Using a Mac, a guide for Windows users

HiTechMomMaster Your Gadgets, Uncategorized

PC to Mac WTF

Where is the internet?

Step 1: Calm Down. Think about what happens you drive a new car. You have to take a few seconds to find where all of the buttons and switches are located. The windshield wipers, the radio buttons and the seat adjustments might be different than the ones in your car, but they still exist and have the same basic functionality. Same thing with operating systems. All of the “buttons and switches” on the PC are in different places on the Mac, but at their core they help you accomplish the same tasks… finding files, opening programs, changing settings, etc.

Step 2: Read this. This article will show you some of the more common features that you might need to help you use your Mac.

Windows Desktop vs. Mac Desktop:

Desktops and shortcuts

Desktops and shortcuts

Do you like to put shortcuts and files on your Windows desktop? You can do the same thing on the Mac. They”ll automatically snap to the right hand side instead of the left. A shortcut on the Mac is called an alias.

Tip: on the Mac, if you want to quickly see the contents of a file without opening it, just highlight it and hit the space bar for a quick look. Hit the space bar again and the preview disappears.

Windows Task Bar vs. Mac Dock

dock - bar

Windows task bar vs. Mac Dock

The Windows task bar performs several functions. The start button is at the far left. To the right of that are icons which gives you fast access to certain programs. In the middle section, you can see icons that represent open programs, and on the right hand side of the bar you have an area with shortcuts to different system settings.

The icons on the bottom of a Mac desktop are called the Dock. They perform similar functions, but in a slightly different way. Most of the icons are shortcuts to the user”s favorite applications. Click on an application’s icon to open it. Icons can be added to the dock and removed. If a small light is on underneath an icon, that means the application is running. (Most Mac applications continue running in the background after you close a window. One way to completely quit an application is to use the keyboard shortcut of command-Q, but there are several other methods.) The right hand side of the dock contains the trash can, which performs the same function as the recycle bin. In the area to the left of the trash can, the user can drag shortcuts to frequently used folders and access their contents from anywhere with a click. The equivalent of the Windows system tray are the icons on the top right hand side of the bar at the top of the screen.

Closing, Resizing and Minimizing windows

Mac vs. PC buttons

To the left, to the left

The buttons to close the window are on the LEFT! They do almost the same thing as the buttons on a window”s machine, but they are on the LEFT. If you press a button on the right hand side of a Mac window, you are either going to hide the toolbar or make a window full screen. So stop doing that. The red one closes the window, the yellow one minimizes it, and the green one resizes based on the content of the window.

File Explorer vs. Finder

windows explorer vs mac finder

Well this looks familiar…

On a Mac, click on the happy little blue guy on the left end of the dock. You will get a window that is very similar to the file explorer on the PC. You can use the shortcuts on the sidebar to find all of the folders that you need. Notice the Applications folder – that”s where ALL of the applications can be found. If there’s one in there that”s not on the dock and you want it to be down there, just drag it down. AirDrop is a quick way of sharing files between 2 Macs. The buttons at the top of the window allow you to view and sort your files in different ways, give you shortcuts to things like making new folders, and allow you to share files.

The Menu Bars

Mac and PC menu bars

Yoo hoo! I”m up here!

File, Edit, View, Help… every application needs a menu bar. On the PC, the menu bar follows a window around. If you close or minimize a window on the PC, the bar goes away with it. On the Mac, the menu bar is always hanging around at the top of the screen, even after you’ve closed or minimized a window. Clicking on the Apple logo at the top left will give you a menu of system shortcuts, settings, and shut down options. Next to that, you’ll find the name of the active program and all of it’s menu options beside  it. The icons on the right hand side of the bar are shortcuts to settings, a super awesome search called spotlight (looks like a magnifying glass), and possibly 3 little lines that represent the notification center (if you have Mountain Lion).

Right click on a Mac. Say whaaaaa?

right click

Gibberish! You can”t right-click on a Mac, can you? Indeed, you can.

Yes, you can right-click on a Mac. However, we refer to it as a “secondary click” because it can be executed in many ways, most of which do not include clicking on the right side of something. To get a secondary click on a trackpad, you can click on something with 2 fingers instead of one or click on a corner. You can set up your mouse to have a secondary click on the right or the left hand side. Or you can just hold down the control key while you click on something. Any way you do it, you are going to get a shortcut menu that is related to what you clicked on. To change the way your mouse or trackpad handles the secondary click, you visit the system preferences. What are system preferences, you ask? Well…

Control Panel vs. System Preferences:


Control Panels, System Preferences… they”re all just settings.

Want to change a setting for your computer? On your PC, you would go to the Control Panel. On the Mac, you go to System Preferences. For a fast way to access them, click on the Apple logo on the top left side of the screen and then click on “system preferences.” You’ll probably want to check out the preferences for your trackpad if you use one. You’ll find out how to do all of those crazy 2-5 finger gestures. Need to set up a new printer? Throw the CD away and just click on the “print and scan” preference to set it up.

Just tell me how to get on the interwebs already.


I could not live without reading

Click on the Safari icon down there on the dock. There you go.

You can also install other web browsers on the Mac… Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc. Anything EXCEPT Internet Explorer.

In Conclusion

So as you can now see, we’re not really all that different.

Ready to learn Mac?

Windows brain on imac 200x250

Learn to use a Mac by building on your knowledge of Windows that you already have. Enter your email to get my exclusive free mini-course delivered to your inbox!

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Ready to learn Mac?

Windows brain on imac 200x250

Learn to use a Mac by building on your knowledge of Windows that you already have. Enter your email to get my exclusive free mini-course delivered to your inbox!

Powered by ConvertKit