10 tips for new Mac users, switching from Windows…

Being the sort of guy who likes to use keyboard shortcuts rather than having to reach for the mouse all the time, I felt a bit hostile once I got my new Macbook Pro. I knew how to do task X or Y on Windows with a few keystrokes, but having moved to Mac OS X (read 10 not X, as I made the mistake!), I found myself feeling annoyed that I didn’t know my way around the OS smoothly.

So I searched the Internet to find out about some of the more obscure shortcuts. Below I’ve listed and explained some shortcuts that a new Mac user, especially those coming from a Windows environment, may not be aware of. It’s definitely made my life easier, hopefully you’re a new mac user, these will be of use.

1. Forward Delete On a Windows computer, the Backspace key deletes from right to left, where as the Delete key is used to delete from left to right (i.e. forward delete). But on a mac, there is no delete key (at least not the MBP). So at first I found myself clicking everywhere on emails to delete! So the solution: Fn+Delete. Simple!

2. Expose with F9 I found it annoying that I had to click Fn+F9 to bring Expose up. If I clickedF9, it would change the keyboard light intensity. So, the hardware F9 and the sofware F9 have to be swapped. This is how: Go to System Preferences > Keyboard and Mouse, click the Keyboard tab and check the box that says “Use the F1-F12 keys to control software features”. Now when you press F9, it will bring Expose and when you press Fn+F9 it will change the keyboard light intensity. This is the same for the other keys like volume and display brightness. For example, the volume increase is situated on F5, which is used as the refresh button in browsers in Windows. By ticking the box mentioned above, you can use F5 to refresh you browser now!

3. Right Click Windows users love their right click button! It just doesn’t make sense to have a computer without it! Well… Macs don’t! They have what is called a contextual menu, and it is evoked by control clicking. Now there’s two things you can do: First one works in Firefox (I couldn’t get it to work in other programs or in Finder). All you do is click and hold and very soon the contextual menu appeares. You can do that anywhere: links, tabs, bookmarks, etc. Other method, which works everywhere is done as follows. First, go to System Preference > Keyboard and Mouse. Go to the Trackpad tab (assuming MBP) and click the “Tap trackpad using two fingers for secondary click”. Now if you two-finger-click on the trackpad, the right click menu appears! So convenient, specially when combined with two finger scrolling.

4. Tab key Again, whenever I faced a dialog box with buttons, I used the tab key to navigate between the buttons. On a webpage, this was also true. On a mac, you’ll probably get confused, as the tab key doesn’t do that! Again, head over to System Preferences > Keyboard and Mouse, then go to the Keyboard Shortcuts tab and click the radio button at the end saying “All controls”. Now you can use tab to move around just like windows! Still one thing left… say you have the shutdown dialog box and you use the tab key to navigate to Sleep, if you press Enter, it will shutdown, even though the blue highlight is around the Sleep button. You have to press the Spacebar instead! Confusing at first!

5. Shutdown shortcut Speaking of the shutdown dialog, you can bring it up usingControl+eject. In Windows I used Win Key+U, then U again.

6. Maximise button and what it does So you press the green maximise button, but it doesn’t maximise? Well, the button only maximises as much is neccessary. So, say you are reading a PDF document. If you zoom in on your document and then press maximise, you will see that the window will become large enough to hold the whole document. And if you zoom out and press the green button again, it will shrink to fit it. Again, different to Windows and needs some getting used to!

7. Alternative to minmise We saw what the maximise button does, what about the minimise button? Well, it “sucks” (as I like to call it) the document to the dock. What is the point of minimising? To clear your screen, to get rid of clutter. So, you can try these two alternatives depending on the need. Either press F11 to see the desktop, or press Command+H to hide the current window, which is what I tend to do.

8. Moving menu bar icons In Windows you can’t move the task bar icons (or I don’t know how), but on Mac, you can Command click them and move them around. Neat!

9. No Ctrl+Al+Delete ? I always clicked that well known combination to see my RAM and network usage and see what applications are running. On the Mac, go to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor. Also, you can click Option+Command+Esc to bring up the Force Quit menu, if you need to quit any application that is not responding.

10. Cool shortcut combo To finish off, I’l give a cool (relatively) shortcut combination. ClickingControl+Option+Command+8 will turn the screen in some sort of high contrast mode, but more like an X-ray screen! Try it, it’s fun! Hopefully, at least there has been one tip that has been useful to you. Please share other tips and tricks that you know in the comments. It is always interesting to learn new things.

Update: This article has been translated into Japanese at netafull.net. Visit here to read it



One thought on “10 tips for new Mac users, switching from Windows…

  1. i like the design of the hardware, but i hate how everything is so locked up in software. so windows 7 and android for me for now.

    although, if final cut pro was available for windows 7, i’d consider buying it strongly… and if they sold windows 7 on a macbook air hardware body, i’d strongly consider buying one too.

    they’re just too controlling it seems for me to want to vote for them much with my dollars.

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