Sunday, May 23, 2010

Converting to Mac

The Windows Users Guide to Getting Started on the Mac.

With the surge in Mac sales year over year for the last several years and over a third of those being Windows users who are switching to the Mac because of the success and ease of use of the iPhone and now the iPad. I thought I would put together a short guide for those starting out in the wonderful world of Macintosh.

The beauty of the Mac is it is very easy to do basic things but it is also very customizable and with BSD Unix under the hood it is also very powerful. So it is a great choice from novice users like Grandma to serious geeks who like to customize everything like myself.

First we will start with a list of Windows keyboard shortcuts and their Mac equivalents. Thanks to for compiling the list.

System Shortcuts




Backwards Delete



Capture Entire Screen to Clipboard

Print Screen

Command + Control + Shift + 3

Capture Frontmost Window

Alt + Print Screen

Command + Shift + 3

Close Current Window

Control + W

Command + W

Copy a File/Folder

Control + drag icon

Option + drag icon

Copy to Clipboard

Control + C

Command + C

Create an alias or shortcut

Right mouse click and select Create Shortcut

Command + L

Cut to Clipboard

Control + X

Command + X

Exit a dialog box without changes




Control + F

Command + F

Force quit a frozen application

Control + Alt + Delete

Command + Option + Escape

Forward Delete


Delete (For Mac notebooks, press the Function (fn) and Delete key)

Get item info or properties

Alt + Enter

Command + I

Logout Current User

Windows + L

Command + Shift + Q

Maximize Window

Control + F10


Minimize Windows

Windows + M

Command + M

New Folder

Control + N

Command + Shift + N

Open File

Control + O

Command + O

Paste Clipboard

Control + V

Command + V


Control + P

Command + P

Quit/Close a program

Alt + F4

Command + Q

Rename a file/folder

Select item + F2

Select item + Enter

Save File

Control + S

Command + S

Select all items

Control + A

Command + A

Select more than one item in a list (non contiguous)

Control + click on each item

Command + click on each item

Send items to Trash/Recycle Bin


Command + Delete

Send/Receive Email

Control + K

Command + K

Shut Down

Windows + U + U

Command + Option + Control + Eject

Switch to Next Window

Control + F6

Command + ~ (tilde)

Switch to Previous Window

Control + Shift + F6

Command + Shift + ~ (tilde)

Toggle through open applications

Alt + Tab

Command + Tab

Type special characters

Alt + key

Option + key





MS Office / iWork




All Caps

Control + Shift + A

Command + Shift + A


Control + B

Command + B

Extend selection word left

Control + Shift + Left

Option + Shift + Left

Extend selection word right

Control + Shift + Right

Option + Shift + Right

Font Menu

Control + D

Command + D (Office); Command + T (iWork)


Control + I

Command + I

Move to the beginning of current or previous word

Control + Left

Option + Left

Move to the end of current or next word

Control + Right

Option + Right

Move to the end of the current line

Control + End

Option + End

New Document, Email, Etc.

Control + N

Command + N


Control + U

Command + U


Internet Explorer / Safari Shortcuts





Alt + Left OR Backspace

Command + Left OR Delete

Find A Word/Phrase on a page

Control + F

Command + F


Alt + Right OR Shift + Backspace

Command + Right OR Shift + Delete

Go To Home Page

Alt + Home

Command + Shift + H

Open a new browser window

Control + N

Command + N

Open New Tab

Control + T

Command + T

Print Page

Control + P

Command + P

Refresh A Web Page

Control + R

Command + R

Switch to Next Tab

Control + Tab

Command + }

Switch to Previous Tab

Control + Shift + Tab

Command + {

Toggle Full Screen



Enlarge Text Size

Control + + (plus)

Command + + (plus)

Reduce Text Size

Control + - (minus)

Command + - (minus)

You can find these shortcuts in the menus of any app you are using to the right of the command.

Also for those just starting out on the Mac Apple has several resources available to ease the transition.

One of the most useful pages of Switch 101 is where they discuss what you did in WIndows and how to do it on the Mac.

For those who don’t have a lot of time or are visual learners Apple also has a video section with short clips ranging from 60 seconds to a few minutes that provide some quick over view demos of OS X and other Apple apps. You can find the Apple video tutorials here I can’t stress enough the value of a Windows to Mac switcher to watch PC to Mac: The Basics.

iTunes U also has a few classes relating to Mac technology and the podcast section of iTunes is loaded with Mac Tips and tricks podcasts and the ever popular Don McAllister Series where Don walks you through a variety of programs and tips to make your Mac more user friendly.

Many cities also have Mac users groups where people of varying ages and technical backgrounds meet to talk about their Macs and to help other Mac users solve problems and learn more about the platform. In Las Vegas we have LVMug and we meet at the College of Southern Nevada West Charleston Campus at 10:00 AM the second saturday of every month. Apple hosts a web page to help you find Mac User Groups in your area

Last but not least all of the Apple Stores across the country offer One on One training sessions. For a fee you get a 1 hour block of time with an Apple Trainer to teach you about the Mac and Apple software. There are a host of training options available for people who are new to the Mac or just want some training on specific software.

Also the help menu can be very useful on the Mac. If you forget where a menu item is located. Say Cut under the edit menu. If you go to help and type the word Cut, the Mac will pull down the edit menu, highlight cut, and place a big blue floating arrow pointing at Cut to show you where it is for the next time you need it. Also Mac help can give you step by step directions for many common tasks.

There is a bit of learning curve when switching from Windows to Mac. In my experience most users adjust well and enjoy being on the Mac and never look back. A few had a hard time adjusting to the differences between the Mac and Windows. Just keep an open mind ask questions of any Mac Geeks out there we are always ready and willing to help out.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

iChat AV in Depth

iChat is one of those Mac programs I think Mac users either take for granted or just completely ignore. It is an incredibly useful technology however that really deserves a closer look. All MobileMe users have an iChat account and iChat uses the AIM network to allow Instant Message conversations among friends. However when iChat was first released in 2002 it was the first AIM chat client on OS X. AIM at the time still ran in classic mode.

Later iChat was upgraded to include voice and video and was named iChat AV. iChat AV in addition to supporting H.264 video it also got the ability to work with Google Talk, Facebook Chat, and other services that support the Jabber protocol for Instant Messaging. They also added the ability for up to 4 people to join a video conference and up to ten in an audio conference. With the next release of OS X 10.5 iChat got an upgrade to include iChat Theater so you could share videos, Keynote Presentations and other files with people in your conference by dragging a dropping a file on the video of the person to whom you are sending the file. They also added Desktop sharing allowing users in a video conference to share their desktop and allow the person on the other end to control their computer. It is great for support professionals or for people collaborating on projects together. They also added backdrops and special effects that can be done to the video live. The special effects only work on Intel model Macs and while not particularly useful are a lot of fun.

If you are a MobileMe subscriber Apple also added an option to encrypt chats between users but that feature requires a MobileMe or .Mac account.

Yet again with the release of OS X 10.6 Apple again tweaked iChat a bit and lowered it’s bandwidth requirements for audio and video conferences making it available to users on slower computer networks. iChat does still suffer from a few minor issues that Apple could easily correct and third party vendors have made some plugins to make iChat a little more useful over the years.

The most useful features of iChat are of course keeping in touch with friends, family, and clients. It is nice to have a quick get together with people in other states and be able to sit down and talk without the need to travel. I can talk with someone and look them in the eye while we are scattered all over the world. Being able to talk to a client and take remote control of there computer and show them how to solve a problem and never leave my office. It saves me commute time and allows me to get more work done faster while still giving personal service.

Currently I use iChat to keep in touch with people on AIM, Google Talk, and Facebook. Anytime I have iChat open all the services show my status as available or away if my screen saver turns on and updates my friends lists when I return to my computer. I can now chat live with Friends on Facebook without even having to login.

The downside of having four or five accounts active in iChat is each one has it’s own window. This is a bit of a shortcoming not having the option to put everyone in just one display but a developer has solved that problem with a free plugin called Chax. Chax is a bandaid for iChat and allows you to setup iChat to show one contact window with all your accounts displayed in one convenient place. It also adds Growl Notification so you can be notified of activity in iChat without having to look at an iChat Window. Growl just pops up the notifications you select on a portion of the screen you select and after a few seconds or a user click the notice goes away. Chax gives you much more control over how you use iChat and is the most important plugin for any Apple product I have seen. It has made iChat an indispensable tool.

To setup iChat to use Facebook Chat Open iChat and goto iChat Preferences, Choose Accounts, click the plus to add a new account and enter the following settings

Account Type: Jabber
Account Name:
Password: facebookpassword

Next Click on the Server Options and enter the following settings

Port: 5222

Now you can send and receive chats right on your desktop and not have to login to Facebook. Warning this is another thing that has the potential to be a real productivity killer. Remember you can set yourself as unavailable in iChat if you are busy and really don’t have time to talk.

One of iChat’s most serious drawbacks right now is once you enter screen sharing there is no way to get back to a video conference without ending and restarting the call. In the Screen Sharing session your desktop shrinks to a Picture in Picture box on the bottom of your screen. The rest of your screen is the desktop of the persons computer you are controlling. If you need to go back to your desktop for something just click and the PIcture In Picture swaps and you are in control of your desktop. If you click the X in the corner of the PIcture in Picture the Screen Sharing and Video Conference disconnects and you have to setup a new call.

In recent months I have also noticed several failed calls when trying to setup a video conference. I am not sure why this is happening yet but every time it does iChat sends Apple a message about the call failures so they can improve the quality of the product.

The last thing iChat needs is better control over the camera settings. For those of us who want to make changes there should be an advanced button to let us change camera settings like iGlasses does. Currently I can’t recommend iGlasses since it forces users to set iChat, Safari, Quicktime X, and Photo booth into 32 bit mode.

Overall as webcams become more ubiquitous and as more AIM messengers embrace video conferencing I think it will become more common place to use it. The real breakthrough will come when AIM users can video chat with MSN users. The problem with IM systems today is they don’t work like the phone company. I should be able to have one account on one IM service and be able to chat with anyone on any other service. It looks like that will be a long way off yet and we will be stuck with having four or five accounts to talk to our friends and the features we have available in those chats will be dependent on the particular IM service we are using.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Future of Flash

Since the release of the iPad just over a month ago much has been said about the future of Flash. Apple and Adobe seem to be trading barbs back and forth almost daily in the media. In my opinion Flash is an old technology that served a purpose at the time and modern developers have gotten a little lazy and over use the tool.

When Apple first introduced the iPad and said it wouldn’t support flash there was an immediate uproar. Critics attacked Apple saying you can’t have the whole web in your hand without Flash. Apple’s calm reply was we support HTML5 and that is the future. Flash is old, slow, buggy, causes the browser to crash frequently, creates too much load on the processors and drains batteries too quickly creating a bad experience for the users.

To that I say Apple has a good point. I did have frequent crashes and slowness in my Firefox browser on my PC at work and in the Safari Browser on my Mac at home. When the debate first started I decided to try an experiment. Could I live Flash free on my laptop browser? So I downloaded Click To Flash and installed it on both computers. The difference was night and day.

My browsers seemed to load faster, my CPU load was lower and best of all I wasn’t seeing the random browser crashes any more. Most of the sites I visit I couldn’t tell a difference with the exception of few ads loading. In place of flash content I just see a white box with the word Flash in it. If I choose to load the flash content I just right click and choose Load Flash. I can also white list an entire site where I want to use flash every time I visit. The White List feature I really don’t use, I haven’t found any sites with content compelling enough to turn it on.

When I visit You Tube using Click to flash I get different options. First I joined You Tubes HTML5 public beta. So many videos load using HTML5 and just play with no problem. The videos that are not available on HTML5 can be played back using H.264 through click to flash. The same technology that allows you to watch You Tube videos in the application on the iPhone and iPad.

In the month the iPad has been out and this argument has come to a head Steve Jobs released an Open Letter regarding Flash, and Dean Hachamovitch from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer group jumped in on Apple’s side of the argument Both companies agree H.264 Video and HTML5 is the future of the Internet.

Websites are rapidly jumping on the band wagon and making new sites that don’t use flash or at least alternatives to flash so that iPhone, iPad, and Click To Flash users like myself still get a great web experience without the cost to our processors, batteries, and system stability. Maybe we should start calling it the Flash Tax. Vimeo, You Tube, Zinga and others are already giving us HTML5 playback options that look as good or better than Flash and use a fraction of our computers CPU.

We still have some sites that are moving more slowly. Mostly restaurants that have menus online done in Flash. Dave Hamilton of The Mac Geek Gab commented last week the lack of Flash was a huge limitation on the iPad. He was traveling with his family in DC and looking up restaurants on the iPad was a problem because most of the sites were in Flash. Of course most of the time if you are looking for a restaurant you are most likely to be on your iPhone, iPad, or Android mobile device. None of which provide support for Flash.

There are some hacks you can do on the Android to load a Flash player and Adobe has announced their player will be built into future releases of Android later this year, however a number of functions in Flash like Mouse Over don’t exist on a touch based device. So even if you have a Flash Player you still may not be able to access Flash content. So for mobile users even if we did have Flash and you could surf quick because it is going to kill your battery much faster and then leave you without a phone until you can recharge.

So sorry Adobe you didn’t do a good job growing your Flash technology your new beta version for the desktop that utilizes Graphic Hardware Acceleration is nice but I am afraid it is too little too late. The beta software does use less CPU resources on my computer and moves most of that load onto the idle graphics processor and it looks good but I can’t tell the difference between the latest flash and HTML5. Until I open the site on my iPad and I see a blue puzzle piece where the Flash content once was.

The Wall Street Journal Interview with Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen just proves that Adobe has really lost touch with the rest of the world. Flash is ready to go the way of floppy disks, Parallel Ports, Serial Ports, and other technologies that were great in their day but the world has moved on to bigger, better, faster things. HTML5 and H.264 are the future of the web and I bet we see a huge shift this year away from Flash and onto the new standards being developed by Apple, Microsoft and others in the W3C consortium. Soon we will have access to any content, any time, any where, on any device we choose and that will be exciting.

Skyfire has announced they are releasing a browser for Android and submitted one to Apple that when the browser detects Flash content the flash content is sent to skyfire servers and converted to HTML5 and streamed back to the mobile device which will give mobile users access to Flash content without the flash actually having to be run on the mobile device. That will give users the best of both worlds, at least until Flash finally goes away.

Yes, I know the Google Phone application for my readers to call me on the bottom of my page is in Flash. As soon as Google offers me an HTML5 I will happily go Flash free on my site too.

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