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A path or pathname is a kind of address for a file on disk. It includes the name of the disk on which the file resides, the names of the folders the file is stored within, and the name of the file itself. For example, the path name for a file named Letter.rtf in the Documents in the Documents folder of the mlanger folder shown in Figure 4 would be: Macintosh HD/Users/mlanger/Documents/Letter.rtf

When entering a pathname from a specific folder, you don't have to enter the entire path name. Instead, enter the path as it relates to the current folder. For example, the path to the above-mentioned file from the mlanger folder would be: Documents/Letter.rtf

To indicate a specific user folder, use the tilde (~) character followed by the name of the user account. So the path to the mlanger folder (Figure 4) would be: ~mlanger. (You can omit the user name if you want to open your own user folder.)

To indicate the top level of your computer, use a slash (/) character. So the path to Super iMac (Figure 1) would be: /

When used as part of a longer pathname, the slash character indicates the root level of your hard disk. So /Applications/AppleScript would indicate the AppleScript folder inside the Applications folder on your hard disk.

Don't worry if this sounds confusing to you. Fortunately, you don't really need to know it to use Mac OS X. It's just a good idea to be familiar with the concept of pathnames in case you run across them while working with your computer.


As discussed in Chapter 5, Mac OS X's Open dialogs sup port path names in the Go to field. If you decide to take advantage of this feature, use the guidelines on this page for entering pathnames.

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