• 2000020: Mac Guide for Windows Users Wanting to Switch

    Home » Forums » Knowledge Base » 2000020: Mac Guide for Windows Users Wanting to Switch


    AKB2000020: Mac Guide for Windows Users Wanting to Switch

    by @Nathan Parker

    Published: February 24, 2020 | Rev. 1.0

    Purchasing a Mac
    Setting Up a Mac
    Getting to Know a Mac
    Getting Started with Mac apps
    Getting to Know Apple Services
    Getting Support for a Mac
    Comments on AKB2000020 Mac Guide for Windows Users Wanting to Switch



    With Windows 7 entering end of support from Microsoft, one option Windows customers may consider is switching to a Mac (short for Macintosh, the computer developed by Apple). This guide will make it easier for Windows users considering a switch to a Mac, from recommended Macs to purchase to all what one needs to know to get settled into moving to a Mac.

    9 users thanked author for this post.
    Viewing 2 reply threads
    • #2170567

      Purchasing a Mac

      There are plenty of places to purchase a Mac, including Apple’s own online and retail stores, Best Buy, and even Amazon. For those new to a Mac, my recommendation is generally to purchase a Mac direct from Apple, either through Apple’s online store{Apple.com} or through an Apple retail store{https://www.apple.com/retail/}. I’ve found that purchasing direct from Apple offers excellent additional perks such as Personal Setup{https://www.apple.com/shop/browse/personal_session} which makes it easy to quickly get up-to-speed with a new Mac by having an Apple product specialist assist with answering getting started questions. Even as a seasoned Mac user, I have always walked away learning something new or better utilizing unused features on my Mac when attending these sessions.

      Apple does offer discounts for education customers{https://www.apple.com/education/} (students and teachers), as well as offers perks for business customers {https://www.apple.com/business/}, so I recommend talking with an Apple product specialist prior to purchase to take advantage of any discounts or perks available when purchasing a new Mac. Apple also offers financing{https://www.apple.com/shop/browse/financing} for Macs, plus those who have an iPhone and have signed up for Apple Card{https://www.apple.com/apple-card/} (Apple’s credit card) can receive 3% cash back when purchasing a Mac using Apple Card. For those who wish to part with their old hardware when switching to a Mac, Apple offers a trade in and recycling program{https://www.apple.com/shop/trade-in}. One other perk Apple offers Mac customers is a year of Apple TV+ free (Apple’s streaming TV service, regularly $4.99/month) when purchasing a Mac.

      Apple retail stores also offer Today at Apple{https://www.apple.com/today/}, free educational sessions on using Apple products and topics including: photography, video, music, coding, and art. These sessions are one other excellent way for Mac users to learn more about how to use a Mac, as well as how to apply Mac skills to a handful of select creative topics.

      Apple offers a range of different Macs for different types of users, both in desktop and notebook configurations. The quickest way to compare various Mac model specifications is to use the Mac Comparison{https://www.apple.com/mac/compare/} page on Apple’s website.

      For desktop users, there are currently four major types of desktop Macs to choose from:

      • iMac{https://www.apple.com/imac/}: This is Apple’s most popular desktop Mac, encompassing an all-in-one form factor that places a 21.5” 4K or 27” 5K Retina (super high quality) display and computer all in a single chassis. iMacs are excellent for everyday use, and they come in an excellent range of storage, memory, processor, and graphics options, plus they still retain traditional USB 3 ports (in addition to USBC), reducing the amount of adapters needed. For those new to a Mac, this is one of the quickest and most ideal ways to fully get started on enjoying the Mac experience.
      • iMac Pro{https://www.apple.com/imac-pro/}: The iMac form factor with professional-level, workstation-class insides. The iMac Pro comes with a 27” 5K Retina (super high quality) display, a space gray (versus silver) aluminum chassis, all while taking the internal power to all new levels (Xeon processors, pro graphics, ECC memory, and all SSD storage). For pro users who enjoy the form factor of the iMac but need to take performance to a whole new level, the iMac Pro is a solid step up, although somewhat overkill for those who aren’t involved in processor or graphics-hungry tasks. It’s the Mac model I personally use as my everyday work machine.
      • Mac Pro{https://www.apple.com/mac-pro/}: The Mac Pro is the professional-level, workstation-class Mac in a tower form factor. It is Apple’s ultimate Mac. The Mac Pro is ideal for the most demanding professionals who also need easy access to the Mac’s internals for internal expansion. It offers top-of-the-line Xeon processors, pro graphics (including a pro video graphics option called the Afterburner), ECC memory, and all SSD storage). There is also a companion 6K Pro Display XDR{https://www.apple.com/pro-display-xdr/} that is an option for the Mac Pro for those who want the ultimate viewing experience to go along with their new Mac Pro. While the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR are the “Rolls Royce” of Macs, they are overkill for the majority of Mac users unless one is editing a Hollywood movie every day of their life.
      • Mac mini{https://www.apple.com/mac-mini/}: The Mac mini is Apple’s smallest Mac in a desktop form factor, and it is another solid option for new Mac users, especially those who already own a display, keyboard, and mouse (or at least a display) they’d wish to re-use when moving to a new Mac. It’s another great getting started Mac that allows one to get their feet wet with a Mac without a more substantial up-front investment.

      For notebook users, there are currently two major types of notebook Macs to choose from:

      • MacBook Pro{https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro-16/}: The MacBook Pro is Apple’s professional-level notebook, although it is also popular with those who want a solid performing Mac for everyday use. Available in 13”{https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro-13/} and 16”{https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro-16/} Retina (super high quality) display configurations, MacBook Pros offer solid processor, graphics (including the ability to bring in a third party desktop eGPU), memory, SSD storage options, and battery life. If I needed a notebook Mac for on-the-go, I’d likely purchase a 16” MacBook Pro.
      • MacBook Air {https://www.apple.com/macbook-air/}: The MacBook Air is Apple’s lightest and most portable Mac available, in a 13” Retina (super high quality) display configuration. It is a super popular Mac for new Mac users or for those needing a light and portable Mac for everyday use. While the MacBook Pro offers the most performance, the MacBook Air still offers excellent everyday performance and fantastic battery life.

      There are a few tidbits potential Mac buyers should know before choosing a Mac model:

      • MacBook Pros come with a Touch Bar{https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207055} across the top of the keyboard instead of the traditional row of function keys. This is Apple’s implementation of adding “touch” to a Mac since it does not want to fully integrate touch into the display as Microsoft has done with the Surface. Some Mac users enjoy the Touch Bar, others find it gimmicky. Before investing in a MacBook Pro, check one out in person to determine if its something to find useful or something to ignore.
      • Some Mac notebooks also include Touch ID (which is also built into some iPhone and iPad models), which does make signing into a Mac or completing purchases via Apple Pay simpler (for Macs that do not include Touch ID, one can use their Apple Watch to sign into their Mac and their Apple Watch or iPhone for Apple Pay purchases). It is a nice additional touch (no pun intended) for those who wish to have it.
      • The main tidbit to remember when purchasing a Mac notebook (MacBook Pro or MacBook Air) is Apple has gone completely Thunderbolt 3/USB-C on Mac notebook models. Mac notebooks no longer include USB 3 (USB-A type) ports on them (most Mac desktops still include at least a couple of USB 3 ports). For those moving to a Mac notebook with a ton of USB gear that is not USB-C, it will require an adapter{https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MJ1M2/usb-c-to-usb-adapter?fnode=4c}. On Mac notebooks (as well as most Mac desktops), adapters are also needed for video connections (the Mac mini still has HDMI at the moment), as well as Mac notebooks require adapters if one needs Ethernet (Mac desktops include Ethernet built-in). When moving to a Mac notebook, unless one is able to fully embrace the “wireless world”, one will quickly be needing to outfit their sleek Mac with adapters when plugging some devices into them.
      • Newer MacBook Pro models come with the Magic Keyboard, which offers a typing experience similar to the Magic Keyboard Apple offers for desktop Macs. Some MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models still rely on the Butterfly Keyboard, which some Mac users have found to offer a less-than-ideal typing experience, as well as being less reliable than the Magic Keyboard. When purchasing a Mac notebook, it would be good to get a feel for the difference between the Magic Keyboard and Butterfly Keyboard (until all Mac notebook models adopt the Magic Keyboard) to determine which is the best typing experience for one’s use.
      • All Mac notebook models include a glass, multi-touch trackpad that includes Force Touch (the ability to press harder on the trackpad to perform certain activities). It is fun to take a Mac’s trackpad for a test-drive to get a feel for the increased functionality it offers.
      • Some Mac models are made with 100% recycled aluminum, with other Mac models being included in the manufacturing process as time goes on. It is simply another tidbit to keep in mind when purchasing a new Mac.
      • Some Mac models include a T2 Security Chip {https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208862}, with more Mac models getting it added during major product refreshes. The T2 security chip offers additional security functionality such as: faster storage encryption of data, integrating multiple components into a single chip, secure boot (the ability to set the operating system to not be able to boot from external media, as well as verify the OS at startup), the ability to disable a Mac notebook’s microphone when closing the lid, and the ability to use hands-free “Hey Siri” with Macs. My iMac Pro includes a T2 Security Chip, and it is a nice option.

      When purchasing a new Mac, one may wish to purchase accessories with the Mac. Apple offers a range of accessories{https://www.apple.com/shop/mac/mac-accessories} on their store. Here are some of the main accessories Mac users (especially Mac desktop users) should consider:

      • Magic Trackpad{https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MRMF2/magic-trackpad-2-space-gray?fnode=4c} (desktop users): The Magic Trackpad is an excellent complement to any Mac desktop (already built into Mac notebooks). The Magic Trackpad allows for smooth navigation around one’s Mac, including multitouch gestures and Force Touch (the ability to press down harder on the trackpad to perform certain activities). It’s the way I personally use my iMac Pro the majority of the time.
      • Magic Mouse{https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MRME2/magic-mouse-2-space-gray?fnode=4c} (desktop users, included with some Mac desktops): The Magic Mouse is Apple’s wireless mouse, and it offers a smooth navigation experience including multitouch gestures. It’s useful for those who prefer to navigate their Mac using a traditional mouse (and I occasionally use one with my iMac Pro).
      • Magic Keyboard{https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MRMH2LL/A/magic-keyboard-with-numeric-keypad-us-english-space-gray?fnode=4c} (desktop users, included with some Mac desktops): The Magic Keyboard is Apple’s wireless keyboard, and it offers an excellent typing experience for Mac desktops.
      • Apple USB SuperDrive{https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MD564LL/A/apple-usb-superdrive?fnode=5f}: No Macs come with a built-in DVD drive anymore, so for those who still need to access optical media with a Mac at times, Apple’s USB SuperDrive is a handy option. It comes in an aluminum finish with a slot-loading (instead of tray-loading) design (which overall works well, although there have been rare reports of optical media getting stuck in the drive). Apple also includes a DVD Player app pre-installed on macOS (before Mojave, it was in the Applications folder, on Mojave and later, one can launch it manually through Spotlight, although inserting a DVD into any Mac generally launches DVD Player automatically).

      When purchasing a Mac, Apple offers the ability to add AppleCare+{https://www.apple.com/support/products/mac/} to a Mac, which extends Apple’s warranty and tech support options to three years from the date-of-purchase (Apple’s included warranty is one year for repairs and 90 days for tech support). It also adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage (each subject to a service fee of $99 for screen damage or external enclosure damage or $299 for other damage). Apple offers a range of repair{https://support.apple.com/repair} options including the Genius Bar{https://www.apple.com/retail/geniusbar/} at Apple retail stores and the Geek Squad at Best Buy Stores{https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/06/apple-partners-with-best-buy-for-expanded-repair-service/} (mail-in repair options are also available).

      My recommendation is to always purchase AppleCare+ when purchasing a new Mac. Even though I give my Macs the white glove treatment, AppleCare+ has paid for itself time and time again when I’ve had hardware issues with Macs, or if I’ve run into deep tech support-related issues. AppleCare+ prices depend on the Mac (more for notebooks due to their portability). When investing in a high-end computer such as a Mac, AppleCare+ is an extra insurance policy that should be the first accessory one purchases with their Mac.

      If one runs into an issue that requires a repair, I always recommend visiting an Apple retail store Genius Bar or Best Buy Geek Squad as a first option instead of opting for the mail-in repair option, as I have had issues with mail-in repairs (including receiving a Mac back that wouldn’t boot). This allows a store rep to get their hands on your Mac when running hardware tests, with at times repairs able to be done in-store, and if a repair needs to be mailed in, the store has a chance for you to come in and look it over before receiving it back to ensure the repair was done correctly.

      Once one’s AppleCare+ expires, out-of-warranty tech support incidents run about $20-30 (depending on whether one uses chat or phone support), and Apple does offer out-of-warranty repair programs as well, although I have also had excellent experience with local repair shops when I needed to upgrade one of my out-of-warranty Macs.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      KP, Myst
    • #2170570

      Setting Up a Mac

      The first time one powers on a Mac, the Setup Assistant will appear, making it easier to get started setting up one’s Mac. This article from Apple overviews the Setup Assistant{https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205749}.

      One can migrate content from a Windows PC to a Mac using Migration Assistant{https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204350}, which appears during the Setup Assistant, or it can be launched later on in the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder. The Migration Assistant is a quick way to move files from a Windows PC to a Mac, or one can simply setup the Mac as a new Mac and use cloud storage and external storage to move files from one Mac to another.

      All of the common file formats on a Windows PC should migrate over to a Mac without issues. A later section of this guide will include additional information concerning Mac apps (the Mac term for Windows programs). An article from Apple about a Mac’s compatibility with Windows is also available{https://www.apple.com/macos/compatibility/}.

    • #2170573

      Getting to Know a Mac

      Macs come with the macOS{https://www.apple.com/macos/what-is/} operating system (formerly known as OS X and Mac OS X). For those who have used an iPhone, macOS should have some familiarities. This article from Apple offers some handy tips for getting started with a Mac{https://support.apple.com/explore/new-to-mac}. Apple also offers articles with Mac tips for Windows switchers{https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204216} and an article What’s it called on my Mac{https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/whats-it-called-on-my-mac-cpmh0038/mac}.

      Here is a brief tour of the macOS user interface and how the macOS user interface compares to Windows:

      • Apple Menu{https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/whats-in-the-apple-menu-mchlp1130/mac} The Apple Menu is in the top-left of the macOS user interface instead of the bottom left where the Windows Start Menu is located. The Apple Menu houses key commands (shut down, sleep, Force Quit, etc.), although it does not house apps (Mac term for programs on Windows). It does provide quick access to System Preferences (Mac term for Control Panel or Settings on Windows).
      • Menu Bar{https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/menu-bar-mchlp1446/mac}: Instead of each Window having its own menus pinned to the top of the Windows, the macOS user interface moves all menus to the top of the screen in a Menu Bar. Directly to the right the Apple Menu is the App Menu, in which the name will change depending on the active app. This menu is where one can learn more about the version of the active app, change the app’s preferences (Mac term for Windows program settings), or quit the app. The rest of the menus in the Menu Bar are similar to what one would expect on Windows, except many Mac apps include a Help menu with additional documentation on the app.
      • System Controls: At the top-right of the macOS user interface is where key system controls are housed, similar to the system tray or notification area on Windows at the bottom-right. These system controls can be customized to display settings such as: Wi-Fi signal strength, battery life, Bluetooth connections, AirPlay streaming (the ability to send video from a Mac to a TV), the current date/time, backup status, volume, cloud storage services (such as Dropbox or OneDrive), etc. I use a range of key system controls on my Mac for handling daily activities and to monitor certain features on my Mac.
      • Spotlight{https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204014}: To the right of the key system controls is the Spotlight icon. Spotlight is a way to search one’s Mac or quickly launch apps. It is similar to search in Windows, and it is a powerful way to quickly find items on a Mac.
      • Siri{https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/siri-mchl6b029310/mac}: Siri on the Mac is similar to Cortana on Windows, and it is a way to quickly interact with one’s Mac using voice commands. If one has used Siri on an iPhone, one will find the experience to be similar.
      • Notification Center{https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/notification-center-mchl2fb1258f/mac}: Notification Center is a pane on the Mac slides out from the right. The pane comprises two tabs: Today houses the date and weather, as well as one can customize it with various widgets (such as more detailed weather, stocks, calendar, music player controls, a world clock, etc., some third party apps offer widgets such a Parcel for tracking packages). Notifications shows various notifications configured on one’s Mac (emails, messages, breaking news alerts, calendar and reminders notifications, etc.). Notification Center is similar to the Notifications pane in Windows 10, as well as the Notification Center and Widgets views on an iPhone.
      • App Windows{https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/manage-windows-mchlp2469/10.13/mac/10.13.1} and Finder{https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201732}: App windows are similar to their counterparts on a Windows PC, with the main difference is the window controls are at the top-left instead of top-right of an app window. The red button closes the window, the yellow button minimizes the window to the Dock, and the green button maximizes the window into Full Screen{https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/use-apps-in-full-screen-mchl9c21d2be/mac} mode, which allows the app to take up the entire screen and hide the rest of the macOS user interface. The button controls resemble traffic lights, and they can be made a solid gray instead if the colors are too distracting. Most Mac apps also support multiple tabs, similar to tabbed web browsing. The place where files are stored is known as the Finder{https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201732}, which is similar to File Explorer on Windows. The Finder houses one’s files and files are stored in various subfolders (Documents, Pictures, Movies, Music, Downloads, etc.) in one’s Home folder, similar to Windows.
      • Dock{https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/the-dock-mh35859/10.13/mac/10.13}: The Dock is the large strip of icons at the bottom of the macOS interface. It is similar to the Windows Taskbar. The Dock is generally divided into two or three sections. The first section is where one can pin frequently used apps to launch them from the Dock with a click (open apps have a small dot underneath them). Recent versions of macOS include a section that allows one to view the last few recently opened apps from a middle section on the Dock. The section at the right end of the Dock houses quick access to the Downloads folder, and other folders can be pinned there for ease of use. The Trash (the Mac term for Recycle Bin) is also housed on the Dock. One can move the dock to the left or right side of the screen, as well as set the icons to magnify when resting one’s mouse cursor over them.
      • Desktop: Just as with Windows, one can pin files and folders to the Desktop, and one can even pin easy access to external drives and external media to the Desktop as well.

      Recent versions of macOS also support Dark Mode{https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208976}, allowing one to make most app windows easier on the eyes. One can also use Mission Control{https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204100} to see all open app windows at once, as well as create multiple desktops or easily switch between full-screen app windows.

      Files can be open and apps can be launched from the Finder (apps are in the Applications folder). Files can also be previewed instead of launched by using Quick Look{https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/quick-look-files-and-folders-mh14119/10.13/mac/10.13.1}.

      In addition to launching apps from the Finder, here are the other common ways to launch apps on a Mac (as well as some of these methods allow one to open files):

      Just as on Windows, the Mac supports keyboard shortcuts, with the main difference being that Mac keyboard shortcuts use the Command key in place of the Windows Control key (which is why Apple coined the phrase “Lose Control, Gain Command”). The ALT key on Windows is also known as the Option key on the Mac.

      Apple has published an extensive list of Mac Keyboard Shortcuts{https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201236}, but here are the ones Mac users should learn as soon as possible:

      • Command+Space: Launches Spotlight
      • Holding Down Command+Space Launches Siri
      • Command+Tab: Quickly cycles through active apps (similar to ALT+Tab on Windows)
      • Command+H Quickly hides an app window (clicking on the app icon in the Dock restores the app window)
      • Command+Q: Quits an app
      • Spacebar after selecting a file in Finder: Launches Quick Look for the selected file.
      • Command+Open+Esc: Force Quit an app (similar to Control+ALT+Delete on Windows)
      • Command+C: Copy text
      • Command+V: Paste text
      • Command+X: Cut text
      • Command+B: Bold
      • Command+I Italics
      • Command+P: Print a document
      • Command+S: Save a document
      • Command+T: Open a new tab
      • Command+Shift+5 (macOS Mojave or later) or Command+Shift+3 (macOS High Sierra or earlier): Take a screenshot
      • Command+N: Open a new Finder window
      • Shift+Command+N: Create a new folder in the Finder
      • Command+Delete: Move a file to the Trash

      In addition to keyboard shortcuts, Macs with a trackpad, Magic Trackpad, or Magic Mouse can be controlled through Gestures{https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204895}. Gestures are handy for quickly navigating around the macOS User Interface. Recent Macs and Magic Trackpads also support Force Touch{https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204352}, which allow for additional gesture controls when pressing down harder on the trackpad. I use both gestures and keyboard shortcuts frequently when working on my Mac.

      The place to change system settings on the Mac is through System Preferences{https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/change-system-preferences-mh15217/mac}, which is similar to Control Panel or Settings on Windows. The majority of system preferences can easily be configured in this app. Here are some of the main system preferences one should adjust shortly after setting up one’s Mac:

      For Macs that support it, setting up Touch ID{https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/touch-id-mchl16fbf90a/mac} and Apple Pay{https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204506} are also good options to increase the login security of one’s Mac, and to make it easier to pay for some online purchases using Apple Pay.

      Back To on The Top

      6 users thanked author for this post.
    Viewing 2 reply threads
    • The topic ‘2000020: Mac Guide for Windows Users Wanting to Switch’ is closed to new replies.