Introduction to Macs for PC Users
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Introduction

Basic Differences

Interface
 - Desktop
 - Apple Menu
 - Dock
 - System Preferences
 - Trash
 - "Right-clicking"

Working with Windows
 - Close, Minimize, Maximize
 - Resize, Move
 - Menus
 - Menu Shortcuts
 - Hiding Programs
 - Exposé

Where are all the programs?
 - Macintosh HD
 - Finder
 - Navigating Folders
 - Spotlight
 - Creating Aliases (a.k.a. Shortcuts)

Hardware
 - Turning the Computer On/Off
 - Loading CDs
 - USB Ports

Common Mac Software
 - Safari
 - Mail
 - Dashboard
 - Address Book & iCal
 - iTunes
 - iLife Suite

Common Keyboard Shortcuts

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Basic Mac - PC Differences

So, why would anyone use a Mac?   Wouldn't the world be a simpler place if everyone used the same kind of computer?   Macs and PCs both have dedicated followers, and each type of computer has its strengths and weaknesses.

Manufacturers

Apple Computers is the only manufacturer of Macintosh computers.   However, many different companies make PCs.

For this tutorial, let's consider a PC to be a computer that uses the Windows operating system.   Manufacturers like IBM, Dell, Gateway, Compaq, and many others sell computers that come with Windows pre-installed.   PCs are much more widely produced than Macs.

Processors

Macs and PCs have traditionally used different kinds of processors (although, with the recent partnership between Apple and Intel, this may change soon).   Different processors can yield different strengths, and Apple has used this to try and differentiate itself from the PC market.   Macintoshes use a more graphics-based interface, while Windows is more text-centered.   Macs also offer powerful graphic and video software, such as photo and movie editors, so their processors are designed to enable these programs to operate quickly and smoothly.   PCs tend to be less geared toward these areas.

Interfaces

The most noticeable difference between Macs and PCs is in the interfaces.   While many computer users will proclaim one or the other "superior" or "best," this is ultimately a matter of personal preference.   Some people simply prefer the aesthetics of the Mac. Many Mac users are not professional graphic artists or video editors; some people like the look and feel of Macintosh computers, inside and out.

Price

PC advocates often complain that Macs are too expensive.   However, Apple has introduced several affordable computers, such as the eMac and Mac mini series.   Also, many Mac users will counter that they are getting more power and capabilities than in a PC of the same price.   Users have to weigh the cost, capabilities, and included software of a computer to determine what brand and model will work best for them.

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Compatibility

While Macs and PCs existed in disparate worlds for years, new programs and efforts have increased compatibility.   Macs running Mac OS X Tiger, the newest version of the operating system, can open PC files and coexist on local networks with PCs. The recent announcement that Apple will begin using Intel chips also signals that Mac - PC compatibility will only increase in the future.

Unfortunately, PCs have not made such extensive advances towards compatibility.   Many computers using Windows cannot open files stored on diskettes that have been specially formatted for Macs.   Also, PCs are unable to open several file types specific to Macs.   If you will be using both a Mac and PC, be sure to save files in formats that can be opened by both computers.

For more in-depth information on file types that transfer easily from Mac to PC and an explanation of the file-conversion process, visit the overview of "Porting Files Across Platforms" at Mike's Sketch Pad, located at: www.sketchpad.net/port8.htm.

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© 2005 Darby Tober | iSchool | UT Austin | webmaster