Top 30 mistakes made by new Windows to Mac switchers

“The Unofficial Apple Weblog has posted a short story on the top five mistakes made by new Mac users. It includes closing an application window, thinking it has quit, downloading software and then running it from the disk image (runs slowly, can’t eject disk image), Windows .EXE files littered around the desktop after they’ve tried to download software and install it,” Dan Warne blogs for The Warne Account.

“The comments attached to the article are entertaining, and pick up many other common mistakes,” Warne writes.

The top ten from Warne’s list:

1. Closing an application window, thinking it has quit.
2. Downloading an app and running it from the disk image.
3. Creating endless untitled folders
4. Using Safari’s Google search to get to a website
5. Confusing the concept of wallpaper with screensaver
6. Double-clicking a window thinking it will maximise it, but instead sending it to the dock
7. Not understanding the usefulness of column view and leaving everything in icon view
8. Not using any keyboard shortcuts
9. Thinking that now they’ve got rid of Windows they won’t have problems of _any_ sort on their Mac
10. Renaming desktop icons to random characters because they don’t understand the difference between the enter and the return key on Mac. (Enter puts an icon into rename mode).

Full article (Google cache) here.
We’re not sure why or how #4 is a “mistake,” unless Warne means mistakenly typing URLs into Safari’s Google search box (which actually still gives you usable results).

As per Warne’s #27:
Confusing “delete” with “backspace” (because Apple has two keys named “delete” on the keyboard, one of which does forward delete and the other backward delete. Way to go, usability geniuses).

Apple MacBooks and MacBook Pros have a single “delete” key; “fn” + “delete” = forward delete. In his quest to get in a jab at Apple, Warne conveniently forgets to mention that on full-sized Mac keyboards (click for image), Apple’s “other” delete key also has a right facing arrow with an “X” in it which delineates it from the “delete” key.


  1. My wife switched to a G4 iMac – several years ago – and I still chide her about “closing the program” with the “red dot”. “Dear, could you go back and KILL THE PROGRAM? Please? You only have a half-gig of RAM and that program is eating some of it.” “Oh. Yeah.” Can’t get her to use Apple-Q instead.

    DLMeyer – the Voice of G.L.Horton’s Stage Page Pod Cast

  2. Hmmmm. Actually it all seems quite intuitive to me. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    I “close” / hide programs that I use all the time, like word processing, graphics, etc. When I need them, pop, they are there.

    When I know that I will not use a program for a long time, I just use the quit function from the drop down menus. It just works. One step for a quick quit, two steps for a serious quit. Simple


  3. Application installation stuff still gets me from time to time, because some apps install from a package, some can be dragged and dropped and some run an installer.
    #5 How would one confuse wallpaper/desktop and screensaver? I had those in Windows.
    #7, do they mean the mode of view in Finder?

  4. DL,

    My bride does the exact same thing. Otherwise, she dos pretty well.

    “unless Warne means mistakenly typing URLs into Safari’s Google search box”

    I think that’s what he means.

  5. FWIW, I prefer to hide my Apps, visually it’s as if you’ve Quit them, but when you need them they appear instantly.

    I just need more RAM so I can keep more open Apps hidden. 1.5GB isn’t quite enought for me ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  6. Should closing a window exit the program?

    To Microsoft, the answer is always “Yes””.

    To Apple, the answer is “Maybe”. Most big apps don’t exit on closing the window, but some utilities (Dictionary, Software Update, etc.) do.

    Microsoft is consistent. Apple makes sense. Take your pick.

    After you’ve waited for (fill in your favorite huge program here) to launch, if you accidentally close all its windows, do you want it to exit, or to remain ready to open another window to continue working without repeating the delay?

    I Winows, I’m constantly going D’oh after closing an Office window, when all I wanted to do was exit the document but not the program.

  7. <rave>
    There was a time when Apple’s “delete” key was named “backspace”, but only a fool would have changed it to “delete”.

    Probably the same fool who changed the Home/End/PageUp/PageDown/Clear keys to hieroglyphics and removed the on/off button and shortened the left shift-key on the UK keyboard and moved the @, #, £ and ~ characters around and forgot to put symbols over FN 14-15 for brightness down/up and forgot to link the Help key to the computer/application’s built-in help system!


  8. Back to Macs:

    This may be because IE for Windows did not put the “.com” on the end for you and jumped you to an MS search engine. Google was therefore easier. IE for Mac and Safari have always appended for you. I just typed the URL “Apple” into the latest FireFox for Win and it took me to a domain name site – its one more step twenty times a day.

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