This post should help new Mac users. I am listing here the different things that didn’t feel very intuitive when I switched from Windows.
Probably the very first thing you will be looking for is the right-click. The Mac mouse has it (and any mouse with the right-click will work on your Mac), but if you have a laptop, there are at least two ways to do it. Either you press the ctrl key and click and the right-click menu appears, or you can put two fingers on the trackpad and click (if this doesnt’ work, go in the System Preferences –> Trackpad and tick the secondary click).
The next thing new Mac users generally look for is the forward delete key. Of course Mac does it as well! Just press fn + delete key (the backward arrow you use to delete from right to left).
When I was using Windows, I used to press ctr+alt+delete to get the task manager and find out what was wrong. With Mac you can check what goes right using the Activity Monitor, you can find it at Applications –> Utilities –> Activity Monitor. If you simply want to force an application to quit, you can click on the apple (top left of the screen) and choose the Force Quit… button which will list all the open applications and highlight the ones that are not responding.
To switch between programs and windows, you can either use the F3 button or the cmd+shift. The F3 key is the Expose command, it shows you all the open windows and you can simply click on the window you want. The cmd+shift command switches between the different programs. The problem with the latter is that if you have different windows opened in the same application, it will only allow you to access the latest one activated. To switch back and forth between widows that belong to same application, you can do so using Witch. I strongly recommand you to download this program, it is really convinient.
With Mac, even if you close all the windows of a program, the program still runs unless you quit it. You can do so either by clicking on the name of the program in the top menu and then choose Quit or simply do cmd+Q. Another shortcut that is useful if you want to close windows but not the application is cmd+W. You can find more useful shortcuts here.
I like to navigate with the keyboard shortcuts instead of using the mouse which is more time consuming. At the beginning I got a bit frustrated using the keyboard with dialogbox because tab and enter keys don’t do the same thing as with Windows. The trick is to use the tab key to blue-frame the option you want and then to press space key rather than enter. A good example is with Safari when you want to quit it: the blue frame is on the Cancel button already so that if you press space, you will cancel the process and Safari won’t quit, but if you press enter you will quit the program.
One of the greatest thing with Mac is that there are many many free or very reasonable priced applications that you can download from the web. Most of the applications downloaded from the web are in .dmg (disc images), .zip (Zip files), or .sit (Suffit) formats. To install an application with these extensions, double click on the file to run the program and drag and drop the .app file in the Applications folder (done step by step here). More complicated applications use an installer (.pkg). Simply double-click on the icon to launch the installation program and follow the instructions.
Macs do not have an add/remove tool like PCs. If you just move to trash an application, all the program preferences, caches, and other support files will remain in your computer. I use AppZapper to remove it properly: you simply drag the application you want to be removed onto AppZapper, it finds all the extra files linked with this application and you can delete them with one single click.
With Mac, you can zip files without having to add an application: just press ctrl and hold it, click on the file you want to compress (this is equivalent to a right-click) and choose compress.
You open zip files simply by double clicking on them.
To refer to the hard disk (the “C:” with PC) with Mac it is /Users/YourUserName/. So, for example with Stata for Windows I used to type “cd C:\Documents\Research” to change the directory but now with Stata for Mac I type “cd /Users/Laure/Documents/Research”.
To map a drive, just go to the finder and press cmd+K (or go to Go –> Connect to Server). Contrary to Windows, Mac doesn’t bother with different letters to refer to a drive, just put smb://filepath.
If you have decided never to use Windows anymore, you can use OpenOffice; it’s an open-source (FREE!) software suite for word processing (called Writer, equivalent to Word), spreadsheets (Calc equivalent to Excel), presentations (Impress like PowerPoint), graphics (Draw similar to Visio), mathematical formulas (Math very much like the Equation Editor), databases and more. It is very similar to and compatible with Microsoft Office.
I hope you will find this helpful! Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.
I’d like to thank my friend Amine for this blog. He had the office next to mine when I switched for Mac and, as I had no idea how to use a Mac, he helped me a lot. Thanks a lot Amine!