Mac OS Crash Course - Switching from Windows to Mac: The Unofficial Guide to Making a Seamless Switch to Mac OS Yosemite (2015)

Switching from Windows to Mac: The Unofficial Guide to Making a Seamless Switch to Mac OS Yosemite (2015)

Part I: Mac OS Crash Course


The keyboard?! I know what you’re thinking: a keyboard is a keyboard! Well, sort of. While it is true that you could use a Windows keyboard on a Mac, there are keyboards (including the one that’s free with your Mac or built into your MacBook) that are specifically designed for Mac.

There are not a lot of differences; below are the four main ones.

Apple Key

On a Windows keyboard, there is a button that looks like a Windows flag called the Windows Button. There’s no sense putting a Windows button on a Mac keyboard, so where the Windows button normally is, you’ll find the Apple button, which doesn’t look at all like an apple! It actually looks like this(⌘); it’s more commonly known as the Command Button—though some people also call it the Clover Key and Pretzel Key.

Delete (Backspace)

On a Windows keyboard, the backspace button is a ‘Backwards Delete’ key and the delete button is a ‘Forward Delete’ key (removing the space immediately after the cursor). On a Mac keyboard, the backspace key is labeled ‘Delete’ and is in exactly the same location as the Windows backspace key. Most Mac keyboards don’t have a Forward Delete key anymore, though larger ones do—it’s called “Del->”. If you don’t see it, you still can use forward delete by hitting the FN button (button left corner of your keyboard) and Delete button.

Magic Mouse / Trackpad

Aside from the already mentioned right clicking (or lack thereof), Windows and Mac mouses work about the same.

The mouse and trackpad are both missing the scroll button typically found on a Windows mouse. To scroll up and down or side to side, just move two fingers up and down or left and right. It’s basically the same way you scroll on an iPhone or iPad except that you use two fingers instead of one.

If you have the latest MacBook (anything newer than March 2015—but not the MacBook Air) then you will have a brand new feature called Force Touch; Force Touch is something you’ll soon see on iPhones, iPads and pretty much every new Apple device—it’s actually already on the Apple Watch. So what is it? It measures how much pressure you are giving the trackpad—if you tap down on your trackpad over an icon or image, and then press all the way, it will show you a preview of it.

The biggest difference between a Windows and Mac mouse is that a Mac mouse use something called Gestures. These can all be customized by going to “System Preferences” and “Mouse” or “Trackpad” but below is an overview of default gestures.

Note: Some of these gestures only work with a Magic Trackpad—not a Magic Mouse.

· Tap with three fingers on a word - brings up a dictionary of that word (note: does not work in all programs).

· Right Click - Click with two fingers.

· Zoom in or out - Pinch with two fingers (does not work on all programs)

· Smart Zoom (automatically zooms in) - Double tap with two fingers (does not work with all programs)

· Rotate - Rotate with two fingers (does not work with all programs)

· Swipe between two pages - scroll left or right with two fingers.

· Toggle between full-screen apps - swipe left or right with four fingers

· Bring up Notification Center - Swipe left from the right edge of your mouse with two fingers.

· Bring up Mission Control - Swipe up with three fingers.

· App Expose - Swipe down with three fingers.

· Bring up Launchpad apps - Pinch with thumb and three fingers.

· Show the desktop - Spread with your thumb and three fingers.

The Desktop

Hopefully by now your files are transferred, you’ve completed the initial start up, and you have a pretty picture on your desktop. At last, you are ready to use your computer!

The desktop is where you’ll be spending much of your time, so let’s take some time getting to know it.

The first thing you should notice is that it’s really not that much different from Windows—it’s a vast space that you can either leave empty or fill with icons or documents.

Menu Bar

One of the most noticeable differences between Windows and Mac on the desktop is the top menu bar. I’ll be referring back to this menu bar throughout the book, but right now what you need to know is this bar changes with each program that you open, but some of the features remain the same. The little apple, for instances, never changes—clicking on this will always bring up options to restart, shut down, or log out of your computer. The little magnifying glass at the far right is also always there. Any time you click on that, you can search for files, emails, contacts, etc. that are on your computer.


At the top right, you’ll see several “menulets,” which include Bluetooth, wireless connectivity, volume, battery, time and date, the name of the account currently logged in, Spotlight, and Notifications, as well as other assorted third party icons (if installed).

As this book continues, we’ll refer back to this part of the menu part.


Windows has a taskbar on the bottom of the screen, and Mac has a dock; the dock is where all your commonly used applications are.

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If you see a little dot under the icon, then the program is currently open. If you want to close it, then click the icon with two fingers to bring up the options, and then click Quit.

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Removing a program from the dock is pretty simple—just drag the icon to the trash and let go. This will not remove the program—it only removes the shortcut. Finder, Trash, and Launchpad are the only programs that you cannot remove.

If you want to add a program to the dock, then open it; when the icon appears on the dock, click with two fingers, then go to Options and select Keep in Dock.

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At the right end of the Dock is the Trash. To delete a folder, file or application, drag the item to the Trash, or right click the item and select Move to Trash from the pop-up menu. If you want to eject a disk or drive, such as an iPod or USB flash drive, drag the volume into the Trash. As the volume hovers over the trash, the icon morphs from a trash can to a large eject button. Release the mouse, and your volume will be safely ejected and can be removed from the computer. To empty the trash, right click (click with two fingers) on the Trash icon in the Dock, and select Empty Trash.

You can manage the trash yourself, but I also highly recommend an app called “Clean My Mac” (; it’s a little expensive, but when I use it, it normally helps me free up 1GB of storage just by deleting installation files and extensions that I don’t need.

App Buttons

The little lights in the image above have no name. Some people call them traffic lights. You’ll start seeing a lot of them because nearly all Mac programs use them. On a Windows, you’ve seen them as an X and a minus in the upper right of your screen. On a Mac they appear in the upper left of the running program. The red light means close, the yellow light means minimize, and the green makes the app full screen.

Full screen means the program takes up the entire screen and even the dock disappears. You can see the dock and other programs quickly by swiping the trackpad to the right with four fingers. To get back to the app, swipe with four fingers to your left.


The first icon on your dock—one of three that cannot be deleted or moved—is the Finder icon.

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Finder is the Mac equivalent of Explorer on a Windows computer; as the name implies, it finds things. Finder is pretty resourceful and powerful so this section will be a little longer than others, because there’s a lot you can do with it.

Let’s get started on clicking on the Finder icon.

Views in Finder

There are four ways to view folders on your Mac - icons, lists, columns and Cover Flow. Different views make sense for different file types, and you can change the view using the View Options icons (pictured above).

Cover Flow View

Cover Flow lets you quickly go through thumbnails / previews of photos (it’s a little like Film Strip in Windows); you can also sort any of the columns by clicking on the header—so if you are looking for a larger file, then click the Size column or if you are looking for a recent file, then pick the Date Modified column.

Icon View

Icon View can help if you need to sort through several image files or applications. It gives you either a thumbnail of each picture or an icon for each file or app.

List View

List View, on the other hand, gives you more information about the file, including the date it was last modified. This is the perfect view for sorting.

Column View

Finally, Column View which is kind of a hybrid of List View and Cover Flow View. It shows the folder hierarchy a file is located in. Notice that Finder doesn’t include the Windows “go up one level” button – Column View is a good way to get the same results and navigate easily through your file structure.

Sorting in Finder

Finder gives you a number of ways to sort your files and folders. You can sort by name, type, application required for opening the file (like Microsoft Word, for example), the date the file was created, modified, or opened, the file size, and any tags you may have applied.

File Management

Most file management tasks in OS X are similar to Windows. Files can be dragged and dropped, copied, cut and pasted. If you need to create a new folder, use the Gear icon in Finder, which will give you the option you need.

Yosemite also allows you to batch rename files (i.e. rename several files at once instead of one at a time), potentially saving you hours of time, depending on your file system. To take advantage of this, select the files you’d like to rename (hint: use COMMAND + click to select multiple files, or use COMMAND + A to select everything). Then right-click the selected files and choose “Rename X items.”

You’ll then have the option to replace text or to add text to the file names.


If you look on the left side of the Finder Window, you’ll see a Favorites sidebar. This section includes high-frequency folders, like Documents, Pictures, Downloads, and more.

To add an application or file to your Favorites menu, just drag it over to the Favorites area and drop it. To remove an item from Favorites, right-click it (click with two fingers) and select Remove From Sidebar.

Tabbed Browsing

Apple took a page from Internet browsers by adding something called “Tabbed Browsing” to Finder. Basically instead of having several Finder boxes open (which is how you had to do it in older OS’) you open tabs. To open an additional Finder tab, press COMMAND+t or click File and New Tab.

If you want to merge all of your tabbed windows, just click Windows in the file menu on the top of your screen, and then Merge All Windows.


If you use photo apps like Flickr, then you probably know all about tagging; it’s essentially adding subjects to your file to make it easier to find. Let’s say the file is regarding the 2015 tax year—you can add a tag to the file called “2015 Taxes” or whatever you want it to be. You can also color code it.

To assign a tag to a file (you can also assign it to a folder), click the file / folder with two fingers, and then click tags; if this is your first take just type it in and hit Enter; if you’ve already tagged a file and want to use the same name, then click the name of the tag as it appears.


Launchpad is essentially the Start menu on a Windows computer. It shows your programs.

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When you click it, you’ll see rows of programs; you can immediately start typing to search for an app, or you can just look for it. If you have a lot of apps, then you probably have more than one screen. Swipe with two fingers to the left to see the next screen.

Launchpad takes a lot of cues from iPhone and iPad. If you want to remove a program, for example, you do it the same way you remove an iPhone or iPad app. Just click and hold until an X appears above it, then click the X to remove it. Similarly, to rearrange icons, use the same method for rearranging iPhone / iPad apps—click and hold over the icon until it begins to shake, and then move it wherever you want it to go. You can even put programs into groups the same way as an iPhone / iPad—click and hold over the icon, then drag it on top of the app you want to group it with; finally, when the folder appears, you can let go.

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After you delete a program, you can re-download it anytime, by going into the app store (as long as you downloaded it from the app store and not from a website).


For the past few updates, Apple has attempted to replicate iOS (iPad / iPhone) features; the move is meant to make using a Mac much like using a mobile device. This attempt at replicating features is especially true with Yosemite OS.

Notifications is a new feature to OS X Yosemite. You can find it on the top menu button at all times; it’s to the far right hand corner and looks like this:

Click it any time you want to see alerts. You can also access it by swiping with two fingers to the left from the edge of your trackpad.

When you swipe down from the top of an iPad or iPhone you will get a similar screen. There are two parts of the Notifications menu: Today and Notifications.

The Today tab is where you’ll see things happening more in the moment—what’s the weather, what’s in your calendar, what’s going on with your stocks, etc. The Notifications tab is where you’ll see things like Facebook messages or emails. Later in this book, I’ll show you how to customize it.


The Mac is a beautiful machine, but you can only admire that desktop for so long; eventually you’ll want to get on the Internet, so let me explain how.

There are two methods: Ethernet (i.e. plugging in a LAN cable to your computer) and Wireless.

Setting Up With Ethernet

All new Mac computers are set up with Wi-Fi; iMacs also have Ethernet ports to plug in a network cable. This option isn’t available on any of the Mac laptops—though you can buy an adaptor if you absolutely must have it.

If you have a basic Internet modem, then set up is pretty easy. Just plug a network cable into your Internet hub, and plug the other end into your Mac. Once it’s plugged in, the Internet should work.

Newer Macs come with top of the line wireless radios for Wi-Fi, so you should be perfectly fine without using the Ethernet port.

Setting Up Wireless Networks

Setting up a wireless connection is also pretty simple. Just click the Wi-Fi menu on the menu bar. It looks like the image below and is near the upper right corner:

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As long as there’s a wireless network in range, it will show up when you click it (sometimes it does take a few seconds to appear).

If there’s a lock next to the Wi-Fi name, then you’ll need to know the passcode (if it’s a home Internet connection, then it’s usually on the bottom of your Internet modem; if it’s at a business, then you’ll have to ask for the code. If there’s no lock, then it’s an open network. You usually see this kind of network at places like Starbucks.

If it’s a locked network, then as soon as you click on it, it will ask for the code; once it’s entered and you click Connect, then you’re connected (assuming you added it right); if it’s not locked then once you click on it, then it will attempt to connect.

If you own one of the above-mentioned computers, or would rather connect to a network wirelessly, you can do it by clicking on the Wi-Fi menulet in the top menu bar.

Airport Express / Airport Extreme

If you need more range in your wireless connection, or want to set up a private network, Apple sales to Mac accessories. One is the Airport Express ($99) and the other is the Airport Extreme ($199 or $299 to $399 if you’d like one with a hard drive).

The Express is a good option for people wanting to add a private network (so, for instance, you can have a network just for guest and guest printing); the Airport Extreme gives excellent range; I use one in my home because the modem supplied with my phone company could barely reach the next room over and the signal strength was weak; the Extreme not only got to the next room, but it got several more rooms—I can now get a signal more than 100 feet from where the Extreme is located. It’s a pretty easy installation, and Apple has videos for those who need extra help.

The more expensive models are also a good option for backing up computers. The $299 and $399 models offer up to 3TB of storage; the way it works is your computer connects to it, and will back up your computer in the background, so your computer is always being backed up. These models also let you share files. So, for instance, if you want a private storage locker for anyone who connects to your network, then you could do so here.


Just as a Windows computer has Internet Explorer as the default web browser, Mac has Safari as the default web browser; if you’ve used Safari on your iPhone or iPad then you should already be accustomed to using it.

Noticeably absent from Safari is something called “Flash”. Flash is what you might used to watch some videos and other web apps; you can always download it, but this will affect the battery life of your laptop, as Flash tends to drain the battery quickly—which is one of the reasons Apple does not include it.

You are also free to download other Internet browsers. Some of the popular free ones are Google Chrome (‎), Mozilla Firefox (, and Opera (

One of the biggest advantages of using Safari over another web browser is a feature called Handoff. Let’s say you’re reading an article on your phone on the subway coming into work; you get to work and want to pick up where you left off on a larger Mac screen; just open up Safari, then click the two square boxes in the upper right corner.

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If your iPhone or iPad is synced with the computer, then you’ll see its name and pages that it’s currently browsing. You can also handoff a Mac page to your iPhone or iPad in the same way.

In addition to websites, handoff also lets you seamlessly sync things like maps, messages, and documents (Pages, Numbers, and Presentation documents).


Mail is the Mac equivalent of Outlook; like Safari, it works in a very similar way to iPad and iPhone. Apple will provide you with a free email address that ends, but you can also add normal email into the application (like Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail).

Adding Accounts

To get started, you need to add your email account. Locate the Mail app by clicking on Launchpad, and then clicking the Mail app icon.

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Once the app opens, go to the top menu bar and click Mail > Add Account. This will load the Add Account dialogue box.

Select the provider that you will be adding in (Note: you can go back and add as many accounts as you want) and click Continue. Next you’ll be asked what your Name, Email Address, and Password is.

If you are using a popular email provider, set up is pretty self-explanatory. If you are using a business email, then you will probably need to work with your system administrator to get it added in correctly.

Once it’s set up, you should start seeing mail show up on your computer.

Sending an Email

Now that you have an account added, you can start sending mail; to send mail you can either press Command+N on your keyboard, go to the top menu and select File and New Message, or click the Compose icon (it looks like a pencil going through a square).

The New Message dialogue box will appear. In the To field, enter the email address or addresses that you’d like to send a message to, add in a subject and message, and then hit the paper airplane in the upper left corner when you are ready to send the message.

You can also add formatting to the message by clicking on the “A” button. Formatting is very basic—you can bold, add italics, underline, and change the coloring.


Unless you are a business person, having contacts on your computer might not seem necessary; here’s the advantage of it—it syncs with your phone. So having a contact on your computer will carry over to your other mobile devices. To use it, go to your Launchpad, then click the icon.

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If you’re signed into iCloud, then you should see dozens of contacts already. To create a new contact, click on the (+) button at the bottom of the main window. On the next screen add all the info you want—it can be as much or as little as you desire. Some contacts may only need a website address, others might have mailing address—it’s entirely up to you how much information you add. You can also edit a contact by finding their name, then clicking on the Edit button. If you want to delete someone, then find their name and hit Delete on your keyboard (you can also delete by clicking on their name with two fingers).

Messaging / Phone Calls

Apple products really work best with other Apple products; that’s even truer with Yosemite, where you can sync your iPhone account to make phone calls (both video and regular) and send messages right from your Mac. Additionally, you can even use your iPhone’s data connection to get Internet on your laptop on the go—this is especially handy while travelling if you don’t want to pay for Wi-Fi spots that charge for access (just keep in mind that your data connection does have monthly limits and using a computer can go through those limits very quickly—in other words, this probably isn’t something you want to do to stream Netflix movies).


When you use iMessages from your Mac to send messages, just keep in mind that it’s kind of like instant messaging for Mac users—that means it’s designed to work with Mac products…nothing else.

Setting Up iMessage

1. To set up iMessage, click the Messages icon to launch it.

2. If you were already logged into iCloud on the Mac, you will automatically be logged into iMessage.

3. If you’d like to change this account or haven’t yet logged in, select Messages > Preferences on the top menu bar.

4. When the Accounts dialogue box comes up, click on the Accounts tab.

5. In the left hand window, you will see iMessage. Select it.

6. The following screen will prompt you to enter the email address and password associated with iCloud. Do so and click the blue Sign In button to complete the setup process.

Setting Up Other IM Clients

While iMessage is made for Mac products, you can use it for other messaging servers like Google, Yahoo, and AOL. To add other instant messaging (IM) clients to Messages:

1. Open up Messages if it isn’t already running.

2. On the top menu bar, click Messages > Add Account.

3. Select the type of account that you’d like to add, such as Gmail or Yahoo, and select Continue.

4. You will be prompted to enter the appropriate email address and password, and click the Set Up button to finish.

So now that it’s set up, how do you send a message?

Start New Conversation

1. Before we begin, take a look at the entire Messages screen. It should be totally empty with no conversations. On the left sidebar it will say No Conversations. This is where you will be able to change between different conversations with people by clicking on each one. On the right hand side, you will also see No Conversation Selected. Here is where you will be able to type new messages and read everything in whatever conversation is currently selected. If you have an iPhone (or any phone for that matter), it will be like the screen where you read your text messages.

2. To create a new conversation with someone, click the Compose new message button located at the top of the left sidebar, next to the search bar. It should look a little pencil inside of a square.

When you get a message, if your sound is enabled, you’ll get a little chime.


FaceTime allows you to connect with friends and family using your computer’s built-in camera. I’ve heard people say they are worried that someone is watching them through their webcam that they cover it with tape. When FaceTime is in use (i.e. when the camera is on and people can see you) a bright green light comes on—so you don’t have to worry about people spying on you…if you don’t see the light, then the camera is off.

The app can be launched by clicking on Launchpad > FaceTime.

On the left side you can enter a person’s name if they are in your Contacts, or a phone number. For FaceTime to work, the other person must also have an Apple device, and accept your call.

You can also use FaceTime audio. This lets you call someone without the camera—it’s essentially a Wi-Fi phone call.

Photo Booth

We’re a culture of selfies, so it’s appropriate to talk about the app that takes your picture.

To get started, go to Launchpad and click the Photo Booth icon.

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Couple of things you should notice once the app loads. First, you! If you look to the top of your screen, there should be a green light. That tells you the camera is on. But now click on a different app in your Dock—see how the green light goes off? And now click on the Photo Booth icon again, and once again the green light is on. What’s going on with that light? The light indicates your camera is on—but it only stays on while you are in the Photo Booth app.

Are you ready to take a picture? Put on your silly face and click the camera button.

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Like a lot of Apple apps, it’s a powerful app with not a lot to it. There are only a handful of options. So let’s talk about those options.

First, like a lot of Mac apps, this one can be run in full screen mode; just click the green button in the upper left corner. To exit full screen mode, you can either click the green button again or hit the ESC button on your keyboard. When you are using an app in full screen, you can always get back to your desktop by swiping with three fingers to your right on the trackpad.

So that first photo was just for fun and now you want to get rid of it. That’s really easy; on the bottom of the screen you’ll see all of your recent photos. Click the one you want to delete, and hit the X in the corner.

But let’s say you really like a photo—so much so that you want to share it with all of your friends. Just click the photo, and then hit the square button with an arrow pointing up, and pick how you want to share it.

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There are all sorts of effects for taking photos and videos. Try a few out; just click on the Effects button in the bottom right corner (NOTE: if you don’t see that button then you probably are still viewing your photos, so click the camera button to get back).

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This will bring up 45 different camera effects.

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You won’t see all 45 at once; you’ll see them 9 at a time; click arrows or the circles to see the next nine effects (NOTE: The last page of effects is for you to add your own backgrounds). When you see the effect you want, just click it.

When you are back to the main screen, there are three options in the lower left corner of the box.

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The default box is the middle one. That takes one photo. The first one will take four different photos (one in each box), and the last will take a video of you. When using the video option, the camera will change to a video recorder.

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If you want to use some of the fancier effects where it puts you somewhere you aren’t (say Yosemite or the beach), then it will ask you to step out of the picture so it can detect the background; then after a few seconds you will step back in. It’s best to use a solid background for this effect. If you aren’t happy with the way it looks, then you can reset the filter by going to the Menu bar on top, then clicking View and finally clicking Reset effect.

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If you want to add your own background, then go to the last page of Effects, and drag a photo of your choice into the box. Once you see that photo appear, click on it to activate the effect.

Don’t be afraid to play around with the program. There’s nothing you can press that will mess anything up!


Calendar is another feature that can be synced to your iCloud account—so as long as you’re using the same account, then everything you put in your calendar from your computer will also show up on your iPhone and iPad. You can also sync the calendar to other ones you may be using online like Google or Yahoo.

To get started with it, go to your Launchpad in the Dock and click on the Calendar icon.

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At the top of the application window from left to right you have the standard stoplight buttons, Calendars, New Event (+), several different views including Day and Month, and the Search bar.

Syncing Calendars

If you already use a calendar with iCloud, Google, Yahoo, or any other provider, you can sync it up with the Mac Calendar application.

1. In the top menu bar click Calendar > Add Account.

2. Like you did with Mail, you’ll be prompted to enter your name, email address, and password.

Once you finish the setup process your events from that calendar should automatically populate in the Calendar window. If you have multiple accounts with separate calendars, you can filter through them by clicking on the Calendars button in the toolbar, and checking or unchecking the boxes next to the appropriate calendars.

Changing Views

You can change the calendar view between Day, Week, Month, or Year by clicking on the corresponding button in the toolbar.

Day will display all of that day’s events, broken down by hour.

Week will show you the whole week at a glance, and display blocks for events so you can easily see when you have events, and if you have any upcoming free time.

The Month view will probably be your default view if you just need your calendar to remind you about bill payments and due dates, or don’t have too many appointments each month but they are scattered through the month.


As the name implies, the Reminders application is used to remind you of things—and, as you might have guessed by now, it can be synced using iCloud to the Reminders app on your iPhone or iPad.

The app lets you create list for things like groceries or anything else on your mind; you can also use the app to schedule when things are do—like paying a bill by the 15th of the month; it can even be set to remind you every time you leave or arrive at your home to turn your home alarm on or off.

To get started, open the app by clicking on the Launchpad icon, then selecting it from the list of apps.

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Creating Single Reminders

If you just need to be reminded of a single item, or several unrelated items, you should enter them into the Reminders list.

1. With the application open, click on Reminders in the left hand window.

2. In the main window, click on the (+) button next to the title of the list (“Reminders” in this case).

3. A new item will be added that you should name immediately. Notice the radio button that appears next to the newly-created item.

4. Once the item is named, double click on it to open up the information pane.

5. Here you’ll be able to set the reminder date and time, priority level, and if you’d like to be reminded as you are arriving or leaving someplace.

6. Fast forward to the day of the reminder; once you have completed the task, you can click on the radio button next to the item to mark it as Completed.

7. You’ll then be able to hide or show any previously completed items.

8. To delete items whether complete or incomplete, click on the name to highlight it and press the Delete key.

Creating New Lists

Single list are great for things like “open the gate Monday for the gardener” or “Pay the utility bill on Tuesday” but if you want to create reminders for things like shopping lists, then you’ll need to create a reminder list—these can be as long (or short) as you want.

1. Open up the Reminders application if you closed out of it before.

2. On the left hand side of the window, at the bottom you will see (+) Add List. Click it and enter a name for your newly-created list.

3. Once the new list is named, click on it and press the (+) button next to the list title as you did with Reminders to add new items. You can also choose whether you want due dates or not.

Location Based Reminder

If you want to create a reminder that is location based (i.e. “when I leave work, remind me to call wife”) then follow the steps above.

Click the Information icon next to the reminder (the “i” with a circle)

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This will bring up a few extra options. One says, “remind me” with a checkbox for “At a location”; click that checkbox. Next, enter the address, and select if you want the reminder when you get there or when you’re leaving there.

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Newer Macs come with Pages preinstalled, so what’s the point of notes? Notes is a more basic program than Pages or Word—you can’t do any fancy formatting. The advantage is that it opens and saves quickly. So in short, Notes is for when you just need to jot something down quickly.

To open it, go to the Launchpad icon on your Dock and click the Notes icon.

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Notes, like most of the apps in Yosemite, syncs to your iPhone and iPad as long as you are logged into the same iCloud account.

Creating and Editing Notes

1. There are a few different ways to create a brand new note. You can start a new note by clicking on the Compose icon (the square with a pencil going through it), or double clicking an empty space in the left sidebar. You can also right-click the left sidebar and select New Note.

2. Once the note is created, the line will begin blinking in the right window, indicating that it’s time for you to get writing.

3. The notes will automatically save as you type, so exiting Notes won’t mean you lose progress.

4. If you need to pick up where you left off on a note, you can use the search bar to find the exact note you are looking for, or scroll through the left sidebar and select the appropriate note. With the note highlighted, click anywhere in the right window to begin editing that note, or double-click to open up a smaller window.

5. To remove notes, find the one you’d like to delete and highlight it. Press the Delete key and confirm it. You can also right-click a note and select Delete.

Notes can be shared through different outlets like LinkedIn, Facebook, Mail, and Messages. If you’d like to share a note, click on the Share button in the top right corner and select how you’d like to send it.


You probably know what iTunes is; you might even use it. On a Mac it’s really not that different from a Windows computer; the main difference is that on a Windows computer music is played through the Windows Media Player by default and on a Mac, it’s played on iTunes.

Keep in mind that you should use the same iTunes account on your Mac that you use on other devices because the media you buy on iTunes will show up on all of your devices. The exception is rentals—rentals are only available on the device you buy it from. So if you rent something on your Mac, don’t expect to be able to watch it on your Apple TV or iPad; this is a studio licensing issue, not an Apple one. You do, however, have the option of using AirPlay for rentals to send it to your Apple TV.

Adding Music to your Library

This section is for adding music you already own and have on the computer. If you don’t have any music, you should probably skip ahead to the iTunes Store section first.

1. At the top menu bar, click File > Add to Library.

2. When the window comes up, use the left bars to search for the specific song or songs that you’d like to add.

3. If you already have a giant music collection that you may have carried over from an old computer, you can import entire folders all at once.

4. When you’ve decided what to add, click on it once to highlight it, and select the blue Open button.

5. It may take some time depending on how many songs you are importing, but iTunes will show you the progress.

6. Once complete, click on the My Music tab again to verify that your music has been added to the iTunes collection.


The Playlists section is where you can view, edit and delete playlists you may have created. On the left hand side you will notice that Apple has created some for you: 90’s Music, Classical Music, My Top Rated, Recently Added, Recently Played, and Top 25 Most Played. These are pretty self-explanatory, and Apple uses a song’s built-in metadata to determine which songs will fit in those premade playlists.

At the top of the list you will also see one called Genius. Selecting Genius will allow you to use Apple’s specially made music mixer. It takes songs from your music collection and creates great-sounding custom playlists and mixes.

Using Genius

If this is the first time you are using Genius, you will have to first click on the button that says Turn On Genius.

Once you turn it on, there will be three steps that happen automatically. Depending on the size of your library, this may take awhile so grab a snack. Once it’s finished, your computer screen will greet you with a message that says Genius has been successfully turned on.


iTunes Match is great if you have a large music library but don’t have enough storage on your phone. Signing up for Match will allow you to store your entire collection on iCloud, including music that you’ve ripped from CDs and didn’t purchase through iTunes. This way you’ll be able to stream your entire library from any Apple device connected to iCloud without taking up any storage.

The songs are “matched” by Apple’s online music database, so when you are playing the song on your iPhone, for example, it isn’t actually the same file that you uploaded or purchased. Rather, it’s Apple’s version of the song in full 256 Kbps, even if the song you originally uploaded or purchased was of lower audio quality. If the song is not found on Apple’s own servers (your cousin’s Whitesnake cover band perhaps), it will playback the original file you uploaded, with the original audio quality.

Unfortunately, iTunes Match isn’t free. If you’d like to sign up for it, expect to pay $24.99 for a yearly subscription. Signing up for Match does have another perk though – if you enjoy using iTunes Radio but can’t stand the ads, purchasing the yearly Match subscription will remove ads from Radio.


Radio is a free music streaming service by the music lovers at Apple. Based on several different factors, Apple creates radio stations that you will probably enjoy. As you listen to different things, the stations will become more and more personalized, playing songs that are more in line with what you’ve been recently listening to and avoiding the ones you haven’t played.

If you would like to explore the radio a little more, you can browse through artist-curated playlists created with a specific goal in mind, or just search by genre. You may also find First Plays, which allows you to listen to entire albums before buying them. This feature only works on select albums, however, so don’t expect to find every album available for First Play.

Creating a Radio Station

1. To play a new radio station, open up iTunes and click on the Radio tab.

2. If this is the first time you’ve used Radio, you will have to click on the blue button that says Start Listening.

3. When Radio fully loads, you will notice that the top half of the window is filled with premade radio stations like Smooth Jazz, Classic Rock, iTunes Weekly Top 50 Dance, or Pepsi Pulse Pop if you like listening to bubbly pop backed by a giant soda company. Clicking on one will automatically start playing that radio station. At the bottom of the screen you can also toggle explicit language on or off.

4. If these stations just aren’t cutting it, you can create your own by clicking the gigantic + button that says Add Station.

5. You can choose a genre as a starting point; or, if you’d like to be more specific, use the Search bar to enter the name of an artist, song, or genre that you’d like to listen to. The results will be similar music to what you originally searched for.

6. The station will begin playing and you can see the track information at the top of iTunes, but the main difference with Radio is that since you don’t already own the music, you’ll be able to see how much it would cost to buy the song currently playing.

iTunes Store

If you don’t own any music yet and are looking to build a digital song collection, or if you own music but would like to add new tracks, the iTunes store is where you can browse, purchase and download new music. In addition to music you can also buy movies, TV shows, podcasts, audiobooks, and books.

Clicking on the Search bar in the top right-hand corner will pull up trending searches in case you are looking for what’s hot. If you are looking for a specific song or movie, type it into the Search bar and iTunes will load it for you. Scroll through the main page and the latest releases will be shown front and center, letting you see new music at a glance.

On the right side of the screen you will see Music in big letters, with All Genres under it. Clicking the All Genres link opens a dropdown menu with every main genre you can think of.

The big Music link will open a dropdown menu with the rest of the iTunes store options: Movies, TV shows, App Store, Books, Podcasts, Audiobooks, and iTunes U. Go through each one and you will see that they all follow the same conventions as the Music page, with charts, top downloads, and new releases.

To purchase new music (or any other media) that interests you, use either the search bar or browse through the categories to find what you’re looking for. When you reach a song or album you’d like, click it to bring up the full information menu for that item.

The window will display all types of information including album price, individual song price, track list, audio previews, release date, ratings, reviews, and similar items. To buy the album (or a single song), click on the price; a prompt window will come up to make sure you really wanted to buy that album, and you can continue by clicking the blue Buy button.

If you already have funds in your iTunes account, or have a card on file, the purchase will be made and the song(s) will begin to automatically download. If you don’t have any money in the account, or haven’t yet added a payment method, you will be asked to enter that information before the purchase can be made.

After your purchases are fully downloaded, you’ll be able to enjoy your new music by clicking on the My Music tab and selecting your latest addition.

App Store

The App Store is where you’ll be able to download and install many different applications that have been developed specifically for use with a Mac computer. These apps will do everything from add new functionalities and make your life easier, to providing a fun way to waste time and play some games during downtime at work. Keep in mind that for the App Store to be functional, you need to be connected to the Internet.

To be clear, Apps purchased on the App Store only run on Macs; if you have two Macs, you can download it on both if you have the same account. But you cannot download them on your iPhone or iPad. So if you are wondering why a game you downloaded on the iPhone or iPad is not available free on your Mac, that’s why. Mac Apps are developed using an entirely different framework.

Open the App Store by selecting it either through the dock or Launchpad. The App Store’s home page will greet you, showing you the latest and greatest in the world of apps.

At the top you will see different sections: Featured, Top Charts, Categories, Purchases, and Updates.

The Featured, Top Charts, and Categories tabs will show you apps that can be downloaded, but organized in different ways. Featured will show you Best New Apps, Best New Games, Editor’s Choices, and collections of different apps that work great together.

Top Charts shows you the best of the best when it comes to available apps, and is broken down by Top Paid, Top Free, and Top Grossing. On the right side, you can also browse through Top Apps broken down by category, in case you wanted to refine your search.

Categories further breaks down your app hunting into different categories like Business, Education, Reference, Productivity, Medical, Entertainment, and Games.

Choosing a category will bring up more selections and the right side will be filled with even more categories. For example, selecting the Business category will bring you to the main Business apps page where the hottest apps are listed. On the right side, smaller categories like Apps for Writers, App Development, or Apps for Designers can be selected. It doesn’t matter what category of apps you are currently under; the list remains the same in the right half.

Purchases and Updates are where you can go to view past App Store downloads. The Purchases title can be a bit misleading, because your free apps will also appear here. In the Updates section, you can view which apps need to be updated to the latest version. If you have multiple apps that need updating, you can choose the Update All button and it will go down the entire list.

Lesser Used Apps

There are a lot of apps on Mac that you probably see but don’t use. Here’s a rundown of some of those apps and when you might use them.

TextEdit is Apple’s answer to Microsoft’s Notepad. This is a simple plain text editor. It’s certainly not fancy, but it’s good for jotting down notes.

Stickies is a love it or hate it sort of app. If you’re in the love it camp, though, they’re still there. Stickies are like Post-it notes for your desktop. Just open the Stickies app from Launchpad and start sticking away!

Family Sharing

Before finishing this section, I want to talk about one last feature that’s not part of Yosemite—it’s part of Apple products in general. It’s called Family Sharing. With Family Sharing, you can set up one account for everyone in your house, but everyone has separate user names. This means if someone buys a movie, song, app, etc, then everyone in your family plan can access it. But don’t think you can share this with your friends…well you could, but it’s not recommended because whenever they buy something, your credit card is charged—it also would break the terms and conditions you are agreeing to.

To enable Family Sharing, go to System Preferences > iCloud. Then, click Set Up Family Sharing to get started. The person who initiates Family Sharing for a family is known as the family organizer. It's an important role, since every purchase made by other family members will be made using the family organizer's credit card!

Invite your family members to join Family Sharing by entering their Apple IDs. As a parent, you can create Apple IDs for your children with parental consent. When you create a new child Apple ID, it is automatically added to Family Sharing.

There are two types of accounts in Family Sharing: adult and child. As you'd expect, child accounts have more potential restrictions than adult accounts do. Of special interest is the Ask to Buy option! This prevents younger family members from running up the family organizer's credit card bill by requiring parental authorization for purchases. The family organizer can also designate other adults in the family as capable of authorizing purchases on children's devices.