Mac Beginner’s Guide: Learn the Mac Basics You Need to Know


There are many reasons why Macs are a worthwhile investment. Sure, they may come with a hefty price tag, but they’re going to live up to it. Your new MacBook or iMac should last for years and you (typically) won’t be attacked by an onslaught of viruses.

Their operating systems are fast and Apple Support is one of the best customer service regimes in the world. But, if you’ve been a PC user all your life, when you first light up your new screen, things are going to look quite different.

To help you kickstart your new love affair, we’ve gathered up a few Mac basics to help you minimize your frustration and get right to work on your new dream machine.

The Dock

Every Mac beginner’s guide should include two details: the dock and the menu bar. On the bottom of your MacBook or iMac, there will be a little bar with a series of applications. This is your dock where you can add and remove items as you please.

And it’s not limited to applications, like Word, Safari, and Spotify. You can also pin important folders and documents to the dock for easy access.

The dock will always be visible, no matter what you’re working on (unless you’ve clicked on the green button in the upper left-hand corner and invoked your full-screen rights, which we’ll talk about in a moment).

So, it’s a smart way to gain easy access to things you’ll use every day. In a moment, we’re also about to share a nifty shortcut that will allow you to toggle within the dock without any scrolling or clicking.

The Menu Bar

While the dock remains permanent on the bottom of your screen, the menu bar remains permanent on the top. In the upper left-hand corner, there’s a little apple icon that will serve many purposes.

One of the things you’ll see in the dropdown menu is the System Preferences option. This allows you to do things like adjust the display light, change your screensaver, and alter your keyboard shortcuts. It’s also where you’ll go to put your iMac or Macbook to sleep, to shut it down, to restart it, or to switch between users.

The Tabs

If you grew up in a PC world, then the simple act of closing out tabs on a Mac takes a little getting used to. On a PC, you look to the top right of the screen to “X” things out.

On a Mac, you have to scan over to the top left of the screen and select from a red, yellow, or green button (just like an American stoplight). On the far left corner, the red button will allow you to close a window.

In the middle, the yellow button allows you to minimize the tab. The green button allows you to make the current window full screen (and a simple “esc” will allow you to revert to a smaller screen.

The Scroll

If you have a MacBook or an iMac with a scroll pad, the scrolling feature will be distinctly different. To scroll up or down on a page, you must swipe two fingers up and down the trackpad.

Then, when you’re ready to click on something, a simple click with your index finger will allow you to select whatever you need to access.

The Desktop Background and Screensaver

By now, we hope these Mac tips have enabled you to navigate around a little bit. Scrolling requires two fingers on the trackpad and you must look to the upper left corner to open, close, and minimize tabs.

Now, how do you make this beauty your own? By adding your own desktop image! Here’s how you do it:

  • Click on the Apple icon in the upper left-hand corner of your menu bar.
  • Select Desktop & Screen Saver.
  • Then, there will be two tabs: Desktop and Screen Saver.
  • Select Desktop and, on the left-hand side, there will be a menu of folders from which you can select your desktop picture.
  • Then, select Screen Saver and a similar set of options will appear. There will be a menu on the left where you can select pictures. You can also designate when you’d like the Screen Saver to start.

The Shortcuts

As you start to uncover the ways to use Mac, you’ll notice the shortcuts are their own language. Let’s use the basic shortcuts as an example. On a PC, Ctrl+C allows you to copy and Ctrl+V allows you to paste.

On a Mac, the Ctrl button becomes the Command button. So, now, you’ll do Command+C to copy and Command+V to paste. While the list of shortcuts is extensive, here are a few that will come in handy as you whiz along on your new Mac:

  • Command+A: Highlight an entire document
  • Command+F: Search for certain words within a document
  • Command+L: Takes you to the navigation bar to type in a new web address
  • Command+M: Minimize the window you’re currently in (in lieu of scrolling up to the yellow button in the upper left corner)
  • Command+W: Close the window you’re currently in (in lieu of scrolling up to the red button in the upper left corner)
  • Command+Shift+3: Take a screenshot on Macof whatever you’re working on (which is automatically saved to the desktop)
  • Command+Spacebar: Opens Spotlight, allowing you to search your computer for anything
  • Command+Tab: Allows you to toggle between applications

The Touch Bar

If you’re lucky enough to invest in a MacBook Pro, then you’re lucky enough. These babies come with one of Apple’s newest features, the Touch Bar. This is an OLED panel featuring a row of function keys.

So, if you’re in Word, things like bold, italics, and underline will be present in the Touch Bar. If you’re in Safari and you have several tabs open, each tab will be displayed in the Touch Bar, allowing you to move back and forth with a simple touch.

The beauty of the Touch Bar is that it’s smart enough to change, depending on what application you’re currently using. It’s almost like it can read your mind, as it places the most functional keys for each app in easy reach.

Mac Basics to Get You Started

And there you have it! These Mac basics will help you get started. Once you’re able to navigate, scroll, and access the Menu and Dock, you’ll be well on your way to Apple stardom. Here at igeekphone, we love to share the latest news and reviews about iPhones, Androids, tablets, virtual reality, and – of course – Macbooks.

We hope this Mac beginner’s guide will help you get your feet wet, and move forward into a lifetime of fast and efficient Mac use! In the meantime, feel free to check out the rest of our site for more of our top technology tips!


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