The Mac's desktop has always been the place from which you work with files, folders, system configuration, and so on. This setup continues in Mac OS X; the desktop enables you to manipulate the files and folders on your Mac. You also can access commands that appear nowhere else and can control many aspects of how your system performs. And, of course, you can use the Finder to find folders and files stored on your machine.
Although the basic purpose of the Mac OS X version 10.3 desktop is the same as previous versions, its appearance and functionality are quite different (see Figure 4.1). More important than the improved appearance of the desktop, which is pretty amazing in itself, are the numerous functional improvements Mac OS X version 10.3 desktop offers. These include new menus, more contextual menu commands, and so on.
For information on viewing and using Finder windows, see Chapter 3, "Viewing and Navigating Mac OS X Finder Windows," p. 47.
Because the Dock is such an important part of Mac OS X, it has a chapter dedicated to it; see Chapter 5, "Using and Customizing the Dock," p. 127.