So, you’ve decided to take the leap and move from Microsoft Windows to Apple OS X.  Where do you start?  Well, Windows and OS X have a lot of similarities.

“System Preferences” is like Windows Control Panel
Like Windows, OS X has a place where you can control all of your system settings and preferences.  In system preferences you can set your screensaver, display settings, add printers, view and add network settings, and much more.  You can access System Preferences by clicking on the Apple icon in the upper left hand corner of your screen and selecting System Preferences from the menu.

The Dock is like the Windows Task Bar

The row of icons at the bottom of the screen in OS X is a bit like the Windows Task Bar.  You can drag applications that you use often to the dock so that they are available when you need them.  When you start an application it will also appear on the dock.  Running applications are noted by a black triangle or silver dot depending on how you customize the dock.

Trash is like the Recycle Bin
The trash can on the dock is like the Recycle Bin in Windows.  When you delete a file on your hard drive, it will be moved to the trash can.  From there you can restore the file or empty the trash, just like you did in Windows.

Where did the menus go on top of my screen?
In Windows you are use to seeing the application menus (File, Edit, etc.) at the top of each application window.  On OS X you will find those menus in the Apple Menu at the top of your screen.  While this seems clunky at first, it actually works to your advantage because the menus are in the same place, no matter what size or where your application window is on your screen.

Miss Windows Explorer?  Meet Finder
Finder is where you will access all of the applications and data on your Mac.  To open a finder window, click on the Finder icon in the dock (it looks like a face).  You will see your home folder open up.  The “My Documents” folder in Windows is called “Documents” on OS X.  My Pictures is “Pictures,” and so on.

Starting Applications (Programs) is Easy
To start an application, click once on it’s icon if it’s in the dock.  For applications not in the dock, click on the Finder icon, then click on Applications.  You will see all of the programs installed on your system.

Where is Minimize, Maximize, and Close?
See the red, yellow, and green dots in the upper left corner or an open window?  Click on the red dot to close the window, the yellow dot to minimize the window to the dock, and the green dot to maximize the window.  To restore it to its previous size, click on the green dot again.

Keyboard Shortcuts
Here are some keyboard shortcuts that may help.

FunctionsWindows KeysOS X Keys

I’ll be offering some PC to Mac and Mac to PC courses soon, and will post a part 2 to this article, so be sure to check back!  In the meantime check out these great books:

Switching to a Mac For Dummies(r)

Mac OS X Snow Leopard For Dummies®

Disclaimer: I receive a very small commission on the links above.  This commission helps cover the cost of keeping this blog online.