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Switching From Windows To Mac

Switching From Windows To Mac

By taking a little time to learn the simple differences between Windows PCs and Apple Mac computers, you can make the change with minimal hassle...

“If you spend more time trying to get your computer to work and less time doing what you want, it’s time to get a Mac. Because Apple makes both the software and the hardware, everything works together, just as it should. That’s why people who get a Mac love a Mac. And why you will, too.”

Well, Apple would say that, but no matter how much you stand to benefit, the thought of switching from Windows PC to an Mac computer can be extremely daunting. But, with a little patience, you may find the change is not as tasking as you might of first thought.

To help those who’ve decided to, or are thinking about joining the Apple Mac generation, here’s a guide gathered from the best sources on the net, on how make the change from Windows to Mac with minimal hassle.

Setting Up Your Mac

If you have to perform OS X install yourself, while different from Windows, you should find it pretty straight forward. After setting up your keyboard, language etc, the installer creates the first user account.

Now a good tip here is to name this first account ‘Administrator’, and create another account for you to use afterward. This will prevent you making critical system changes through error, seriously reducing the risk of corrupting your OS.

Transfer Your Files

Transfer your files, burning cds, using a USB flash drive or external hard drive, emailing the files, or transferring them across your home network.

Next you’ll need software to open some of these files.


All photos from your PC can be viewed on the Mac without any additional software. By default, your photos will open up in a program called Preview. Mac also comes with iPhoto to edit and organize your photos.


Advanced users looking for more editing features who cant afford Photoshop, can use free photo editing software such as Gimp, GimpShop, or Seashore.

Word Documents

Microsoft does make Office for Mac, but it will cost you money. If you are looking for a free alternative, NeoOffice and OpenOffice both open Word’s .doc and .docx files, as well other file associated with Office Suite.



iTunes will take care of all your music file types. Simply transfer your existing PC music files to the iTunes folder and start listening.



Unfortunately, once you’ve set up your mail account manager on the Mac, you will not see the emails that had been in your PC’s Outlook Inbox.

To transfer all your existing mails, you can use Thunderbird, here’s a great step-by-step guide from the guys over at


  • 1.Download and install Mozilla’s free email client, Thunderbird, on your PC.
  • 2.Open Thunderbird and select Mail in the Import Wizard.
    -If for any reason the Import Wizard does not appear, go to the top of the screen and select Tools –> Import –> Mail.
  • 3.Select Outlook.
  • 4.Once all your email has been transferred into Thunderbird, it will store your newly transferred Inbox in a single file that can be quickly imported into Mac Mail.
  • 5.Locate and retrieve the Inbox file:
    • In Thunderbird, go to Tools –> Account Settings.
    • In the Account Settings window, select Local Folders in the list on the left.
    • This will display a box labeled Message Storage. Inside this box will be displayed the file path to get to your Inbox file. Navigate to this folder with Windows Explorer.
    • Rename the file to Inbox.mbox.
      -When Windows asks if you’re sure you want to change the file extension, click Yes.
  • 6.Copy Inbox.mbox to a folder on your Mac.
  • 7.Import your inbox into Mac Mail.

If you have not yet set up an email account through Mac Mail, it will prompt you to do so right now.

  • At the Conclusion window at the end of the setup, click on the Import Mailboxes button.
    -If for any reason the setup window does not appear, go to the top of the screen and select File –> Import Mailboxes
    Select Other.
  • Locate the folder where you saved Inbox.mbox and select it.
  • Now Mac Mail will show a folder on the left side labeled Import.
  • Click on the gray triangle to the left of the Import folder.
  • Open the Inbox folder that appears.
  • Select all the e-mails in this Inbox.
  • At the top of the screen, select Message –> Move To –> Inbox.
  • Once all the Import Inbox emails have been transferred to the Mac Mail Inbox, delete the Import folder.

Address Book

Using Thunderbird you can also transfer across your Outlook Address Book. Again the mahalo team tell us how:

  • 1.Open Thunderbird and go to Tools –> Import –> Address Books.
  • 2.Select Outlook.
  • 3.When your contacts have all been imported into Thunderbird, open its Address Book.
  • 4.Select Tools –> Export –> Save.
    -The pull-down list for Format gives you a few options for the file output, all of which Mac Address Book can read. LDIF is the default, which will be just fine.
  • 5.Save the output file somewhere easily accessible (Desktop is always nice).
  • 6.Copy the output file to your Mac.
  • 7.Open Mac Address Book.
  • 8.Go to File –> Import –> LDIF… and locate the file that you moved over from your PC.
    -If you chose a format other than LDIF, go to File –> Import –> Text File… and locate the file you moved over from your PC.

Keyboard Tips and Short Cuts

There are several keyboard shortcut changes in Mac’s OS X. Having said that, there is pretty much command to match every shortcut in Windows, plus a whole bunch more.


How to perform the most common ‘Windows’ keyboard shortcuts on a Mac:

  • Instead of Ctrl, Mac uses Command, also called the Apple key.
  • Instead of Ctrl+Arrow key to cursor though text word-by-word, Mac use Option+Arrow.
  • Instead of Alt+Tab to switch program windows, Mac uses Command+Tab
  • Instead of Ctrl+Alt+Del, you can “Force Quit” a Mac program by pressing Command+Option+Escape.

Simple Apple Mac commands not found in Windows:

  • To eject a CD, press and hold the Eject button at the top right of your keyboard, above the delete key.
  • To toggle a function that lets you magnify portions of your screen, press Command-Option-8, then press Command-Option-+ or – to zoom in or out.
  • F9 to F12 are programmed to provide a few helpful tools for managing your screen space:
    • 1.Press F9 to fit all open windows on the screen at once.
    • 2.Press F10 to fit all open windows in the selected program at once.
    • 3.Press F11 to push aside all open windows and show your desktop.
    • 4.Press F12 to pull up the Dashboard.

If you would like to learn more Mac keyboard shortcuts, read our 40 Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac article here>>>

FAQ About Using Mac OS X

Where’s The Start Menu?

Mac doesn’t use a Start Menu, you browse through your documents or navigate to your applications via a Finder window. You can place your most frequently use apps in the system Dock, which you can place at the bottom or the side of your screen.

How Do I Right Click?

To open the same menu as a right click would do in Windows, press Control and click the mouse button of your Mac. You can also double tap the mouse, or attach a mouse with a right click button and it will work in the same way.

How Do I Install Apps?

File installation feels a bit strange at first since some apps, such as Firefox, mount as a drive when you double-click on the setup file. But then you simply drag the icon to your Applications folder, and it’s installed.

How Do I Search For Files Or Apps?

Use Spotlight to search for files on your Mac. Click on the blue icon in the top right of your screen and type in any phrase. You can search filenames, file contents, e-mail, contacts, even metadata.

Where’s The C: Drive?

Most users will not have to worry about the folder configuration of the C: drive, as you can find all your files with Finder and Spotlight. If you’re tech you can get hands on with codes using the Terminal.

Apple also provide some great information about switching to a Mac To find out more visit Apple’s Switch 101 support page here>>>

Reasons To Make The Switch

Switching from Windows to Mac is a pretty big task, if your not sure exactly why you should make the change, expert Chris Prillio shares his reasons…


  • Mac OS X is noticeably more stable than Windows Vista and XP.
  • There are more interesting, useful, beautiful, and affordable software being developed for OS X. If you still believe that there’s no software for “the Mac,” you’re simply a fool who hasn’t done his or her research.
  • VMware Fusion makes it possible to have every operating system at my fingertips (as well as every app that runs on ‘em, FTW). Performance and stability is a reality, not a dream. More importantly, with USB 2.0 support in VMware Fusion, I have near complete compatibility with any external hardware. Parallels is also there, which should keep competition lively.
  • The spyware / malware / virus threat is diminished by an extreme degree.
  • A single SKU of Leopard is both 32-bit and 64-bit compatible. This, alone, is a fantastic reason to embrace the platform. It’s seamless. Why should a consumer have to come to a decision on which code to run – or understand the differences between them in the first place? Remember, I’m to be considered a “home” user.
  • Time Machine. Wow. Can it really be this simple? “Simply select your AirPort Disk as the backup disk for each computer and the whole family can enjoy the benefits of Time Machine.” Do you understand what that means? And no, Windows Volume Shadow Copy is not the SA.
  • You never need to defrag a Mac’s hard disk.
  • For those having problems with MSN on Mac – Adium is there – an Instant Messaging client that allows you to use AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk, and other accounts through a single client. Skype also works great on a Mac.
  • Joining wireless networks in OS X is easier and more refined, easily accessible. The tools for networking don’t seem overly complex, either.
  • Setting up services such as Windows File Sharing, FTP, and even Web sharing can be done on OS X with just a few clicks.
  • Almost all of the audio and video formats out there can be played on the Mac with Video LAN Player (VLC). One less barrier to entry.
  • Great Web browsers that work in Windows also work on the Mac (Firefox, Opera, SeaMonkey, Flock)
  • Erasing deleted files placed in your trash (also known as a Recycle Bin in Windows) can be securely erased in OS X. No need to mess with third-party software.
  • You can still right-click in OS X – and the way Apple decided to implement it is far more convenient than you’d think. In fact, I find double-tapping the mouse pad far more intuitive than using a second mouse button. Didn’t take long to get used to it at all.
  • Wanna set up a VNC server on your Mac? No problem, its already apart of the operating system! Moreover, the feature isn’t buried three levels deep. It’s sitting right there in the Finder. Moreover, unlike Windows Remote Desktop, a Screen Sharing session doesn’t lock the remote user out of his / her session – one reason I’ve always loathed RDC.
  • A Mac costs about the same as a comparable Windows PC – for hardware and (for argument’s sake for those who don’t believe me) bundled software. And for those who still claim that Macs are still more expensive, they obviously have never seen or priced a gaming rig. Price / cost is relative
  • You can record audio and video conversations from iChat 4.0 (natively). That’s pretty amazing, as it takes the idea of “video chat” and puts it into a time-shifted space.
  • With a .Mac subscription, you can save common local settings as global ones. You only have to configure your Dock or System Preferences on one machine to have those same changes appear on all machines connected to your .Mac account. Unbelievable.
  • Mail comes with “Data Detectors” which will highlight phone numbers, addresses, etc. You can then choose to do something with that information, like map it or store it as an appointment, contact, etc. This is a feature I had not seen outside of a pricey plugin for Microsoft Outlook.
  • The Preview tool ain’t no joke – with annotations, basic image editing, Core Animation zooming and scrolling, GPS Metadata support, batch operations, etc. It’s all at your fingertips.
  • Universal Access zoom feature comes in handy on many occasions, for example, when you’re trying to show something to someone from across the room.
  • Device compatibility doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue as it used to be with the Mac.

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One Comment

  1. Excellent information for this new Mac user.

    Question:  Old folders on MSN e-mail, can they be transfered and used on MSN on the Mac.  Right now only the e-mails come up, none of my old folders on MSN.

    Thank you

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