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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Mac-Forums Switchers FAQ and Information


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Mac-Forums Switchers FAQ and Information - INDEX
  • About
(About this F.A.Q.)
  • Helpful Threads
Links within this forum that contain very useful information.
  • Links
Links outside of Mac-Forums.
  • F.A.Q. - Basic Troubleshooting
Frequently asked questions.
This section is dedicated to simple solutions to basic problems.
  • F.A.Q. - Basic Info
Frequently asked questions.
This section is dedicated to simple answers to basic questions about your new environment.
  • F.A.Q. - Will it do it like Windows?
Frequently asked questions.
This section is dedicated to answers to the inevitable "How do I cope without Windows?" questions.
  • F.A.Q. - Preferences
Frequently asked questions.
This section is dedicated to some simple solutions for making things look or work the way you want them too.
  • F.A.Q. - Advanced
Frequently asked questions.
This section is dedicated to more advanced issues; things you will likely not run into your first few days on a Mac.


About
I created this thread, as a recent switcher (Oct 2006), to help other new switchers, and even some old hands. Most of this information was culled directly from the Mac-Forums, and if not "general knowledge", sources will be noted. I've tried to keep the F.A.Q from veering into software preference, and stay on track to be a problem solver, a software for switchers thread already exists, find it linked in Helpful Threads. Also, keep in mind that this F.A.Q focuses on the current Tiger OS, once Leopard is released, changes may have to be made. If you feel that something was missed, or that something is in error, please feel free to add to this thread (I will add to the original post as needed) or PM me.

This thread is started as five distinct posts for two reasons. To make the data more manageable for me and to find what you may need. Also to make sure I don't hit any size restrictions on any one post.

Where applicable, if not general knowledge, I have credited the source of the information.

Thanks to the administration for the sticky!.

F.A.Q. last updated 28.mar.2007

details: link added.




Helpful Threads

A switcher's guide to OS X Software - Great thread. If you have software suggestions, please check and add them here rather than in this thread.

Keyboard short cuts

A quick summary of my problems. Read this if you're a new switcher! - The inspiration for this F.A.Q. Also has a huge step-by-step for mapping network drives. (credit: nukemm)

A Switcher's Guide to Your New Mac. - Another great take on the subject of switching. (credit: Slokunshialgo)

uninstall iwork trial - Example of good thorough uninstall of embedded application.

Macbook - HardDrive question... - Not just for Macbooks. Are you wondering why there is so much space taken up on the hard drive with your Mac fresh out of the box?

Switchers, what do you love most about your new Mac?

switchers - top 5 things you don't miss!

Feelings of Apple Disillusionment

Dock Seperators

iCal Dock icon should show today's date - Turned into a nice how-to for displaying time and date on your menubar the way you want it.

Networking Printers FAQ

Secure Wireless



Links

Apple (US) (UK) (AUS/worldwide)

VersionTracker - lots of great software with an alerting feature.

Mac OS X Pro Tips Archive - Great information! (credit: iWish)

iFixit Guide Series - for Apple laptops and iPods (credit: MacHeadCase)

Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcuts - (credit: MacHeadCase)

Resetting your Mac's PRAM and NVRAM - (credit: MacHeadCase)

Apple Glossary - (credit: MacHeadCase)

Mac OS X Hidden Files & Directories - (credit: MacHeadCase)

Apple Manuals - Just got an older Macintosh model? (credit: MacHeadCase)

Amit Singh's What is Mac OS X? and a list of some of his articles. - (credit: MacHeadCase)

OSX FAQ - Mac OS X Unix Tutorial - Advanced Mac OS X Unix - Mac OS X How Tos - Some Terminal stuff there but also great explanations on simple things like why the trash doesn't always empty when you want it to. (credit: MacHeadCase)

OSXFAQ Mac OS X Tutorials (credit: MacHeadCase)

macforbeginners.com - Some good info for switchers or those just starting out with Macs. (credit: EDIT-XTREEM)

Linux to Mac: A Switcher's Guide - A good switcher site, has lots of specific info for those switching from or very familiar with Linux. (credit: mac57)

Software Installation Quick Assist - Apple's suggestions regarding software installs. (credit: MacHeadCase, who provides a bit more detail below.)

Shock and Awe: How Installing Apple's Updates can Render Your Mac Unbootable and How You Can Prevent it - Good information, good info in the comments as well. (credit: MacHeadCase)

Please participate in our Member of the Month polls. Every vote counts! And remember to use the user reputation system!
["Dear Homer, I. O. U. one emergency donut. Signed, Homer." - Note by Homer Simpson]
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F.A.Q - Basic Troubleshooting

Q: Why can't I right click?
Q: How do I use a one button mouse?
Q: Where is the right button on my trackpad?
A: A mouse with a right button should work normally, if it doesn't check under System Preferences > Mouse and Keyboard and set the right click to secondary button. You can also CTRL+left or single button click to bring up context menus. With a one button mouse or just using a left mouse button, click and hold
On a notebook model, you can "right click" by using a two-finger tap. All options to do with mice and trackpads can be found under "System Properties" > "Keyboard & Mouse".

[Note: For the rest of this f.a.q I will be using "right click" as a standard. This is the same as the other options above.]


Q: I only have a "delete" key on my macbook (or other notebook model). How do I backspace?
A: The delete key is your backspace key. Use Fn+delete to delete characters to the right of the cursor.


Q: You know what else is wrong with my delete key, it won't delete files I have selected?
A: The delete key needs to be used with the apple key to delete a selected file.


Q: I accidentally removed an item from the sidebar in Finder, how do I put it back?
A: You can open Finder > Preferences > Sidebar and recheck missing items. You can also add any other items just by dragging those items to the sidebar.


Q: I accidentally removed something from my Dock! How do I put it back?
A: Well, if you're not sure what it was, you may not have needed it in the first place. Most icons on the Dock are applications. If you know what you removed, simply open your applications folder, find the application, and drag its icon to the Dock. This creates a "shortcut" or alias on the Dock and leaves the app in the application folder.


Q: How do I recover items in the trash?
A: Well, this is a bit more simple, and also more manual than in Windows. You can just recover/move a file by dragging it from the trash. There is no way to tell where it came from, so you'll need to put any trashed files back where they came from by memory.


Q: I quit a program but it still seems to be running, how do I really quit?
A: As you may have noticed, clicking the red "X" on a window doesn't quit the application. Think of this like Word or Excel for Windows, the window for an app is like a document in an office program, you can close the doc which will leave Word running or you can quit word witch will close all open docs.
To quit an app entirely:
Click it's name in the menu bar and select "Quit".
Right click on it's name in the dock and select quit.
With the application in focus, apple+Q
Note: There are some exceptions to this rule. Some third party programs will quit when the red "X" is clicked. Don't let this alarm you.


Q: How do I quit a hung application?
A: Go to the Apple menu and select "Force Quit...", then you can choose the app to quit.
Alternately you can right click on an app's icon on the dock and select "Force Quit".
You can also use this shortcut to bring up the "Force Quit" window: Option+Command+ESC.


Q: How do I tell if an application is running?
A: It will be in your dock with a small black arrow next to it.


Q: I saw an eject key on a Mac keyboard, but I don't have a Mac keyboard, can I still eject a disk using the keyboard?
A: Yes. Hold the F12 key down until the disk ejects. (credit for idea: Slokunshialgo)


Q: There's a CD/DVD stuck in my drive, eject isn't working; what do I do?
A: Try any one of these:
  • Restart the computer, and hold down the mouse/trackpad button as it restarts.
  • Open Applications>Utilities>Disk Utility, select the disc if it is there and choose [File]>[Eject].
  • Use the emergency eject hole if your drive has one. Use a flattened paperclip or something similar and push into the hole until the disc ejects.

Please participate in our Member of the Month polls. Every vote counts! And remember to use the user reputation system!
["Dear Homer, I. O. U. one emergency donut. Signed, Homer." - Note by Homer Simpson]
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F.A.Q - Basic Info


Q: Is Finder the same as Explorer?
A: Finder is the tool that has much of the same functionality for file browsing that Explorer has in Windows. And simlar to Explorer there are different ways to view and sort your files. The three buttons located on the top bar of finder that have little boxes/little lines/little rectangles allow you to view icons, details, and an interesting view that lets you find a path down into folders and provides a preview, respectively.


Q: Is the Dock the same as Quick Launch?
A: While the Dock does provide the same fast access to applications that Quick Launch did, it does a lot more too. Dock icons are more interactive, they can tell you when an app needs attention or is starting. They can be used to add a program to the system start-up or to quit or force quit a program also.


Q: Is the Apple Menu the same as "Start"?
A: Not really. While they share some of the same functionality, they do differ. Start was mainly a place to access programs and shut down or log off your computer. The Apple menu is more focused on system tasks and information. You can still go here to shutdown.


Q: What's the deal with the Menu Bar?
A: Consider the Menu Bar exactly like it's Windows equivelent on every active program. Now you just know exactly where it will always be. Note that the Menu Bar options always match the active application.


Q: Isn't Spotlight just like "Search" in Windows?
A: Vista brought the game up a notch, but if you're still used to XP or older Windows systems, Spotlight will be a huge improvement. It is very fast, well organized, and can easily be used to find where a file lives or provide quick access to applications you don't keep on the dock.


Q: Can I use my new MacBook/MacBook Pro while it's closed with an external monitor/keyboard/mouse?
A: Just connect the external hardware (even while the notebook is closed and sleeping), press any key and the notebook should wake from it's sleep.

Please participate in our Member of the Month polls. Every vote counts! And remember to use the user reputation system!
["Dear Homer, I. O. U. one emergency donut. Signed, Homer." - Note by Homer Simpson]
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F.A.Q - Will it do it like Windows?



Q: Do Shift and Ctrl have the same selection functionality in Finder as they do in Explorer?
A: Yes. Though you'll need to rewire your brain to replace Ctrl with Option (aka The Apple key). Try it!


Q: How do I ALT+Tab between programs?
A: Apple+Tab will swap between active apps. Apple+` will swap between the windows of the application in focus if there is more than one window open.


Q: How do I "maximize" a window?
A: The small green button on the top left corner of a finder or applications window may enlarge the window, but it will only do so to the programs specifications, unlike most windows programs that will allow you to fill the screen with any old thing.


Q: How do I show the desktop like I could in Windows?
Q: What is this expose I keep hearing about?
A: Expose is a neat tool for window management.
The shortcuts used for Expose are:
F9 - Show all active windows from all programs. Click on any one to bring it into focus.
F10 - Show all active windows from the active or in focus program. Click on any one to bring it into focus.
F11 - Hide all windows - this is not the same as minimize, as show desktop works in Windows. Allows access to the desktop.
Pressing any of these keys a second time puts everything back the way it was. Pressing another Expose shortcut switches to that action.
(credit for idea: Slokunshialgo)


Q: That's nice and all, but what I really wanted to do was "minimize" everything like I used to be able to do in Windows. Can I move everything to the Dock?
A: Sure. Try one of the following commands:
Command+Opt+H
Command+Opt+Click the desktop
(credit: mac57 and surfwax95)

Q: How do I switch the focus to the Apple on the menu bar like I could use the Windows key to open the start menu?
A: CTRL+F2, or on a notebook model you may have to Fn+CTRL+F2. Use the directional arrow keys to move anywhere else on the menu bar and then when you have your selection highlighted then press enter.


Q: Well then how do I focus on the dock?
A: CTRL+F3, or on a notebook model you may have to Fn+CTRL+F3.


Q: Where's my print screen button, how do I take screenshots?
A: Shortcuts to capture a screen or part of the screen:
Apple+shift+3 - full screen
Apple+shift+4 - choose the area.
Apple+shift+space+4 - active window.
Apple+shift+4, then press CNTL while selecting - choose area, copy to clipboard.


Q: Is there a Mac equivelent to the Control Panel?
A: You can change many preferences including background, screensaver, sound options, localization, etc in the "System Preferences" located in the apple menu on the menu bar (or in the applications/utilities folder).
There are some shortcuts too. Try right-clicking on the desktop to change the background... (credit for idea: Slokunshialgo)


Q: Is there an equivelent to [START] > [Run] in OSX?
A: Yep, Spotlight. Click that little magnifying glass in the top right hand corner of your screen. Since it finds anything on your Mac, it easily functions as start > run. Type in "Safari" (or any other app name), and the application will be on top of the list. Click it to launch.


Q: I used to do "clean up" on my Windows machine all the time to keep performance up. Do I have to do that on a Mac?
A: Some may say no, but if you do notice performace degredation you can try cleaning your caches with a utility like OnyX or MainMenu.


Q: Will I be able to use all of my .XXX files with the programs on my new Mac?
A: For the most part or with a little tweaking, sure...
.avi - may open in quicktime, but will most likely need the easily accessable and free divx codec.
.bmp - opens natively with any number of programs, should defualt to iphoto or preview.
.csv - will open in any text editor or spreadsheet program (office for mac, neooffice, etc).
.doc - should open in text editor, but will loose formatting. will open in pages, but formatting may not be fully supported. should open in neooffice without significant changes.
.gif - opens natively with any number of programs, should defualt to iphoto or preview.
.jpg - opens natively with any number of programs, will defualt to iphoto (careful, by dafualt iphoto will make copies of your photos when viewed).
.m4p/.m4a/.m4b - handled natively by itunes and quicktime, will default to itunes.
.mp3 - will open nativley in itunes (careful, by default itunes will make copies of your music files when played).
.mpg/.mpeg/.mpeg4 - should open nativley with quicktime.
.mov - opens natively with quicktime.
.png - opens natively with any number of programs, should defualt to iphoto or preview
.ram - will require real audio for mac.
.txt - will open nativley in any basic text editor or word-like program (pages, neooffice, etc).
.wma - will open with flip4mac plugin for quicktime from microsoft.
.wmv - will open with flip4mac plugin for quicktime from microsoft.
.wav - opens nativley with quicktime.
.xls - will open in any spreadsheet program (office for mac, neooffice, etc).



Q: Windows Explorer allowed me to rename multiple files at once. How do I do it in Finder?
A: Unfortunately you can't do it with finder alone. Automator is the way to go. You can also find a lot of third-party apps to rename files.


Q: Will games that worked on my PC work on my Mac?
A: No. Not nativley anyway. Most should work under parallels or bootcamp. For anything else you will need to find a version listed as PPC that will work under Rosetta (a slick PPC emulator) on an Intel Mac, or games listed as Universal which is the ideal for Intel Macs.

Please participate in our Member of the Month polls. Every vote counts! And remember to use the user reputation system!
["Dear Homer, I. O. U. one emergency donut. Signed, Homer." - Note by Homer Simpson]
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F.A.Q - Preferences


Q: Can I rearrange or add items to the Finder toolbar?
A: You can right-click on the toolbar to open the "Customize Toolbar..." options. Items can be added, removed, rearranged, and resized. Also by right-clicking you can choose to see names, icons, or both; and you can choose small or large icons. You can also drag other items to the toolbar the same way you can to the Dock or Finder sidebar, such as a shortcut to an application.


Q: How do I change the size of icons, size of icon text, background color/image of my windows, and/or the way files arrange themselves in my windows?
A:
When in icon view(the first view button), right click in the folder and select "Show View Options". Here you can select "Keep Arranged By" and select how to arrange your files and even set all folders to do the same. You also have other options here to help suit your preferences.
When in list view (the second view button), to get your folders and files to organize themselves by name, type, date modified, etc, click the corresponding bar at the top of the finder window.
When in column view (the third view button), folders and files seem to automatically sort by type then by name.


Q: Is there a "thumbnail" view in finder?
A: When in icon view, right click inside the window and choose "Show View Options". Click the box marked "Show icon preview". Remember to choose whether you want it to be for this window only or for all windows.


Q: How do I add an image to my desktop?
[B]Q: Go to the system preferences in the Apple menu, and select "Desktop & Screen Saver", then the "Desktop" button (you can also do this by right clicking the desktop and selecting Change Desktop Background". You can choose any of the pre-made images or solid colors, or choose one of your own. You can also set the background to change with the "Change Picture" option on the bottom of this window.


Q: How do I change colors on my desktop?
Q: Why do I only have a couple desktop themes to choose from?
A: By default OS X only has a couple default color schemes. A program like shapeshifter can be used to alter themes. A search on these forums will result in lots of information.


Q: How do I change icons?
A: The following step by step assumes you have an icon used for another file already that you want to use. You should be able to copy an unused icon file in much the same way.
1) Select a file that already has the desired icon applied.
2) Hit Command+I to open the Info pane.
3) On the top left of the window you'll see a small icon. Click it to highlight it.
4) Hit Command+C to copy it to the clipboard.
5) Open the info pane of a .ppk that DOESN'T have the icon applied by doing #2.
6) Click the top left icon to highlight it, and hit Command+V to paste the new icon in place.
(credit step-by-step: surfwax95)
You can also use an application like candybar or shapeshifter to alter icons and themes. A search on these forums will result in lots of information.


Q: How do I remove something from or add something to the dock?
A: Simply drag an item from the dock and it will disappear in a poof! To add something to the dock, open your applications folder, find the actual app in there, and drag to the dock where you want it to be placed. The actual app will stay in the app folder and your shortcut/alias will be on the dock. You can do the same
thing with non-apps too!


Q: I tried to drag something off the dock and it wouldn't go away, why?
A: You may have tried to drag something that was not initially on your dock, but is now running as an application on your dock. Try right-clicking on it and quitting the app.

Please participate in our Member of the Month polls. Every vote counts! And remember to use the user reputation system!
["Dear Homer, I. O. U. one emergency donut. Signed, Homer." - Note by Homer Simpson]
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F.A.Q - Advanced



Q: How do I associate a file type with a particular application?
A: Find a file of the type in question. Right click on the file and select "Get info". In the Get info window expand "Open with", then select the new application and check the "Change All" option. Also, you can right click on a file and select "Open with..." select "Other...", then select the app and make sure "Always Open With" is checked.


Q: How do I install programs?
A: Once downloaded (by default, to your desktop) the dmg should automatically open (see below if it does not). Once the dmg is open, you'll see one or more files in a new window.
Drag the application icon to your applications folder.
You could also create a folder in the applications folder to hold the app and/or any doco that was included in the dmg.
Once the app is in your applications folder you can "eject" the dmg from the top left pane in finder, or by dragging the mounted file on your desktop to the trash (trash will then turn into an eject icon).
Then if you like, trash the dmg file or if you want to save it, you could archive it to cd-r or the like.

Note: If the dmg does not mount and open on it's own:
If it is a dmg file you can try double clicking on it to open it.
If it is not a dmg file it may be an archive (ex: a .sit file). Try to open this with a program like stuffit. there may be a dmg file inside, but more likely the application will be in there with or without additional docs. If it is the applicaiton, it can simply be moved to the applications folder.


Q: How do I uninstall programs?
A: Basically all you need to do is delete the app from the applications folder. This will always work to remove the program. But sometimes it can be just a bit trickier to fully remove all traces of an application from your Mac.
To be sure you have removed an application, you can do a spotlight search and remove all traces of the application. See the "Helpful Threads" below for a good example of removing an app that was just a bit more embedded.
You can always try an third party application like AppZapper as well.


Q: Can I password protect folders on a Mac?
A: This can be achieved with or without 3rd party apps. If you want to go with what's already on your Mac, then Disc Utility can be used by following these instructions:
  • Open up the "Disc Utility" application
  • File>New>Disk Image from Folder...
  • Choose a folder to protect, then choose "AES-128" encryption and press Save.
  • Enter your newly created password twice.
What this process actually does is creates a disk image file (.dmg). The disk image contains the entire contents of the folder, but can only be opened with the correct password.
To access your new folder, just double-click the .dmg file in Finder. Then in the text box that appears enter your password and the dmg will be mounted as an image allowing you to see its contents. (credit: Pulse-8)


Q: I inserted a blank disk to write some files i want to back up. I can't figure out how to get the files on the disk. How do I do it?
A: First, make sure you have no disk in the drive. Then, create a burn folder. You can do this on your desktop to make it easy, or put it anywhere you want. As you drag files into it to copy to a disk, you'll notice that aliases/shortcuts are created in the burn folder. Then once you have all the files you want to burn to a disk in the burn folder, insert the disk and click the burn button on the burn folder. It will prompt with a few options and for you to insert a disk, insert it then, and it will start burning on it's own.
You can also go to "System Preferences" > "CDs & DVDs" and force a particualr action when a blank disk is inserted.


Q: I have an external disk (an existing one, or one I ripped from my last windows machine), and I can see it when I mount it, but all I can do is view/read the files. I can't write to the drive at all. what's going on?
A: The drive is most likely formatted NTFS. If you want to ensure cross platform functionality of the drive, format FAT32. Though this does have file size limitations (4Gb max file size) it will ensure that you will be able to create, modify, execute, and delete files while mounted to Mac and Windows OS. You can do this from the disk utility found in the Applications/Utilities folder.


Q: I have a program(s) that is(are) starting to become flaky or not work at all. What do I do?
A: One easy to implement solution to try, is to repair permissions on your disk. Open the Disk Utility found in the applications/utilities folder, select your hard drive and verify permissions. It wouldn't hurt to verify the disk either.
You could also try clearing the system caches (see first Q/A in this section).
You may also need to delete a .plist file associated with the application. You will probably need spotlight to search for the .plist file if one exists.
You will probablly want to do a thorough search of these forums and perhaps the support forums at apple.com to check for how others may have handled problems with the same app.


Q: My microphone does not work with my Mac Mini, why?
A: The Line in port on the Mac Mini is not powered, so any microphone you plug in will have to be powered or you have to get an adapter like iMic. (credit: kman445)


Q: I could not connect to router with WEP key enabled, why?
A: The problem here was really a difference in Windows and Mac terminology. It will come up with "WEP Password" - but that doesn't mean the same thing as WEP key. To input a standard 64-bit WEP key you have to change the WEP Password selection to WEP 40/128-bit Hex. (credit: nukemm)

Please participate in our Member of the Month polls. Every vote counts! And remember to use the user reputation system!
["Dear Homer, I. O. U. one emergency donut. Signed, Homer." - Note by Homer Simpson]
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Excellent post, thank you for your time.

This is very help full. Many of what you posted can be found by using the search option in this forum as it has been discussed before.

But the great thing about your thread is that all the questions are here and you dont need to do multiple searches.

I agree this should be a sticky bigtime
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+1

It should cut down on the "why didn't you do a search?" posts by a huge factor.

STICKY! STICKY! STICKY!
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thanks guys! i appreciate it!

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Oh yes, absolutely! Sticky, sticky, please!
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awesome idea!

hey this guys lives near me! do i get some of his cool?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skye23412 View Post
hey this guys lives near me! do i get some of his cool?
Only if you go wash his car on Saturday.
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i've got a subaru wagon. dirt adds to the cool factor...

hey, to make better use of this post:

can someone offer information on what file types are used by powerpoint?
is it just .ppt? and can pages or whatever is in iwork work with them?

i'll add it when someone posts some good definitive info.

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Awesome thread!! I second the Sticky

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Nicely done, eric.
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