MacMost Now 142: Common Mistakes Windows Users Make on Mac

Gary Rosenzweig looks at the seven most common user interface mistakes that Windows users make when first switching to Mac.

Comments: 9 Responses to “MacMost Now 142: Common Mistakes Windows Users Make on Mac”

    11 years ago

    One mistake i have made that u didnt mention was the Control, Alt, Delete to bring up task manager on windows, but on a Mac you have to open the App, through looking for it in either spotlight, the dock or where ever it located.
    At least thats how i know to open Task Manager, well Activity Monitor on the Mac.

    11 years ago

    Matt: Command+Option+Esc will allow you to force quit applications. Is that what you mean?

    Michael A.
    11 years ago


    Great list. I’ve watched new Mac users be frustrated by each one of those issues.

    For those learning the Mac, here’s some notes:

    1. “Accidental renaming:” To stop editing a name and cancel the changes, hit Escape. To open a file using the keyboard, hit either Command-O or Command-Down Arrow. (As Gary said, “Command” is the “Apple” key.)

    4. “Minimizing Windows:” The “Hiding” feature has been in the Mac OS longer than “Minimizing.” Like Gary I prefer to hide apps rather than minimize their windows, probably because apps can be “un-hidden” from the keyboard (Command-Tab), but “un-minimizing” requires the mouse.

    6. “Closing Windows to Quit:” This really causes confusion when you go to “re-launch” the application and it appears that nothing happens. If you look at the menu bar you’ll see that it has changed to show the name of the launched application, but since no new windows appear your first reaction is to think that the application isn’t opening. Some applications, like Safari, have been changed recently so that they open a new window automatically if you activate them and there are no open windows.

    For Mac users helping someone learn to use a Mac:

    * Have them subscribe to MacMost Now!

    * Before you get bogged down in explaining what the dots on the Dock mean, show them some of the snazzier features of the OS. My list of things everyone should try in their first five minutes on a Mac are (1) Dashboard, (2) Exposé, (3) Control+scroll wheel to zoom the screen, (4) Front Row, and (5) Quick Look.

    * Emphasize use keyboard shortcuts and point out keyboard combinations that work universally (Command-Tab, Command-W, “Return” to hit the default button in a dialog) or in more than one app (like “Space bar” to play or pause media).

    * Explain which symbols in menus correspond to Command, Option, Control and Shift (and apologize for it being so $%^@# bizarre and under-documented). The sooner they realize those aren’t just unintelligible alien riddles, the more productive they’ll be.

    * Though I cringe to suggest it, if you haven’t done it before try learning to do a few tasks on Windows. It helps to know where your audience is coming from. When people ask me why I use a Mac, I say it’s because I’ve used Windows.


    11 years ago

    When you have a folder with some contents, and another identically named folder with different contents on a different part of your hard drive, when you try to move the folder into the same place there are problems.

    In windows, you will get a prompt saying that any conflicting subcontents will be replaced with the contents being moved. It will then correctly merge the 2 folders contents, only overwriting the conflicting contents.

    In OS X, you get a similarly worded prompt, but instead of correctly merging the folders it completely replaces the entire directory with the one being copied/moved. I have made this mistake several times and deleted important files this way. It is also important to note that when you do this, the files are completely deleted on OSX and not moved to the trash (which would at least provide recovery options)

    11 years ago

    there is no cut option in finder when moving files/folders as one is used to in Windows, when moving files, interestingly better technique is provided by springloaded folders.

    Just drag the file/folder from the source, and hover it to the parent folder for few seconds, will auto open the folder to go deep inside the heirarchy to the place you want to paste the contents.

    If a + icon is accompanied, would mean your actually “copying”, hit command key to remove the + icon to mean you wish to cut-paste (this exists even on windows, but i never noticed it)

    10 years ago

    is there a feature in Mac like windows has to hide documents/files? Window has “Hidden files” option. The other feature I have been having problems with is spelling corrections, it was hinted upon in the video that the Control key is like the right click on the windows program, but I don’t get a suggestions list for spell corrections. thanks.

    10 years ago

    Will: You can have hidden files, yes, but usually the system does that with files that you shouldn’t mess with. How does Windows let you hide files that you need? And how do you get them back?
    As for Ctrl+Click for spelling, it should work as long as the work is spelled wrong and it is in a supported app like Mail, TextEdit, etc. You’ll see a red underline indicating that the word is wrong.

    10 years ago

    Hi Gary. Nice video. I have a macbook air and i just wondered if you perhaps could help me out with a problem. I accidently managed to use some kind of zoom function, which makes the screen smaller than the window. I cant find a way to change this back to normal. All replies would be appreciated.


      10 years ago

      You are in Zoom mode. Option-Command-8 to turn it off. Go to System Preferences and look under Universal Access for more.

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