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I just started using Mac and would really like to get in depth detail about OS X. I tried disabling the desktop functionality — disabling the dock and other features as right click context menu on desktop etc.

In Windows, we can edit the Registry or can kill explorer.exe so as to kill the desktop environment.
Also, in Windows we have the Task Manager to manage all tasks.

Is there any such thing in OS X by which we can disable these features of desktop environment and also interact with systems with something like Task Manager or just by command line?

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    Can you shed a light why you want to do this? – Pfitz Dec 3 '13 at 14:14
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This is a very wide reaching question, but to answer the central theme, the rough equivalent of explorer.exe on Windows is the Finder application. Finder is the only application you cannot remove from your dock, mainly because it is the finder that runs the dock etc, much like explorer.exe runs the taskbars etc in Windows (I think I got that right for windows)

You can kill the finder, and it will automatically re-spawn. The equivalent of Task Manager would be Activity Monitor as a graphical app, and of course you have a fully featured Unix command line environment in Terminal, which allows you to interact with processes using all sorts of commands, for example:

ps -ef (lists active processes)

kill -9 243 (send interupt request 9, or terminate with extreme prejudice to the process number 243)

There is no Registry in OS X, which is nice because that was a horrible idea (in my opinion), but settings and preferences etc are commonly stored in .plist files that reside in either the system or an individual users Library folder, which I suppose could be analogous to the windows\system or user\application data folders in Windows.

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    The Dock is actually a separate application from the Finder. I quit the Finder recently and it didn't start again until I clicked it in the dock. – Samuel Edwin Ward Dec 3 '13 at 17:44
  • True, killing the Finder will hide the desktop, icons, and file system browser (although the instantaneous re-spawn means you may not even notice this), but the dock remains separate. – stuffe Dec 3 '13 at 17:50
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    You can disable the Desktop by defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop FALSE && killall Finder which will prevent you from dragging anything to it or anything in the ~/Desktop/ folder from showing on it. (This is handy if you want to take a screenshot of a 'clean' desktop.) – TJ Luoma Dec 3 '13 at 20:52
  • @TJLuoma how would you show the desktop again? What would that command be? – WELZ Mar 14 '18 at 17:34
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I don't understand how this:

Hey I just started using Mac and would really like to get in depth detail about mac OS .

connects to this:

I tried disabling the desktop functionality- disabling the dock and other features as right click context menu on desktop etc.

If you want to start learning how to use OS X, then why would you want to start by disabling the Finder?

Is there any such thing in Mac by which we can disable these features of desktop environment and also interact with systems with something like Task Manager or just by command line?

If you want to use a Mac without using the GUI, you can do that. First you have to tell the login window that you want to use "Name and Password" instead of a list of users. To do this, go to System Preferences.app » Users & Groups. Once you see a window like this:

enter image description here

  1. click the lock on the bottom left and enter your password to unlock
  2. click the 'Login Options' in the left column
  3. click 'Name and password'

Then you can log out. When the login window appears, it will show you a place to type a name and then a password. Instead of your regular username, type >console and you will bypass the GUI and be left at a login prompt. Enter your username and password, and you will have a command-line-only OS X experience.

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    And there is always Terminal.app if you want to combine GUI and non-GUI access :-) – nohillside Dec 3 '13 at 15:32
  • Wow, nice trick! For which versions of OS X does this work? – 11684 Dec 3 '13 at 16:49
  • It's a heavy handed and potentially dangerous approach; but intentionally disabling a component and seeing what else breaks is a way to find dependencies between them. – Dan Neely Dec 3 '13 at 19:02
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    @11684 All of them. In fact, it goes back to days of NeXT (it was very handy on 25 Mhz computers with 8 MB of RAM!) IIRC, you can also use >shutdown or >restart or >exit -- the latter used to restart the WindowServer process, although I have to admit that I am not sure if it still does that or not. – TJ Luoma Dec 3 '13 at 20:48
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  1. Terminal mode: choose to log in with username rather than icon and log in as >console

  2. There is no monolithic registry and instead layers of preference files and databases to serve various directories and services.

  3. Search this site for Finder.app replacements ( and canonical file browsers ) to learn what options exist if you wish to replace the Finder.

Welcome to the Mac flavor of UNIX.

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Although Finder restarts whenever it is killed, you can assign that functionality to another application instead. This worked as late as 10.6; but, I haven't done it on any newer OS version.

defaults write com.apple.loginwindow Finder /path/to/another/application

(Logout, Login to see the change; and, don't do this unless you are sure you know how to fix it afterwards).

It may be possible to force an X11 session to start instead of Finder; but, that would depend on the way the X11 window manager was compiled.

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    Awesome defaults power on display here. I'll have to reserve this for the most problematic of users :) – bmike Dec 7 '13 at 21:15

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