First of all, YAY! Whew! What a relief! 😛 I’m kidding, but not really.
I’ll say as a preface that I love Windows because it pays the bills for IT Support guys like me. Case in point in the title of a Business Insider article itself, “Macs are a third as expensive to own as Windows PCs.”
But when you have spent years (or decades) learning the ins-and-outs of the Windows operating systems, it may seem too daunting to switch to a Mac. I, for example, began learning everything about Windows in 1999 (at age thirteen), and long before I switched to Mac, I could do almost everything possible within Windows. Obviously there are business-level/enterprise functions that I had no application for, but I learned a little about those things. When I got my first MacBook, a 2009 White 13″ laptop with specs I would never wish on my worst enemy, it was not the smoothest transition because I tend to overcomplicate everything. However, when you stop and look at what a Mac really is, the visual difference is obvious but the application is subtle.
Today, I want to simplify the Mac.
Recently, Apple released software updates across all of their platforms (iPhone/iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV) and you can read about those updates here. There you will find a “tip of the iceberg” idea of where the Mac is at this point from a software standpoint. What I want to focus on is the basic interaction you have had with your Windows PC and how that translates to your new Mac.
Having been helping friends, family, clients, and others for more than ten years, I’ve heard all of the questions you can think of. As it relates to the Mac, the most common one asked of me is “what do those RED, YELLOW, and GREEN dots mean at the top left corner of program windows?”
Intuitive or not, Apple’s goal was to make things with the user interface clean and simple. On a Mac, the RED circle means “Exit,” the YELLOW circle means “Minimize,” and GREEN means “Maximize.” They just reversed the order and put it on the top left corner.
But, how do I right-click??
If you have any kind of Mac, it either has a “trackpad” or Magic Mouse. You’ve probably noticed that the trackpad is a flat, seamless surface and the Magic Mouse has NO visibly obvious buttons. Again, Apple did this to simplify the look and feel of their products, even if it doesn’t seem simplified to someone new to Mac at first. If your settings are set to defaults, the trackpad will allow you to “right-click” (or “menu-click”) by simply tapping two fingers on the trackpad. This will reveal the contextual menu for whatever application you are using.
Both the trackpad (these are built-in to the MacBook laptops, and sold separately for use with all Macs) and the Magic Mouse have a physical “button” within its casing that actually depresses. With the Magic Mouse, the topmost shell where you rest your hand also acts much like the trackpad, in that it will allow you to tap two fingers (without physically clicking the “button”) to achieve the same result of “right-click.”
How do I find things?
That’s easy. Apple has a feature called “Spotlight Search” which is appropriately named to shine a spotlight on the item(s) or application you are searching for.
Look down at your Mac keyboard. You see your spacebar, right? Awesome! Look at the button directly to the left and/or right of the spacebar! It looks like this:
If you press the “command ⌘” and hold, then press the spacebar and release both, a search bar will appear on your screen called “Spotlight Search” as seen below:
As an example, if I type the word “tech” into my Spotlight Search, here is what appears:
Your results will differ, obviously. As you can see above, by typing “tech,” it immediately registers that a site I visit frequently is my own blog and it shows that along with other Safari web results first, then a document which just gave away a secret plan of mine to eventually create a TechQuest podcast. I have the audio equipment for the most part, so that may come sooner rather than later! We’ll see! 🙂 Beyond the documents, you’ll see results for Mail, Calendar, and then some suggested links.
The point I try to get across to anyone I work with is this: If you are the type of person that pulls a new iPhone, iPad, Mac or other Apple device out of the box and never do any sort of organization or personalization, then you may perform a Spotlight Search and often not get what you’re looking for. This is why I strongly recommend that you invest time into creating the systems and structure needed for your Mac to perform at its best.*
Here’s a quick rundown of where to find other basic things on your Mac:
As you can see, the Windows Recycle Bin is called Trash, the Control Panel is called System Preferences, and File Explorer is called Finder. All three of these can be found on the dock, which is the bar at the bottom of your screen containing app icons, like the one below:
As always, this is a small taste of the seemingly infinite things you can learn about your Mac. It’s hard to pick what pieces to talk about but I know I am leaving you with questions, so please feel free to email me at the address below with any and all questions.*
Until next time, if you are a first-time Mac owner, or are not sure about switching because the differences seem intimidating, I assure you that there’s a 99% guarantee that swear by Apple computers.
“Once you go Mac, you never go back.”
*Part of my business (outside of TechQuest) is to work with clients to help them “Assess The Mess,” create a plan that works, and implement it in a way that they will actually utilize. If you need help with this (on a Mac OR Windows computer), you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and type “Fix My Mac” in the subject line and I will generally respond within an hour!