Mac Corner: Meet your Computer, Part 3

By Larry Grinnell, Palm Beach Phoenix Apple Users Group

larry grinnellFor the last two weeks, I have taken you through the About This Mac application, and where you can quickly find fundamental information about your Macintosh.

From that main window, you can see the kind of processor your Mac has, how much memory (and what kind), your Mac’s serial number, which version of the operating system, and which hard drive (good to know if you have more than one) is the startup drive.

We now have some very basic, and valuable information about your computer, but you can learn even more with just a few more mouse clicks. Some of it is pretty "techie," but I’ll try to keep things pretty basic.

To get to the About This Mac application, go to the Apple menu at the upper left-hand corner of your screen. Click and drag down to the very first menu item, About This Mac. When the window pops up, click the More Info... button at the bottom of the About This Mac window. This launches a program called System Profiler. Feel free to look around. You can’t make any changes here, so if you’re concerned about such things, rest assured you can’t hurt anything here.

The name of your computer is displayed in the top menu bar of System Profiler, and below that, two columns of information: Contents and information related to the Contents topic. When System Profiler first opens, three items are displayed in the Contents column: Hardware, Network, and Software. Clicking the gray disclosure triangle, to the left of each of these items, displays related topics. I’ll only go through the ones you might need to know about.

When you click Hardware, an informative table displays much of the same information that we saw in the About This Mac window, but with even more detail (model name, processor info, memory, bus speed, boot ROM version, serial number, etc.).

Under the Hardware heading, you can see information about: ATA, Audio, Graphics/Displays, Memory, Power, Printers, Serial-ATA, and USB, among other items.

When you click Network, a handy summary of all of your network services is displayed. This could be a very useful screen to share with a tech support person. It displays a summary of information about wired and wireless network connections including AirPort Card, BlueTooth, Ethernet, FireWire, and any other devices you may have configured for use with your Mac. Below the Network header are individual panels of information for each type of connection.

When you click Software, some basic information is displayed, including the operating system version, kernel version, boot volume, computer name, and the name of the current logged-in user.

Under the Software heading, you can see information about: Applications, Extensions, Fonts, Frameworks, Logs, Preference Panes, and Startup Items.

You can copy any data from this application and paste it into an email, for example, to pass this information on to a support tech.

For more information about any of these items, go to the Help menu.

To summarize, here are the most basic things you really should know about your Mac. Armed with this information, you may even be able to save some money, as a computer tech is less likely to overcharge, or add a "silent surcharge" if you can demonstrate to them that you know a fair amount about your Mac, or at least know where to quickly find some of this information.

Next week, we'll meet Fred, and follow him through the process of choosing just the right Macintosh.

Mac Corner appears every Wednesday only in Palm Beach Click to read the previous column.


About Larry Grinnell: Larry has been working with Macintosh and Windows PCs for over 25 years and worked as a senior technical writer and IT support professional for a major midwest-based consumer electronics and telecommunications equipment manufacturer here in South Florida. His musings on a wide variety of topics from computers to jazz guitar to strange foreign cars from the 1950s can be viewed at the website. Click here to reach him by email.

palm beach phoenix logoWriters of this column are members of the Palm Beach Phoenix Apple User Group, a nonprofit organization for Apple Computing Device Users, recognized by Apple Inc., with the purpose of providing educational training and coaching to its members (students, professionals and seniors alike) in a cordial social environment. The club meets the second Saturday of each month from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Fire Station #2, 4301 Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach (just two block south of Southern Boulevard). Click here to visit their website. Click here to reach them by email.

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JUNE 17, 2009 click to go home
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