To the right of the Docks faint line are, by default, two items. The first onethough it doesnt look like itrepresents a folder. Specifically, its a shortcut to the Downloads folder. When you download a file via Apples Safari Web browser, that file appears within this folder. Click on it in the Dock, and you see the folders contents.
These Dock folders can be confusing. By default, when such a folder contains just a few items and you click on it, the items pop-out in a fan list with the most recent items appearing at the top. When that folder has more than a few items in it and you click on it, those items appear in a grid. In a future column Ill discuss customizing the Finder and talk about ways to make these folders show items in a more consistent way. For now, just understand that you may see items displayed in either a Fan or a Grid view. To launch a file in one of these views, just click on it.
Finally, at the right edge of the Dock is the Trash. When you want to delete something from your Mac, just click, hold, and drag it to the trash-can icon. If the Trash contains no files, it will change from a trash-empty icon to a stuff-in-the-trash icon and youll hear a dumped-something-in-the-trash sound effect. Like a real trash can, this one isnt really empty until you do something to toss out the items in it. Rather its a holding area for items that you eventually intend to throw out for good and all. To really delete your files, click on the Finder menu and choose Empty Trash. A window will appear asking if youre really sure you want to empty the Trash. Click the Empty Trash button to do exactly that. Otherwise, click Cancel and the items in the Trash will remain right where they are.
Once youve emptied the Trash, the items that were in it are, for all intents and purposes, gone. (There are some utilities that can retrieve them, but until youre a little more up to speed on the ins and outs of the Mac, just assume theyre gone.) However, you can retrieve items if the Trash hasnt yet been emptied. To do that, just click on the trash-can icon. A window will open that shows you the contents of the Trash. Drag the items you want to retrieve out of the trash to the desktop. You can now file them away.
This area to the right of the line isnt intended only for the Downloads folder and Trash. If the area to the left of the line is for applications, this area is for everything but applications. If you have a folder you access routinely (the Applications folder, for example), you can drag it in here, and an icon representing it will appear. If youve minimized a window by clicking on its yellow button (something well get to, I promise), it will appear in this area. If you have a file that you use over and over againa text file that holds your personal diary, sayyou can drop it in here as well.