10 tips for new Mac users

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by woodywoodz, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. woodywoodz Suspended


    Apr 12, 2014
    For some friends just switch from Windows to Mac, they may feel uncomfortable with the OS (this kind of situation happened to me when I got my Mac two years ago :D). Here I listed and explained some shortcuts that a new Mac user, especially those coming from a Windows environment, may not be aware of. It’s definitely made my life easier, hopefully you’re a new mac user, these will be of use.

    1. Forward Delete
    On a Windows computer, the Backspace key deletes from right to left, where as the Delete key is used to delete from left to right (i.e. forward delete). But on a mac, there is no delete key (at least not the MBP). So at first I found myself clicking everywhere on emails to delete! So the solution: Fn+Delete. Simple!

    2. Expose with F9
    I found it annoying that I had to click Fn+F9 to bring Expose up. If I clicked F9, it would change the keyboard light intensity. So, the hardware F9 and the sofware F9 have to be swapped. This is how: Go to System Preferences > Keyboard and Mouse, click the Keyboard tab and check the box that says “Use the F1-F12 keys to control software features”. Now when you press F9, it will bring Expose and when you press Fn+F9 it will change the keyboard light intensity. This is the same for the other keys like volume and display brightness. For example, the volume increase is situated on F5, which is used as the refresh button in browsers in Windows. By ticking the box mentioned above, you can use F5 to refresh you browser now!

    3. Right Click

    Windows users love their right click button! It just doesn’t make sense to have a computer without it! Well… Macs don’t! They have what is called a contextual menu, and it is evoked by control clicking. Now there’s two things you can do: First one works in Firefox (I couldn’t get it to work in other programs or in Finder). All you do is click and hold and very soon the contextual menu appeares. You can do that anywhere: links, tabs, bookmarks, etc. Other method, which works everywhere is done as follows. First, go to System Preference > Keyboard and Mouse. Go to the Trackpad tab (assuming MBP) and click the “Tap trackpad using two fingers for secondary click”. Now if you two-finger-click on the trackpad, the right click menu appears! So convenient, especially when combined with two finger scrolling.

    4. Tab key
    Again, whenever I faced a dialog box with buttons, I used the tab key to navigate between the buttons. On a webpage, this was also true. On a mac, you’ll probably get confused, as the tab key doesn’t do that! Again, head over to System Preferences > Keyboard and Mouse, then go to the Keyboard Shortcuts tab and click the radio button at the end saying “All controls”. Now you can use tab to move around just like windows! Still one thing left… say you have the shutdown dialog box and you use the tab key to navigate to Sleep, if you press Enter, it will shutdown, even though the blue highlight is around the Sleep button. You have to press the Spacebar instead! Confusing at first!

    5. Shutdown shortcut
    Speaking of the shutdown dialog, you can bring it up using Control+eject. In Windows I used Win Key+U, then U again.

    6. Maximise button and what it does
    So you press the green maximise button, but it doesn’t maximise? Well, the button only maximises as much is neccessary. So, say you are reading a PDF document. If you zoom in on your document and then press maximise, you will see that the window will become large enough to hold the whole document. And if you zoom out and press the green button again, it will shrink to fit it. Again, different to Windows and needs some getting used to!

    7. Alternative to minmise
    We saw what the maximise button does, what about the minimise button? Well, it “sucks” (as I like to call it) the document to the dock. What is the point of minimising? To clear your screen, to get rid of clutter. So, you can try these two alternatives depending on the need. Either press F11 to see the desktop, or press Command+H to hide the current window, which is what I tend to do.

    8. Moving menu bar icons
    In Windows you can’t move the task bar icons (or I don’t know how), but on Mac, you can Command click them and move them around. Neat!

    9. No Ctrl+Al+Delete ?
    I always clicked that well known combination to see my RAM and network usage and see what applications are running. On the Mac, go to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor. Also, you can click Option+Command+Esc to bring up the Force Quit menu, if you need to quit any application that is not responding.

    10. Cool shortcut combo
    To finish off, I’l give a cool (relatively) shortcut combination. Clicking Control+Option+Command+8 will turn the screen in some sort of high contrast mode, but more like an X-ray screen! Try it, it’s fun!

    Hopefully, at least there has been one tip that has been useful to you. Please share other tips and tricks that you know in the comments. It is always interesting to learn new things.
    Good Luck :)
  2. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    Nice list! Thanks for sharing!

    Here are a few others I use from time to time...

    1. Screen shots. Cmd Shift 4 takes a screen shot of the active window and saves it in a predefined folder. If you have dropbox installed, it gets copied to your dropbox for you automagically.

    2. If you use a mouse (with an iMac or Mac mini) try an Apple trackpad. The gestures are worth it. Pinch to zoom works. Double finger to right click works. Swipes for back and forward in the web browser work.

    3. Install and use Chrome. Safari works well but Chrome has some cross platform features that come in handy for those of us that have to hold our nose and use ahem Windows at the office. Of course Safari is available on Windows too but I like the way addons and such are managed across platforms on Chrome. I also like the way google does search. Nice try everybody else but I'll stick with google for search.

    4. Enable iCloud on all your Macs and iThings. It works quite well and you can start a document on your iPhone or iPad and finish and print it on your Mac. iCloud storage is not the cheapest but I've found it to work well enough that I pay for extra storage. Make sure iCloud backups are enabled on all your iThings.

    5. Either get an Airprint printer or get add-on airprint software for OSX. I use Printopia. It allows me to print directly from my iThings to printers that are on the network that otherwise might not show up in Airprint.

    6. If you own a lot of mp3 files pay for iTunes match. Everything shows up everywhere. I've even got mp3 files I ripped from old audio tapes and 78 records showing up on my iThings.

    7. Update to Yosemite if you haven't done so already. Replying to text messages on a full keyboard beats dealing with them on an iPhone, even if its an iPhone 6.

    8. If you buy a newer Mac, consider adding more RAM and SSD at time of purchase. No they aren't especially a good deal but take a look at iFixit for the model you are buying before you decide to "live with" the base configuration and assume you can "upgrade later".

    9. Use the free genius bar. No matter how old your mac or iThing and how long its been out of warranty (unless it's in "vintage" status), you can make a free genius bar appointment at your local Apple store. I took my 2008 Macbook in and they booted it from a network OSX image to prove it was something in my install and not my hardware that was causing problems.

    10. Don't upgrade "because you can". My 2008 white Macbook still runs fine and I continue to use it as a spare machine. The oldest Mac I have is my 2005 Mac mini and the newest is a late 2011 15 inch MBP. I "might maybe" decide to upgrade this year but I don't NEED to upgrade any time soon.

    Ok now my sarcastic side wants to express itself...

    Another thing recent Windows users will suffer from is hassle withdrawal. No constant virus updates. No constant "prove you didn't steal this computer" and "prove this is a genuine copy of windows" and "go poke around in the registry to fix something you fixed last week that spontaneously broke itself this week". For those users I suggest the following might help ease withdrawal symptoms...

    Go outside.
    Find a sturdy tree.
    Bang your head against the tree until it hurts.:eek:
    Go back inside and use your Mac.:cool:

    Repeat until you get used to the lower "pain quota" of a Macintosh existence.:D
  3. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Excellent and extraordinarily useful set of short cuts, and thanks for putting it together and taking the time and trouble to post it.

    I remember when I switched from Windows (and in work settings, I still sometimes have to use Windows), it took me a lot longer to work out how to fully use my lovely new Apple than might otherwise have been the case because I didn't know these short-cuts, and it took me quite a while to obtain them. Apple computers can do what Windows computers can do, but use different commands to do so, and it is nice if someone is able to explain this to you at the time.

    As it happens, I made a file of similar short-cuts and put it on my desktop so that I was able to consult it at as needed and at short notice.

    Actually, this is the sort of thing which would make an awfully useful sticky.
  4. woodywoodz thread starter Suspended


    Apr 12, 2014
  5. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Jul 29, 2011
    Third thing you can do: connect just about any third-party mouse (USB or Bluetooth). Don't be fooled into thinking you need an expensive Apple Magic Mouse. Multiple buttons and a scrollwheel will work 'out of the box - only extra bells and whistles depend on the manufacturer supplying Mac software.

    Extra tip:
    If you are using a trackpad, the other tip is to enable 'three finger drag' in Settings, which makes dragging and dropping much easier (note - if you are dragging something this way and you run out of space on the trackpad you can briefly let go and re-position your hand without 'dropping' it)

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