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What is a Mac?

A Mac or Macintosh computers are made by Apple Computers. There are currently two generations of Mac computers on campus:

  1. G5 computers are larger and come in metallic cage-like cases
  2. iMacs are large, white, single-unit computers that have the computer built into the monitor. These machines dual-boot Windows 7 and Mac OS . The vast majority of on-campus lab machines are iMacs.


G5 Mac computers are usually attached to white Apple-brand keyboards and monitors, but typically have Windows-style mice to make right-clicking easier. Since iMacs combine the computer and the monitor, only keyboards and mice will be attached. Like the G5s, this typically means a white Apple keyboard, but a Windows-style mouse. In addition to the lab computers, many students own their own Macs. Most of these are laptops, including the iBook, PowerBook, and Air.

Key Differences Between Windows and Macs

Many who are used to Windows computers find Mac computers difficult or annoying to use at first (and vice versa). Here are some problems that many initial users have:

  • There is no CD eject button on the computer. Instead, it's located in the upper-right corner of the keyboard. Alternatively, you can click and drag the CD icon on the desktop into the Trash.

    Keyboard shortcuts use the Command key (the one with the Apple logo on it), commonly abbreviated*Cmd, instead of Ctrl. For example, copy is Cmd + C, and paste is Cmd + V.
    Closing a program's window doesn't necessarily close the program. In order to quit a program, you have to click the name of the application in the top-left corner of the screen to the right of the Apple icon, and select Quit. Alternatively, you can use*Cmd + Q.

    You can see the name of the currently selected program by looking at the taskbar at the top of the screen. You can switch programs using *Cmd + Tab.

  • The power on an Apple display is intertwined with the power of the computer connected to it. For example, tapping the monitor's power button boots up the computer as well, and shutting down the computer turns off the display.
  • The power button on the iMac is actually located behind the screen on the left side.
    While nearly all Macs on campus have Windows mice attached to them, if you are using one that doesn't, or a personal computer with Mac mouse, right-clicking is operated differently on a Mac computer. In order to right-click, simply left-click while pressing the *control key located in the lower-left corner of the keyboard.
    In order to Force Quit an application you must hold down *Cmd + Option + Esc. This is equivalent to the Ctrl-Alt-Del function on a Windows that pulls up the Task Manager window.

ITS Helpdesk workers can help with any such quandaries.

Useful Features Unique to the Mac

  • Spotlight: search utility that finds files and folders in the computer. To use Spotlight, click the magnifying class in the top-right corner of the screen, and type in your search terms.
  • The Dock: Rather than the Start Menu of the Windows computer, the Mac instead features a dock that is typically situated at the bottom of the screen. Icons representing selected applications appear on the Dock. To open one of the applications, simply click once on its icon. Other applications are found in the Applications folder, which also can be found on the Dock. To access them, click the brown folder with the @ symbol on it. Simply click the Applications folder, and then the icon for the application you want to use.