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Switching to Macintosh OS X - Guide for a Windows User

Switching to Macintosh OS X - Guide for a Windows User

Postby gries818 » Tue May 12, 2009 8:33 pm

Switching to Macintosh OS X - Guide for a Windows User



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Created/Updated: 12.30.10
Tested With: Macintosh OS X Snow Leopard

Contents
  • Introduction
  • Your New Desktop Environment
  • Equivalent Applications
  • Keyboard Shortcuts
  • Installing/Uninstalling New Programs
  • Security on Your New Mac
  • Support for Your Mac

Introduction

So you’ve finally decided to make the switch to Mac – good choice. Macintosh OS X Snow Leopard, the newest version of OS X, is a highly advanced and stable operating system that will leave you mesmerized and leave your old Windows OS in the dust.

While Mac is extremely easy to use and very intuitive, adapting to the new desktop environment can still be a bit of a challenge for life long Windows users, which is why this guide has been put together. We will explore the basics OS X and show you how to accomplish basic tasks on your new Mac.

Your New Desktop Environment

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(Typical OS X Desktop)


vs.


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(Typical XP Desktop)



As you probably already knew, OS X looks very different from the traditional Windows setup. Much of the "Start Menu" functionality that Windows users are familar is divided between the "Menu Bar":

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and the "Dock":

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Think of the Dock as simply a designated space for program shortcuts. To launch a program from the Dock. Simply click on it (double click not required). The icon will bounce up and down until a window appears. Programs can be removed from or added to the Dock by simply dragging an undesired icon from the Dock or by dragging a desired icon to the Dock.

But where are the programs represented on the Dock actually stored? Notice the "two faces" Mac Icon on the left of the Dock:

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This application is called the Finder. It is always running and launches when your computer is running. It displays files and folders and your Mac. Think of it as the equivalent of explorer.exe on Windows.

You will notice that Finder also appears on your Menu Bar:

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Next to are the menu controls usually seen on the top of a window of a program in Windows. On a Mac, a window's menus will nearly always display in the Menu Bar. Closing the winder does not close the program, but just the Window - allowing you to leave important applications running so the open new windows quicker.

Now that you understand the basics of Finder and window functionality, you can easily find your Application. Click the Finder Icon in the Dock:

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This automatically opens up your "Home Folder". This folder contains your Desktop, Downloads, Pictures, Music, etc. This folder will become very useful for you when you start using your Mac to get work done.

Notice the Applications folder underneath your home folder in the left hand column on your Finder window. The Applications folder is where all of your programs installed on your system are kept - rather like C:\Program Files on a Windows machine. To add a program to the Dock, just drag it from the Applications folder to the bottom of the Dock and a shortcut, or as they are called in Mac, an Alias will be made.

Take a while to explore how the Menu Bar, Dock, and Finder work before moving on to the next section.

Applications

Now that you understand some of the basic differences between Windows and OS X, you probably are wanting to browse the internet, or setup your email account. OS X comes installed with excellent alternatives to Internet Explorer and Outlook Express, but included also are a number of very useful applications missing entirely from Windows. Here are a few of the useful built in Applications.

Safari
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Safari is OS X's built in Web browser, similar to Internet Explorer on Windows. It is of course possible to install other Web Browsers if you don't like Safari.

Mail
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Mail is the equivalent of Outlook Express, but more powerful. The current version (3.5) supports Notes (which are really just emails to yourself) and a To-Do feature. Mail also supports automatic setup of some email accounts, including Gmail.

iCal
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iCal is a simple calendar that you can use as a replacement to an old conventional paper calendar. Additionally, iCal can be configured to sync with Google Calendar with Calaboration.

iPhoto
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iPhoto is one of the most impressive applications on the Mac. In addition to having one of the best organizational interfaces available, iPhoto also comes stocked with cutting-edge features such as Faces (photo recognition technology that identifies people by their faces) and Places (support for GPS enabled cameras).

iTunes
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The Mac version of iTunes is virtually the same as the Windows version, so Windows users used to using iTunes for their music will be right at home with this application. NOTE: Unlike the Windows version, iTunes automatically copies imported music into an application folder outside of the reach of the user.

iMovie
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Like Windows Movie Maker, except for a million times more powerful.

Garage Band
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Software that enables Mac users to create their own music or podcasts.

Window Management: Exposé and Spaces
Mac OS X Snow Leopard ships with two great ways for you to manage your windows. These purpose of these great features may not be immediately obviously by their names: Exposé allows for easy window switching (similar to the "window key + tab" feature of Windows Vista and Windows 7, except of course Exposé predates the Windows implementation) and Spaces (multiple virtual desktops). To access the settings for Exposé and Spaces, open up System Preferences and select the Exposé and Spaces option under the Personal heading:

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(Since I've already set up Exposé, your settings may appear differently)

The Exposé and Spaces panel has two tabs: one for Exposé and one for Spaces. The first tab is selected by default, showing the options for Exposé. Though perhaps not immediately obvious, the first half of the panel lets you dedicate the corners of your screen to launching certain tasks. From my experience, this is a very addictive way to begin using Exposé; as you can see I have Exposé set up so that when I drag my mouse to the lower lefthand corner the application launches (the "All Windows" option launches the most common way to use Exposé, to sort all the windows). You can also use Exposé to "wipe" your windows from your Desktop to access a file with Finder; I have the Desktop option set to the upper righthand corner. The second part of the panel allows you set up Exposé to run from the Function keys on the top of the keyboard, but these are assigned to other operations by default on my MacBook, so I don't use this setting. If you have a few windows open, you should be able to try out Exposé (using whatever corners or function keys you prefer):

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(Exposé sorting All Windows)

The other tab on the Exposé and Spaces panel controls the Spaces options:

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(Since I've already set up Spaces, your settings may appear differently)

Spaces should come disabled by default, so you will need to check the box labeled "Enable Spaces". From your experience setting up Exposé, the settings for Spaces shouldn't appear too different. You will notice that in addition to a few settings for power users, you can set Function key shortcuts to launch Spaces. You may have noticed that (in the Exposé tab) you can assign Spaces to launch from a corner (I have Spaces set up to launch from the lower righthand corner). However you decide to setup Spaces, you should now be able to use the feature:

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(Spaces)

Keyboard Shortcuts

Windows users will immediately notice that their old keyboard shortcuts no longer work in OS X. Never fear; all that needs to be changed is that instead of using the "Control Key" like you would on a Windows computer, you use the "Apple" or "Command Key". If you are using a Windows keyboard with your Mac (for instance if you were using a MacMini), you would use the "Windows Key" to perform the same action.

Here is a link to a useful explanation on Mac keyboard shortcuts: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1343

Installing/Uninstalling New Programs

Installation and uninstallation of programs is much easier on a Mac than it has ever been on Windows. Applications are stored in the Applications folder, accessible though the Finder.

Installing a Program
Most programs are bundled as a ".dmg" file. Once opened, OS X treats the .dmg file as a disk image, which it mounts and places on the desktop. To experience this feature yourself, download Mozilla Firefox.

Once downloaded and opened, the mounted drive will be placed on your Desktop and a window will be opened:

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Installing the program is as simple as moving the Firefox icon on the left on to the Applications icon on the right.

Uninstalling a Program
Uninstalling a program on a Mac is as easy as opening up the Application folder in Finder and dragging the unwanted Application to the trash can on the Dock. Program uninstalled.

Security on Your Mac

Many Windows are simply unable to imagine a world without constant virus, adware/spyware scans. But it actually is true that Macs are inherently more secure than their PC counterparts. Many Mac users find that they can get away without using Virus or Adware scans.

But even with the excellent built in security of the OS X operating system, you may still want to take extra steps to ensure that your PC is safe. THIS guide from MacWorld can help ensure your Mac is safe.

Support for Your Mac

PROnetworks offers an excellent Support Staff for any troubles you may be having with your Mac. Visit the Unix/Linux/Mac Forum for help and stay and join the Community here at PROnetworks.

Additionally, Apple offers award-winning technical service for all of their products, not just OS X. Contact Apple for information about how to get help.

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Last edited by gries818 on Fri Dec 31, 2010 8:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Switching to Macintosh OS X - Guide for a Windows User

Postby gries818 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:09 pm

Updated... guide is still current for Snow Leopard.
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Re: Switching to Macintosh OS X - Guide for a Windows User

Postby kanaloa » Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:37 pm

I was thinking (for myself included) it may be useful to do an intro to Expose/Spaces. I'm still a little fuzzy on how that works on the Mac.
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Re: Switching to Macintosh OS X - Guide for a Windows User

Postby gries818 » Fri Dec 31, 2010 8:23 pm

I updated the guide to include an explanation of how to use that functionality. Hopefully that helps clear up any confusion with Exposé and Spaces! ^*^
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Re: Switching to Macintosh OS X - Guide for a Windows User

Postby kanaloa » Fri Dec 31, 2010 8:28 pm

Thanks, I will give this a try in a bit with your instructions. ^*^
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Re: Switching to Macintosh OS X - Guide for a Windows User

Postby gries818 » Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:21 am

Converts to OS X may also want to check out 5 UNIX-y Things to Do With Your Mac!
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