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The Mac OS X Beginner’s Guide

I was all alone enjoying Mac OS X in my lappie in the Windows dominated country. None of my friends used Mac OS X or willing to. And one day, all of a sudden my friend bought a MacBook, which made me to write this guide. Comments, suggestions are always welcome ;)

Mac is not Windows & Windows is not Mac.
Mac is not Windows & Windows is not Mac. They both have their own pros & cons. It all depends on one’s requirement what exactly he/she wants. I see more people switching to Mac because of eye candy of OS. Trust me, you can have all those eye candy in Windows also.

However MacBooks are sexy, thin & give great battery back up. [Lenovo X Series also, in Windows]. Some application which are available in Mac may not be for Windows users. [xCode] And if you are a serious gamer, you shouldn’t be buying MacBook. Though you can install Windows & run few games, but experience wouldn’t be same.

Why you should buy MacBook over other laptops ?

  • Don’t like Windows / Want to try something new
  • Liked sexy design
  • Craze over Apple :P
  • Don’t play games
  • Xcode ; If you are into iOS application development.

These are the main things one should consider before buying Mac or Windows based machine. And yes, Mac machines are costly & overpriced. But as long as you love the machine & satisfied, money shouldn’t matter you. If you are happy, no need to worry about money spent.

Do Macs ever get viruses?
If you hear that Macs never get virus, then that is entirely false. [and fanboi alert :P] It is totally possible for Mac to get infected by a virus, so short answer is Yes. However, the likelihood of Mac user getting a virus when compared to Windows user is very less. In fact, Apple users hardly use Anti Virus utilities.

Why So ?

  • The Mac OS X, is built on the Unix kernel, which is one of the oldest and most secure operating systems available.
  • Windows is used by a lot more people than Mac OS. More than 90%. Because more people use Microsoft Windows, it is a much better target for virus writers.
  • It is easier to create a virus / malicious script for Windows. Even many tools available online to create nasty programs for Windows :P

So Windows is not secure ?
LOL, no. Windows is secure, against all odds. Earlier I was a Windows user [for more than 5 years before switching to Snow Leopard] and in five years, I hardly ever got a BSOD [Blue Screen of Death], PC crashes or virus infections. And I didn’t even used any Anti Virus program ! If you are clever enough & don’t click on “Click here to get 100,000 GBP & a free wife” on Internet, take special care while connecting USB pen drives, you can save yourself from all trouble.

According to security experts, a recent study shown that Mac is more vulnerable & not safe, compared to Windows. And yes, it is true. But as I said, there are less chances to get infected. If you are living in neighborhood of Windows users, their virus filled pen drives never can do anything. Windows viruses have NO EFFECT on Mac. You can safely plug all pen drives & even manually delete those malicious programs. Most of my friends using Windows, gets their PCs infected because of pen drives & in case of Mac, such thing never going to happen.

…So let’s begin the journey of Mac OS X
Following is the official video by Apple showing basics of Mac OS :

Find Out How PC to Mac: The Basics :

Mac OS X Keyboard :
You must know the basic keys present in Mac system & get familiar with. When you migrate from Windows to Mac, you feel some symbols are mumbo-jumbo with some foreign language.

Here are the modifier key symbols you can see in Mac OS X menus:

Command key icon or apple logo – Command key
Control key icon  – Control key
Option or Alt key icon  – Option key / Alt
Shift icon – Shift key
Caps lock icon – Caps Lock
fn – Function key

Command key : It is main modifier key in Mac and Windows counterpart, Windows Key [Start Button / Windows Orb]. But hitting it ain’t gonna pop up Start Menu :P

Option key : Just like Alt key in Windows

Keyboard Shortcuts : 
Here are the basic keyboard shortcuts. You can find more from the link given at end.

Basic Shortcuts :
Command-? Mac Help
Command-A Select All
Command-C Copy
Command-D Duplicates current item
Command-E Ejects selected volume, media, or server
Command-F Find
Command-H Hide current application
Command-I Opens Get Info dialog for selected item
Command-M Minimize a Finder-folder to Dock
Command-Option-M Save as above but minimizes all open Finder-folders
Command-O Opens selected item
Command-Q Quits active application
Command-Tab switching between running apps
Command-` / Command-~ Switch windows in open apps [eg. Firefox]

Cut, copy, paste & delete
Command-V Paste
Command-X Cut
Command-Z Undo
Command-Del Moves selected item to Trash
Command-Shift-A Opens the applications folder
Command-Shift-Del Empty Trash

Command+Shift+3 – Full Screen Shot
Command+Shift+4 – Selection Shot

Video :

Force Quit :
Remember Ctrl+Alt+Del ? Here it is Cmd+Alt+F12 to force quit any app when it is freezed.

Minimize vs Hide
You can minimize a window by pressing Cmd-M and to hide, Cmd-H. The difference is, hiding an app doesn’t push it’s icon to dock & to get it back you can use Cmd-Tab.

I thought you wanted to rename
In Windows explorer, when you select any file and click enter, it gets opened. But in Mac, if you want open any file press Cmd-O, just pressing enter let’s you rename it.

Delete vs Backspace
In Mac, Delete button works like Backspace of Windows. To make it work like Delete of Windows, use Function-Delete. Confused ? Read again :P

Login Items [Start up tools of msconfig] :
In Windows msconfig > Start Up Tools lets you control over softwares which start with Windows. In Mac, use the Login Items tab of Accounts Menu in the preference pane.

To update your Mac, Apple > System Preferences > Software Update better to set this option automatic so that important updates are downloaded in background & never missed.

Mac OS X mouse gestures are just awesome !! Play & explore these features :

This makes your life easier :P Go to Apple > System Preferences > Dashboard & Expose play around to use this feature.

Eject Optical Media
-Press and Hold F12 for 2 seconds to eject any CD or DVD or
-Dragging the CD icon the trash. [This will not delete it.] or
-Command-E keystroke.

Installing apps
In Mac installing apps is fairly simple. When you download an app from Net, double clicking on it mounts it like a DVD. Open it & move the icon to Apps folder in Dock. That’s it !

However some rare apps may follow traditional click-next-cancel type of installations, like in Windows.

My favorite apps list :
Following are the apps which I am currently using in my system. [Arranged in alphabetical order]

AdBlock for Safari – Disables ads in Safari.

Alfred – Application launcher tool. Alternative – Quicksilver

AppCleaner –  Uninstalling apps in Mac is easy. Just drag the application icon to trash, it will be uninstalled. But however this leaves behind few system files, plist etc. Thus AppCleaner is used to remove entirely. Alternative – Appzapper

Better Touch Tool – Didn’t like multitouch gestures ? want to change them ? Then this is the right app. It also has the windows snapping feature of Windows 7.

Caffeine – Simple little app to prevent Mac from automatically going to sleep, dimming the screen or starting screen savers.

Calibre – Awesome ebook management software. Just install this if you are into ebooks. Period.

CleanMyMac – Simple app to clean caches, app uninstallations etc

Click To Flash – Little bandwidth saving app. In web browser, usually all useless flash content loads up consuming your bandwidth. This app disables it & activates the flash content upon clicking. Thus the name, click to flash ;)

Cinch – Aero snap effects of Windows 7 in Mac

Colloquy – IRC Client

Cyberduck – My fav FTP software. Love it totally !

Disk Inventory X – Often we wonder how our disk space is being utilized & how much free is left. This is the right app which shows free space along with how space is utilized.

doubleTwist – Using this app you can sync your iTunes library and play lists with your Android device

Drive genius – Partitioning & stuff

Gimp – Open source photo editing application. Very powerful !

Growl – A must have notification software

Handbrake – App to convert .mp4 .m4v etc iTunes / iPhone / iOS compatible formats

Haudini – Hidden file / folder manager. Hides all those irritating .DS_Store files with one click

Hyperdock – Windows 7 taskbar

ImageOptim – easy to use image shrink tool

iPartition – HDD Partition tool

iTweax – To tweak the settings, play around configurations. Alternative is MacPilot

Keycue – Gives you list of keyboard shortcuts according application, when long pressed Command key.

Mactracker – Gives detailed info on every Apple computer made.

Movist – My favorite movie Player software :P Alternative – VLC [which I don’t like] & Plex.

Music player – iTunes or Songbird.

Name mangler – To rename files

Applejack – clean the OS cache, fix disk permissions, etc in single user mode. Alternatives : Onyx/Maintenance, Main Menu

Pacifist – To play around installation packages.

Paragon NTFS – If you install Windows and you will be surprised that Windows drives aren’t appearing in Mac. To access them, mount NTFS drives, use this software. Alternative is NTFS 3G.

Perian – enables you to play many formats in Quicktime. Install Flip4Mac which enables to play .wmv etc native Windows formats

Right Zoom – Nifty little zooming utility

Screenflow – To capture the screen in video. Best part is it even lets me to edit the captures !

Snapzpro – Screenshot app

Spark – To add custom keyboard shortcuts

Tagger – Tag files with keywords so that it makes easier to find files in Spotlight

Toast Titanium – CD / DVD Burning tool.

Transmission BT – Bit Torrent app. Alternative – uTorrent for mac

The Unachiever – To manage zip/rar files. Alternative – Stuff it deluxe. Alternative – UnRarX. Use YemuZip to create achieves without .DS_Store file

The Mail Program : Apple Mail or Windows Mail ?
I like default mail client of Mac OS, Mail. You can install Windows Mail also in OS X. It also supports import option to import all your mails from Windows. If you did not like Mail, then you may try Sparrow. You can try Thunderbird, a freeware from Mozilla team.

Virtualization : VMplayer or Parallels
VMplayer of Mac version is way to easy to set up compared to Windows & works really well. However I like Parallels because of Coherence feature which gives the effect of running Windows Softwares within Mac OS X. However both are great softwares. Free alternative is Virtual Box – free virtualization software (run Linux, Windows, etc without rebooting)

Which Office Application :
This confuses lots of people which one to go for. iWorks is from Apple & MS Office from Microsoft. Here are my suggestions :

For Documents Management – M S Office Word

Excel sheets – MS Office Excel

Powerpoint – Keynote from iWorks.

However for free alternatives : NeoOffice or Open Office Org

Applications from Apple :
Following applications from Apple which I love totally !

iPhoto – Great photo editing app for newbies

iMovies – Great video editing software

Garageband – One of the holyawesomesuperhot app ! My most favorite :D

Official Apple Tutorial Links :
Switch, Windows to Mac
New to Mac

Official Apple Newbie Videos :

Official Apple Keyboard shortcuts :

Apple manuals :

OS X Lion Official Video :

PS – If videos are not appearing, then hit refresh or try different browser.

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  1. Hey avi !! I was searching for something & stumbled upon this somehow. You know just yesterday only I bought a Macbook Air & this guide helped me lot !

    Thank you very much <3

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    anyways, all the best avi ;-)