Remember my open letter to my brother? He was leaving full time employment and setting out as a freelance, and wondered whether to stick with familiar Windows or buy himself a Mac. I wrote an opinion - you can guess what I recommended - and I’m pleased to say that he picked a Mac in the end.
So now he has a second-hand G4 iBook (purchased from a reliable source). Naturally I told him to ask me anything he wanted to know, and I’d try my best to help out. I thought it would be interesting to keep a record of the things he asked me during the first week or so of use.
As it turned out, he needed my help much less than I expected, and only needed to ask me a handful of questions. Not all of them were things I expected, but I think they’re an interesting peek into the mind of a first-time Mac user…
Q: I’m missing my right-click. How can I do that?
A: You got a spare two-button mouse lying around? Just plug it in.
Q: Yeah but the wheel won’t work will it?
A: Just plug it in.
Q: Ooooh, the wheel works too. Great!
Q: How do I make that little row of icons disappear?
A: That’s the Dock. Look for the blue Apple in the top-left of the screen - that’s the Apple menu. Click on it. You’ll see a Dock sub-menu…
Q: Got it. Aha. Dock. “Turn on Hiding.” Gotcha.
Q: How do I make a window expand to fill the screen?
A: Hmm, this works differently on Mac OS. The green widget in the top left of every window will expand it, but not always to fill the whole screen. Depends on the app, the content of the window, and luck. Play around with it and see what happens.
Q: Why does clicking the red blob not quit the app?
A: Historically, Mac applications tended to use multiple windows. In many cases the tools would have a window of their own, the document a window, the preferences another one, and so on. So it became a general rule that all windows could be opened and closed independently, and that closing one meant just that - all it did was close the window. Closing the application was a different command. So it’s a good idea to get into the habit of using Command+Q when you’ve finished with an application, to quit it completely. All running apps consume RAM, and since you’ve only got 512MB to play with, you’ll be wanting to keep as much of it free as possible for running the OS.
Q: A couple of webmail applications I use (Lotus Notes based) seem not to work in Safari at all well…
A: Hmmm. Been a looooong time since I had to do anything with Lotus Notes, web-based or otherwise. I suggest you download Firefox and see if that’s any better.
Q: I need to think about a back up solution.
A: Yes, you do. Storage disks are cheap nowadays, I think you need to buy one as soon as you can. As much space as you can afford. Don’t worry about getting software with it - I think either Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper will provide you with the kind of backup you need.
What questions have Mac newbies asked you?