Sometimes we assume that everyone knows how to do things like boiling pasta. But then they go to make some and the questions arise. So here is a basic run-down of pasta cooking. And yes, pasta and macaroni are the same, they cook the same way.
1Bring a large pot of water to boiling. You need enough water to let the pasta 'dance' in it.
Once the water is at a full boil, add salt, the more the merrier. I pour the salt into the palm of my hand, probably a couple of tablespoons full, and put it in the water. Some people put oil in the pot as well, about a tablespoon of it to keep the pasta from sticking. I do not do this. I don't think it really helps much.
Other times people might add some broth to the water for extra flavor. I guess this depends on your recipe. It cant hurt it.
2Add your pasta of choice. Stir gently to keep the pasta separated until the water is again boiling. At that point the boiling will stir it for you. If you do not stir it, the pasta may release starch and glue itself into one big clump.
Look at the package of pasta you are using and read the recommended time for cooking and set the timer for the lesser amount. Even when the timer goes off, taste some of it first. Make sure it is done enough for you. Some people like a little bite to it. This is called "al dente". Or you can cook it a minute longer for less chewy pasta.
3Sometimes we serve the pasta into bowls right out of the pot of water. While this does keep the pasta warm, it also keeps cooking slowly and can get mushy.
You can drain the pasta in a colander. Then either put it in a large serving bowl and top with sauce or put back in the pan and mix sauce in.
If you are not mixing in the sauce right away, you probably should rinse the pasta off, while still in the strainer. This keeps it from sticking together quite as much. Pasta has lots of starch, which is like a glue. Rinsing it off it probably better for you in the long run. The starch goes in you and is also like glue.
So even if you rinse it off, eventually you want to add the sauce to it, either in one large bowl or pot or just in individual plates.