How To: Switch from a PC to a MAC

Mac Keyboard Shortcuts Legend

Switching from PC to Mac. This legend is nearly all you need.

Early in the late 90’s when personal computers first took hold of America and the world, I spent a thousand dollars for a Desktop PC that had only a smidgen of the computing power the iPhone in my pocket has now (and that came free—sort of—with my account).

Last year one day, I stacked up of all my used PC towers and laptops. I deceived myself into thinking I might be able to sell them on Craigslist. I wiped the data; I knew enough to know you don’t sell or donate a computer with your data still on it.  How to securely wipe a hard drive.

I put up the ad; no takers. Then I tried to give them away, again, No Takers. It seems that wiping all the data includes nuking the Operating System which makes them worthless.  The year before, I had purchased a MacBook Pro and soon after realized that compared to that Mac, those PCs were trash even with all my valuable data and an operating system. Their only value was as gadgets designed to suck hours from my day, fill my head with frustration, and siphon dollars from my wallet to pay to fix problems that randomly appeared from this air.

PCs, I found, are like teenagers. Constant attention is required to keep it from hurting itself. I am afraid to think about the thousands of dollars spent on Antivirus software and subscriptions to updates.

Why the hell didn’t I buy a Mac earlier?

The day I purchased my Mac, the quality of my life dramatically improved.

No longer did I have to stay up late guarding the gate or ferreting out unwanted malicious malware.

Felix the cat hypnotics


I shudder to think how many hours I had spent simply staring at the screen waiting for something to load or an image to appear?

The Mac works tirelessly. Gone are the freeze outs and Blue Screen of Death after the PC feels overworked and goes on strike.

Apple Computers, in my book, are nearly flawless. I can work with two browsers open, six tabs on each, an image editing program, a Word document, and an Excel spreadsheet all open on my desktop, and when I need to leave for awhile, I close the lid.

No special shutdown sequencemagic dance, or praying, it will work when I’m ready. Hours later, I can open the lid to find my work area just as I left it and ready to perform. My Mac has only frozen twice in two years. Rebooting took under five minutes. Not a bad trade considering the number of cumulative days spent on the same task with a PC over the years.

The only tight spot, a speed bump really, was the learning curve. I’m a big user of keyboard shortcuts, and Apple speaks another dialect. If you haven’t learned to use shortcuts while working on a computer, you are wasting precious seconds of your life and productivity. Why pull down a menu and search for the item when you can place two or three fingers simultaneously on the correct keys and get the same result? Mac Shortcuts

Pull down whatThe steepest part of the learning/unlearning curve were these hieroglyphic symbols for keys labeled with something different.

What the hell are those? The Command key symbol is obvious enough, but those others are not exactly intuitive.


  • Backspace vs. Delete: On Macs, the Backspace key as PC users know it is named Delete. And the Delete key deletes from right to left, just like the Backspace key.
  • If you want to delete text from left to right (à la the Windows Delete key), you have to press Function-Delete (particularly if you’re on a laptop).

It only took me a few weeks to get that pattern hardwired into my frontal cortex.

The intrigue supplied by Apple with their hieroglyphic style keys was amusing and mildly frustrating but nothing that would send me crawling back to the Windows World. Mac Keyboard Shortcuts Legend Stapler Forehead

Still, every other day or so, after I pull a new menu down from the top bar on my computer, I have to get out a handy-dandy cheat sheet to decipher these symbols.

I need to staple these to my forehead.

Command-keyThe Apple Command Key is Union Station on your Mac. Contrary to the Windows key function, the Command key works much like the Control key does on a Windows PC. Don’t go pressing the Apple key and expect a system menu to pop out of nowhere. Instead, use this key for your most common keyboard shortcuts.

Control KeyThe Control Key on the Mac isn’t used in the same way as the Control key on a Windows PC. I use it most often when I’m “right-clicking” on my Mac – often referred to as Ctrl-Click.

Option KeyThe Alt/Option Key is used to skip through words in a document (and highlight words when used in conjunction with the Shift key) – much like the Ctrl-Arrow functions work on a PC.

Shift KeyThe Shift-Arrow Symbol is straightforward enough and functions the same as Windows shift or a typewriter.

Esc Symbol       The whacked out ESC key symbol. But, as I meditate on it, it makes perfect sense.

Check out this handy reference table, for a more comprehensive list of the Mac keyboard symbols.

A final word on Keyboard shortcuts (I promise)

Fortunately, when it comes to keyboard shortcuts, many on your Mac are the same as on your Windows PC. Ffor many of the usual shortcuts, you can simply swap out Command for Control. The Ctrl-C/X/V to Copy/Cut/Paste become Cmd-C/X/V.

Simplicity is the reason Apple Products are so popular. That and the COOL FACTOR.


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