But it might be time to give peach a chance.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983
T e c h n o f i l e
Windows users have only a few hurdles when switching to Macs
Jan. 20, 2008
By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, The Post-Standard
Do you get a new Apple computer over the holidays?
If so, you have a lot of company: Apple's Mac computers are setting sales records. The research firm
Net Applications predicts that 1 in 10 PCs will be Macs by sometime later this year.
Fortunately, Macs work a lot like Windows PCs, so Windows users who switch won't have to learn a lot of
new stuff. But sometimes even the smallest differences can cause confusion.
For example, Windows has menus inside each program window. Apple puts Mac menus at the top of the
screen. If you switch from one program, such as your e-mail software, to another one, such as your browser, your Mac will
replace your e-mail menus at the top of the screen with your browser menus.
I had a hard time with that difference when I switched to using a Mac most of the time. But after a few
months it seemed natural.
A minor difference is the way Macs keep programs running after you close all the program's windows. In
Apple's Web browser, Safari, to give just one example, closing all the Web-page windows on your screen doesn't shut down
Safari at all. You have to use the "Quit" option in the Safari menu to do that.
Many newcomers to Macs complain right away about another minor difference -- the way the "Maximize"
button works in a Mac compared to the way it works in Windows. On a Windows PC, clicking the "Maximize" button at the top of
the window makes that window as large as the screen. But on a Mac, the same button never makes the window that big.
This seemingly odd behavior isn't Apple's fault. On a Mac, the little green button simply enlarges the
window enough to show the contents. It's designed to do just that. (Even the name of the button is misunderstood; it's the
"Zoom" button, according to Apple.)
Windows users who switched to Macs might not realize that their rodents have picked up Windows habits,
too. All Macs can now use two-button mice, with the right button having the same function it does in Windows, displaying
extra menus. Current Macs also make good use of scroll wheels.
If you got a new desktop Mac recently, it probably came with a two-button mouse, in fact. But it's
probably the oddest two-button mouse on the market. It has no actual buttons at all. Pressing down on the left gives the
effect of a left click. Pressing down on the right produces a right click. And the nub on the front works like a scroll
Some differences are just plain cool. Windows does nothing if you click the left button and hold it
down. But a Mac sometimes pops open a menu. Try it on an icon in the dock, at the bottom of the screen.
And some differences are inexplicable. Windows gives you many appearance themes and lets you colorize
just about any item in the interface. Want window backgrounds to be pink? You got it.
But Macs let you choose only between Blue and Graphite color combinations. They're both easy on the
eyes but hard on the imagination. It might be time for Apple's designers to give peach (and mauve, and maybe deep purple) a