MacOS reference guide for Windows switchers

Published on 2 Feb 2009 at 12:12 am. No Comments.
Filed under Mac.

The more people I convert over to MacOS the more IMs I get asking how to do common tasks. I remember going through the same thing as I learned to navigate MacOS.  Here I will start a list of common tasks and how to perform them on MacOS. I will update this page as more things come up, providing all switchers with a quick reference guide. Please note these apply to MacOS 10.5 Leopard.


When I mention the COMMAND Key (i may sometimes call it ‘open apple’) I mean the key with one or more of the following symbols on it:

General Tip for Windows Users:
– Drag your Applications folder to your action bar to provide “start menu” like access to your applications. To do this double click your hard drive, in the finder window that appears highlight your hard drive in the DEVICES section. One of the visible folders should be “Applications” click and drag it to your action bar, and drop it just to the left of the trash can on the bar. The trash can and the icon next to it should slide apart for you to drop it on the bar. The left side of the action bar is reserved for application icons, so dropping it next to the trash can will assure it gets added. I do this with folders like “utilities” as well.


Though it does not happen nearly as often, sometimes apps will just stop responding. You can “force quit” an app that is not responding with COMMAND-ALT-ESCAPE. This will bring up a window allowing you to select which application to force quit.

Copy & Paste
Drag to Copy/Paste: A neat little feature is that you can highlight any text anywhere, and then simply drag and drop it where you want to paste it, saving 2 keystrokes.

Print Screen
When using these you will hear a “shutter click” when the image is taken and the grab will appear on your desktop as a PNG image.

Whole Screen Grab: COMMAND-SHIFT-3

Portion of Screen: COMMAND-SHIFT-4
This brings up a cross hair allowing you to select the area of the screen to capture. Releasing the mouse after dragging takes the grab.

Application Window: COMMAND-SHIFT-4
Same as portion of screen, however when the cross hairs appear hit the SPACE BAR. A camera will appear and as you move it around the screen application windows will become highlighted. When you click on a window a capture of that application window will be saved to the desktop. You do not need to have the window in the foreground, you can click on a partially visible window and it will capture it unobstructed.

You can also use the “Grab” utility found in your Applications/Utilities folder. It is a nice tool that will walk you through the grab, provides screen/app/window grabs and allows you to save the file as a high quality .tiff.

Invert Screen
I don’t think you can even do this in windows, but it’s kinda cool. Comes in handy when trying to use your laptop in a dark room without bothering others.

System Information
This includes everything from processor speed and installed RAM to your IP address. Select the Apple at the very top left corner of your screen, select “About This Mac” then click “More Information”

Access Saved Passwords
MacOS stores all your passwords in your keychain. This includes WEP and WPA keys. So if you lose one of those and need to get it from your keychain, simply open the “Keychain Access” application found in your Applications/Utilities folder. You will be able to browse and retrieve all your saved keychain passwords.

Last updated: 2009.02.01

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