How to Make the Switch from Windows to Mac

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How to Make the Switch from Windows to Mac

How to Make the Switch from Windows to Mac

If you’re thinking about buying a Mac, or already have one, but are used to Windows, then you might be thinking that it will be a long and arduous learning process to get used to the new system. Lucky for you, Mac is really easy to learn, and you’ll probably be up and running in no time, even if you’re not great with technology. Apple designs their computers to be easy to use, and most install and delete operations are performed using simple drag and drop. In fact, making the switch might be surprisingly easy for a few die hard Windows Fans.

A Few Hitches

windows and mac computers

The first things you’re going to want to watch out for on the Mac are mostly pretty simple. The following includes a short list of basic problems that many people have when switching from Windows to Mac.

Mouse Won’t Right Click – It is a common misconception that your mouse won’t right click on a Mac, but usually it’s just a setting. Simply travel to your System Preferences, find your Keyboard and Mouse section, and then change the layout for the mouse. It will then be clickable on both sides.

Here is a chart to help you decipher the different terminology used between Windows and Mac right click menu:

right click shortcuts and names for mac menu

A White Disk Appears When I Try to Launch Something – If you’re seeing a white disc instead of a program then you simply didn’t install it correctly. Drag the white disk to the trash bin and start over. You have to drag the application icon into your ‘Applications’ folder in order to install it.

No Forward Delete? – Hold FN + Delete for Forward Delete

Scrolling – On a Mac, you have to scroll up in order to go down. The idea is that you’re actually moving the page up, rather than scrolling the screen down. While this is the opposite of the scrolling technique for Windows, most users eventually find that it makes more sense and is easier to learn than the downward scrolling technique.If you can’t adjust, you can also reverse it in your Mouse Settings.

Command – Another hitch that you might encounter is that in order to copy and paste items, you have to use Command rather than Control. There is still a Control button, but Command is the one to go to for almost everything.

Terminology: Different operating systems means different terminology. This chart below can help you with the different commands and terms that you’re used to on Windows:

windows and mac commands

Function Keys Only Function – If you hold down the FN key, your F keys will work as normal rather than controlling your Mac. You can reverse this in your keybaord settings.

I Can’t Run My Software  – Chances are you should double check it to make sure it’s Mac compatible, many PC programs are not.

Turning VoiceOver Off – If you turned on VoiceOver to help with setting up your Mac then you might quickly become annoyed with it during regular use. You can turn it off by pressing Command and F5 together on your keyboard. If that does not work, go into ‘System Preferences’ and then click ‘System Category’ ‘Universal Access’ and then uncheck the ‘VoiceOver’ box. It will automatically turn off.

Transferring Your Data

transfer from windows to mac migration

Chances are that you want your data from your Windows on your Mac but don’t worry, it’s relatively easy to transfer everything over. You can choose to use your wireless network, your home network, or a cable to transfer directly between your PC and your Mac during setup. If all of the computers in your house have Bluetooth then you can also set up access between them so that you can drag and drop files from computer to computer at any time.

The fastest and easiest way to transfer data is to connect the two computers using an Ethernet cable and then use the Finder to locate your Migration Assistant. From here you can easily set up the transfer so that the Migration Assistant can intelligently help you choose the files you need. Migration Assistant can import and convert contacts, bookmarks, files, and more, to items that are usable by your Mac, so all you have to worry about is moving it over and waiting.

Other Stuff

Probably the biggest difference between Windows and Mac is that the icons, images, and titles of familiar software is all different, so you will have to learn it again. In case you’re having trouble, consider this simple guide. You can also remember that the easiest way to find anything is by using the Finder tool located right on the dashboard at the bottom of the screen. *Update 09/2017: This guide below is now a few years old but most of it is still relevant even with the newest OS for Windows and Mac (Windows 10 and High Sierra).


windows to mac guide chart


Switching from a PC to a Mac is easy, mainly because Macs are easy to use. You might actually find that you would have more difficulty making the switch the other way around in a few years. However, if you still find you need more extensive help, we have something below that will really help you become a master at your new Mac.

More Extensive Help for Windows to Mac Transition

the light side book

Update 9/2017 from the editor:

What we’ve shared above are just a few of the basics about how to get started when changing from Windows to Mac. If you’d like a bit more extensive help we have a friend of the site that wrote an eBook that really goes into so much more on the subject and covers just about anything you can think of with the switch from Windows to Mac. We highly recommend using his book as you make your transition and of course checking back here too if you still have questions. We added this book to the article in September of 2017, so it has the latest and most relevant tips on transitioning from Windows to Mac and we’ve found it to be extremely helpful for even those that consider themselves tech handicapped.

The book is titled, “This is the Light Side” and here’s a little blurb from the author:

From the writer, Ed Isen:

“As many of you know (speaking to a group about Mac related topics), I have written a book for new Mac users. The idea is to go over the very basics for someone who has never used a Mac. While it assumes the user may be coming from Windows, it really should help anyone.

It’s not a very large book, yet, but it grows regularly. I’m always adding new content and have been getting great feedback from many of the people here already who have purchased it.

What’s the cost? 99¢. It’s a one time buy. All updates are forever free.

Next time someone mentions “going to the dark side” by choosing Apple, gently remind them:

This is the Light Side!”

You can find the book in iTunes here.

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About The Author
Proliferate writer, sesquipedalian, techie, Apple fangirl (don't judge),tree hugger, yogi, tea drinker, zombie hunter. Into philotherianism & philomathy. Love my job. Visit me on Google +

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