Mac OS X To Windows 7 Switch: Part Two

Mac OS X To Windows 7 Switch: Part Two

Yesterday, I started trying to translate Mac-speak to Windows-talk. That continues today as I look at customisation, security and applications for those making the switch from OS X to Windows.

Starting programs

On a Mac, you launch programs by double-clicking the icons in the Applications folder. In Windows, you click on the Start button in the bottom left corner of the screen, click on All Programs and then browse to the program you want to open by moving the mouse pointer through the list.

When a program is running, its icon will appear at the bottom of the screen on the Taskbar. If you right-click the icon you can choose to “Pin” the item to the task bar. This is similar to choosing Keep on Dock when you click-hold an open program on the OS X Dock.

Where’s the top menu?

On a Mac, the Menu Bar at the top of the screen stays fixed with the contents changing depending on which program you’re using.

With Windows, each window has its own menu. If a window’s menu isn’t visible, it can be shown by pressing the Alt key on the keyboard.

Sort of equivalent applications

When you install OS X, Apple includes a number of applications. Some, like iPhoto, iMovie and iTunes are separate to the operating system. Others, like TextEdit and Preview come as part of OS X. Here’s a list of some commonly used Mac applications, that come pre-installed on a Mac, and their Windows counterparts.

TextEdit = WordPad. Both are solid, basic word processors iPhoto = the Photos folder in Explorer. When you connect an SD card or camera, Windows gives you an option to upload photos to this folder. iMovie = Windows Live Movie Maker (although this is a separate download) iTunes/Quicktime Player/DVD Player = Windows Media Player (which comes with Windows) or Zune software which is a separate download

Simple customisation

On a Mac, most of the system configuration is done from Preferences. When you change to Windows, you’ll find most of the same options, albeit with some different names, in Control Panel. You’ll find Control Panel when you click on the Start menu button.

Basic settings like the background wallpaper, screen saver and screen resolution are found under “Appearance and Personalization” if the Category view is selected in the top right corner of Control Panel. If you’re in either the Large or Small Icon views, click on Personalization for the wallpaper and screen-saver and Display to change the resolution.

Where is it?

Spotlight is the system-wide search function on a Mac. The same function is found under the Start menu.

The Taskbar, running across the bottom of the Windows screen is roughly equivalent to the Dock. Application icons can be pinned here and it shows you what applications are running. If you hover your mouse over a running application icon, you’ll see a small preview of what’s open within that program. This is similar to Expose or Mission Control, depending to what version of OS X you’re coming from.

If you’re looking for a Spaces equivalent under Windows — you’ll need to find and install a third-party utility.


When you get your first PC, you’ll need to factor in the cost of security software into your initial investment. Note — I didn’t say anti-virus. Yu’ll need something that checks that the sites you visit aren’t fraudulent and that nothing nasty executes without your consent.

Online security concerns all computer users. There are lots of solid options when it comes to security software. Before you buy your PC, do some research and either buy one of the paid options from Norton, Kaspersky, Trend one of the other vendors or look at a free option such as AVG Free.

So, that’s my OS translation guide for Mac to Windows. What other things do you think Mac users would need in order to switch to Windows?


  • The key difference (heh) between the Windows UI and Apple is that one can use the keyboard for most things in Windows, which is often faster than using the mouse.

    For instance, I haven’t browsed the Start menu for a program in ages. Instead, I hit “Windows” and start typing the name of the program. It usually takes less than two seconds to list the program (and any similarly-named files/shortcuts).

    Also iPhoto is matched by Windows Live Photo Gallery. The whole “Windows Live Essentials 2011” package has other pretty neat stuff, like Mesh (MS’ quiet alternative to iCloud).

    As for security, Microsoft Security Essentials is widely viewed as perfectly adequate compared to other free packages. Personally I also use Firefox with NoScript for browser security.

  • “When you get your first PC, you’ll need to factor in the cost of security software into your initial investment. Note – I didn’t say anti-virus. Yu’ll (sic) need something that checks that the sites you visit aren’t fraudulent and that nothing nasty executes without your consent.”

    What? In Windows 7, nothing that can affect your system can execute without your permission, and the built in Windows Defender will stop you from running applications containing malware.

    As for dodgy sites, there’s free browser plugins like WOT. But Mac OS doesn’t come with anything like that out of the box either, so that’s not a Windows specific issue.

    For anti-virus, there’s Microsoft Security Essentials, which is free, and does a great job of protecting you without needlessly annoying you and clogging up your system like the paid equivalents.

  • Hmm, You’ll need to consider Security Options? This is a “well duh” statement. It’s sad that people think that their Mac PC is safe from virus and people attacking it.

    Especially since in every hacking contest Apple devices are the first to fall.

    If you don’t want to pay for security protection Microsft Security Essentials does a good job of protecting you’re PC. It’s light weight, fast and regulary has it’s signatures updated.

  • Things are easier than the article makes out.

    To launch applications or change settings – open the start menu and type. It should find it.

    iPhoto is more equivalent to Windows Live Photo Gallery. It’s excellent for sorting, filtering, tagging and some basic editing and sharing.

    No need to pay for extra security software. Microsoft Security Essentials is free and good.

  • This series hasn’t been particularly interesting. Sure it probably isn’t aimed at people who are already familiar with both OS’s but I was hoping for a more critical comparison.

  • It seems that every 2nd or third article on LifeHacker relates to macs.

    I’m a relatively new reader to LifeHacker after purchasing the book. But I’m finding you dedicate so much content to Macs which only has at most 15% of the market share.

    I really thought this was going to be a great site for useful tips, but i’m finding the tips that i’m interested in you have just re-posted from a real tech website.

    As for this article in particular, the people wanting to do this have a knowledge of Computers (and have probably been doing it for years). You write articles for the retard computer user, the type of user EVERY true IT geek hates.

    You are killing the Internetz!

  • This article has reminded me to reconsider Windows. Apple usability and reliability is going backwards, and I’ve spent 4 hours on the phone in the last month getting help from Apple with faulty products. The magic is fading…

  • I’ve been connecting to the internet since 1997 without any security software and never had an issue. Common sense is your best defence and by using Firefox and Thunderbird you are about as safe as you’d be on any OS. I read recently that almost 90% of malware gets installed by tricking the user, so security software is only going to be useful around 10% of the time anyway.

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