This Switch Guide Helps You Switch To Mac OS X


This switch guide is for you that have switched from Windows to Mac OS X or perhaps thinking about switching. Learning a new operating system could be frustrating especially if you have little or no experience with computers. The goal of this guide is to help regular people getting started with their Mac, with comparing some of the features with Windows and what the differences are on the Mac. You can also use this switch to mac guide if you have no or little experience with Windows.
First, you have to set your mind in a special state before reading this switch guide. You are used doing things in a certain way when using Windows. You have to let go of this thinking, this is not Windows, some things are similar, and some things are just not the same. You will get this experience throughout the use of your new Mac, and let me tell you, it is quite normal. Everyone need some adjustment time, in the end you can look back and think: Hm, this wasn’t so bad after all, it is easier now!

Another thing about the Mac, you can trust it. You can trust it to take care of your files, you do not need to poke deep inside the hard drive, the applications do that for you. It is a computer! it should work for you, and only you. You CAN tweak settings all you want though, but it is not needed at all to get productive in no time.

The Dock

OS X Dock
The Dock is the bar with icons you have at the bottom of your screen. If you just started up your new Mac you will have some icons there already. The icons you see is shortcuts to some of the applications you get with your new Mac. If you click on one of these icons it should start to bounce a little bit and the application starts. When the application is running you will see a little blue dot under the icon, this means that the application is up and running. In Mac OS X versions prior to Mac OS X Leopard the icon could be a triangle instead of a dot notifying you of the running application. This switch guide cover Mac OS X Leopard at the moment.

Compared to Windows the Dock is like the list of applications you have under the start button, and the task bar in one. You can also remove icons from the Dock that you wont be using, it is quite easy. Just click and drag the icon outside the dock and release the mouse button. This removes the shortcut and not the application itself. You can also add shortcuts to the dock by simply dragging them in there.

If you closed your application by clicking the red circular button you may notice that the little blue dot is still visible under the icon. This is because you did not really close the application, you just closed the window! There are several ways to close the application in question but the most easy way is to press CMD + Q with the application window open. If you do this you notice that the blue dot disappears and the application is now closed.

You can also customize the Dock in several ways, like move it to the right or left of your screen. You can also hide it when not in use and change the size of the magnification when moving your mouse over the icons. Or turn it off completely as i have. These settings can be accessed through System Preferences, then click on the Dock to get to the window where you can adjust the settings.

Top Menu-bar


In Windows all applications have their own menu bar, in Mac OS X applications share the same top menu. If you look at the top of your screen while you have a few applications open and switch between them you will notice that the name on the top changes to the name of the active application. This can cause some confusion if you didn’t know about it, but now you do. If you want to close one of the applications select it so it becomes active, then you can press CMD + Q as stated above, or you could click on the top menu-bar, on the name of the open application and you will get a menu where you can choose to quit the application.


Look in your Dock, all the way to the left you will find one icon looking like a smiley face. If you click that one you will open the Finder. With finder you get access to all the files on your computer and also other computers in your network, if you have a network. The Finder is the equivalent to Windows Explorer.

At the left side of the Finder window you will see shortcuts to common areas you would likely use most. At the top you will find the hard drive and further below shortcuts to areas like your Desktop, Applications folder, Your home folder and Documents. The right side of the Finder window show you the list files.

Tabbed Finder

The buttons on the top of the Finder window changes the view, you can select to view your files as a detailed list, large icons, column view or cover flow view. This is your choice, i for one use detailed view and think it works quite nice. You can also get more information about one file, if you select the file and press CMD + I you will get a window with a more detailed view of the file. With OS X Mavericks Apple introduced long awaited tabs for the finder. Hit CMD + T to open up a new tab.

In Windows you may be used to copy files with CTRL + C and paste with CTRL + V, maybe cut too with CTRL + X. Well these shortcuts also work on your Mac with one exception. You cannot cut files and paste them, also you have to press CMD + C and CMD + V instead. The ctrl button is used for other things. Like right clicking for example. Many people that make the switch tend to criticize the missing cut feature. Somehow Apple do not want to add it, i do not know why but i have learned to live without the Cut feature. But remember, when you are editing text documents and things like that, the Cut and Paste works.

Some that switch to mac get confused by this: if you select a file and press Enter, you will start renaming the file. If you do this in Windows it runs the file instead. This is one of the small differences between the two operating systems.

Three color buttons

As you can see your applications have three buttons, red, yellow and green.
The red button means close, but in Mac OS X that doesn’t necessarily mean to quit the application. If you press this button the window might close, but the application is still running. This might be new to some of the people making the switch. Also different applications use these buttons differently just to add some more confusion.

The yellow button means minimize the window to the Dock.

The green button means zoom, this will maximize the window so it will display the content you have, or the window will fill the entire screen area except the Dock and the top menu.

System Preferences

System Preferences Mavericks

System Preferences is the Mac OS X “Control Panel” where you can do adjustments and changes. For example changes to the Dock, Security, Look and Feel, Sound, Screen, Power management, Keyboard and mouse settings, printer settings, network settings amongst many other. Some applications may put their own settings in System Preferences.

Mission Control

Mission Control

Mission Control (it was called Exposé earlier) is unique to Mac OS X and it is just one of the reasons to switch!. I use this all the time, I can not imagine living without this feature now when i am used to it. Pressing a hotkey or using a gesture on the trackpad gives me an overview of all open windows. Then I just click the window I want and it will be brought to the front. I have set it up so it automatically show me the open windows if i drag the mouse cursor to the top right corner of my screen. You can adjust these settings to your liking in System Preferences then Mission Control. My top left corner show the desktop.

Run Windows Virtualized

Windows 7 Vmware Fusion

You may have heard you can run Windows on your Mac. Running Windows on your Mac works really good actually, it can be good for those wanting a Mac but is forced in some way to use a Windows application where there is no substitute for on the Mac. Then Boot Camp could be one solution. With this you partition a slice of your hard drive and install windows on that. So you will have to reboot. Another option is to virtualize Windows, meaning you run Windows on top of your OS X installation not having to reboot.

Final Words

It is difficult to know exactly what to put in this switch guide and what to not put in it. The switch guide has to be easy to read and understand. There is a lot more to Mac OS X than this guide offers, however as time go on the guide will be improved. If you feel something is missing or just plain wrong do not hesitate to contact me with your suggestions or questions.

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