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Switching from PC to Mac

Switching from PC to Mac

Switching from PC to Mac

When I marched down into our basement this week to retrieve my PC for a quick maneuver, I realized I had finally and happily reached peace with my transition from a PC to a Mac.

I prefer Mac grass to PC vegetation.

I can’t say switching from windows to Mac was without mental stress, yet I can tell you I’ve already lost my PC swagger…as well as my desire to maintain it. And I can report that I successfully connected a wireless printer for the first time in my life without a few stray curse words and/or hiring someone to do it for me.

There have been disappointments. For instance, all of the documents I transferred are stamped with the date they were loaded onto the Mac instead of their PC create/edit dates. Searching or spotlighting has not been as fierce as I had suspected even after I triggered a re-indexing. (I guess X1 spoiled me.) That many things are opposite—sometimes seemingly just for the sake of differentiation—was a little irksome at first. For example, for keyboard shortcuts you exchange command for control and vice versa. You scroll up instead of down (a shift I enjoy). You close things from the left not right.

The delights are many—most of which are subtle yet add up to equal a relationship that feels two way.

Following are some of the things I learned and adjustments I’ve made along the way to make my time on a Mac more powerful.


Signal the Passage of Time

Despite having red checks each time this has happened in public, I have customized my Mac to audibly announce the time every hour. (Apparently this is possible for Windows 8 too.) To do the same, go to System Preferences –> Date & Time –> Clock –> check announce the time –> select the frequency you desire (on the hour, half, quarter) –> choose from among female and male voices.

View File Extensions

To associate extensions with files in Finder, I have set my preferences to show them. To do the same, go to the Finder –> Preferences –> Advanced –> check Show all file name extensions.

View Files as Lists in Tabs

After computer services wizard John Becker told me to think of Finder as File Explorer and Start Menu in one program, then I began to understand Finder. Customizing it so I could view files as lists in a tabbed view go me that much further. To customize Finder and learn about some of its trick, check out the Cult of Mac’s post on the subject.

Open in Native Application

To open files sent to me in their native applications (as opposed to Preview, Mac’s application meant to deliver quick looks without opening more cumbersome applications, which is usually annoying as it prevents typical editing behaviors), I have slowly set my preferences to open future files in their native environment. To do the same, select the file –> File –> Get Info command (or command + I) –> expand Open with –> switch from Preview to the application. You’ll have to do this for each type of file you prefer to open natively and not via Preview.

Add BetterSnap Tool

Adding a tool to allow for easy split-screen viewing on a Mac seems essential. The picture-in-picture part of their latest operating system release makes me hopeful they will soon automatically add this functionality. Meanwhile, BetterSnap Tool allows for easy window management including customizable shortcuts for various positions and sizes.

Update: OS X El Capitan allows for split views. Yay!

Add Wunderlist

Because I was using Outlook to manage my tasks, I added Wunderlist to take its place. I’m eager for the app too add the functionality of dropping and dragging tasks into any order. I never managed to get my Outlook tasks synched to my mobile devices, so having them synched via Wunderlist has been a nice upgrade.


These navigational moves feel at home since I’ve been using an iPhone and iPad for some time now:

  • Move about the page, one finger
  • Scroll, two fingers (make sure there’s a little bit of space between them)
  • Run thru open applications, command + tab
  • See all open apps/spaces/windows at once, three or four fingers in upward motion OR control + up arrow (this is called mission control)
  • Go back to seeing only active app/space/window, three or four fingers in downward or upward motion OR control + down arrow
  • See all open windows of same application at once, control + down arrow OR three or four fingers in downward motion (to go back to the active window, repeat the action)


If you use shortcuts to be keyboard efficient, these symbol descriptions will set you straight:

  • The carrot is the control key
  • The flower is the command key
  • The escalator down is the alt/option key
  • The don’t go that way is the delete key
  • The hanging arrow is the enter return key
  • The broken circle with escaping arrow ⎋ is the esc/escape key

A few changes from the PC world…

  • To right click, control + click
  • To backspace, fn + delete
  • To force quit a non-responding application, command + option + esc
  • To search, command + space bar (I use this shortcut to find contacts/emails/documents/appointments, to perform quick calculations, to open apps, to find songs/artists, to source recent website searches, and to define things)

These are the same as on a PC, though using command instead of control…

  • To move to start of line, command + left arrow
  • To move to end of line, command + right arrow
  • To move to top of document, command + up arrow
  • To move to bottom of document, command + down arrow
  • To move to start of word, option + left arrow
  • To select words left of cursor, option + shift + left arrow
  • To move to end of word, option + right arrow
  • To select words right of cursor, option + shift + right arrow
  • To move to top of paragraph, option + up arrow
  • To select paragraphs above cursor, option + shift + up arrow
  • To move to bottom of paragraph, option + down arrow
  • To select paragraphs below cursor, option + shift + down arrow


  • To snooze, click and hold the notification that pops up
  • Add/accept a complete address in the location field to trigger a map (which you can click to see an expansive view via the Maps app), estimated travel time, and weather forecast
  • To retrieve an image relative to an appointment on a mobile device, add an attachment (if you think you may not have internet access at your time of need, download the attachment after you add it, as the file needs to download only once)


  • Send direction to iPhone, File –> Share –> select from among devices connected to your Apple ID or to another app
  • Create PDF of map/directions, File –> Export as PDF…
  • Share Maps bookmarks across all devices


If you’re an Outlook user and like it even somewhere, I recommend you continue using it. Being an Outlook fan, I continue to regret switching to Apple Mail. If you end up using it, too, these tips might help:

  • To prevent the next message from being automatically selected (and marked as read), hold down the Option key when you delete a message
  • To re-send a message (or to use a message as a “template”), command + shift + D
  • Subject lines in draft mode don’t always stick, so be sure to double check drafted subjects before sending
  • Varying point sizes don’t seem to present themselves until you see the sent message; “Paste and Match Style” is a File command that can help to prevent those mismatches

Printing (Screens)

  • Capture full screen, command + shift + 3 (the “screen print” will land on your desktop)
  • Activate capturing portion of screen, command + shift + 4 (after you make your selection, the “screen print” will land on your desktop)


In Safari:

  • If you’ve lost a page, you can find all instances of the browser at the bottom of the Window menu
  • Put your cursor in the search bar, command + L
  • Add a new tab, command + T
  • Go backward/forward one page, swipe to left/right with two fingers (make sure there’s a little bit of space between them)
  • See miniature full page of all open tabs grouped by website, pinch using two fingers (you can close tabs while in this view)
  • Zoom in/out, pinch with two fingers
  • Move an open tab to a new window, drag it down off the tab line and let go when a small tile of the page is presented


  • Quit application, command + Q (since the Mac keeps an app active even when all instances are closed, I use this command frequently to limit the black dots)
  • Move to trash, command + delete

What sort of advice do you have for those switching from PC to Mac?

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