So you brought that shiny new Mac home, but now you’re thinking “Wait … how do I use this thing?” Because clicking on stuff works pretty much the same, but as soon as you go to type up an email it’s like the keys are all different! Plus Alt-Tabbing to get between windows doesn’t work. What gives?
It took me a little while to figure out how to use Mac keyboard shortcuts, and there are a ton of them listed on Apple’s site. Here are the basics, though, if you’re new to the Mac.
Rule number one of Mac keyboard shortcuts
The Command key — the one with the four-leaf clover kinda symbol on it — is usually the one that you want. For instance, when you’re working with emails or Word documents, use Command-X, -C, and -V for cut, copy and paste.
Getting around between windows
Remember rule number one! Instead of using Alt-Tab to switch between windows on your new Mac, try Command-Tab. You can also use Exposè and Spaces to switch between windows more quickly and manage multiple workspaces, but first things first.
If you have more than one window of the same app open, though, you may notice that Command-Tab doesn’t switch between them. What gives?
Well, Command-Tab only switches between separate apps, not windows of the same app. To switch between open windows for one app — like if you have more than one Firefox window open — use Command-Tilde (the ~ key above Tab on your keyboard).
You may have already guessed that closing out windows works differently in Mac OS X than in Linux or Windows. Command-Q is like Alt-F4; it completely closes the app that you’re using. Command-W, meanwhile, just closes one window of that app, or one browser tab in Safari or Firefox.
Using your web browser
Speaking of Safari and Firefox, you can use Command-L to jump straight to the location bar in either web browser. Then you can start typing a web address, like associatedcontent.com or anyplace else that you’d like to visit.
Firefox uses a separate search box next to the location bar. To jump to it and start searching immediately, try Command-K.
Making the Delete key work the way it does on a PC
This one stumped me when I got my iBook. There wasn’t a backspace key on the keyboard! Instead, there was a “delete” key in its place, and it worked like backspace on a PC, deleting the character behind the cursor. But how to delete the one in front of the cursor, like “delete” does on a Linux or Windows PC?
It turns out you need to press Fn+Delete. Alternately, you could buy a new keyboard. But this is much cheaper.
Scroll down and leave a comment if this helped … and I hope you have fun with your new Mac!