I’ve been wanting to make a quick beginner MacOS guide for a long time. I will try to explain and show you the essentials of the Mac operating system as if I am explaining it to my friends – something I’ve done a lot over the last 15 years. So, throw away any intimidation feelings or doubts that you might have because the Mac is very pleasant and easy to use. Let’s start with the few major aspects of Mac OS that you should know about. The control button on Windows is the Command key on the Mac.
If you are coming from a Windows computer and you are used to Control + C to copy, for example, you will quickly get used to the same shortcuts but instead using Command. Command + C to copy and Command + V to paste. The same principles go for the rest of the common shortcuts. Once you get used to it, going back and using Control instead of command starts to feel less ergonomic.
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Another thing to understand and get used on the Mac is that it is a very drag-and-drop-oriented system. As you use it, you’ll notice that you can easily drag and drop files, text, images, and pretty much everything else all around the operating system. Next, if you’d like to delete something, you can drag it in the trash can. You can eject a disk by dragging it to the trash or you can delete a file or an app or even a color from your color palette simply by dragging it to the trash can.
The start menu, control panel, add remove programs…yada yada yada is pretty much nonexistent on the Mac. If you don’t need something, for the most part you just put it in the trash. Of course, if you haven’t emptied the trash, restoring it is just as simple. Out of the box, the right click on the Mac is disabled. You can right-click by pressing on the control button and then click with the cursor, yet the proper right click needs to be enabled in the settings. Don’t ask me why!
The next thing to know about the Mac is that the apps come in a DMG format. On Windows, we are used to installing files with the EXE (executable) extension, but the Mac uses dmg. DMG stands for Mac OS X Disk Image file. When you download a program for the Mac, it’s in DMG! Think of a DMG as if you are inserting a CD with software in it. When you open a DMG file it even looks and acts as if you’ve inserted a physical disk in the computer.
Once you are done with the desk, you simply eject it. The next thing to know is quitting applications. When you press the X on an app (which we will talk about more in a second) you don’t quit the app. You just close the app’s active window. Some apps can quit themselves when you press the X, but the majority will stay active. If you’d like to really quit them, you can press Command + Q or go to the menu of the app and select quit. It’s a bit like the iPhone.
You swipe up to go to the homepage, but the app stays active. If an app freezes, you can Force Quit it, by going to the Apple menu and opening the Force Quit window. This window shows you all active apps and you can select and Force Quite those that might read (not responding). I’ll show you some shortcuts at the end, one of them being for Force Quit. Next up, there is no Cut on the Mac, just copy.
As I mentioned, the Mac is a very fluid drag-and-drop operating system that doesn’t require to cut things. If you want to move something, just drag and drop it. And the final thing to know about the Mac, and I we are moving to the overview – there is no need to turn off your Mac computer. You can just put it to sleep. I might quick my Mac maybe once a year if not even less. The rest of the time, I just close it or put it to sleep then I come back to it exactly where I left off.
Don’t worry, putting it to sleep instead of shutting it down, won’t clog it up. Overview starts here Ok, so once you power up the Mac you are greeted by the desktop, just like on Windows. You can put files and folders on your desktop just like on any computer. You can have more than one desktop. This is a useful feature if you run multiple applications at the same time and you want to move around your desktop easily. On the top of the desktop, you’ll see the menu bar.
If you come from Windows, all you need to remember is that the menu bar is the same as the menu bar on any Windows machine but it’s glued to the top of MacOS, instead of being part of the app window. With that being said, the menu changes depending on the app that is being used. If I open Apple Music, I see the menu bar for Apple Music. If I tap on the browser, I see the browser menu. The two things that always stay the same however are the little apple on the left, which is the Apple menu, and the toolbar items on the right where the clock is.
Consider the Apple menu as your global menu that always stays the same. It holds the primary functions of the Mac, like shutting it down or restarting it, or simply opening the macOS System Preferences (which is like the Contol Panel on Windows). The toolbar on the right can hold various little icons that could be an extension of an app (like a quick menu for it) or a standalone simple app that just lives in the toolbar menu. On the bottom, there is the Dock.
The purpose of the dock is to serve as your constant app and windows holder while you work. You can place and re-arrange the apps that sit in the dock so that they match your workflow. If you minimize a window for example it slides down in the dock, ready to be expanded again. When you open an app, even if it’s not an app that lives in the dock, you’ll notice that it appears there while using it. When you quit that app it disappears unless you tell it to stay there. Some apps have little light dots on the bottom. Those dots indicate that the app is active.
If it doesn’t have a dot, it is not running. You can add some quick access to folders like Downloads, right beside the trash can. The dock can be modified a lot. It can be as filled, as big, or as minimal or invisible if necessary. Before we move to the next feature, I’d like to briefly mention interacting with macOS windows and the windows on the Windows operating system. The 3 window control buttons on Mac OS are on the left side, instead of the right. They look like a traffic light indicating the 3 primary functions, red – close, yellow – minimize, and green – expand. Each app or window has those little traffic buttons for control, but they are on the left. All apps on the Mac live in an Applications folder.
They can be started from the Application folder, yet the more convenient choice would be to use the Launchpad. The Launchpad lives in the dock, but it can be triggered with a gesture or other ways. The launchpad is just like an iPhone! A bunch of App icons that you can rearrange and organize in folders to simply use to launch. Most of MacOS’ settings can be found by going to the Apple menu and opening System preferences.
From changing the desktop wallpaper to setting up keyboard input methods and of course accessibility (including enabling the right click on the mouse) can be found there. Feel free to go over all the aspects of the Settings Panel to learn how you can customize your Mac according to your preferences. The next thing is Spotlight. Spotlight is the little search icon on the menu up top and you can think of it as your global system search. If you look for a file, photo or even a dictionary explanation, you can do it with the spotlight.
You can trigger with the magnifying glass or the quickest and most used spotlight action for me is to use CMD+space and typing. This is how I start some apps. I just summon spotlight and as soon as I type the first few letters, I can hit enter and start an app. I can also do simple calculations on the fly. The finder is the cornerstone of MacOS. It is the equivalent to Windows Explorer. This is the app that allows you to access all your files on the computer. The desktop that you first saw when you started the Mac is part of Finder. By default, for every Mac user, the OS creates a folder.
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Mine is called Iskren and under it you can see some of the default folders that are used throughout the system, like Desktop, Music, Photos, Documents, Downloads and others. You can customize the interface of the Finder to fit your needs. I prefer to keep my finder as clean as possible and always in list view. I find the icon view confusing and messy. Creating folders in the finder is very simple. Simply right-click on an empty space to create a folder. If you want to rename it, just press on it again or use the right-click menu for more options. Finder has a great built-in feature to archive files.
If I select a bunch of files I can quickly right-click on them and choose Archive. Just like that I can send an archive to someone. As mentioned earlier, deleting something on the Mac, including Apps from the Application folder is a matter of dragging them to the trash can. By far the most useful feature of the Mac is the preview of files. No matter if it’s a video or a photo, you can hit space while the file is selected and preview the selection. If there are numerous images for example, you can hit space to preview one of them and then use the arrow keys to move around and preview the rest. Talking about Preview, Preview is the default all-in one app that can open pretty much anything.
Preview can open documents, images, PDF files and more right out of the box. Safari is the default browser on the Mac, just like Edge is on Windows. It is a great browser that can work in sync with your iPhone. You can of course install other browsers, like Chrome, but I always prefer Safari. The AppStore is very similar to the AppStore on the iPhone. If you are looking to install new apps, chances are you’ll find a suitable solution in the AppStore.
Of course, you can install apps that are not in the AppStore, but we’ll talk about that in a moment. The main thing to remember about the AppStore is that every app from it can be considered secure and tested. If you are to install an app that is not part of the AppsStore, you’ll most likely end up downloading a DMG file. When you open a DMG file 90% of the time you’ll have a hint to drag the App itself from the DMG file to your computer’s application folder. Think of it as if you are moving a song from a CD to your hard drive.
In many cases, app developers show you this action with a little arrow and a shortcut to your apps folder to save you time. Once the app is dragged in the application folder, the DMG is no longer necessary and can be ejected and later deleted if necessary.
If you want to delete an app that was downloaded from the AppStore, you can open the launchpad and hold on an app until they start jiggling. Once jiggling, you’ll see X icon on the apps that came from the AppStore that can simply be deleted by pressing on that X. The next thing I’d like to mention is iCloud. iCloud is a cloud based system and a storage solution that is an integral part of MacOS. As soon as you setup your Mac you’ll be asked to sign in or create an iCloud account. You can of course omit that option but I’d recommend you take advantage of it. ICloud allows you to sync your Mac data with your other Apple devices and if you’d like you can also take advantage of of iCloud Drive.
ICloud Drive is like having a hard drive but online. Whatever you put on iCloud, you can access from anywhere. I have a dedicated iCloud video and how I use it to run my personal life and business. So here are the most important shortcuts that you’ll most likely end up using.
Command+Q – quits an app
Command+C – copies
Command+V – pastes
Command+H – hides an app or a window Command+Space – fires up spotlight
Command + Tab – tabulates or moves around the active apps
Control + Space – change the language input Command+I – opens additional info about a file Command+F – search and find something somewhere
Command +/- zooms in and out on text, interface or browser Option,
Command and Esc (Escape) opens the Force Quit Menu.
If you have any questions, feel free to list them below As always, it’s been an absolute pleasure!
Source : NEW TO MAC? Mac Tutorial for Beginners 2022