How to switch from PC/Windows to a Mac as painlessly as possible

Planning to make the switch from a Windows PC to Mac over the holidays? Here's what you need to know.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Are you planning to make the switch from a Windows PC to Mac over the holidays? Not sure what you need to do? Here's what you need to know to make the change as painless as possible.

Before making the move

I suggest making yourself familiar with OS X and whatever Mac you have in mind before making the switch.

If you have an Apple Store nearby then the easiest way to do this is to go there and play with the systems and ask the Geniuses any questions you might have. Don't be shy, they've heard all the questions before and there's no such thing as a dumb question.

Take your time. A new operating system can be intimidating. I don't recommend making the switch during a busy period. Choose a time when you can chill out and find your way around OS X at your own pace.

Know your applications

Unless you're going to be running Windows on your Mac, remember that Windows apps won't run on a Mac. This means that you will need to find alternatives. Some products - such as Adobe Creative Cloud - allow you to switch between Windows and Mac as part of your license. However, most apps don't allow you to switch your license between different operating systems, so that's an added cost to watch out for.

Data migration

If you're planning on moving your data across from your PC to the Mac then you need to familiarize yourself with the migration tools.

Apple has comprehensive documentation on how to do this. I suggest you read this - and print it out if possible - before you begin to move your data. Pay careful attention to what and what isn't moved.

Alternatively, you can get an Apple Retail Store to do it for you.

One thing I would warn against is that if you plan on using both the PC and the Mac, you then run the risk of making changes to documents on both systems, which can lead you into a world of hurt down the line. For example, if you copy your expense sheet from your PC to the Mac, but make edits to it later on both systems, the document won't be up-to-date on either machine.


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Learn a few shortcuts

By shortcuts I mean keyboard shortcuts. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Command + C - Copy
  • Command + V - Paste
  • Command + A - Select All
  • Command + W - Close window
  • Command + Q - Quit app

Right-clicking on a Mac

This one gets people. Despite the fact that there's no buttons on the Magic Mouse of the trackpad you can still accomplish this. You can hold down the CTRL key while you click, but this is very kludgy. Alternatively, go to System Preferences > Trackpad and turn on Secondary Click. Now you can tap two fingers to accomplish a right-click.

If you have a Magic Mouse then go to System Preferences > Mouse and enable Secondary Click, which makes the right mouse button act as a right click.

How to CTRL + ALT + DEL

There's no CTRL + ALT + DEL on OS X. Instead use CMD + ALT + ESC instead.

Running Windows on your new Mac

Did you know you could run Windows on your Mac? There are a few options open to you:

Either way, you'll need a valid copy of Windows, and unless you have a spare full retail copy somewhere - the copy that came with your PC won't do - then you'll need to buy one.

Backing up your data

Macs are reliable, but they're not invulnerable. Make sure you back up your data before you lose it.

You have a number of options open to you:

See also:

Hardware 2.0 Holiday 2015 Ultimate Gift Guide

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