New to Macs?

This beginner's guide highlights the most important/commonly used features and programs.

Tips & Tricks

  • The Windows “Right click” is equivalent to the MacBook’s “Secondary Click”
    • This can be achieved through pressing “Ctrl + Click”. If the settings allow, tapping the trackpad with two fingers will also work.
  • All files and programs are movable through “drag and drop”
    • The items on the dock at the bottom of the screen can be added or removed from the dock through drag and drop.
    • To uninstall programs, you drag and drop the program from the “applications” folder to the trash bin located on the dock.
    • When the files are dragged and dropped on Finder, it will move the file by default. When you drag and drop to an external storage device, it will copy the file to the external storage device by default.

Mac features compared to Windows features



Minimize, maximize, close: top right of browser.

Top left of browser:

  • Minimize (yellow)
  • Full screen (green): toggles between 2 previously configured sizes
  • Close (red)
  • Maximize (double click on on title bar)
Bottom right task bar: also known as the “notification area” shows open programs, title, battery life, volume and network connection. Top right task bar: for Macs, the “notification area” is located at the top right of the screen.
File, edit, view, tools etc: these options are typically located at the top of each program window. Application settings for Macs are shown at the top left of the screen next to the Apple logo. These settings are specific to the program being used. 

Different Features

  • MacBooks have a feature to have multiple Desktops.
    • The multiple desktops work similarly to having multiple monitors. However, since you only have one screen, you must scroll to see the other desktops.
    • Having multiple desktops can be easily managed through “Mission Control” which allows you to quickly switch between ANY of your desktops.
  • When you are adding an item (e.g. file, user, printer), it is ALWAYS represented by a “+” sign
  • OS X offers a great searching tool called “Spotlight”
    • It is located at the top right of your screen or can be accessed through the keyboard shortcut “Command + Space Bar”
    • It searches using metadata. Metadata allows Spotlight to search the data about a file, rather than the actual content stored in the file. (e.g. You could search for a specific picture by providing the details of the dimensions or the format of the picture.)

Apple Menu

  • The Apple menu is located at the top left of the screen and looks like an Apple logo
  • Contains:
    • System information / About This Mac (Serial Number, Version, Hardware details)
    • Software Update (check and install the newest software update for your machine)
    • App Store
      • Purchase, download, install applications for your MacBook
    • System Preferences
      • Comparable to Windows “Control Panel”
      • Refer to the documentation below for more information
    • Dock Preferences
      • Preferences for the Dock, comparable to the Windows “Task Bar”
    • Force Quit (Command + Option + Escape)
      • Comparable to “Task Manager” of Windows, allows you to shut down a misbehaving program
    • Log Out

Finder (Happy Face Icon)

  • “Finder” can show you where all your documents, applications, and downloads are located. It can is similar to “My Computer” in Windows
    • Applications
      • All installed applications (software/programs) will be in here.
      • To install/uninstall applications, simply drag and drop applications inside/outside (into the trash) of this folder.
    • Desktop
      • Files stored here appear on your desktop, similar to Windows shortcuts
    • Documents
      • All your applications should be set by default to save documents here
    • Downloads
      • All your downloads will be in this folder
    • Connected Networks
      • You can also find all the networks that you’re connected to in finder. The option to disconnect is called “eject”.
    • Devices
      • CD’s, External Hard Drives, Hard Disks, USB drives can be seen in Finder


  • The dock is the bar located at the bottom (sometimes sides of the MacBook screen). It is comparable to the Windows Task Bar
  • Drag and drop applications on and off the dock to customize it
  • Check System Preferences for more options (To move bar to the left/right hand side of the screen, change the size, effects)

System Preferences

  • Mission Control
    • Allows you to see all applications/desktop on the MacBook
    • Helps when multiple windows are open
    • Helps when multiple desktops are being used
  • Trackpad
    • Settings for the Touchpad/Trackpad
      • Gestures for the Trackpad to navigate through MacBook
    • It is highly recommended to review and customize these settings to improve your MacBook experience
  • Displays
    • Multiscreen settings
  • General
    • Scrolling settings
    • Appearance settings of buttons, menus, and windows
  • Desktop/Screen Savers
    • Change your background picture here
  • Dock
  • Users and Groups
    • Guest account
      • Maintains privacy of the regular user(s) and deletes all additional files
    • Change password
    • Link with Apple account
    • Log in options/items
      • Changes settings of the log in process and what applications should open when you log in
  • Time Machine
  • Network
    • Connection settings for wifi, ethernet, etc.
  • Internet Accounts
    • Set up accounts for Exchange (UW mail service for faculty & staff), iCloud, Google, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, etc.



​Crashplan is installed by default on Arts faculty and staff rollover machines. During deployment of a new machine, ACO will set up Crashplan for you.

Checking Crashplan status

To check whether your backup is working properly:

  1. Click the Crashplan icon located on the system tray (green house icon). If you cannot locate this icon, use Launchpad to open the application.
  2. Select Show application.
  3. The Backup tab should show the current status of the backup. 
  4. If you see any error messages or cannot find the application, please contact for assistance.
Restoring files

To restore files:

  1. Click the Crashplan icon located on the system tray (green house icon). If you cannot locate this icon, use Launchpad to open the application.
  2. Select Show application.
  3. Click on the Restore tab.
  4. Select which computer you would like to restore from and then select the files (the default restoration location is your Desktop).
  5. Click Restore.

Time Machine

If you are doing backups on your own person (unmanaged) Mac, Time Machine is a good option:

  • Backup software application
  • Requires an external storage device connected to your computer or accessible on your local network
  • Simple as specifying a disk to back up on and turning time machine on
    • You can specify files/folders to ignore when backing up through Time Machine under Options
      It will by default:
      • Keep hourly backups for the past 24 hours
      • Keep daily backups for the past month
      • Keep weekly backups for all previous months
      • Delete the oldest backups when disk becomes full
      • Backup when the disk specified to back up is connected

Services feedback form

Did you have a recent service experience with the Arts Computing Office?

Live chat

Computing questions? Connect with the Arts Computing Office Help Desk on our live chat! Available Monday to Friday, 9:30AM - 4:30PM, with some exceptions.