MacMost Now 483: Getting To Know Your Mac

If you are not a computer expert, you may not know some of the terms used to describe your Mac. Learn about your processor, graphics processor, memory, hard drive and other aspects of a computer.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode, let's get to know your Mac.
Not everyone is a computer expert, so let's take a look at your Mac and all it's different parts, and look at the terminology used to describe it.
So let's start by looking at the processor. Now, the processor--or, CPU--is the main part of your computer. It performs all the instructions. It's basically like the engine that drives your computer. Everything you do on your computer runs through the Central Processing Unit. That's why it's important to have one that's fast and powerful. Now, this is what a CPU looks like. This is the Intel i5 which is found in a lot of the current iMacs. It's basically a very large chip.
Another important part of your computer is the graphics processor. Now, this is like a CPU, in that it handles instructions, but it specifically handles ones involved with displaying things on your screen. That's everything, not just 3D graphics. It's the windows in the Finder, it's the windows and documents of different applications. It's also called the GPU, for Graphics Processing Unit, sometimes VPU for Visual Processing Unit. I like to call it the Graphics Chipset, because on most Macs, like the iMacs and MacBooks and MacBook Pros, it's not actually a separate part. It's on the motherboard, so it's a bunch of chips on the motherboard. Now, here's what one looks like if it's separate, if it's a separate card, like you might find it in the Mac Pro.
Macs also have memory, sometimes called RAM for Random Access Memory. They look like this. They're a set of chips usually on a small card that fits into your Mac. So, for instance, if your Mac has four gigs of memory, you may have two cards like this, each with two gigs of memory on them. Now, what memory does, is it handles data that you're using right now, like the document you have open right now in the application you're running right now.
Now a lot of people confuse memory with storage, which is your hard drive. Your hard drive stores files, also called just basically storage by Apple, and it looks kind of like this, in some Macs. Some Macs have smaller drives, like the MacBooks, for instance. And in here, is--this is where all your files are stored, but files also include the entire operating system, and it includes also the files that define an application.
Now, most Macs also have an optical drive, which is the real name for it, but you might also know it as the CD drive, DVD drive, or Super Drive. Now, Super Drive is capable of reading and writing CDs and DVDs. So, the difference between CDs and DVDs, by the way, is that a CD holds, uh, just somewhere around 800 megs of data, whereas a DVD drive holds just shy of five gigs of data.
Now, of course, your Mac also has a display. You may call it your monitor or your screen, or just the LCD. Now, you may have heard a screen referred to as an LED screen. It's still an LCD screen, it's just using LED lights as the backlighting.
Your Mac also has a variety of network hardware. For instance, you probably have a set of chips and an antenna inside your Mac that gives you WiFi access to your local router, which allows you to surf the Internet and communicate with other computers in your home. In addition, you may be able to hook up a wired connection to an Ethernet port. Gives you the same functionality, but you have a cable stretching from your Mac to the base station or router. Now, Apple calls wireless communication, a lot of times, AirPort. It's got an AirPort base station, you have an AirPort card or AirPort chips inside your computer. So the terms AirPort and WiFi are used interchangeably at Apple. In addition, you probably have Bluetooth capability in your Mac. This allows short range communication, uh, with some devices. For instance, uh, cameras may be able to send pictures, uh, you may have wireless headsets, you have, of course, wireless keyboards and mice, things like that.
Your Mac also has a variety of other ways to connect to the outside world. For instance, you probably have a number of USB ports. This allows you to connect to devices like cameras, scanners, printers, wired keyboards, wired mice, all sorts of different things. It's the primary way to hook something up to your Mac. But also, there is FireWire, which is a different type of connection that is primarily used for video cameras. In addition, you've got a selection of audio ports. Some Macs have a single audio port that's both optical and analog audio in and out, so you can hook up a headset too it, like the earbuds that come with the iPhone to get both a microphone and headphones. Or, you may have separate jacks for audio in and audio out. In addition, you probably have a mini DisplayPort. Now, if you have an iMac or a MacBook with a screen, then this allows you to hook up a second screen. If you have a Mac Mini or a Mac Pro, this allows you to hook up your primary screen. Sometimes, you've got several on a Mac Pro that allows you to hook up several screens. In addition, some MacBooks have SD card slots. This allows you to take the SD card out of a camera and put it into your Mac to transfer the pictures from the card into your Mac.
So that's the basic terminology used to describe the main parts of your Mac. If your interested in finding out any more of this, there a ton of information out there on the web. For instance, you can go to Wikipedia and look up any of these terms, and get detailed information about the different parts of the computer and history of those parts as well. Until then, this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 27 Responses to “MacMost Now 483: Getting To Know Your Mac”

    11/29/10 @ 12:30 pm

    Gary how often do you edit your videos before posting them, I saw a few mistakes in this one :)

      11/29/10 @ 12:42 pm

      How often? Do you mean how much? What mistakes? Was something not clear in the video? They aren’t meant to be perfect. I mean, they are free to watch…

    11/29/10 @ 2:28 pm

    You do an amazing job with these videos. Thank you for your work, Gary. Please keep them coming.

    11/30/10 @ 9:08 pm

    I agree – Gary, you are doing a really great work.. great website and great videos.

    12/2/10 @ 11:11 am

    I love your videos and newsletters… I am president of a MUG group and I use a lot of the information you make available to us in our meetings and newsletters. I don’t know what I would do without your insight. Thanks a million and have a great Holiday season…..

    Claire Gehrett
    12/2/10 @ 12:46 pm

    I just love this site. I am learning so much from your videos…. Thank you. Ask Leo referred us to your site and I am delighted because I miss him so since I now have a Mac. Now I can keep up with Macs just as I did with my old Dell…..
    Thanks again…..

    12/2/10 @ 7:21 pm

    Sony has a 17″ OLED monitor. This is the first in a consumer price range of € 3999,- it’s called the xel-1

    12/2/10 @ 7:21 pm

    so thats not an lcd montitor. but a true led monitor

    12/2/10 @ 7:49 pm

    So happy that Leo led me to your site.
    thanks, Barb

    12/2/10 @ 11:06 pm


      12/2/10 @ 11:11 pm

      Subscribe to the podcast with iTunes. Then grab the .mp4 file from your iTunes library.

    12/3/10 @ 6:28 am

    I love your videos, i have learnt many things from them, tanx Garry, great job you always do…

    Cheers from Germany

    Andrew Murr
    12/3/10 @ 11:54 am

    Great Videos. However I need to know more about hard drive space. In Windows, you can scroll down to properties, and in general it shows like a cake, pink for free space on your Hard drive, and blue for space used. Can something similar be obtained on mac?

    Andrew Murr
    12/4/10 @ 6:53 am

    Thank you

    Andrew Murr
    12/4/10 @ 7:02 am

    I need to know about compatible firewire leads to connect my Sony Handycam to my iMac. my present firewire cable is 400, and the socket on the iMac has gone up to 800. I’ve seen in Apple Store both US and UK the Mochi 800 to 400 adapter lead. Would you suggest that I take my camcorder to a local Apple store and test the connection on one of their iMac machines to ensure I get the right lead or adapter?

      12/4/10 @ 9:42 am

      If they let you test it, sure. Otherwise, you may just have to buy a cable and hope it works. Return it if it doesn’t. Or, just start a collection of cables. You’d just join the club of people like me who have a drawer full of odd cables that didn’t work out one way or another.

    Andrew Murr
    12/4/10 @ 10:35 am

    I’ll go for the Mochi 800 to 400 adapter, Thanks for your help Gary

    Andrew Murr
    12/5/10 @ 1:49 pm

    Is there any way I can get my iMac reset to original factory settings? because I have encountered a problem with my email account with BT. As bothe the present BT Broadband Routher and previous Router when installing it, when keying in the account details provided by BT and the password, andrew 01. Just lately when I keyeed in the password. in the BT Yahoo mail field box under the email address, an error message came up, that the password was invalid. I’ve been doing ok before. So maybe if did a restore to factory settings operations, and re-install the present BT Voyager 220V ADSL voice Router. I think the problem was caused by me using thr Omnisweeper. and uninstalled the wrong stuff. I’m typing this email via a Windows computer. The Mac is connected to the Router via a Ethernet cable, even yhough I’m not operating a network of Computers

      12/5/10 @ 2:07 pm

      You can completely reset your Mac by using the discs that came with it — using them to wipe your drive and re-install the system. All of your data will be gone, and applications, you installed, everything.
      However, this seems pretty extreme when the only problem you are having is an invalid password for an email account.
      Why not just delete that email account from Mail and then set it up again? Or, visit the Genius Bar and ask for first-hand help.

    Andrew Murr
    12/6/10 @ 4:01 pm

    Where do I find the Genius Bar?

    Andrew Murr
    12/7/10 @ 8:31 am

    You’ll be pleased to know that I’m back in business, I am able to send and receive emails. I disconnected the Ethernet cable from the back of my iMac, Re-installed the Mac OS.X disc on to my Hard disc. re-installed the optional updates, re-inserted the Yellow ethernet cable into the iMac. clicked onto the BTYahoo Broadband icon on the desktop, fed in my email address and password into the sign in fields, clicked on Sign in, and viola, I’m back. Thanks for your help and advice Gary

    Andrew Murr
    12/8/10 @ 7:22 am

    I recently tried to pair up my Samsung mobile phone to the Mac’s Blue tooth. I succeeded, however I was confused by the fields I had to fill in E.g.
    Phone Vendor Generic ( no problem)
    Phone Model GPRS (GSM/3G (”
    Password (“)
    APN (What’s APN?) What do I Type in there?
    CiD (Not sure on this one.

    Where I stated no problem, I had no problems with the fill ins.

    Can you explain to me the APN bit

    Andrew Murr
    12/9/10 @ 12:17 pm

    Still am a bit confused about APN, seems a bit double dutch to me

Comments Closed.