Little adjustments – from Windows to Mac

There are a few little things that four weeks in to my Mac adoption are still presenting me with small challenges. Since I run parallel desktops; both a high powered Windows machine and my now trusty MacBook, I’m constantly battling with them.
Closing Applications

One of the little "gotchas" for me with my Mac has been closing down applications. In the Windows environment when I am done with just about any application I’ll save what I’ve worked on and then click the little X in the upper right hand corner. My youngest daughter even uses that as a verb: "Just X the window…"

On my Mac the little X has moved from the top right to the top left of every window and is now under a little red orb. Much like under Windows, when I’m done with an application I’ll find myself simply closing it by clicking on the little red orb. While this closes the window it does not close the application. The menu is still alive – and with it most of the memory for the application – until you actually quit the application (Command-Q).
It took me a little while to really understand this. If you’ve read my blog you can probably tell that I’m trying out a lot of applications now, seeing what will work best for me on my Mac. Early on I would load up and application, play with it for a little, then close the main window and try out another application.  Before long I had so many application still running that when I hit Command-Tab to switch to a different application it looked like an icon party on my desktop.
If you make the move to Mac from Windows it’s a good idea to remember how to actually close down an application. Command-Q is your friend!
Keyboard Shortcuts
The keyboards on the machines continue to mess me up. While the secondary key for nearly every action is the same (C =  Copy, V = Paste, X = Cut, Z = Undo), the primary key is different. On Windows it’s the Control key, on Mac it’s the Command key. While I considered remapping the keyboard on one or the other to switch those keys I quickly realized that would be a losing battle. It’s just something I’ve had to suck up.
Resizing Windows
On Windows I am used to grabbing any edge of a Window and dragging it to a new size. On Mac, the resizing only works in the lower right corner of most windows. That gets me all the time. While it’s nice to have the "leaner" windows on Mac because there isn’t area dedicated to scrolling, I find on Mac I am constantly grabbing the top part of the window, repositioning it, then grabbing the bottom right corner and resizing it. Seems like extra steps to me.
The other thing I haven’t quite figured out is how to maximize a window, at least in Safari. On Windows if I hit the Maximize button, the application takes over the entire screen. Click it again and now you’re back to the size it was before. Most Mac applications behave the same way, except for Safari. Click on the Maximize button and it simply make the window as tall as the screen is; it does not effect the width. Not sure about the logic in that decision.
Drag and Drop
While most Windows applications are pretty heavily drag and drop oriented – and there is integration between applications within Windows, drag and drop models on Mac are more elaborate. If you scan through some of my other posts you’ll notice I like to throw application logos into things when I talk about them. I do that because it makes the post a little nicer looking and because it’s so easy to do on Mac.
See a picture on a web page you like? If it’s just an image and not a Flash object just click and drag it to your desktop. No Right Click, Save As, Select Directory, OK. Want to upload an image to a web page? Usually you get a text box and a Choose button on a web form. Just grab the image from your desktop and drag it over the Choose button. So much easier than Click Choose, Navigate to photo, Click OK.

It’s little things like that that make Mac cool. 


  1. Like Windows ALT-TAB to cycle through open applications, Cmd-TAB (Apple-Tab) does the same in OS X, with the additional benefit, that you can CMD-Q (Apple-Q) to quit the application from the application switcher that shows up with Cmd-TAB.

    IF you use the DOCK (I use Quicksilver to launch everything – the DOCK is strictly a holder of icons for RUNNING applications), you can right click on the icon in the DOCK at quit as well.

    For printers, the icon often remains in the dock after printing. Right click on the icon and select AUTO-QUIT. In the future, the print process icon will go away when done.

  2. Jim Schimpf says:

    Don’t worry about apps that don’t stop, the next time you need it, the startup will be that much faster. The memory isn’t an issue since an unused app will have it’s memory paged out so unless you are a Photoshop ninja it won’t cause trouble.

    After you find the set of apps that you use all the time you will then have your working set always there ready to go.

    Also if you have to shut down apps just right click on the icon in the dock you can pick quit there.


  3. Master the keyboard shortcuts and you will find yourself working really efficiently. There are a lot of “OS X shortcuts lists” around, just google them.

  4. shane blyth says:

    Think different
    Why when you close a window with a spreadsheet in it would i want to close the app.. People often work in application all day and open and close documents in it. The idea with OS X is that you quit the document and leave the application running. If you want tp close the whole app cause your finished with it Command Q quits the whole shooting box.
    I got me too but now I understand why it is to me actually more logical.