MacBook Migrant: A Final Grab Bag Of Tips

MacBook Migrant: A Final Grab Bag Of Tips

In the course of MacBook Migrant, we’ve covered essential shortcuts, installing apps, maximisation hassles, working with Finder and keyboard shortcuts
We finish off the series with a few thoughts that didn’t fit into those categories.

  • System updates: As with any machine, the first thing you need to do after purchasing is run through the update process (click the Apple menu and select Software Update. This really isn’t very different to the Windows experience: it’s fairly slow, there could be a lot of data involved (the MacBook I tested needed more than 1GB of updates), and you’ll have to reboot at the end of it
  • Uninstalling applications: This is straightforward, if not at all Windows-like. For regular apps, simply drag the app from the Applications folder into the Trash. For App Store apps, use the Uninstall options within App Store. Note that you’ll occasionally end up with other random preference settings and data after uninstalling; our guide to reviving a sluggish Macoffers some suggestions for apps to help deal with that.
  • Dock tweaking: The default Dock includes a lot of apps, which can make it less than useful; removing icons for apps you don’t use much (drag them off the Dock to do so) makes it more useful. I also prefer switching the “magnification” feature (where Dock apps enlarge as you mouse over them) through the Apple menu –> Dock –> Turn magnification Off option.
    The other feature of the Dock that won’t necessarily be obvious: app shortcuts can’t be added to the right side of the divider near the Trash, and folder and document shortcuts can’t be added to the left side.
  • Running multiple instances of an app: Unlike Windows, Mac OS X won’t let you run multiple instances of the same app (you can cycle between different windows of the same app using Command-~ when the app is active, but apps won’t show up more than once when you Command-Tab between them). You can work around this by launching Terminal (look for it with Spotlight) and typing the following command (substituting the appropriate application name):

    open -n /Applications/

    This doesn’t always work — Chrome and Firefox are the most notable and annoying exceptions — but it can help if you do want (say) three separate instances of Safari.

A final thought

As I noted when this series began, this isn’t an absolutely-everything-you’d-need-to-know guide to Mac OS X as a seasoned Windows user making the migration. Having window controls on the left of windows, for instance, is different, but doesn’t really need a lot of separate explanation (outside the different maximising behaviour).

Many of the features are obvious enough to not require particular elucidation for confident users (basic Dock operations); others are fairly specific to the Mac (Expose) and thus deserve explanation on their own merits rather in the context of trying to get up to speed on a new OS.

Over time, any user who permanently makes the switch will evolve their own mixture of what works most effectively. I’m not sticking with Mac in the long term, so I can’t say that will happen to me, but I don’t doubt it would happen to anyone who did.
MacBook Migrant is a week-long series of posts highlighting tricks new or aspiring Mac owners familiar with Windows can use to ease the transition.


  • Why would you possibly ever need multiple separate instances of the same app?

    If you want to have more than one window open, Command-N is right there. If you’re that obsessed about having all windows of each application show up in the Command-Tab menu then:
    a) you’re dumb
    b) you need to get used to Command-Tilde
    c) there are third party hacks which will do this for you, ie

    • I personally find it handy to have one Google instance with tabs for key apps, and a separate instance for research, and I know Mac users who like to work the same way. As with everything in this series, the aim is to point out stuff that’s different from Windows (where multiple instances are supported) and identify ways to achieve it if you still want that feature.

      • Are you actually seeking fully separate instances or multiple browser windows?

        It’s fairly trivial to run multiple browser windows and have a different set of tabs in each. This doesn’t require completely separate instances of the application.

        Perhaps I’m just not pushing it hard enough but I rarely manage to crash Safari in my normal day-to-day use so don’t care about multiple instances (although I frequently have multiple browser windows with multiple tabs in each).

  • Chrome run each of its Tab as a separated instance so when one is crashed the rest will keep running … and I think this also apply for extensions
    you could see this from task manager or activity monitor…
    please correct me if I’m wrong though

  • Re: System updates. Less prevalent (not unheard of, but it happens less) for you to need a reboot, bearing in mind that Mac OS X is basically Unix; depending on when the system image was applied to a fresh Mac it’s not a given that you’ll have to reboot; that’ll depend on what the updates actually are.

  • Hey thanks for all the tips Angus, I just ordered a mbp so this is going to be a life saver when I get to one of those unavoidable rage quit moments.

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