Quick guide: OS X Mavericks for Windows switchers

You're a Windows user and you're about to get your very first OS X Mac this Christmas. Now Apple's shipped new models you've taken the decision to buy. Here's a short guide to help Windows users get to grip with OS X Mavericks and their Mac.

OS X Mavericks for Windows switchers

Turn it on

You've started the Mac and entered all the information you get asked for the first time you launch. You've created an iCloud account, perhaps using the same account you use for iTunes. What do you do next? The first place to visit  is right here to explore Apple's clear guides -- and watch this video.

What happened to right click!

Many switchers take a little time getting to grips with mouse control. That's because on Mac/Mavericks you must press and hold the Ctrl key while you click in order to access commands or actions, while on Windows you simply right-click the mouse.

Where's the Start menu?

You don't use a Start Menu, but there's something similar: The Dock. That's the strip of icons at the bottom of your Mac screen: click on one of these icons and the relevant app will launch. You can also click the second icon to the right of the smiling Apple logo in the Dock to open Launchpad, this offers you an icon-based view of all your apps.

Where is everything?

There's a really clear visual guide to where things are on Mavericks in comparison to Windows right here. Things such as Documents are held inside the Home folder; or File Explorer has been replaced by Finder>New Finder Window if you want to browse your files.

What about Control for shortcuts?

The Command key (denoted by cmd and the ⌘ symbol) replaces Window's Control/CTRL key as the main modifier for keyboard shortcuts, so copy is ⌘ + C and paste is ⌘ + V.

There's some very useful (and free) apps to help you learn Apple keyboard shortcuts, including the free CheatSheet utility and/or KillerKeys VR. Apple also has a guide.

Switching between apps

Missing Alt+Tab? Don’t worry, Mavericks has you covered, just use Command+Tab and you'll get a floating menu of currently open apps. Keep the Command button depressed and click Tab repeatedly to navigate between active apps.

Closing apps

Don't forget that when closing an app, clicking the red button in the app window only closes the window, not the app. To quit an app press Command-Q while in the app, or close it via the app menu using the Quit Application name command. You should also memorize Command+Alt+[Esc] -- Apple's equivalent to [control]+[alt]+[delete] which you might use to Force Quit apps that have become unresponsive.

What about my peripherals?

Good news: Most USB devices (printers, cameras, scanners) should work fine with your Mac -- and you won't always need to install software, because Mavericks will get it for you. There's a good guide to using existing hardware on your Mac right here.


System Preferences (Check the drop down menu when you click on the left-hand Apple logo at the top of the screen) is the Mac equivalent of Control Panel on Windows. That's where you'll be able to change various settings on your new Mac. (And don't forget, you can still run Windows on your Mac).

Further reading

I've linked to some useful switching resources in this report, however, you can learn much more about OS X Mavericks from titles such as: OS X Mavericks For Dummies (also available on iBooks).

Also read: 12 great Christmas gifts for Apple's iPad, iPhone

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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