If you’ve recently bought a Mac, or have had to use a Mac for work, you might be frustrated trying to use OS X if you’ve been using Windows for a long time. This is completely understandable, and Apple really doesn’t want to change its OS anytime soon to match Windows.
Apple loves OS X for what it is, and it will likely stay that way for the rest of its life. This means that you will need to get used to some of the differences between Windows and Mac. In my opinion, OS X can still be made easier to use by default, but unfortunately you will have to manually make some changes to make things better.
In this article, I’ll give you a couple of my favorite tips for Windows users who have to use Mac and OS X. Once you get used to OS X, you may like it more than Windows, and this is what happened to me. It’s a small learning curve, but worth it. Also be sure to check out my post on OS X programs and features that are Windows equivalent.
Tip # 1 – How to Right-Click
One of the most frustrating things when a novice Mac user tries to figure out how to right click! There is no separate right mouse button for Mac, and this can be quite annoying for some people. Fortunately, Apple’s method is actually more intuitive and easier to use.
All you have to do to right-click is to use two fingers when performing a normal click. A two-finger click brings up a right-click context menu. For me, this is much more convenient than moving my finger to the desired button, as on most Windows laptops.
You can change the right click behavior by going to System Preferences – Trackpad and clicking the Point and Click tab.
By default, the right-click option on OS X is called secondary click. If this checkbox is checked, it is usually set to Click or tap with two fingers, but you can click the small arrow and also select one of the other two options: Click in the lower right corner or Click in the lower left corner. If you just love the way you did it on Windows, you can tweak OS X to achieve the same behavior.
Also, another quick tip is to check the Tap option as well. Most Windows laptops allow you to click to click, but OS X doesn’t have this feature turned on by default, so you’ll have to manually press a button to click. If you go to Scroll & Zoom, you can also change the scrolling direction to whatever is more convenient for you.
Tip # 2 – Add Applications to the Dock h2>
Another major change that most annoys Windows users is the lack of a Start button. OS X just doesn’t have a center button. In the upper left corner, there is a small icon with the Apple logo that you can use to perform some actions, such as go to system settings or restart / shutdown your computer.
The docking station is basically similar to the Windows taskbar, but with shortcuts and nothing else. Another annoying thing is that it starts entirely with standard Apple apps. I almost never use more than one or two, so the first thing I do is get rid of them. You can do this by right-clicking the icon in the dock, choosing Options and choosing Remove from Dock.
Once you’ve done that, you can add a sort of “All Programs” folder to the dock, which will allow you to see a list of all programs installed in OS X. To do this, you need to drag the “Applications” folder onto your dock To do this, you need to click on your hard drive icon, which should be on your desktop. If you don’t see it, click Finder in the upper-left corner of your Mac, and then click Preferences. On the General tab, check the boxes for hard drives, external drives and CDs, DVDs and iPods.
Click the hard drive icon on the desktop and you should see the Applications folder listed along with other folders such as Library, System, Users.
Go ahead and drag this folder into your dock. Now, by clicking on the icon, you will get a complete list of all programs installed on your Mac. It’s better than trying to add them all to the Dock or using Spotlight to find the program you want to launch.
You can also use the Launcher (the silver-gray rocket icon in the Dock), but for some reason I never use it.
Tip # 3 – Take out the drives using the trash can
This one should be the best. For a long time, Apple has confused people when it comes to ejecting devices from the system. To eject a USB stick or DVD, you either need to right-click and select Eject, or drag the item to the trash.
It’s like dragging and dropping a USB drive to the trash in Windows, which basically means deleting everything! Obviously people don’t even like the idea of ??throwing anything that has important data in the trash!
However, this is how you should do it in OS X, and no, it will not result in data loss. In fact, you will notice that when you click and drag an external drive or drive in OS X, the trash can icon changes to an eject icon. I think this should somehow help us feel better.
Tip # 4. Search settings
Finder is basically like Windows Explorer. Much simpler version of Explorer, in my opinion. However, I prefer the more verbose and cluttered view of File Explorer than the simplified Finder. It’s too easy.
So, to add something to Finder, open a Finder window, then click View and click Show Path Bar and Show Status Bar. This will give Finder a more Explorer-like look.
In the View section, click on Customize Toolbar to add a couple of useful icons to the default toolbar. Personally, I like to add New Folder, Delete and Get Info buttons to my toolbar.
Finally, click Finder, then Preferences, and then click Sidebar. This is where you can add other items to the Finder sidebar, such as images, music, and more. It’s similar to the library folders in Windows.
On the General tab, you can also edit the New Finder window display option and select anything other than “All Files”. I prefer to select my home folder, which is more in line with Windows Explorer.
Tip # 5. Learn to use Spotlight
If you’re used to the Windows Start menu search box, you’ll be glad to know that OS X has a similar search option called Spotlight. You can get to it in two ways: either by clicking the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of the screen, or by pressing Command + Spacebar.
Using Spotlight is the best way to find your files, change settings in OS X, find apps to install, find email, find calendar events, and more shows results from the internet so you can search for Apple and get recommended websites and even a map of your local Apple store.
Tip # 6 – OS X uses Spaces and Full Screen
One more thing to which you need to get used to is understanding how these three buttons in the upper left corner of each window work. On Windows, you have three buttons: a minimize button, an expand button, and a close button. In OS X, you have a red close button, a yellow minimize button, and a green button that expands, but in different ways depending on the program.
If you press the green button, for example for Safari, it will expand to full screen and everything else will disappear. If you move your mouse to the top of the screen, you’ll see a toolbar, but that’s about it. So where did all your other windows go and how do you get to them?
Well, in OS X, the application has actually gone into its own space. If you scroll up with three fingers, you will see something called Mission Control. Basically, it shows a thumbnail of each desktop or program using its own space.
Essentially, these are virtual desktops in OS X. Most built-in applications take their own space when expanding with the green button. You can either click on the spacebar to activate it, or swipe right or left with three fingers to view the spaces. I really like this feature because it allows you to work completely in one application, but it also allows you to quickly jump to other applications.
In some applications, however, the application will expand to full screen, but will not fit into its own space. It will mostly stay on the original desktop, just taking up most of the screen. Most third-party applications, such as Microsoft Office, now support full-screen mode that falls into its own space.
You can also click on the little plus sign to add a new desktop if you like. You can open specific programs on specific desktops if you want, and you can even change the background so that each desktop has a different one. It takes some practice, but once you get used to it, you will use it all the time. Just memorize three finger movements.
Tip # 7 – Install apps from the Mac App Store
By default, Apple tries to protect you by only allowing you to install apps from the Mac App Store and designated developers. In a way, this is good, because it allows you to protect yourself a little without doing anything on your part.
If you want to install a new program, your best bet is to go to the Mac app store. While Windows software is usually downloaded from anywhere on the Internet, most of the software you will ever need to install on a Mac will be available from the Mac App Store. If you really need to install something from a different location, you can go to System Preferences – Security & Privacy and select Anywhere under Allow downloads of apps from.
Hopefully these are some good tips for novice Mac users who have been used Windows. There are many other differences, but if you can master these basic ones, you will enjoy using a Mac, not strive to surpass it. Enjoy!