A Rosetta Stone for Mac OS X Switchers

October 9th, 2009

So you’ve made the leap, or are considering it – trading in your Redmond OS for Cupertino’s. Whatever your motivation for the switch, familiarity with Microsoft Windows won’t help much in the ins and outs of the Apple Macintosh OS  user interface. The Mac OS X user interface has scored very, very well when it comes to users who aren’t familiar with computers at all; switching can be a little tougher, because your subconscious already knows where to find ‘stuff’. This is intended to be a cheat sheet of sorts to help you find a lot of the ‘stuff’ you need to find.

  • Windows Task Bar: At the bottom of your OS X screen you’ll see the Dock. It has icons on it already, and you can click on those icons to launch the programs they represent. It shows you which programs are running by placing a “dot” underneath the icon application. You can drag-and-drop icons from Finder to your Dock.
  • Windows Explorer: Mac OS X Finder – it’s the two-tone blue smiley face on the far left of your Dock.
  • Internet Explorer: Safari is the native web browser in Mac OS X, and it’s fast and very pretty. Some sites use ‘broken-by-design’ HTML or CSS, though, so you should add FireFox to your browser arsenal.
  • Wordpad: TextEdit is our OS X .rtf (Rich Text Format) editor.
  • Control Panel: System Preferences is the OS X application that holds most system settings that you would find through Control Panel in Windows. Network, Security, Firewall, screen resolution, color depth, keyboard and mouse settings, Dock configuration, accounts, Parental Controls – and a lot more.
  • Windows Media Player: iTunes/QuickTime are the WMP equivalents on OS X; however, iTunes is also the portal to a very good digital music store (Apple’s iTunes Music Store).
  • Sound Recorder: OS X computers ship with an Apple product called ‘iLife’; it contains a program called ‘Garage Band’. It’s far more than a sound recorder, but it will fulfill that task with aplomb. It will also allow you to compose music, record podcasts, and add soundtracks to movies.
  • Windows Movie Maker: Another iLife component, predictably named ‘iMovie’, offers you the opportunity to capture video from your digital video camera, and then produce a very nice video production without much technical understanding of video editing. Combined with iDVD and Garage Band, you can produce your own high-quality videos with soundtracks and menus in a very short timeframe.
  • Outlook Express: Apple provides the aptly named application ‘Mail’ for handling email on Mac OS X. While Outlook Express has its own address book, Mail uses the ‘Address Book’ application, which is also accessible to most current OS X applications that can use an address. OS X also provides iCal, a full-featured calendaring/scheduling application.
  • Windows Messenger: ‘iChat’ is the IM client provided by Apple; it will allow you to connect with a MobileM account, an AIM account, or a Google Talk account, and it supports video conferencing for up to four people with the built-in iSight camera that comes on all current Apple laptops and their iMac offering.
  • My Documents: In OS X Finder, you find the Apple equivalent of “My Documents” in the sidebar. You’ll see “PLACES” in the sidebar; under that are your default folders, like Movies, Music, Documents, Pictures, and Desktop.
  • My Network Places: Again in Finder’s Sidebar, you’ll see a heading “SHARED”; this will show you all of the computers on your local network that have shares available to you, both Windows machines and Macintosh computers.
  • My Computer: Once more, in Finder’s Sidebar, you’ll see the “DEVICES” heading; this will list hard drives and connected media much the way the “My Computer” folder in Windows does. It’s not an exact equivalent, but it performs essentially the same function.

These operating systems are complex, full-featured beasts that have enough settings and programs to fill entire books – and they have! – But this short list should be enough to get you started!

2 Responses to “A Rosetta Stone for Mac OS X Switchers”

  1. […] A Rosetta Stone for Mac OS X Switchers […]

  2. Nice article. Very informative. Thanks. I will bookmark your site.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.