Two of the biggest hurdles people face when defecting from a PC to Mac is the location of certain core programs and the overall file structure. As a PC guy who has migrated to the Mac platform these are a few helpful tips for navigating the unfamiliar Apple environment for web designers in particular.
If you’re new to the Mac for the first time you’ll notice a few things missing and or in different places than you’re used to seeing on a PC. This can cause issues with productivity which can be a serious problem when you’re under a tight deadline. I’ve put together the following list to point out the some of the biggest differences that sent me Googling when I was a true Mac Nube.
This Mac tips crash course for PC Users course is for anybody that needs to get up to speed quickly when migrating from PC to Mac. The following tips, locations and explanations should help you fake Mac proficiency while getting up to speed with an unfamiliar OS. Ready? Let’s begin now!
Explorer = Finder
In a Windows environment you’re used to using Windows Explorer to navigate files. On a Mac you’ll be using “Finder” as your file location tool. It’s laid out a little differently and obviously follows a different file structure convention. Apple has a strange way of displaying file locations if you’re used to the PC. With a PC you can easily see file locations in the explorer task bar that can be copied and pasted. On a Mac there are a few different viewing options in the main viewing pane that will take a little bit of getting used to.
As luck would have it there are several plugins you can use with Finder to make it easier to navigate files. I’ve been using TotalFinder. It still doesn’t allow you to copy and paste file locations, but it does keep a nice easy to view bread crumb trail at the bottom of the view-able window. It will serve as a good visual representation of the file structure and help you make sense of where Apple stores information.
Finder Quick Tip – If you know the location of a file your searching for you can enter it into Finder rather than having to travel down the entire rabbit hole to get to where you need be.
With Finder open and selected navigate to the “Go” menu in your top window chrome and select “Go to Folder” Here you can go directly to the file you’re searching for.
PC File Locations Vs. Mac File Locations
Another thing that will end up slowing you down when taking the Apple challenge is just where common core files are located on the Mac. Below are a few file locations with their Windows counterparts that should help clear things up.
Program Files = Applications
PC – C:// Program Files
Mac – Macintosh HD > Applications
Alt-CTRL-Delete = Force Quit
When programs freeze when you’re on a PC you can warm boot your machine and shut off any non-responsive programs in the Task Manager. This can be done on the Mac as well, but is called “Force Quit”. If you run into a program that stops working on a Mac go to your top window chrome and click on the Apple icon. About half way down the drop box you’ll see an option for Force Quit. This will bring up an applications pane much like the Task Manager in Windows that will give you the option to shut down programs that stop responding.
Start > Search = Spotlight
When searching for files on a PC you have the option to do so from the start menu. The same is true for the Mac as well but is located in the top window chrome at the top right of the page called the “Spotlight”.
Spotlight Quick Tip – Click on “Command+Space” to open the Spotlight. It will open a search box in your top window chrome where you can search for what ever it is you need.
Control Panel = System Preferences
If you’re looking to edit screen resolution, color management or any other system-wide preferences on your PC you’d click on your Control Panel in the start menu. To do the same thing on the Mac you’ll be looking for System Preferences. If this isn’t already located in your dock at the bottom of your screen select the Apple icon at the very top left. Choose “System Preferences” to access further options for your machine.
Word Formatted Documents on a PC Vs. Mac
On a PC if you copy and paste from a Word file you’ll end up stripping out the utf-8 formatting that will result in broken or dis-jointed code. The same thing happens on a Mac as well with the exception that Word on the Mac will have more encoding errors than the PC does.
Your best bet in both cases is to use a text editor. On a PC paste your code into Notepad. On a Mac you’ll want to use TextEdit. Paste your code into either one of these programs to retain UTF formatting.
Mac Keyboard Shortcuts, CTRL = Command ⌘
Anyone used to using Windows quick keys knows that CTRL + A = All, CTRL + C = Copy, CTRL + V = Paste, CTRL+Z = Undo. The Mac has close to the same quick key commands with the one different caveat. Instead of pressing the CTRl button you’ll want to use the Command key instead. It’s a little bumpy at first when moving back and forth between a PC and a Mac keyboard, but once muscle memory sets in you’ll be good to go. There are a number of Mac keyboard shortcuts other than these, but these ones are most commonly used.
There are obviously a lot more differences between the 2 computer brands you’ll run into, but this crash course list should set you on the right path if you’ve never used a Mac before. Good luck.