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Switch from Windows to Mac? Everything you need to know

So you decided to switch from your Windows PC to a Mac; and now you're wondering what you should expect and what you should know to fully appreciate your shiny new piece of hardware? Well, this is the first thing: to appreciate a Mac for what it is necessary to realize that not only hardware; a Mac a software and hardware package, indeed, an experience you will fall in love with. As skilled with Windows, there are a myriad of things on the Mac (big and small, good and bad) that you should be aware of. This is exactly what I'm here for. Let me guide you through the whole process of using a Mac.

Note : I am writing this article from the point of view of what a complete newbie for the macOS environment should know. People who have already used a Mac probably already know these things.


The first thing you will notice when you start your Mac, the difference with the interface. Well, actually the first thing you will probably notice is that it starts almost instantly, but we will ignore it. You will be greeted with your desktop, once logged in, and you will not find any sort of "This PC" icons there. This is because a Mac not a PC.

The fundamental way in which you will use a Mac very different from how you could have used a Windows PC. The desktop on a usually clean Mac and there are absolutely no "This PC", "Control Panel" icons. Oh, and besides, there is no option for "Update". Sorry.


Before you start wondering where "Explorer" is headed, let me tell you that a Mac uses what Apple calls a "Finder" and always open … waiting to help you manage your files. On the "Dock" (that's the thing at the bottom of the screen), you'll notice a few (many) standard things you might want to start with. All open apps have a small black dot under the icon in the dock, just to help you identify which apps are currently open. You can see the points in the screenshot, under the Finder, Chrome and Quip icons.

The first of this list is the Finder. Click on it and you will see a " Finder window "open for you. This is the Mac equivalent of" Windows Explorer ", and here you will manage your files, create folders, smart folders, add tags and basically do everything related to file management.

If you've connected a USB drive or external hard drive to your Mac, they will also appear on the Finder sidebar, along with an eject icon next to their name. You can click this icon to safely remove the drive from your Mac before disconnecting it.

Close the Finder window easy, just click the red button in the corner in top left . You will see that it reveals an "X" sign as soon as the cursor hovers over it. You can also use the shortcut " command + W "to close the window.

Note : you can actually use "command + W" in any app, actually, and extremely useful when closing tabs in a browser or in the Finder. That's right, the Finder supports tabbed browsing. Believe me, you will love it.

Some useful Finder shortcuts:

  • Create new folder: command + shift + N
  • Open a new Finder window: command + N
  • Open the new Finder tab: command + T
  • Rename file / folder: press Submit
  • Open File / Folder: command + O
  • Get information (ownership) about a file or folder: command + I

While you're still in the Finder, you should probably familiarize yourself with the way your files are managed by macOS. Macs don't organize files like Windows does you won't see any drive partitions like "C, D, E, etc.". Instead, macOS treats the entire disk as a single disk and creates a single target tree on it. If you've ever used a Linux machine, you'll be at home with the macOS way of managing files. If you don't have it, don't worry, not too difficult to understand.

To teach by analogy, as if there was only one C: drive on your PC, and all your files were stored there. The most common places you need to know are all available in the Finder sidebar. Pay attention to applications, this where all your applications are.

Keyboard shortcuts

Copying and pasting files on a Mac works just like on Windows … almost. While you have a key "Control" on the Mac keyboard, the links to copy and paste files, folders on a Mac are using " command + C " is " command + V ", respectively. Now that you are about to copy your files to the workbook you created, maybe you understand that you actually want to move them L. But there is no option for cut i files in the Finder. Are we in a pickle here … or are we? You can simply copy the files (command + C), and instead of pasting them, just press " command + option + V ". Basically this shortcut move i file in the new destination. So yes, Macs have an option to "cut and paste" files, even if they don't actually call it that. Eh.

Even deleting files on a Mac slightly different from that on Windows. In Windows, you can simply select a file and press " clears " or " move + delete "to move it to the trash or permanently delete it; on a Mac, you must use" command + delete "to move a file to the trash and" command + option + delete "to permanently delete it.

While we're talking about using the Delete button, you also need to know that the Delete button on a Mac is not the same as the Delete button on a Windows keyboard. On a Mac, the delete button is considered as backspace, and if you want to use it as a forward delete, you will need to use " fn + clear "

ActionShortcut to Windows Shortcut for Mac
copy Ctrl + C command + C
Paste Ctrl + V command + V
Cut Ctrl + X N / A
Select all Ctrl + A command + A
Switch Applications Ctrl + Tab command + tab
Exit the program Alt + F4 command + Q
Open a file / folder log into command + O
Rename file / folder F2 log into
Find in the document Ctrl + F command + F
New Ctrl + N command + N
Bold / Italic / Underline format Ctrl + B / Ctrl + I / Ctrl + U command + B / command + I / command + U

Basics of the trackpad

If you are like me, you prefer to use the keyboard. But you have as soon as bought a brand new Mac and you've heard so much about the trackpad, of course you want to try it. It looks really clean and simple, but it hides a spectacular amount of complexity. The first thing that might confuse you, that there are no buttons, or even demarkations for "left and right click". The fact that you can click anywhere on the trackpad and it will be recorded as a click (a left click, to be precise). So how come someone in the world would make a right click. Well, it's about using more than one finger. You can touch the trackpad with two fingers and purple! You have a right click. Go and try it on the files you copied. Select them (place your cursor over them and tap anywhere on the trackpad), then tap two fingers on the trackpad. You will see a context menu with many options, including sharing, renaming, copying, etc.

Some trackpad gestures available on Mac:

  • Launch the mission : Move with three fingers upwards.

  • Exposure app : Run three fingers down.

  • Show desktop : pinch four fingers.

  • Launchpad : pinch four fingers in.

Launching applications


Now that you have started working on your Mac, you would probably want to know which applications your Mac has, but there is no start menu! Selecting apps on the Dock is a small subset of what you actually access. So how do you access all your apps? Well, quite simply, you do it using a gesture on the trackpad (S!), By opening the Launchpad from the dock (the second icon, with the rocket) or pressing the "F4" key . Let's try that gesture, right? really simple. Just a pinch on the trackpad with 4 fingers and you will see the Launchpad animate on the screen. can pinch with 4 fingers to get out of there. Seriously, get out of there, after carefully examining the types of apps available.


If I'm honest, nobody uses the Launchpad to launch apps. People prefer Spotlight. Try pressing " command + space ", or click on the" lens "icon at the top right of the menu bar.

This is the search for the spotlight. You can use it for launch apps, perform calculations and conversions, get information from the Web, and even search for word meanings from the Dictionary. Oh, you can also use it for search for your files . Since we were talking about doing some work, typing "Pages" in Spotlight. Pages the iWork version of MS Word, by the way. See how Spotlight tries to guess what you might be looking for? It reaches Pages as soon as you type "Pa". At this point, you can simply press Enter to launch the app.

I'm sure you're wondering why people prefer to use Spotlight, more than the Launchpad, but as you use your Mac, you'll realize that it's easier. Spotlight opens on top of any app you're working on, so you can quickly search the Internet or perform quick calculations. extremely useful and you will find yourself using it more and more every day.

Closing apps are not the same as exiting apps

Another thing to know about the way your Mac manages the apps, that clicking on the red button in the top left corner doesn't really "abandon" the app. It simply closes the window you were working on. You can try it now in Pages. If you have opened multiple windows of an app, clicking the red button simply closes the open window; the other windows remain open.

Take Skype for example. If you've used Skype on Windows, you will know that clicking the close button on the Skype app on Windows has not actually closed Skype. He just closed the Skype window, even though the app still remained open. This is the case with every apps in macOS.

To exit an app, you can use the following methods:

  • Click on the app name in the menu bar and click " Go out ".

  • Right-click on the app icon on the Dock and click "Go out".

  • Awards " command + Q "to exit the app.

If you typed something into the Pages document we had just opened, you will see a dialog asking if you want to save the file. I will leave the decision to you.


While I'm still talking about apps, let me explain a little bit about how macOS handles multi-tasking. You can have multiple apps open, of course, and you can switch between them using " command + tab "(similar to" alt + tab "on Windows). However, the trackpad again provides a gesture for this. First, open a couple of apps on your Mac, just for the sake of it. Then, run a gesture with three fingers upwards on the trackpad and you will see all the open apps displayed on the screen. This called " Mission control "and can also be reached by pressing the F3 key. Here, you can click on the app you want to switch to or simply place the cursor over the app and perform a movement with three fingers down . Think about how to pull the app towards you.

Swipe up again with three fingers. See "Desktop 1" at the top of the screen?

Well, macOS supports multiple desktops (a feature only recently added to Windows, in Windows 10). You can move the cursor up to the "pi" at the top right of Mission Control and click on it to add more desktops. Each desktop a separate space on your Mac and simplifies the management of multiple windows.

  • Go to the next desktop running one three-finger scroll left .
  • Go to the previous desktop by running a finger with three fingers to the right .

Since macOS allows you to open multiple windows of the same app at the same time, there should be a way to switch to one of these open windows, quite right? Well, there. A finger with three fingers towards the bass on the trackpad open what is called " Expose app ". This basically shows all the windows of the app you were working on. If there is only one window, it will show it. You can easily switch to any window, using this gesture. You can actually do it by pressing also" command + ` ".

Installation and uninstallation of apps

You may not have liked the apps offered by iWork. I mean, if you're a spreadsheet user, Numbers obviously underpowered. In these cases, you may want to install another app that you like most. Installing apps on a Mac very different from Windows. You don't get an exe file or an installation wizard (in most cases) for a Mac application. Instead, you get a disk image "Dmg", just double click on it to mount it on your system. So, you simply have to drag the application icon into the Applications folder, and you're done . The app is copied to your Mac and works simply. No installation wizard, no DLL files, no bulky mess.

Uninstalling apps on a Mac, an equally easy task. You don't have to go looking for an uninstaller. All you need to do is open the Finder and go to the Applications folder. Select the app you want to uninstall and simply delete it. You can do this by pressing " command + delete "or by right-clicking (two fingers) and clicking" Move to Trash. "I admit, not quite as satisfying as seeing an uninstall progress bar fill up, but a lot easier, and what matters.

Note : I haven't suggested any third party apps that you need to "install", because I think you should explore the applications that came with Mac, before using anything else. More often than not, integrated applications are sufficient.

Where's the window that breaks?

Going back to your work, maybe you want to read an article about Safari (by the way, use Safari as much as possible. Incredible on Mac. Really.) And write a report based on it. So you dragged the Safari window to the side of the screen, hoping to snap it to the side, but not like that. Well, unfortunately, macOS continues to not support the opening functionality of the Windows, and disappointing. However, you can use a third party app like Better Touch Tool or Better Snap Tool to get this functionality. Better Touch Tool offers you the possibility to also create personalized gestures.

Siri … kind of a powerful virtual assistant

While I'm telling you about things Windows has done better than macOS, let me talk about personal assistants. You may have used Cortana on Windows 10. Well, with macOS Sierra, Apple's virtual assistant, "Siri", arrived on the Mac.

With Siri, Apple is very right and a little wrong. For one, not there is no way to interact with Siri using text . You have to talk to it, and make everyone else look to the side "to the person talking on their laptop". However, apart from that, Siri can be very useful. It can search the web, make notes for you, make calculations, and even check your Mac's settings. It has uses, but I think it will take some time for Siri to integrate perfectly with the Mac experience.

So are you using NTFS formatted drives?

Okay, so you've installed all the apps you wanted to use and need to move some files to a flash drive? great, you just connected your USB stick to the USB port, and oh, here it is on the desktop! In a perfect world, that would be all, but unfortunately, now that you're trying to copy files to the drive, it turns out that there is no option to do it? Or maybe there is. It actually depends on how your flash drive is formatted. Natively, macOS does not support writing to NTFS formatted drives . Note that I said "write". It is still possible to access files ("read") saved on drives formatted using the NTFS file system. So what are you doing now?

Well, you have two options. You can format the flash drive in a format like FAT32 or exFAT. This way it will work with both macOS and Windows. However, it may not always be feasible. What happens if you have a 1 TB external hard drive? Formatting would lose all your data! In this case, you can use an application of third parts which adds NTFS support to macOS, such as Paragon NTFS for Mac. These are mostly paid apps, but there are also free ones.

Taking Screenshots

Now, I understand that the interface on a captivating Mac, to say the least, and you may want to show it to your friends and family. The easiest way to do this would probably be to share screenshots with them. I know you're used to "Windows + Print Screen" (or maybe you use Windows Snipping Tool?), But the Mac shortcuts for screenshots are superb (once you get used to it, I mean). Okay, let's take a few screenshots on your Mac, to give you an idea of ??the kind of flexibility you get while taking screenshots on a Mac.

  • To make one full screen screenshot, press " command + shift + 3 ".
  • To shoot screenshot of part of the screen, press " command + shift + 4 ". This will turn your cursor into a viewfinder. You can hold down the trackpad and drag the viewfinder to take a screenshot of a particular region of the screen.
  • To shoot screenshot of app windows, press " command + shift +4 ", then touch" space ".

If you don't like the shadow around the screenshot (and why not?), You can simply press and hold "option" while capturing the screenshot, and the screenshot will come out with no shadows surrounding it! I know it looks incredible right now, but believe me, you will get used to it very soon.

Android phones with Mac

If you have an iPhone, you are golden. Thanks to the perfect integration between Apple products, your devices will work together to simplify your life. But if you have an Android device, you will face some problems. The most striking of which, the fact that Android devices are not detected by macOS in the same way they are detected by Windows. That is to say, they … well, no. If you want to use your Android device with your Mac, to transfer files and the like, you can download Android File Transfer. the official app to transfer files between a Mac and an Android device.

Back up your Mac, please

Backups are really important. Go to any computer community, anywhere on the Internet, and you won't find a single person against backing up your data.

While backups on Windows are performed using Windows Backup, which allows users to select the files and folders they want to back up, along with the backup destination, on macOS, they are performed using Time Machine . If you are laughing at that name, you are not alone. I also laughed at the name. But Time Machine called so, because it really is a time machine. Make backups with Time Machine easy and you'll get started in no time. The first backup you take could take a long time, depending on the amount of data you have created on your Mac, but subsequent ones are completed very quickly.

The basic functionality of Time Machine similar to that of Windows, only Time Machine has a much better interface and seems more intuitive. The good thing about Windows Backup is that you can also create backups on your internal hard drive. Although (and this is important), you shouldn't never create backups on your computer's internal hard drive.

Time Machine will help you, and I'm not kidding. You may lose data on your Mac, you may accidentally delete it, or you may switch to a new Mac after some time. In each of these cases, Time Machine will save you a lot of trouble. If you need to restore files using Time Machine, easy to do too. So please come back to your Mac.

Non responsive app

This is not a situation you will encounter on your Mac very often, but occasionally you may see an app that has stopped responding. This usually only happens when an app requires more resources than the computer can save, and the only way to solve it is to force the app to close or, in the worst case, turn off the laptop by pressing and holding the power button. .

On a Mac, you can simply click on the Apple menu in the menu bar and click on " Go out ". Otherwise, you can also press command + option + esc. Anyway, you will see a forced exit window, where you can select the app you want to close.

You should shutdown your computer improperly only in situations where you can't even get to the forced shutdown window and your Mac remains unresponsive for a very long time.

Doors, accessories and more

One good thing about the number of manufacturers that manufacture Windows laptops that you have a huge range of products to choose from. This means that you have the flexibility to choose the type of I / O you want on your Windows PC. On a Mac, however, you will get what Apple has decided suitable for their laptops and, for extra I / O, you will need to purchase adapters and so on.

Depending on the Mac you purchased, you will get a variety of ports (or ports, if you use a MacBook). So you may need to get accessories for your Mac. I use a MacBook Air and the important accessories to have with the Air are a thunderbolt to ethernet adapter (for LAN connectivity), a HDMI mini-display (if you want to use external monitors) and more, depending on the type of devices you want to connect to your Mac. You can even get an optical disc drive if you need to use CDs and DVDs on your Mac. connectivity options on MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are somewhat limited, out of the box. The MacBook Pro has at least one HDMI output, so one less thing to buy.

Switch from Windows to Mac? It begins now

Those were the basics for using a Mac. It may seem a little strange to switch to the macOS environment, especially if you have been a Windows user for a long time. People who have used Linux distributions like Ubuntu will find the macOS environment quite easily recognizable (except for trackpad gestures, above all).

So, how was your experience moving from Windows to macOS? Do you like the features offered by a Mac? And what features do you want to support? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.