If you’ve recently switched to a Mac, or are forced to use it against your will, you’re probably used to the user-friendly Windows environment and want to know the Mac equivalent of your favorite Windows program or function, right?
Well, luckily, the latest Macs running the latest versions of OS X aren’t much different from the current versions of Windows. The biggest difference, in my opinion, is the lack of any Start button in OS X. This is pretty much what Microsoft did with Windows 8, and probably everyone hated it.
There is simply no Mac equivalent for the Windows Start button or the OS X Start menu for the Mac. The only thing you can do is get a list of all your apps in the OS X dock, which is similar to the Windows taskbar. In this article, I’ll go over all the Windows program equivalents for the Mac, and hopefully you’ll find using a Mac as easy as finding a Windows machine.
Windows Taskbar – OS X Dock
Even if you miss the Start button, OS X at least has a taskbar equivalent called the Dock. It shows you what programs are currently open and you can add or remove icons for any other applications installed on your Mac.
The trash can also be found on the dock, and in order to eject any device connected to your Mac, you drag it to the trash. You can also go to System Preferences and customize the dock’s settings: allow it to remain visible at all times, increase its size, change its position on the screen, etc.
To display all applications as icons in the Dock, open Finder and drag Applications from the sidebar to the Dock.
Windows Explorer – Mac Finder
Next comes Windows Explorer. Mac equivalent is Finder. Windows Explorer is pretty good, but I like the Mac Finder better. First, it allows you to open multiple tabs in a single Finder window, making it easy to drag files to another location without having to open multiple Finder windows.
Second, it shows you more useful things in the sidebar than Windows, such as shared servers, other computers, connected devices, etc. You can also click Finder and then Preferences and customize which items are displayed in the sidebar. panels that you can’t do on Windows too.
Windows Control Panel – Mac System Preferences
The Control Panel is the place in Windows where you can control how Windows works. From here, you can manage pretty much everything, including backups, encryption, default programs, audio, fonts, Java, Flash, languages, mouse and keyboard settings, user accounts, firewall settings, and more.
While it’s not exactly the same, you can manage all of your Mac’s settings in System Preferences.
Windows Notepad – OS X Text Edit
If you use Notepad on Windows, you’ll be glad to know that there is a Mac equivalent known as TextEdit. It comes with all Mac computers and is a simple text editor that also lets you work with plain text. This is the only reason I am using Notepad, and probably the only reason you are using TextEdit on your Mac.
The only thing you need to do in TextEdit is click Format and then Make Plain Text. Basically, it’s WordPad and Notepad combined into one, which is nice.
Windows Task Manager – Mac Activity Monitor
The Windows Task Manager is one of my favorite features and I use it all the time to check which process is consuming memory or CPU. You can also get more information about your system from the Task Manager
Like the Task Manager, Activity Monitor (open Spotlight and search for Activity Monitor) is split into several tabs: CPU, Memory, Energy, Disk, and Network.
The Energy tab is unique to Macs and useful for laptops so you can see which processes are using the most energy. Otherwise, you can use Activity Monitor to end the process or run system diagnostics.
Windows Command Prompt – OS X Terminal
The Command Prompt in Windows is the tool you should use when you need to do something technical to fix your computer or change an incomprehensible setting that you cannot get in any other way. The same is true for the Mac equivalent called Terminal.
Terminal is a very powerful tool that allows you to control the underlying UNIX system that OS X is running on. So if you are familiar with Linux commands, Terminal is a piece of cake. One task that I sometimes use Terminal for is showing hidden files. You open Terminal and paste the following command:
by default write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES
You can now see hidden files in Finder. Again, you will probably only use Terminal on the rare occasion that you just need to copy and paste a command.
Windows Paint – OS X Preview
If you’re using Paint on Windows, the closest tool on OS X is Preview. It can’t compare to everything Paint can do, but it lets you paint.
You can also use it to make basic image edits such as cropping, removing backgrounds, adding outlines, adding text, adjusting colors, and more. You can also use it to add signatures to PDFs and fill out forms.
Windows Disk Management – OS X Disk Utility
Disk Management Tool makes it easy to format and partition hard drives in Windows. You can do other things as well, but these are basic functions. The Disk Utility tool on Mac lets you do much the same.
You can use Disk Utility to repair your hard drive if OS X won’t boot properly, partition your hard drive, wipe data from the drive, and see what data is taking up space on your hard drive.
Windows Netstat, Ping, and Tracert – OS X Network Utility
Network Utility in OS X is where Apple performs better than Windows. The network utility allows you to quickly get information about your network connection and allows you to easily run tests such as netstat, ping, traceroute, Whois, Finger and port scans.
You can use the Netstat tab to quickly view all the connections made by your computer. To do any of this on Windows, you must open a command prompt and enter commands! It’s more technical and not as well implemented as OS X.
Windows Event Viewer – Mac console
Finally, Windows Event Viewer allows you to see a log of everything that happens on your computer. This is really useful for debugging and is difficult to fix.
The console is much the same as the Event Viewer and allows you to see pretty much everything that happens in the background of your computer.
In fact, you only look at the log files when you are looking for something specific, otherwise the operating system generates too many messages.
There are other equivalents that I could mention here, but I think these are the basics and are sufficient for most people who are just starting to use a Mac after using Windows for a long time. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to comment. Enjoy!