OSX #1: Getting Started with a Mac for a Windows User

MacBook Image I got a new Apple MacBook Pro (Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, 160 GB HDD and other good stuff) and excited about that! However I've been a Windows user all along and this is my first interaction with a Mac.

So here are some basic tips/tools to get you started if you are in the same situation:

  • Start with Mac101 - This will get you familiar with Mac, basic terminology, some keyboard hints and other misc stuff.
  • Keyboard mappings between a Windows and Mac keyboard are very different. It would help to print out the mappings and keep them handy. It can take more than a day to get used to the new mappings. Some specific ones are:
    • "Right-click"ing is not intuitive - Enable Two-Finger Click on the Trackpad
    • No Forward Delete key, Mac equivalent is Fn + Delete
    • No dedicated Home, Page Up or Page Down keys, Instead use Fn + Cursor keys
  • Install the following tools
Also read 10 tips for Mac users switching from Windows and a more comprehensive list at Switch to The Mac.

The box came installed with Tiger (Mac OSX 10.4) as opposed to Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5). Leopard Updates are available for $9.95 until Jan 4th, 2007.

Some other striking difference in the terms of UI are:

  • The menus, instead of stacked to each window, are always available at the top.
  • "Windows Control Panel" is available as "System Preferences" on Dock (the toolbar which is, by default, at the bottom of the screen).
  • Minimize/Maximize/Close buttons are to the left instead of to the right.
  • Maximize button only maximizes to the required extent instead of occupying the entire desktop.
  • Important keyboard shortcuts
    • F9 - Shows all open windows
    • F10 - Shows all open windows for the current application (every thing else is greyed out)
    • F11 - Hides all windows and shows the Desktop
    • F12 - Show Dashboard

Here are some other tasks that I tried:

  • iMovie is really cool, I could easily create a movie (with in-built camera) and upload a video directly to youtube. Really good intuitive interface.
  • Create clean HTML pages (like this blog): TextEdit (the default editor) adds redundant markers and viewing HTML source code is not intuitive/easy. So does NeoOffice. Microsoft Front Page is really good at that and I've thoroughly enjoyed editing my blogs using it. So I'm looking for something comparable on Mac. I found this HTML editor shootout  but most of the editors seem to require some manual addition of HTML tags. Googling further, I found KompoZer (based on Nvu) and liking it so far. Part of the reason is that the look-and-feel is quite like FrontPage ;-)

These tips will at least get you started where you can check Email, IM and Web, view your documents, import key settings from Firefox/Thunderbird and unleash the potential of GlassFish and NetBeans. Lots of other tips are available here, here and here. I'll post more as I learn them. Feel free to post your favorite tool/tip/guidance here.

A complete archive will be available here.

Technorati: windows mac apple tools osxtips


I love this keyboard shortcut: Command+Option+H. It hides all the applications excepting the current one. Command+Option+H hides only the current one.

Posted by gimenete on December 19, 2007 at 10:35 PM PST #

Also try Shimo for VPN connections (neat UI to the Cisco VPN), maybe try Ecto or MarsEdit for blogging software, I like NetNewsWire for RSS feeds (just not liking GoogleReader - although I want to like it!).

Also, give Fluid a look -- it lets you create Mac Apps out of websites (I made an app out of GoogleNotebook), and is pretty cool.

iShowU is good screen capture software for the Mac if you ever need to make movies of what you're doing on-screen (I use it to make "how-tos")

Posted by Brandon on December 19, 2007 at 10:37 PM PST #

Try also iTerm (http://iterm.sourceforge.net/) Much better experience that Terminal.app :-). You might also add the following to your ~/.bash_profile file:

export TERM=linux
xhost +
if [ -z "$DISPLAY" ]; then
export DISPLAY=:0.0

Once X11.app is started ('m guessing you don't need to start it with leopard), you will be able to launch X11 apps directly from iTerm, without having to use the rudimentary X11.app console....Have fun!

Posted by Jeanfrancois Arcand on December 20, 2007 at 04:40 AM PST #

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Arun Gupta is a technology enthusiast, a passionate runner, author, and a community guy who works for Oracle Corp.

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