If you’ve been a long-time Mac user, sitting in front of a Windows machine can be quite confusing. In this instalment of our switching guide, I take a look at the Windows interface and translate between OS X and Windows 7.
Although Windows 7 and OS X share some similarities, they are quite different in how they do some things. That said, most things that you can do on a Mac can be done on a PC – they’re just done a little differently.
Today is all about translating your Mac experience into Windows proficiency.
Truth be told, those little red, amber and green buttons on the top left corner of an application on a Mac are confusing to me. Depending on the program you’re using they do different things. Under Windows, the functionally similar buttons appear on the top right corner on a Windows application. And they behave the same way in every application.
Under Windows, the minimise button – the one that looks like a line across the bottom of the box – reduces the window and “hides” it on the Taskbar (the strip of icons running across the bottom of the screen). It works similarly to the amber button that shrinks things to the Dock on a Mac.
The cross in the right corner on Windows closes the window. If that Window is a program – it shuts the program down completely.
The middle button looks like a square. This is the maximise/restore button and it’s used to toggle between two modes. If a window is taking up the entire screen, clicking this button will make the window resizable and moveable. Press it again and the window fill the entire screen.
If you’ve been using OS X Lion, you’ll probably have discovered that you can resize a window by dragging the border on any edge of a window. Windows users have been doing that for years.
One last thing – with Windows 7, if you drag a window to the top edge of the screen it will automatically maximise to take up the entire screen. If you drag to the left or right edge, the window will automatically snap to that edge and fill half the screen. This is the Snap feature. It takes some getting used to but is very handy when you’re arranging windows on the screen.
Finder vs Explorer and file management
One a Mac, you do most of your file management using the Finder. On Windows, it’s all about Explorer.
With Windows, each drive that is connected to your computer is assigned a letter. By default, the primary hard drive (the one with the operating system) is designated the letter “C” (because in the old days A and B were taken by floppy drives). The C drive is equivalent to the Macintosh HD you see on a Mac desktop or in Finder
You then have folders and sub-folders within that for organising files. When you insert a thumb-drive or connect to a network drive (which is a shared folder on a server) it will be designated the next available letter.
To create folders in Windows, just use the New Folder button that appears in the Explorer screen when you are looking at a list of files.
So, that’s it for Part One of the OS X to Windows translator. Part Two will be here tomorrow. I’ll look at customising, security and applications.