5 Tips For a New Mac User?


Microsoft’s Windows XP successor, Windows Vista launched today. As it seems some in the world of blogging feel, it should be driving more people than ever to the OS X platform. Sure, that’s poking some fun at Microsoft, but behind every joke there’s some truth…

Anyhow, in preparation for our newly saved brethren, I’d like to ask our talented and insightful readers for some feedback. So we’d love to hear either of the following in the comments:

– The Top Five things you think every Windows User (new to OS X) should be told
– The Top Five things you wanted to know when switching from Windows to OS X

Hopefully We can put together a nice thread for the growing tide of Mac owners.



Hey guys this helped me a lot thanks for the tips!!!! I will like to know if anybody knows how to download Visual Basic a programing software for Mac OS X? Thanks again…

R. Lloyd

“4. How the hell do I get Finder to remember to stay in column view? still to this day nearly 3 years after I switched this issue remains a big annoyance.”

In the Finder, go to Finder > Preferences and check “Open new windows in column view”
Open a new window, close it, open it again..

R. Lloyd

In actuality, it’s not Apple – whatever. That is the Command key.
So, Command – P sends the print command to the computer, etc.

David in Saskatoon

A. The easy way to uninstall:

1. Get EasyFind (free from the DevonThink website)

2. Type in the name of the app you want to uninstall and let it search right across your drive

3. Within a few seconds it will return all mentions of the app (from Applications, preference panes, data folders, Library subfolders, etc., etc.

4. Double check that these are indeed the files you want to blow away (if you use too generic an entry, it will find a bunch of other stuff as well!)

5 Mark off the files to be deleted or (in most cases) just check Select All

6. Hit Move to Trash… voila! All gone.

B. Learn to maximize the usefulness of the Services menu (one of the most criminally underrated features of OS X)

C. When you’re ready to use some third party apps check out the extraordinary array of freeware available (high on the list are the utilities from DevonThink, e.g., Word Service, also Voodoo Pad lite, and many others)

D. While the Mac community can be gratingly fanboyish at times, it’s also extraordinarily helpful–the answer(s) really is out there.

E. Forget about Microsoft…!


A lot of the ‘solutions’ provided aren’t exactly decent solutions or free.

App Zapper isn’t free, SteerMouse isn’t free, Witch is really really slow and not a taskbar, Finders prefs still don’t stop windows opening in list and icon view, expose is like a temporary show desktop.

I remember going through all these options when moving to mac. I guess it’s in the details. :)

I still think one of the worst things for new switchers is installing and uninstalling apps. Windows users have no clue what a .dmg is, I recall trying to run my apps from the .dmg mount first time then wondering where they’d gone when I rebooted. Uninstalling is far worse, some have can be deleted, some have an uninstaller, some require you to run the installer in order to uninstall, some have an uninstall option in a menu item

A total mess.


Regarding mouse acceleration:

I also didn’t like the feeling of the OS X mouse movement, as I’m pretty used to the “windows way”. But there’s help: just install a small mousedriver-app called “Steermouse”, which enables you to customize sens and accel of your bluetooth/usb mouse of choice.

I’m really glad I found that small tool.

and btw. when it comes to Finder’s limitations: take a look at PathFinder, which is essentially a good looking and functional Finder replacement. This app brings Windows Explorer goodness to OS X, and even more.

Nick Santilli

To answer Luke’s question about forcing all Finder windows to Column view:

Make sure the application in focus is the Finder
Go to the menu bar and click on “Finder” and choose Preferences (or CMD , if you’re sure you’re on the Finder)
Making sure you’re on the General tab, click the box 2/3 of the way down, which reads, “Open new windows in column view”


1. Download and install Appzapper before you install any other third party applications. Very handy tool for uninstalling applications.

2. Quicksilver, learn to use it first by just opening applications, then read Nick Santilli’s guides to this fantastic app and you will be amazed on the things you can do.

3. Read the application menus and try to learn the keyboard shortcuts for example, command q to quit a program instead of the red x.

4. Spotlight on command space is a great tool to search for documents. Basically same as locate in linux, but you don’t need to use updatedb here. And I think, but I’m not sure that it also searches inside documents on the fly.
I think quicksilver can do these things too, but that’s not why I use QS.

5. If you’re a linux user, you will know the terminal already. If you are a windows user, try to stay away from terminal unless you want to know how to do certain stuff using a command console.


luke –
1. You need a third party application called Witch to just that, it has been mentioned a few posts above yours.
2. Windows doesn’t hide anything. Show desktop minimize all windows at once. I don’t know if that is possible in Mac, but minimizing all programs fast (unless you have 10+ open) I use command m.
3. You need a third party application like in Windows for this. It’s called Appzapper and can be found at http://www.appzapper.com/
In Windows I always have to dig in to the register after I uninstall a program to remove tons of extra keys, plus way to often I will have to remove the program folder from Program Files and sometimes Common Files. Because the uninstaller is poorly made.
4. No idea on this one, sorry.
5. I agree! I notice the same thing on all linux/unix systems I have tried since I started trying to switch from Windows 12 years ago.


I’m seeing a lot of people request that one of the number one thing you do after you switch is install quicksilver–you can get it here-http://quicksilver.blacktree.com/

Also, I’ve been reading a blog that does very good quicksilver tutorials–they were immensely helpful to me, and they are at Dan Dickinson’s blog (vjarmy.com) here: http://vjarmy.com/archives/2004/03/quicksilver_a_b.php. He’s also done some intermediate and advanced tutorials, and best of all–he has no affiliation with quicksilver, he just really enjoys it enough to write a tutorial about it.

Have fun!


Here’s the 5 things I wanted to know:

1. How do I switch to document 3 of AppX in one action? It’s just not possible, in windows every document is on the task bar, click it and it appears. In OS X you have to do a couple actions. Activate expose > look > click. Or Command-Tab then Command-~.

2. Hows do I hide all apps(aka. Show Desktop). Yes, I know expose has a reveal desktop but it merely slides apps off to the side and they come back. Windows has a real hide all apps, show desktop. I remember I spend ages looking for an app, apple script to do this correctly.

3. Does deleting an app remove it’s all associated files? Nope. The whole installation, uninstallation process in OS X is untidy, sure for some apps it’s easy as ABC but for some it’s a pain.

4. How the hell do I get Finder to remember to stay in column view? still to this day nearly 3 years after I switched this issue remains a big annoyance.

5. How can adjust the mouse accelartion curve? in comparison to Windows the OS X mouse drivers are horrible. The speed is so slow an the curve is weird.

Tony Steidler-Dennison

Some tips from a new switcher (bought first Mac in December, though I’m moving over from Linux rather than Windows).

1. Install Quicksilver. Namo’s comments notwithstanding, it’s the single most powerful and useful third-party app you can install. Use it, learn it, love it.

2. Drag your applications folder to the dock. It’ll sit nicely on the right side and always be quickly available.

3. Learn to hide a program (Apple+H) rather than drop it onto the dock (minimizing the window), especially if you keep a lot of apps open. That will keep it available to the Apple+Tab key combination, allowing you to easily cycle between open apps. Of course, alternatively, F10 will open Entourage and you can just click on the app you’d like to bring to the front.

4. Installing and removing apps on a Mac is a snap. Double-click on the .dmg file, and drag the resulting icon into the Applications folder (in Finder *or* on the dock). Once that’s done, you can right-click and eject the drive-like icon on the desktop. To remove an app, drag its icon to the trash. You might also want to check for any related files in your home Library/Application Support folder.

5. Get familiar with the built-in keyboard shortcuts. You’ll find some of the most useful ones by clicking on the upper-left Apple icon, selecting System Preferences/Keyboard and Mouse/Keyboard Shortcuts. You can also add or change shortcuts from the same menu.

Bonus 1: Stay in the System Preferences screen and work your way through all the options. The customizability is amazing, and it’s all a learning experience.

Bonus 2: When you inevitably drop a drive icon from the Finder sidebar or the Desktop into the trash, and it disappears with a cute puff of smoke (don’t ask), don’t panic. You can get it back with Finder/Preferences.

I’ve really come to realize in the past month or so why Mac users are so loyal. I like that, and it’s well-earned.

B deR West

If you’re used to Windows Explorer, you don’t need a fancy plugin to be able to follow the path of Finder. If you want to find out the file path, simple change to column view, and you can see exactly where the folder you’re in sits in the heirarchy of things.

Also, try Neo Office instead of Open Office. Neo Office runs natively in OS X, and does not require X11, which probably wasn’t installed on your Mac. You’ll have it on the OS X install disc, if you really want it.

In most programs, Shift+Delete forward-deletes, and if you have an Apple Keyboard, the delete key that’s near the home, page up, page down keys forward-deletes as well

Open Apple+Q is important! Keyboard shortcuts in OS X do things! use them!

Even though it isn’t printed on the Apple Keyboard, F14 and F15 control the display brightness, if you’re trying to figure that out.

If you connect a thumb drive and delete things from that drive, they get put in the drive’s “trash,” a folder you cannot see. If there’s nothing on the drive but it says it’s full, press Open Apple+Shift+Delete while focused on Finder to delete all trashes (including mounted drives), and you’ll be good. This took me a while to figure out. I had to open disk utility and format my flash drive every time I wanted to delete things from it for a while.


1. Computers can actually be fun to use as you’re about to discover
2. Stop being afraid of your computer and start using it
3. The Internet is your friend
4. Microsoft is the biggest software maker in the world, not the best
5. The Mac is about direct manipulation, not learning arcane commands and procedures


The number one thing I think switchers should be told is “it’s going to be different.” I hear constant complaints of how OS X just doesn’t work like they’re used to… all these little things like, oh, I don’t know, how there’s no universal uninstaller or how you can only resize a window from the corner. These complaints annoy me because it’s a matter of perspective. You like it because that’s what you’re used to. I don’t miss it because that’s what *I’m* used to. Believe me, you’re not the first person to bring it up. Apple has good reasons for doing things the way they do, and they can do it differently if they want because it’s *their* OS. Give it time, give it patience, and realize it’s going to take some getting used to. But once you start figuring out “The Mac Way” you’ll wonder how you ever put up with Windows.

Nick Santilli

Great, great stuff everyone! Keep it coming.

Namo, I especially dig your #1 – getting used to the OS X interface before adding all the extra stuff. very nice idea.

But on #4, I’d have to point to our own TAB community. ;) It’s small, but growing, and the members are wonderful about helping each other out.


1. The first thing I have to say to new switches is to refrain from installing any third party app for about a week. I think its important to get the feel of how real Apple apps are. I know I was more comfortable with windofied apps when I first switched. Now even iTunes is on my questionable list.

2. OS X dock uses a “Parent-Child relationship” for its windows management. This means you have one instance of an application and it holds all the windows. If you select a parent but now windows you will see that parents menu. This is also why you can close a window with out closing the app, you are in the one in charge of memory allocation.

3. Turn on expose right away. To do so, click on the upper right apple and select system preferences, then set the upper right corner to all application, and set the upper left to application. Go a head and turn off dock magnification while your at it.

4. Find a good forum to go to when you need help. http://www.Macrumors.com is a good place to start–I warn you that it is a huge forum.

5. When you are comfortable with OS X, and you feel awkward with all those menus in windows go ahead to http://www.macupdate.com and enjoy all those great 3rd party Apps. I will also encourage you to not go to the window equivalents right away. See which one feels like a solid OS X. Sometimes the windows ports aren’t as good as their windows native cousins.


Folks, Apple+~ is not the same as Alt+Tab.

Alt+Tab switches between ALL windows of ALL applications. Apple+~ only switches between windows of the CURRENT application; and of course Apple+Tab switches between applications, but not their windows.

So, as I mentioned (and Nick O reminds), to get the Alt+Tab equivalent, you have to use Witch.

Niels K.

1. On a german keyboard: Be aware that apple+q will close your location (alt+q is @ in win and linux) and @ is situated at alt+l — will save you a lot of frustration
2. the apple-key opens the way to easy-understand systemwide shortcuts which will you make more productive
3. install quicksilver
4. apple+w will close a window (same as red-x) and apple+q will close an app
5. learn to use hiding your applications instead of minimizing them


When you drag a dir A into dir B that allread contains dir A. Dir A will be replaced, NOT merged!!!


apple+~ works great!
I must say, shortcuts in Mac OS X are far more advanced than in Windowns.
Also, F10 switches to Expose where it is possible to navigate between windows with arrow keys.

Ricki Vester Gregersen Jensen

Well the shortcut no one seems to know is apple +

Mike C.

To switch between windows within the same application try apple+~. It’s right above the tab key.


HWH is referring to Alt-Tab switching between document windows vs. the Mac switching between applications. A fair amount of difference between the behavior of Windows and Mac is that Windows is document oriented while the Mac is application oriented.


In Windows Ctrl-Tab switches between document windows. Alt-Tab switches between application.
In Apple Command-Tab switches between applications


Trade vulnerabilities for no back-delete key, fair enough?

OK, nothing is perfect but after having used Windows, OSx is an oasis.

1- Learn to close your applications not by clicking on the red button that sports an x in the upper left hand corner but by clicking on File then Quit or the Apple/Command key and Q.

2- Simply burn your back up by dragging files into the mounted fresh CD-rom and hot the burn icon.

3- Download Firefox and Camino, and why not Opera to see how you can use them in conjunction to Safari

4- If you’re really, really scared, go out and buy MS Office, if not, download Open Office. If you’re a little more computer savvy, check out the online version or Google’s.

5- Relax, it’s Unix. Get your RSS feeds going and fetch all the serious Apple bloggers out there.

Finally, welcome ;)

They were also the top five things I wanted to know.


The Top Five things every Windows User should be told

1. If your company uses Microsoft Exchange for shared calendaring, Entourage will not be suitable. It’s absurd, but for corporate uses, you should run Outlook on XP on Parallels.
If this computer is for personal use, or your company does not use Microsoft Exchange for calendaring, ignore comment.

2. There is no Alt+Tab equivalent. This can and will drive you nuts sometimes… you should download and install Peter Maurer’s (free) Witch. Don’t ask why, just download and use it.

3. Closing all windows of an application — say, Microsoft Word — does not in turn quit the application.

4. Search really works: it works well, it works quickly. Whenever you want anything, just press (Open Apple) + (Space Bar). The whole notion of navigating through folders is generally antiquated with OS X (also, purportedly, with Vista — but this is an OS X post, so).

5. Save your fingers on laptops: to “right-click”, put two fingers on the trackpad, and click; to scroll up and down a web page (or any page), put two fingers on the trackpad and slide them up and down.

Welcome to the “light” side.

Comments are closed.