Menu Bar Features: Okay, you’ve just got your hands on your first-ever Mac, and you’re suddenly realizing… “Man! This is harder than I thought.” Well, don’t worry, because together, we’ll explore the Mac step by step. We’ve got five levels to master, each more advanced than the last, and through them, you’ll see that using a Mac is more straightforward than you ever thought possible.
Alright, let’s start with the basics, the six essential features that make up the Mac desktop. And after exactly 90 seconds, you’ll already be far past the newbie level. If you’re coming from any other PC, you’re used to each app having its own menu. On a Mac though, we’ve got one single menu bar that never leaves the top of the screen. Meaning, as we switch from one app to another, the menu items also change to match the app we’re in. But, one menu item never changes, and that’s the Apple menu. Think of it as your system control base, from where you can shut down or restart your Mac, force quit buggy apps, or quickly open the System Settings. And you might’ve already noticed that the menu bar is cut into two – so a quick look at the right shows us the battery level, the Wifi connection, or the date and time.
Control Center: Now, there’s more of this in the Control Center, where we can do things like adjust the brightness and volume, connect to headphones, or change the sound output. The point being, for most quick settings, we don’t need to actually open the Settings app; we can change them right from the menu bar.
Widgets & Notification Center: Oh, and hiding behind the date and time, there’s your Notification Center, with all recent updates, plus a space for your widgets, like the weather, your to-do list from the Reminders app, or upcoming events from the Calendar app – which for me are currently… none.
The Dock’s Surprises: Now, the Dock seems pretty straightforward – but take my word, it does far more than you might think. At its core, it’s a place to pin your most-used apps, documents, and folders. So, just for starters, if we go to the Launchpad, which shows every single app installed on your Mac, we can grab any one of those apps and pin it to the Dock for quicker access. In the same way, if we don’t need an app in the Dock, we can just drag it out. Now, by default, your Dock already shows your Downloads folder, but you can drag and drop any document or folder into this right-hand side. Any document we click will directly open, but any folder we click will expand directly above the Dock. To take this one step further, we can right-click the folder and choose how we’d like to sort and view it, so as a Fan, Grid, or List.
What’s great about this part of the Dock is that you can grab any document and drop it onto any pinned folder to move it into the folder. If you wanna get rid of a document or even an app, drag it over to the Trash can. Plus, this one also doubles as a disk ejector. And this whole drag-and-drop concept also works with your apps. Drop a picture onto the Photos app for a quick import – or a PDF onto the Mail app to directly attach it to a new email draft.
Window Management Chaos: Okay – we’ve done the basics of the macOS interface – so let’s level up and bring in some chaos. Starting out on a Mac, handling multiple windows at a time can easily be the most frustrating thing ever. Well, you see, if there’s one thing that really sets macOS apart, it’s window management. But trust me on this – it’s also very simple. So – let’s hit the Reset button – and take it all step by step.
Quit vs. Close Window: Now, this is often where frustration levels peak. Clicking this red button only closes your current window; it doesn’t quit the app. Meaning, we can still open a new window of that app from the menu bar. To actually quit an app, we can choose Quit in the menu bar or simply hit Command and Q on the keyboard.
Hide Apps: But sometimes, you might just wanna keep an app out of sight. So, just for example, if you’re like me into the Batman soundtrack while working but don’t want the Music app on your desktop, click the yellow button to minimize it into the Dock. We can also make an app completely disappear by choosing Hide in the menu bar or pressing Command and H. To bring the app back on-screen, just click it in the Dock.
Full Screen vs. Maximize Apps: The green button throws your window into full screen, so you can focus completely on your work. This hides the Dock and Menu Bar, which you can bring back by moving your cursor to the top or bottom edge of the screen. To quickly exit this full-screen mode, hit the Escape key. Now, I know that on Windows, this same button isn’t a full-screen but simply a maximizing button. So, if you wanna do just that on Mac, hold down Option and double-click any corner of the window.
Now – at this time you might be thinking: I get how to close, quit or minimize windows, but on any other PC, I’m used to snapping them.
Alt-Tab on Mac?: Seeing my windows in the taskbar, and using Alt-Tab to switch between them. So – let’s talk about six of those fancy multitasking features you can use on the Mac. For starters, Alt-Tab on Windows is Command-Tab on the Mac. It lets us see all open apps and quickly switch between them. But you’re probably wondering how to switch between different windows of the same app. Well, we can use Command and the Tilde key to quickly toggle between them.
Mission Control: To see each and every open window on your Mac, press the F3 key or swipe up with three fingers on a trackpad. What we see here is called Mission Control and is exactly what you get with Task View on a Windows PC.
Window Snapping on Mac?: Now, we get true multitasking by hovering over the green button and tiling two windows next to each other. But again, this will tile them in full-screen mode, hiding the menu bar and dock. If you’d just like to snap windows, again, hover over the green button, but this time, hold down the Option key, and we can move the window to the left or the right side of the desktop. But – even though this works great, the first app I download onto every new Mac is a window-snapping app. Apps like Magnet, Rectangle, or BetterSnapTool mean we can actually drag windows to the edges and corners of the screen and neatly snap them next to each other. You’ll find links to all those apps in the description below.
What’s the Finder?: But if there’s one thing, a decade with a Mac has taught me, it’s that everything’s easier when you know how to use the Finder. It’s home to every single document on your Mac, from your fabulous new desktop wallpaper to that famous Shakira song you downloaded in 2010 with your online video converter. So, welcome to level 4. Let’s master – the Finder – step by step. It starts with this. Each Mac is born with your very own custom user folder – split into stuff like pictures, downloads, and applications. Now, Documents is the place where most people then go on and create their folders to save their stuff into.
Customize your Folder View: In any folder, there are four simple options to view your files. Up in the toolbar, we can toggle between Icon, List, Column, and Gallery view. For a first-time Mac user, I always recommend the Column View, as it shows you the folder structure and lets you drag files around easily. That being said, you can open as many Finder windows as you like with Command and N. And then drag and drop stuff between them.
Command X on Mac?: Oh, and speaking of moving files, there’s no Command X on Mac. Chandler: “Do you know why?” Not really – but: You can still move a file by copying it, and then instead of pasting it with Command and V, paste it with Option, Command, and V. All that said, the Finder might still not feel quite as advanced as let’s say the File Explorer on a Windows PC. That’s because, by default, the Finder is generously oversimplified. Apple wants to make it as stripped down and easy to use as possible – which means that on the flip side, there are loads of hidden features – we can and should enable.
Hidden Tabs: Like the Tab bar, which you can activate in the View menu. The point being, instead of opening hundreds of Finder windows to move files around, we can now just open a new tab, just like we can in any web browser. And then grab a file and drop it onto the first tab to move it there.
Hidden Path Bar: And taking this one step further, also in the View Menu, we can enable the Path bar. This one is a no-brainer, I mean on any Windows PC, it’s already enabled by default.
Set Your Default Folder: Heading to the Finder Settings, you can choose what folder the Finder shows when opening a new window. By default, that’s your recently added files, but many prefer the Downloads or Documents folder.
Customize Finder Sidebar: Oh, and under Sidebar, you can tidy up your Favorites by unchecking the folders you don’t wanna see there for quick access. And on the same note, drag and drop any folder into the Favorites section of the sidebar to pin it there for quick access.
Hidden List View Tip: Also, if you prefer your folders in List View, I’d always recommend hitting Command and Plus on your keyboard to choose the bigger icon size.
Show Preview: And no matter which view you’re in, you can always enable Show Preview in the View menu. It shows you more info and a preview of the file you’ve selected.
Time Machine’s Your Safety Net: But – here’s the thing. The Finder, window management, the dock and menu bar are all more or less things you know from any other PC. So – let’s talk about the four features that make the Mac unique and might be completely new to you. Like Time Machine, which is actually called like that. In the System Settings, under General, you can set up any of your external drives as a backup disk, and when connected to your Mac, it will automatically copy your entire disk. Think of it as taking regular snapshots of your computer. At any time, you can then browse the backups in this time traveling interface and see the Finder exactly as it was on any given day – and then restore any deleted files.
Surprising Ways to Use Spotlight Search: And this next one is truly mindblowing. Spotlight Search lets us find any file, app, or piece of information on your Mac and beyond with just one single keyboard shortcut: Command-Space. I mean, just for example, you can use it to quickly open apps, documents, search for text within documents, quickly toggle specific settings, search for a contact to directly draft them an e-mail, or get time zone, unit, and currency conversions. You can even type in a question and hit Command B to directly open a Google Search in your browser.
Hidden Trackpad Gestures: The Mac’s trackpad can do way more than just scrolling, clicking and tapping. Narrator: “It was at this exact moment when Vince noticed he hadn’t mentioned one of the first key steps for new Mac users: going to the Trackpad Settings and enabling Tap to Click – as this isn’t on by default. Note that he had intended to bring it up at the video’s start – but simply forgot.” Let me show you. You can swipe up with three fingers to see all open apps and their respective windows. Swipe down with three fingers to see only the windows of the app you’re in. If you’re using an app in full-screen mode, simply swipe left or right with three fingers to switch between the app and your desktop. And kind of “grab” the trackpad with all five fingers to see the Launchpad.
Best Keyboard Shortcuts: And of course, if not better than on any other PC but certainly unique to the Mac are its keyboard shortcuts. So – let’s quickly check out the shortcuts you’re most likely to use. Option, Command and Space opens a new Finder search window so you can directly look for a file. Command + I opens additional Info about a selected file. Hitting the Space Bar on any selected file opens it in Quick Look, so in a Preview window, without opening the actual app. Command and W lets you close any window, or, when in your browser, it closes your current tab. Speaking of your browser, Command 1, 2, 3, and so on toggles between your tabs. Command C copies, Command V pastes. And to paste text unformatted, press Shift Command V, so it’s in the font and text size of your document. And Option, Command and Escape opens up the Force Quit menu to quit buggy apps. Hold on! Hello again! And we’ve done all the basics, but if you wanna take everything you’ve just seen to the next level, then you should watch this video next, with ten features to change first on your brand new Mac. Alright, I will see you there, thank you so much for reading, and have an amazing day!