you use the arrow keys to select items in a window.
Zooming a Window
You can quickly increase the size of a window by clicking its zoom button. This has the same effect as choosing the Resize to Fit command from a window's Window menu. The window becomes as large as necessary to display everything in it. Click the zoom button again to return the window to its previous size and location. Some applications use the zoom button slightly differently. For example, when you click the zoom button in the Workspaces application's window, it moves the window to the lower-right corner of the screen.
Hiding a Window
If you begin to have more windows open than is convenient, you can hide one or more windows. To hide a window, double-click its tab (but be careful not to double-click the close or zoom button).
To work with an item in a window, you first select it. Selected items usually change color to show that they're selected. For example, when you click an icon in a Tracker window, it becomes darker (or highlighted).
|Click an item.
|Drag from an empty place in a window across one or more items.
|Select the items you drag across.
|Type one or more letters.
|Select the item that starts with that letter or letters.
|Press an arrow key.
|Select the next item in the direction of the arrow.
|Press the Tab key.
|Select the next item in alphabetical order.
|Hold down the Shift key while pressing the Tab key.
|Select the next item in reverse alphabetical order.
|Hold down the Shift key while you click, drag, or type.
|Select or deselect additional items.
|Choose Select All from the File menu.
|Select all the items in the window.
Initially, the items in windows are displayed as large icons with their names beneath them. If you prefer, you can view the items in the window as small icons with their names to the right. Or, you can view the items in an ordered list view, which shows you additional information about the items. List views are also used in query windows, as well as some panels, such as the Open and Save panels.
Working in List View
When you're working in List view, you can change how the items are ordered in the list. Initially, items are sorted alphabetically by name, and the Name field title is underlined at the top of the list. If you click on another field title, the items in the list are sorted in a way that's appropriate for that field, and the field title you clicked becomes underlined. If you click a second time on a field title (or hold down the Shift key while you click on a field title the first time), the items are sorted in reverse order.
Closing a Window
When you finish working with the contents of a window, you can close it to make more room for other windows on the desktop. To close a window, click its close button on the left side of the window tab. In many applications you can also choose the Close command, which is usually in a window's Window or File menu.
Working With Menus
Be menus contain commands, lists of applications, settings, and other items.
Note: This section describes how menus behave when you first install the BeOS, but you can change the appearance of fonts and how they work with the Menu preferences application, described in "Setting Menu Preferences" on page 163.
Navigating Context-Sensitive Menus
In some applications, such as the Tracker, you can open a menu by selecting an item or positioning the cursor over it and then pressing a mouse button. Context-sensitive menus are also available in the Open and Save panels. You can drag to a menu item you want and release the mouse button to choose it. If you don't want to choose one of the items in the menu, drag the cursor out of the menu before you release the mouse button.
You can also open context-sensitive menus by pressing (holding down the mouse button) when the cursor is on an object -- such as an icon or selection of icons in the Tracker -- and waiting for a moment. The delay before the context-sensitive menu opens is related to the double-click speed you set in the Mouse preferences, which is described in "Setting Mouse Preferences" on page 165.
Navigating Menus by Clicking
You can click a menu's title to open it and view its contents. Then you can click a menu item to choose it.
An arrow next to a menu item indicates that has a submenu. Move the cursor over a submenu title to open it. Then click the menu item you want to choose in the submenu.
Navigating Menus From the Keyboard
You can press and release a key to display the triggers for the menu titles in the active window.
If triggers are showing and you decide not to choose a menu item, press Escape to hide the triggers.
Most menu items have a trigger. To choose an item that doesn't have a trigger, you can use the arrow keys to select it and then press Enter.
When you open a menu, you can also use the arrow keys on the keyboard to navigate menus. Use the left and right arrow keys to open different menus and submenus. Use the up and down arrow keys to highlight menu items. When the menu item you want to choose is highlighted, press Enter.
To open an application's main menu, press Command-spacebar (that is, press the Command key and the spacebar at the same time). To open the application list (so you can switch applications), press Command-Tab.
Working With the Tracker
You use the Tracker to organize you work: files, applications, queries, and so on. The Tracker is also the main tool you use to start applications.
Understanding the Hierarchical File System
Applications, documents, and other files in the Be file system are stored on disks. Because the number of files can become quite large, it's convenient to sort them into related groups. To do this, the BeOS -- like many other operating systems -- uses the metaphor of folders (also called "directories"), where you can keep related files together, and even related folders. The following illustration shows the fonts folder, which is in the system folder, which is in the BeOS folder, which is on the disk named Boot Disk.
Getting Information About an Item
You can get information about an item in a window by selecting it and choosing Get Info from the File menu.
Double-click a folder to open a window that shows the folder's contents. The title of the folder window is the name of the folder. A folder that contains another folder is often called the parent of the folder it contains. When you're viewing the contents of a folder in a window, you can open its parent folder by choosing Open Parent from the Window menu.
You can rename any file, folder, disk, or other item in a window. To change an item's name, select the name by clicking it and type a new one. You can also select an item in a window and choose Edit Name from the window's File menu to select the name. You type and edit an item's name in the same way as you would any other text in Be applications. You can name an item anything you want, as long as there's no other item in the same folder with that name already. You can use up to 255 letters, numbers, and symbols -- anything you can type, except slash ( / ).
Warning: Do not rename the beos folder located on the boot disk or the beos will no longer work.
Tip: If you change your mind about renaming a file or folder while editing its name, press the Escape key to restore the original name.
Creating a Folder
You can create a new folder to store related files and other folders.
If the folder you drag an item onto is on a different disk, the item is copied instead of moved. That is, a new copy of the item you drag is created where you dragged it, but the original copy remains in the folder from which you dragged it. If you want to have copies of the item you're moving in both the source and destination folders on the same disk, hold down the Control key (the key labeled "Ctrl" on the left side of most PC keyboards) while you drag the item. This forces a copy whether the destination is on the same disk or not.
Another way to copy or move files or folders is to use the context-sensitive menus. Position the cursor over the item you want to move or copy and press the secondary mouse button. In the menu that opens under the cursor, drag to the Move To or Copy To submenu and then through the hierarchy of submenus to select the folder where you want to copy or move the item under the cursor.
If you're copying or moving a lot of files, a status window opens with updates on the progress of that task. If you're moving or copying more than one set of files or emptying the trash, each such task is listed in the status window. You can click a status bar in the Status window and click Cancel to stop a task in midstream, but whatever has been moved, copied, or deleted so far stays moved, copied, or deleted -- it's not undone.
To delete a replicant, hold the secondary mouse or press Control-Command while you click the mouse button (if you have a single-button mouse) on the dragger and a pop-up menu appears and gives you the option to delete.
Items you put in the trash aren't deleted permanently. You can double-click the Trash icon to see what's in the trash and drag items back into a Tracker folder window if you decide not to delete them after all.
When you're sure you want to remove items permanently, choose the Empty Trash command from the Tracker's main menu, or click and hold the mouse on the Trash can icon to see the Trash pop-up menu, then choose Empty Trash.
If you make a habit of putting items in the trash and never emptying it, the trash eventually takes up a lot of disk space, so it's a good idea to empty the trash periodically.
Click once on the Be Logo to view the Be Menu items. The Be Menu contains Find, the system commands (such as Restart, Shut Down, and Show Replicants), and any items that reside in the Be folder located on the startup disk.
The area between the Be logo and the clock is the application list, which shows the Tracker and all currently running applications:
To find an item follow these steps:
Caution: Though you can see and edit a text version of the query in the upper part of a query window, resist the temptation to experiment. The query language is incomplete in the Preview Release version of the software, and you can easily create an unresolvable query.
You can drag queries you don't want any more from the Query window to the trash.