Last updateMon, 16 Feb 2015 1pm
Laguna Real Estate

Getting the most from your Mac keyboard

While more than 90 percent of the world’s personal computers run on Microsoft Windows Operating Systems, Mac computers have more than doubled in popularity over the last decade.

This fact makes it more likely users of Windows computers may encounter a Mac OS-X system they need to use for one reason or another. This column is intended to act as a short guide for the 90%+ of computer users who might think that because they only use Windows that they do not know how to use a Mac. The fact of the matter is that most people reading this already know more about Macs than they think they do.

The Windows keyboard makes use of the [Alt], [Ctrl], and [Windows] keys all of which are missing from Apple products. You will find however two keys named [Command] and [Option]. Do not think because of this that the Mac has fewer keyboard shortcuts than Windows because if anything, OS-X has gotten more carried away with them than Windows. Taking time to learn a few of the important ones will allow any Windows-literate computer user to cope with any Mac they encounter.

To begin, look at the list of shortcuts that are the same for Windows and Mac. Simply substitute the [Command] key for [Ctrl]. The symbol on the [Command] key looks sort of like a clover leaf. [Command C] is Copy, [Command X] is Cut, [Command V] is Paste, [Command A] is Select All, [Command F] is Find, [Command S] is Save, [Command P] is Print, and [Command Z] is the “whoops” key. All the same as in Windows.

Windows users are familiar with [Ctrl Alt Delete] to shut down non responding programs. On a Mac this command is four keys: [Command Shift Option Escape] held for three seconds. In most web browsers (Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) almost all of the same keyboard shortcuts are the same whether the program is installed on Mac or Windows. Simply substitute [Command] for [Ctrl] and [Option] for [Alt] and you will find most of the shortcuts you use on a Windows browser also work on Mac.

Holding [Command] while pressing [Tab] toggles through a list of open applications. This is exactly like [Alt Tab] on Windows. [Command Shift] then [Tab] moves through the list of programs in reverse. [Command Q] will quit the application that is currently open. This is the same as the [Alt F4] keyboard shortcut in Windows.

Apple keyboards are missing the [Home] and [End] keys some Windows users find so handy. [Command] plus the [Left Arrow] is usually the same as [Home] while [Command] plus [Right Arrow] replaces [End].

Apple keyboards are also missing the [Print Screen] key some Windows users have found to be quite useful. The key might be missing from the keyboard, but OS-X has far superior abilities for printing the screen. To take a picture of the whole screen and save to a file on the desktop, press [Command Shift 3] For just a part of the screen [Command Shift 4] and then use your third hand to select an area with the mouse. Release the mouse to take the picture.

Rodent control is also different on Macs, mostly because the right mouse button is missing from many Apple pointing devices. Experienced Windows users know how vital the right-click is and are panicked at the thought of loosing it. Even though an Apple mouse may have only one button, holding down on the [Command] key while clicking the mouse is almost always the same as a right-click in Windows.

Many other Mac keyboard shortcuts exist. To see the rest of the list, open the Apple menu and choose System Preferences / Keyboard & Mouse and then choose Keyboard Shortcuts.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant with more than 20 years IT experience and a Texan with a lifetime love for Mexico. The opinions expressed are his own. He may be contacted through his web site at SMAguru.com.