Windows, Macs, and Kylie

Excerpt: Everyone knows that Macs are supposed to be much easier and more intuitive to use than Windows, but for me, swapping over to a Mac was a frustrating experience.

I’ve been using Windows PCs for many years, but recently found myself needing to use a rather nice looking Apple Mac for the first time so that I could begin development of an iPhone application. Now everyone knows that Macs are supposed to be much easier and more intuitive to use than Windows, but for me, swapping over to a Mac was a frustrating experience in which it annoyed me more times in the first week than a lifetime of using Windows.

If you ever find yourself in a similar position, here are a few tips that might make the transition a little easier

Why the big screen?

I’m used to having the case of my computer on the floor and all the cables from it running neatly up through my desk from my keyboard, mouse and screen. The Mac doesn’t have a case. All the hardware is crammed inside the huge screen. Need to install some software from a cd? Simply post it into the slot on the right-hand side of the screen. Got a USB device? Just plug that into one of the ports in the back of the screen. Looking for the power on/off button? That’s also on the back, in the bottom left corner.

No right-mouse click

The mouse on my Mac only has one button, so to perform a right-mouse click, I need to hold down the ctrl key before clicking it. It is possible to configure the Mac to attempt to detect a click on the right-hand side of the mouse, but I found this to be unreliable (along with the tiny scroll wheel which would only scroll down and not up). So I have simply swapped it for a cheap three-button PC mouse!

Where is the # character?

As a software developer I often need the # character. To generate it, hold down Alt and press the £ key.

Cut, Copy, Paste

Simply hold down the Apple key instead of the Ctrl key for these common editing commands.

Home and End keys are missing

Well not exactly. There are two arrow keys next to the help and delete keys. Sometimes they function like Home and End keys. Sometimes they don’t. The behaviour of these keys seems to depend on the application they are used within.

Spot the Dot

The Dock on a Mac is an area at the bottom of the screen with shortcut icons for launching your applications. It’s similar to the Windows taskbar and is meant to show you which applications you already have running, but you have to look very closely. If an application is running, the icon on the Dock will have a small glowing dot beneath it.

Finding Shut Down

And finally, it’s not exactly obvious how to shut down a Mac, but it’s done using the Finder. Click on the Apple icon in the Finder application, and the shutdown option is second from bottom.

I know Windows is far from perfect, and I’ve voiced a few complaints about it in my time, but since using a Mac I will never complain about Windows again. For me, as Kylie once sang, it’s definitely “Better the Devil You Know”, even if the devil you don’t is better looking.

by Gemma Tomlinson on 18/06/2012

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