The Windows-to-Mac Dictionary: Appendix C - Mac OS X: Missing Manual Leopard

by David Pogue


If this listing only whets your appetite for information about making the switch, read Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Leopard Edition. In addition to an expanded version of this appendix, it also contains useful information on moving your files from the PC to the Mac, copying over your email, transferring your contacts to Address Book, and so on.

Mac OS X: Missing Manual Leopard book cover

This excerpt is from Mac OS X: Missing Manual Leopard . Filled with step-by-step tutorials that will have you creating detailed 3-D objects quickly, Google SketchUp: The Missing Manual offers crystal-clear instructions for using every feature. You'll learn to use the basic tools, build and animate models, and place objects in Google Earth, with lots of real-world examples to show you how it's done.

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About [This Program]

To find out the version number of the program you're using, don't look in the Help menu. Instead, look in the application menu next to the menu—the one that bears the name of the program you're in. That's where you find the About command for Macintosh programs.

Accessibility Options control panel

The special features that let you operate the computer even with impaired vision, hearing, or motor control are called Universal Access in Mac OS X. They're in System Preferences (see the section called “System Preferences”).

Active Desktop

The Mac never displays Web pages directly on the desktop—and knowing Apple, that's probably a point of pride. But Dashboard (Chapterá5, Documents, Programs, and Spaces) keeps Internet data only a keystroke away.

Add Hardware control panel

The Mac requires no program for installing the driver for a new external gadget. The drivers for most printers, mice, keyboards, cameras, camcorders, and other accessories are preinstalled. If you plug something into the Mac and find that it doesn't work immediately, just install the driver from the included CD (or the manufacturer's Web site).

Add or Remove Programs control panel

Here's another one you just don't need on the Macintosh. Installing a program onto the Mac is described on the section called “Installing Mac OS X Programs”. Removing a program simply involves dragging its icon to the Trash. (For a clean sweep, inspect your Home→ Library→ Preferences and Library→ Application Support folders to see if any preference files got left behind.)

All Programs

There's no Programs menu built into Mac OS X, like the one on the Windows Start menu. If you'd like one, drag your Applications folder into the end of the Dock. Now its icon is a tidy pop-up menu of every program on your machine.

Alt key

On the Mac, it's the Option key, although the key usually says "Alt" on it too. (In some countries, it says only Alt.) You can substitute Option for Alt in any keystroke in most popular programs. The Option key has a number of secondary features on the Mac, too: It hides the windows of one program when you click into another, and so on.

Automatic Update

The →Software Update command does exactly the same thing.

Backspace key

It's in the same place on the Macintosh keyboard, but it's called the Delete key.

Battery Level

The battery-level graph ( ) for your Mac laptop now appears in the menu bar, rather than in the system tray. (If you don't see it, open System Preferences→ Energy Saver and turn it on.)


You'll never have to update or even think about the ROM of your Macintosh (the approximate equivalent of the BIOS on the PC). It's permanent and unchanging. The very similar firmware of your Macintosh does occasionally have to be updated in order to work with a new version of the Mac operating system or some dramatic new feature—once every four years, perhaps. You'll be notified on the screen when the time comes.


Mac OS X doesn't have anything like the Briefcase, a Windows invention designed to help you keep your files in sync between a laptop and a desktop computer. On the other hand, if you sign up for a .Mac account (Chapterá18, Internet Setup), you get a program called Backup that is similarly designed to keep folders synchronized between two machines. And you can use iSync (Chapterá6, Time Machine, Syncing, and Moving Data) to keep your calendar, addresses, and other items synched between multiple computers.


The calculator program in Mac OS X is almost identical to the one in Windows, except that it can also perform conversions (temperature, distance, currency, and so on) and features an editable "paper tape." It sits in your Applications folder and is described in Chapterá10, The Free Programs. (There's a simpler Calculator in Dashboard, too; see the end of Chapterá5, Documents, Programs, and Spaces. And don't forget that you can type quick math equations into the ┬ Spotlight menu.)

Camera and Scanner Wizard

When you connect a digital camera or scanner to your Mac, iPhoto or Image Capture opens automatically and prepares to download the pictures automatically. Details in Chapterá10, The Free Programs.


To open the CD/DVD drawer, or, if you have a slot-loading drive, to spit out the disc that's in it, hold down the key on your Mac keyboard. If it's an older Mac keyboard without a key, you can eject a CD (or any other disk) by Control-clicking (or rightclicking) its desktop icon and then choosing Eject from the shortcut menu. There are various other ways to eject a disk, but the point is that you never do so by pushing the Eject button on the disk drive itself.

Character Map

This Windows program helps you find out what keys you need to press to trigger trademark symbols, copyright symbols, and other special characters. The equivalent on the Mac is called the Keyboard Viewer (page334) —but the Character Palette (the section called “Formats Tab”) is even easier to use.

Clean Install

The Mac OS X 10.5 installer can give you a fresh, virginal copy of the operating system, just as the Windows installer can. Instructions are in AppendixáA, Installing Mac OS X 10.5.


The Mac's clipboard works much like the one in Windows. In the Finder, you can choose Edit→Show Clipboard to see whatever you most recently copied or cut.

Command line

In Mac OS X, the command line is alive and well—but it speaks Unix, not DOS. You get to it by opening Terminal, which is described in Chapterá16, The Unix Crash Course.

Control Panel

The Control Panel in Mac OS X is called System Preferences, and you open it from your menu. As in Windows XP or Vista, you can view these icons either by category or in a simple alphabetical list: Just choose either Organize by Categories or Organize Alphabetically from the View menu.

Copy, Cut, Paste

When you're editing in a word processor or graphics program, the Mac OS X Cut, Copy, and Paste commands work exactly as they do in Windows.

At the desktop, however, there are a few differences. You can indeed copy icons and paste them into a new window using the Copy and Paste commands—but you just can't cut them out of a window, as you can in Windows. On the other hand, Mac OS X offers a handy secondary feature: If you paste into a word or text processor instead of into another desktop window, you get a list of the names of the icons you copied.

Ctrl key

On the Macintosh, you generally substitute the ⌘ key in keystrokes that would involve the Control key in Windows. In other words, the Save command is now ⌘-S instead of Ctrl-S, Open is ⌘-O instead of Ctrl-O, and so on.

Date and Time

To set your Mac's calendar and clock, open Date & Time in System Preferences.

Delete Key (Forward Delete)

Most desktop Mac keyboards have a forward-delete key (labeled Del) exactly like the ones on PCs. On Mac laptops, and on Apple's aluminum keyboards, you trigger the forward-delete function by pressing the Delete key while simultaneously pressing the Fn key.


The Macintosh desktop is pretty much the same idea as the Windows desktop, with a few key differences:

  • Disk icons show up on the Mac desktop as soon as they are inserted or connected. You don't have to open a window to see their icons.

  • You change the desktop picture using the Desktop & Screen Saver panel of System Preferences.

  • The Trash is an icon in the Dock, not on the desktop.


Most people call them folders on the Mac.

Disk Defragmenter

There's no such utility included with Mac OS X; the system auto-defragments in the background.(A defragmenting program moves around the pieces of files on your hard drive in an effort to optimize their placement and speed of opening.)


Working with disks is very different on the Mac. Every disk inside, or attached to, a Macintosh is represented on the screen by an icon. Mac OS X does have something like the My Computer window (choose Go→Computer), but both the icons on the desktop and the icons in the Computer window reflect only the disks currently inserted in your Mac. You'll never see an icon for an empty drive, as you do on Windows, and there's no such thing as drive letters (because the Mac refers to disks, not to drives— and refers to them by name).

Display control panel

The functions of the Windows Display Control Panel lurk in the Mac OS X System Preferences program—just not all in one place. You set up your desktop picture and screen saver using the Desktop & Screen Saver pane, and adjust your monitor settings using the Displays pane. (Mac OS X offers no equivalent to the Appearance tab in Windows, for changing the system-wide look of your computer.)

DLL files

The Macintosh equivalent of DLL files—shared libraries of programming code—are invisible and off-limits. As a result, no Macintosh user ever experiences DLL conflicts or out-of-date DLL files.

DOS prompt

There's a command line in Mac OS X, but it's Unix, not DOS. For details, see Chapterá16, The Unix Crash Course.


See "Add or Remove Programs."

End Task dialog box

If some Macintosh program is hung or frozen, you escape it pretty much the same way you would in Windows: by forcing it to quit. To bring up the Force Quit dialog box, you press Option-⌘-Esc or choose →Force Quit.

Exiting programs

You can quit a program either by choosing Quit from the menu bearing its name (next to the menu), or by right-clicking (or Control-clicking) its Dock icon and then choosing Quit from the pop-up menu.


The Mac has its own "tree" view of the files and folders on your hard drive: list view. By expanding the "flippy triangles" of your folders, you build a hierarchy that shows you as much or as little detail as you like.

If you prefer the Explorer effect of clicking a folder in one pane to see its contents in the next, try Column view instead. Both views are described in Chapterá1, Folders and Windows.


In Mac OS X, there isn't one single Favorites menu that lists both favorite Web sites and favorite icons. The Bookmarks menu of Safari, the Web browser, lists only Web sites, and the Favorites folder at the desktop (the section called “What's Good about Aliases”) lists only favorite files, folders, disks, and other icons.


Faxing is built into Leopard; it's described in Chapterá14, Printing, Faxing, Fonts, and Graphics. (Hint: Choose File→Print; from the PDF button at the bottom of the Print dialog box, choose Fax PDF.)

File Sharing

See Chapterá13, Networking, File Sharing, and Screen Sharing for an in-depth look at the Macintosh networking and file-sharing system.

Floppy disks

Floppy drives on Macs disappeared in about 1998. According to Apple, it's much more efficient to transfer files between machines using an Ethernet cable (Chapterá13, Networking, File Sharing, and Screen Sharing), a CD or DVD that you burned (Chapterá11, CDs, DVDs, and iTunes), your Internet-based iDisk (Chapterá18, Internet Setup), or email (Chapterá19, Mail and Address Book).

Folder Options

The Folder Options control panel in Windows is a collection of unrelated settings that boil down to this:

  • General tab. Exactly as in Windows, it's up to you whether or not double-clicking a folder opens up a second window—or just changes what's in the first one. On the Mac, you make these changes using the Finder→Preferences command. There you'll find the option called "Always open folders in a new window."

  • View tab. Most of the options here don't exist on the Mac. For example, system files are always hidden on the Mac; you can't opt to make them visible (at least not with the built-in controls). You can, however, choose whether you want to see the filename extensions in your desktop windows (like .doc and .html). Choose Finder→Preferences→Advanced, and turn "Show all file extensions" on or off.

  • File Types tab. Just as in Windows, you can reassign certain document types so that double-clicking opens them up in the program of your choice. But on the Mac, you can reassign either a whole class of files at once, as in Windows, or one file at a time. To do it, you use the Get Info window as described on the section called “Reassigning a certain document—just once”.

  • Offline Files. There's no equivalent feature on the Mac.


The Mac and Windows both use TrueType, PostScript, and Open Type fonts. (In fact, your Mac can even use the exact font files you had in Windows.) On the Mac, however, there are actually three different folders that can contain them. A complete discussion is in Chapterá14, Printing, Faxing, Fonts, and Graphics.

Help and Support

At the desktop, choose Help→Mac Help. In other programs, the Help command is generally at the right end of your menus, exactly as on Windows.


The Mac can't hibernate at all, as modern PCs do, cutting all power but remembering what programs and documents you had open for a faster restart later. Sleep mode is the closest it gets; see "Standby Mode".

Internet Explorer

Microsoft has abandoned the Mac version of Internet Explorer. Apple would prefer, of course, that you try Safari, its own Web browser, but many a power user prefers Firefox, which is nearly identical to the Windows version.

Internet Options

On the Mac, you find the options for your Web browser by choosing Safari→ Preferences.


They don't exist on the Mac.


This interpreter of tiny Web-page programs is alive and well in Mac OS X. Java programs run fine in all Mac Web browsers.

Keyboard control panel

You can make exactly the same kinds of settings—and more—on the Keyboard & Mouse pane of System preferences.

Logging in

The multiple-accounts feature of Mac OS X is extremely similar to that of Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. In each case, you can, if you wish, create a requirement to log in with a name and password before using the computer. This arrangement keeps separate the documents, email, and settings of each person who uses the computer. (Chapterá12, Accounts, Parental Controls, and Security tells all.)

Mail control panel

Mac OS X comes with its own email program (described in Chapterá19, Mail and Address Book); all of its settings are contained within the program.

Maximize button

On the Mac, clicking the Zoom button (the green button at the upper-left corner of a window) does something like the Maximize button in Windows: It makes your window larger. On the Mac, however, clicking the zoom button never makes the window expand to fill the entire screen. Instead, the window grows—or shrinks—precisely enough to enclose its contents.


On the Macintosh, there's only one menu bar, always at the very top of the screen. The menus change depending on the program and the window you're using, but the point is that the menu bar is no longer inside each window you open.


Just because you don't see the little underlines in the menus doesn't mean you can't operate all of the menus from the keyboard, as in Windows. See the section called “Reassigning all documents of one type” for details.

Minimize button

You can minimize a Mac OS X window to the Dock, just the way you would minimize a Windows window to the taskbar. You do so by double-clicking its title bar, pressing ⌘-M, choosing Window→ Minimize Window, or clicking the yellow Minimize button at the top left of a window. (Restore the window by clicking its icon in the Dock.)

Mouse control panel

The equivalent settings can be found in the Keyboard & Mouse panel of System Preferences.

My Computer

The Mac's Computer window is very similar (choose Go→Computer), in that it shows the icons of all disks (hard drive, CD, and so on). On the other hand, it shows only the disks that are actually inserted or connected. (See "Disks.")

My Documents, My Pictures, My Music

The equivalent buckets for your everyday documents, music files, and pictures are the Documents, Pictures, and Music folders in your Home folder.

My Network Places

On the Mac, the "network neighborhood" is almost always on the screen: It's the Sidebar, the panel at the left side of every Finder window. All of the Macs and PCs on your network are always listed here, in the Shared category (unless you turned this feature off in Finder→Preferences, of course).

Network Neighborhood

See the previous entry.


There's no Mac OS X Notepad program. But give Stickies a try (the section called “Stickies”), or use the system-wide Notes feature (the section called “Notes”).

Personal Web Server

To find out how to turn your Mac into a state-of-the-art Web server, see Chapterá22, SSH, FTP, VPN, and Web Sharing.

Phone and Modem Options control panel

To find the modem settings for your Mac, see the section called “Dial-up Modem Connections”.

Power Options

To control when your Mac goes to sleep and (if it's a laptop) how much power it uses, use the Energy Saver pane of System Preferences (the section called “System Preferences”).

Printer Sharing

To share a USB inkjet printer with other Macs on the network, open the Sharing pane of System Preferences on the Mac with the printer. Turn on Printer Sharing.

To use the shared printer from across the network, open the document you want to print, choose File→Print, and choose the name of the shared printer from the first pop-up menu.

Printers and Faxes

For a list of your printers, open the Print & Fax pane of System Preferences (Chapterá14, Printing, Faxing, Fonts, and Graphics). For details on faxing, see "Faxing."

PrntScrn key

You capture pictures of your Mac screen by pressing Shift-⌘-3 (for a full-screen grab) or Shift-⌘-4 (to grab a selected portion of the screen). There are many options available; see the end of Chapterá14, Printing, Faxing, Fonts, and Graphics.

Program Files folder

The Applications folder (Go→Applications) is like the Program Files folder in Windows—except that you're not discouraged from opening it and double-clicking things. On the Macintosh, every program bears its true name; Microsoft Word, for example, is called Microsoft Word, not WINWORD.EXE.

Properties dialog box

You can call up something very similar for any icon (file, folder, program, disk, printer) by highlighting its icon and then choosing File→Get Info. But objects in Macintosh programs generally don't contain Properties dialog boxes.

Recycle Bin

Mac OS X has a Trash icon at the end of the Dock. In general, it works exactly like the Windows Recycle Bin—and why not, since the Macintosh Trash was Microsoft's inspiration?—but there are a couple of differences. The Macintosh never automatically empties it, for example. That job is up to you; the simplest way is to Control-click it, or right-click it, and choose Empty Trash from the shortcut menu.

The Mac never bothers you with an "Are you sure?" message when you throw something into the Trash, either. The Mac interrupts you for permission only when you choose File→Empty Trash. And you can even turn that confirmation off, if you like (in Finder→Preferences).

To put icons into the Trash, drag them there, or highlight them and then press ⌘-Delete.

Regional and Language Options control panel

The close equivalent is the International panel of System Preferences.


There is no registry. Let the celebration begin!

Run command

The Mac's command line is Terminal (Chapterá16, The Unix Crash Course).

Safe Mode

You can press the Shift key during startup to suppress the loading of certain software libraries, but Mac OS X's "safe mode" isn't quite as massively stripped-down as Windows's Safe Mode.


Just like Windows, the Mac automatically scans and, if necessary, repairs its hard drive every time your machine starts up. To run such a check on command, open Disk Utility (located in the Applications→ Utilities folder), click the name of your hard drive, and then click the First Aid tab.

Scheduled Tasks

To schedule a task to take place unattended, use the launchd Unix command in Terminal (the section called “mdfind”), or one of the scheduling programs listed at

Scrap files

On the Mac, they're called clipping files, and they're even more widely compatible. You create them the same way: Drag some highlighted text, or a graphic, out of a program's window and onto the desktop. There it becomes an independent clipping file that you can drag back in—to the same window, or a different one.

Screen saver

The Mac's screen savers are impressive. Open System Preferences and click the Desktop & Screen Saver icon.


In Mac OS X, you have the ultimate file-searching tool: Spotlight (Chapterá3, Spotlight). Get psyched!

To find Web sites, use the Google Search box at the top of the Safari browser.

Shortcut menus

They work exactly the same as they do in Windows. You produce a shortcut menu by Control-clicking things like icons, list items, and so on. (If you have a two-button mouse, feel free to right-click instead of using the Control key.)


On the Mac, they're known as aliases. See the section called “Aliases: Icons in Two Places at Once”.

Sounds and Audio Devices

Open System Preferences; click the Sound icon. You may also want to explore the Audio MIDI Setup program in Applications→Utilities.

Speech control panel

The Mac's center for speech recognition and text-to-speech is the Speech panel of System Preferences. As Chapterá15, Sound, Movies, and Speech makes clear, the Mac can read aloud any text in any program, and it lets you operate all menus, buttons, and dialog boxes by voice alone.

Standby mode

On the Mac, it's called Sleep, but it's the same idea. You make a Mac laptop sleep by closing the lid. You make a Mac desktop sleep by choosing →Sleep, or just walking away; the Mac goes to sleep on its own, according to the settings in the Energy Saver pane of System Preferences.

Start menu

There's no Start menu in Mac OS X. Instead, you stash the icons of the programs, documents, and folders you use frequently onto the Dock at the edge of the screen, or into the Places section of the Sidebar at the left edge of every Finder window.

Exactly as with the Start menu, you can rearrange the seicons (drag them horizontally) or remove the ones you don't use often (drag them away from the Dock and then release). To add new icons of your own, just drag them into place (applications go to the left of the Dock's divider line, documents and folders to the right).

StartUp folder

To make programs launch automatically at startup, include them in the list of Login Items in the System Preferences→Accounts pane.

System control panel

The Mac has no central equivalent of the System window on a Windows PC. But its functions have analogs here:

  • General tab. To find out your Mac OS X version number and the amount of memory on your Mac, choose →About This Mac.

  • Computer Name tab. Open System Preferences, click Sharing, and edit your computer's network name here.

  • Hardware tab. The closest thing the Mac has to the Device Manager is System Profiler (in your Applications→Utilities folder).

  • Advanced tab. In Mac OS X, you can't easily adjust your virtual memory, processor scheduling, or user profile information.

  • System Restore tab. Mac OS X's Time Machine feature is like System Restore on steroids; see Chapterá6, Time Machine, Syncing, and Moving Data.

  • Automatic Updates tab. Choose →Software Updates.

  • Remote tab. Mac OS X Leopard offers remote control in the form of Screen Sharing, described in Chapterá13, Networking, File Sharing, and Screen Sharing.

System Tray

The Mac OS X equivalent of the system tray (also called the notification area) is the row of menulets at the upper-right corner of your screen; see the section called “Desktop Sounds”.


Mac OS X doesn't have a taskbar, but it does have something very close: the Dock (Chapterá4, Dock, Desktop, and Toolbars). Open programs are indicated by a small, shiny dot beneath their icons in the Dock. If you hold down your cursor on one of these icons (or Control-click it, or right-click it), you get a pop-up list of the open windows in that program, exactly as in Windows XP and Vista.

On the other hand, some conventions never die. Much as in Windows, you cycle through the various open Mac programs by holding down the ⌘ key and pressing Tab repeatedly.

Taskbar and Start Menu control panel

To configure your Dock (the equivalent of the Taskbar and Start menu), choose →Dock→Dock Preferences, or click the Dock icon in System Preferences.

"Three-fingered salute"

Instead of pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete to jettison a stuck program on the Mac, you press Option-⌘-Esc. A Force Quit dialog box appears. Click the program you want to toss, click Force Quit, confirm your choice, and then relaunch the program to get on with your day.


Small, yellow identifying balloons pop up on the Mac almost as often as they do in Windows. Just point to a toolbar icon or truncated file name without clicking. (There's no way to turn these labels off.)


The closest equivalent for this free, downloadable, but unsupported Microsoft utility for tweaking the look of your PC is TinkerTool for Mac OS X. It's described in Chapterá17, Hacking Mac OS X.

User Accounts control panel

Like Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista, Mac OS X was designed from Square One to be a multiuser operating system, keeping each person's files, mail, and settings separate. You set up and manage these accounts in System Preferences→ Accounts (Chapterá12, Accounts, Parental Controls, and Security).

Window edges

You can enlarge or shrink a Mac OS X window only by dragging its lower-right corner—not its edges.

Windows (or WINNT) folder

Mac OS X's operating system resides in a folder simply called System, which sits in your main hard drive window. Exactly as in recent Windows versions, you're forbidden to add, remove, or change anything inside. Also as in Windows, most of it is invisible anyway.

Windows logo key

The Mac has no equivalent for the key on most PC keyboards.

Windows Media Player

The Mac comes with individual programs for playing multimedia files:

  • QuickTime Player (Chapterá15, Sound, Movies, and Speech) to play back movies and sounds.

  • iTunes (Chapterá11, CDs, DVDs, and iTunes) to play CDs, Internet radio, MP3 files, and other audio files. (As a bonus, unlike Windows XP, iTunes can even create MP3 files.)

  • DVD Player (Chapterá11, CDs, DVDs, and iTunes) for playing DVDs. This program is in the Applications folder.

Windows Media Player is, however, available in a Macintosh version, paradoxical though that may sound. You can download it from

Windows Messenger

Mac OS X's instant-messaging, audio- and videoconferencing software is called iChat, and it's described in the section called “iChat”.


The TextEdit program (in the Applications folder) is a word processor along the lines of WordPad. It can even open and save Word files, as WordPad can.

Zip files

Zip files exist on the Mac, too, and you create them almost the same way: Controlclick (or right-click) a file or folder and choose Compress from the shortcut menu. See the section called “Installing Mac OS X Programs” for a discussion of software compression standards on the Mac.

If you enjoyed this excerpt, buy a copy of Mac OS X: Missing Manual Leopard .