Switching From Windows to OS X: Just Let It Go

I’ve been a Mac user now for about a year and a half, give or take. As is common, I’m completely happy I took the plunge and will never look back. There is very little I dislike about my MacBook and OS X. If you’re looking to convert yourself I’ll tell right now, you won’t regret it. The rumors are true. It is a fantastic experience overall.

But there are certainly some possible areas of frustration. As an advanced Windows user, I found many aspects of OS X to be overly-simplified, and really quite alien. Today, I’ll be outlining a few of these examples – and explaining the best way to deal with this source of frustration!

The Switching Process

Switch Away!

Switch Away!

I was a Windows PC user growing up. I actually went to school to be an IT professional so as you would imagine much of my coursework revolved around Windows technologies. It is, and will be for a considerably long time, the dominant computer operating system in the world. Microsoft, love them or hate them for it, has done an incredible job becoming a mainstay in just about everyone’s computing life.

Apple does a beautiful thing and provides many “here’s what you did in Windows…here’s how you do it in Mac OS X” videos and tutorials. They’ve done a great job recognizing the apprehension people have when making such a significant change, especially when their products come at a premium cost. It’s not something you “just try out”. I suppose you could spend a few hours a the local Apple Store (if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby), but when it comes down to it you really just end up diving in head first.

Say goodbye to the registry...

Say goodbye to the registry...

From my experience, the transition wasn’t overly difficult, but there were certainly some frustrations I had when learning this new operating system and I think a lot of it stemmed from being more of a power Windows user.

Power User Frustrations

Windows does a lot of things wrong. A big part of becoming a Windows expert is learning to deal with those things and figuring out ways to work with all of the little oddities and idiosyncrasies that Microsoft was kind enough to not think completely though. Knowledge in this area gave me a lot of tools to troubleshoot problems, which is a big part of working in an enterprise Windows environment. But it also crippled me somewhat with learning a new operating system.

I originally set out to write about my general experience of the move from a PC to a Mac, but after some thought I stumbled upon an interesting idea. Mac OS X is far easier to learn than Windows if you are starting from scratch. And along those same lines, it is easier for a novice Windows user to learn Mac OS X than a power Windows user.

Here’s what I mean by that statement. I found that when I was learning to use OS X, I was essentially over-thinking. I was making everything much more complicated than it actually was and it caused a decent amount of frustration. I think my Windows experience had scarred me somewhat. The logical, easy method seemed just that. Too logical and too easy. My mind was always looking for the difficult, strange route to complete every task – not the simple, straight-forward one.

Figuring Out Finder

Getting comfortable with Finder was a significant step for me personally. Though it is fairly similar to Windows Explorer (depending upon what view you’re using) it was just different enough to throw me off. After some use the “Devices”, “Places”, “Search For” structure really started to make sense, and before long I realized how much more efficient it was.

Taking advantage of Spotlight takes that efficiency even further. The search tool in Windows was always a last resort for me so it took me a while to get used to relying more on Spotlight.

Apple's marketing makes the process sound simple... And it often is!

Apple's marketing makes the process sound simple... And it often is!

Settings Simplified

System settings are much easier to deal with in Mac OS X. With Windows there are some settings in the Control Panel, but many are in places that are a little odd and are difficult to find. With Mac OS X, the System Preferences are always easily accessible from the Apple icon. They are organized into sections and are all there in one central place.

I remember needing to adjust the internal microphone early on in my Mac days. I had no idea how to do it. I just went to the System Preferences (because it made sense), found the Sound settings icon and had it figured out in a matter of seconds.

The Simplest Solution Is Probably the Right One!

Mac OS X is really designed in a way that just makes sense. The best advice I can give someone coming over from the Windows world is to forget everything they’ve learned and just use the machine.

It took me a while to figure it out and shake loose from my old ways, but after I let go of where I thought things “should be” and how I thought things “should work” I was able to make more sense of OS X and really interact with my Mac.

Did you find yourself in a similar position after making the switch? Let us know in the comments!