Posted on

How to move from Windows to Mac

After using Windows PCs for almost 20 years I recently bought my first Mac. Here’s some information how to move smoothly from Windows PC to Mac.

This move can be a bit frustrating not to say painful, especially if you still use two operating systems. I still use Windows Desktop for my main work but started using MacBook for Ruby on Rails programming and when I need portable computer. What made matters worse was that I sometimes use the same keyboard for two different computers. But you can certainly do quite a few things to move from Windows to Mac less painfully. Here are some ideas and tricks I used that will help you.

Swap keys Ctr and Command keys

One of the most annoying differences between two operating systems are different keys function. In Windows, pressing Ctr and other keys will activate many actions. When working, I always press Ctr+A, Ctr+C and Ctr+V for selecting all, copying and pasting. I also use Ctr+B for making text bold and Ctr+TAB for swapping between active windows. All these shortcuts are also available with Mac. The only difference is that you press Command key instead of Control key.

If you completely moved from Windows and will be using Mac only now, you will relatively quickly adapt. However, if you still use Windows PC and maybe even the same keyboard, you will frequently make mistakes and this will be very frustrating.

Luckily, there is a way. You may swap Command Key with Control Key and use your keyboard pretty much like in Windows (this change will be global so to speak so it will affect iOS itself and other installed applications).

To do this change, you need to click on the System Preferences in the Dock and then on Keyboard:

Mac System Preferences, Keyboard

If it is not chosen, click Keyboard tab at the top and then Modifier keys. If you make this change for specific keyboard. I use ‘Das Keyboard’ with both Windows and MacBook, so I made the change only there. Basically, as it is visible below you assign Control Key to Command, and Command Key to Control:

Swap keys

You press OK to confirm (you can later reverse this choice by clicking Restore Defaults). That is all, now any time you press Control Key, you Mack will ‘think’ you pressed Command Key. In other words, for many commands you will be able to use the same key combination like in Windows. For me this was the best single change that help me to quickly increase speed when working with my new Mac.

Last thing. You will now need to remember that any time you will see the information about keys combination, for instance, when using many other apps, Control Key will mean Command and vice versa.

Customise key combinations for other applications:

I am not sure why, but some applications use different keys strokes on Windows than on Mac (ignoring Ctr and Command keys). For instance, when using Chrome browser, to Reload the page on Windows, you press F5. To achieve the same result on Mac, you need to press Command+R.

Of course this is annoying, you will be pressing F5 and nothing will happen. It is possible however to override keys combination from the programs. Go again to System Preferences and Keyboard but choose the third tab Shortcuts. Then App Shortcuts, and then click + sign as shown below:

Mac App Shortcuts

Find the application you want to change the keys (you can also change it for all applications). Then, you need to type the name of the command exactly as it is written in the menu. For the previous example it is ‘Reload This Page’ (if you put ‘Refresh the page’ or something similar, it is not going to work). Then, you need to click Keyboard shortcut little window and press the key you want to assign the command to (in the previous example, I pressed F5 key).

Google Chrome Shortcuts

That is, any time you press the key when the application is active, the defined action will follow. Of course, you can use this option to map key strokes of other applications as well. Over time, you can create a vast library of common shortcuts for many applications and increase your efficiency further. I think similar options are available in Windows but with Mac it is so simple.

That is not all, there are other similar options available. Have a closer look at the menu on the left-hand side in System Preferences/Keyboard/Shortcuts. You can further customise other shortcuts there. For instance, I used to press PrtSc key on Windows to capture Screen Shot. In Mac there are several options with different keys combinations (you can save the screenshot for the desktop or clipboard, make a selection and so on). In Screen Shots area you can choose the desired behaviour and assign a key to it.

Learn other important Mac keys shortcuts

Mac comes with many options that may look slightly different or not even be available on Windows. It is good idea to learn a few other, important and frequently used ones.

On the other hand, you can also use Windows keys combinations and see what happens. There is a good chance that your Mac will do same as Windows PC. Here are some shortcuts you should know and use:

  • F12 to show the desktop (although I noticed that with Mac, I do not use desktop icons as much, I use dock instead)
  • F11 to show so called Dashboard with programs (as I understand less frequently used).
  • Command–Space bar to show or hide the Spotlight search field. Basically, by pressing them and typing you can quickly find applications
  • Command-F to find file on your computer or something on a webpage
  • Command-Q to quit programme
  • Command-W to close window or browser tab
  • Command-H to hide active window
  • Command-T opens a new Tab in internet browsers
  • Command-Tab to swap between windows
  • Shift-Command-3 This will take a screenshot and create a file on your Desktop (as mentioned this before, you can change this shortcut and bind the PrtSc key on your Windows keyboard)

Install and use Magnet

I am not sure why Apple did not implement this into the iOS but as far as I know, there is no easy way to split the screen equally into areas. On Windows, it is very easy, you just press Windows Key and arrow Keys to divide the screen into well-defined sections. Luckily, almost the same functionality is possible if you use an application called Magnet. You can download it from the App Store, it is very cheap, I have paid around $1.

When you install Magnet, you will be able quickly fill the screen with the applications you want to use at the same time. For instance, you may have a document open on the left half of the screen and a dictionary on the right. There are more options available. You can split your screen on many sections without manually resizing windows. It is also a good idea when you install Magnet, to learn a few common key combination to use it even quicker.

Spend some more time learning iOS

Perhaps this should be first point on my list. Of course, in this short article I couldn’t cover all the information regarding iOS. It is a fantastic operating system with plethora of options and customizations. Spend some more time learning about them, discover and implement them to improve your efficiency and comfort. I think that YouTube is a great place to start with many useful video tutorials. Watch one tutorial every day during the first week or so after buying your Mac and you will quickly see the difference.

You will learn about Finder and Hot corners and Launchpad and discover Mac folders structure. If you use MacBook, try to learn basic trackpad gesture. The knowledge will help you to use your new Mac fully with great efficiency.

That is all this time. I know there is a lot to learn but believe me, you will quickly have the time invested back as using these options saves a lot of time.

I hope you have found this useful. Please let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or, perhaps, other ideas, how to quickly and painlessly move from Windows to Mac.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

19 − nine =