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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

What is a Document?

Letter to Mom

This is a document icon. As explained in Chapter 7, all documents have the upper-right corner turned down.

A document is a file that you or someone else created in an application. For instance, if you open an application like AppleWorks and type a letter, that letter is a document. If you open a page-layout application such as PageMaker and create a newsletter, that newsletter is a document. If you open an image-editing applicatin such as Photoshop and edit a photo, that photograph is a document.

You can't create a document without an application, and you can't open a document unless it has an application to open into. When you double-click a document icon to open it, it will try to find the application that created it, then both the application and the document will open. If the Mac cannot find the application that created the document, it will try to find some other application to open the document in. If the computer can't find anything, it will ask you what to do; see pages 186 –188 if you have trouble opening documents.

Opening a Document

To open a document that has already been created and saved in an application, find its icon. Then:

  • If a document's name, icon, or alias is in a Finder window or sitting on the Desktop, double-click on it.


    To open a number of documents at once, select all the files (see Chapter 11 about selecting multiple files), then press Command O. Every document (and every necessary application) will open.

    Figure 11Double-click any icon except when it's in the Dock or in a window Toolbar.

  • If a document's icon is in the Dock, single-click on it.

    Figure 12

    Important reminder

    When you open a document, you actually open the application also! That's because a document cannot put itself on the screen —only an application can put a document on the screen. If you get a message complaining that "There is no application available ...", all is not necessarily lost. See the next two pages, as well as page 520.

Opening a Document with Drag-and-Drop

You can also open a document by dragging the document icon and dropping It on top of its application icon. The application icon might be in the Dock, in an Applications folder, anywhere in your Home area, or even an alias on the Desktop.

You'll notice that the application icon will highlight (turn dark),which is the visual clue that if you let go your document will open.(Usually.)

Figure 13DI dragged this AppleWorks document icon and dropped it onto the AppleWorks application icon. If the application is not open, this will open it.

Now, the great thing about this trick is that you can often open a document in an application other than the one it was created in. For instance, the application AppleWorks is able to open documents created in many other programs. If you have a word processing document someone gave you but you don't have the program they wrote it in, you can drag the foreign document on top of the AppleWorks application icon. If AppleWorks highlights, let go of the document and the program will (probably)open the file.(If not, try the technique on the following page.)

Figure 14Drag a file onto application icons to see if an application can open that file. (Sometimes the application attempts to open the file, but then decides it can't.)

In this example, I dragged a graphic I found on the Mac and dropped it on top of the Photoshop application icon. The application icon highlighted, as you can see, and it opened the file.

Aliases for application icons

Check Chapter 22 on aliases for directions on creating an alias of each application you own. You can keep these aliases in your Dock or on your Desktop, either individually or in a folder. This makes them easily accessible for opening files with the drag-and-drop method.

Opening a Document in a Different Application

Now, just because you have an icon representing a document you or someone else created in a certain software application doesn't mean you can open up that document on any computer. Clicking on a document icon will only open it. IF the application itself is also in the computer, either on the hard disk, on another disk that is inserted into one of the drives, or if it's accessible on a network. If the application can't be found, then the document doesn't have anywhere to put itself! Generally, you must have the same version of the application (see page 180)as the one in which it was created.

Sometimes, however, certain applications can open certain documents that were created in other applications. And sometimes you want to open a document in a different application; for instance, perhaps you want to open a photograph in Photoshop instead of QuickTime Preview, but when you double-click the photograph icon, it automatically opens in QuickTime Preview. And sometimes the document is from an earlier version of the application, and the new version really can open it. In any of these situations, first try the drag-and-drop technique explained on the previous page. If that doesn't work, then try the suggestion below. For a more permanent solution, see page 520.

  1. First open the application that you are pretty sure will open the document.

  2. From the application's File menu, choose "Open." This will display the "Open" dialog box,, as shown below.

  3. In the Open dialog box, find the name of the file you want to open. If the name is visible and is black (as opposed to gray), the application can probably open it. Double-click the file name. If the name doesn't appear at all, the application can't "naturally" open it, BUT the Open dialog box in your application might have a little menu or two, like the ones circled below, that give you more options for what sorts of files this application can open. If it does, choose something like "All Types" or try to find the specific "extension" (abbreviation at the end of the name)and see if that makes your document name appear in the list. If the document's name does appear in black, it will probably open when you double-click its name.

    Figure 15Check the "File Format" menu to see what other sorts of files can be opened.

Opening Clipart or Photos

To place clipart into a document:

  1. Click the insertion point at the position where you want the clipart or photograph to be in the document.

  2. Find the command in that application to "Insert", "Place", "Get picture", or something similar.

  3. Use the dialog box that comes up to find the photo or clipart you want to place on the page.(This assumes you know how to "navigate" in an Open dialog box;; if not, see the following pages.) When you find the name of the graphic you want, double-click it.

  4. The image will land in your text right where the insertion point was flashing. In most programs you can resize the image: click once on the image, hold the Shift key down, then drag the bottom-right corner diagonally upward.

    Figure 16The insertion point is flashing above, just below Dear Mom. That’s where the graphic will drop in, as shown to the right.

An "Open" Dialog Box

Finding your way around an "Open" dialog box is called "navigating". It's one of the most important skills you can learn, and you'll need this skill in other dialog boxes, like when you save documents or when you import or export text. Try to take the time to understand and absorb what each part of the dialog box is telling you.

Figure 17aFigure 17b

If the name of the file you want to open is shown in the list in gray (instead of black),that doesn't necessarily mean it's impossible for the current application to open it. Most applications have a number of other "file formats" they can "read", or open. Click on the "File Format" menu (circled on the opposite page),if your application has one, to get the list of formats it can open. As you can see above, AppleWorks can open an incredible range of file formats.

If your application has a menu like the one shown above, called something like "Document Type" or anything similar, make sure it is set to try to open "All Types" of documents.

Open another folder

If you've been saving all of your documents in the Documents folder, then you won't have to navigate anywhere else to find your documents. But at some point you will start making new folders in which to store your work, and you need to know how to find these in the Open dialog box.

If you learned how to work with the Finder windows in Column View (Chapter 6), you'll find the Open dialog box very familiar —you can enlarge the dialog box and go find other folders, as shown on the opposite page.

There is also a list of menu options that will take you to certain folders or disks on your Mac, as shown below. This menu can be a shortcut to help you find the document you want to open.

Figure 18

Column views in the Open dialog box

You can open the dialog box wider and navigate through it just like you navigate through the Column View windows on the Desktop. Press the Tab key to select the From menu or the columns below. Use the arrow keys to move left or right from column to column, or up or down in one column.

Drag the bottom-right corner to widen the window.

Figure 19Single-click a folder or a disk to see a list of the files inside that folder or on that disk, and the title of that new folder or disk will be displayed in the ÒFromÓ menu above the list.

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