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I'm a new user of Mac OS X on my laptop. Currently I have Windows 7 and OS X on the same machine.

I can't figure out how to use the desktop correctly, no hard drive show, no right clicks, etc. Can someone explain the difference?

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4 Answers 4

Apple has sections on its web site called Switch 101 for people switching from Windows and Mac 101 for general new information. There are also good tutorial videos under the support section.

These are all good places to start.

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OS X has a very different desktop layout the your standard Windows computer. I suggest you try looking for some introduction video's to help ease the transition.

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The desktops are very different, as Josh K. said. To show hard drives, go to Finder preferences (Menu bar on top, click Finder, Preferences) and the general tab: the option is there. Overall it's a similar concept to Ubuntu, and isn't that different from a Windows desktop (same basic principles and usability). The only things that may take time to get used to is the menu bar and perhaps the dock. There should be right clicks however... check your trackpad preferences (Apple -> System Preferences -> trackpad).

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Even if your pointing device does not support multiple buttons or clever gestures to get alternate clicks you can get them with the shifting keys:

  • <control>-click is the first alternate (what you think of as "right click")
  • <option>-click is usually the second alternative (what X users think of as "middle click")
  • programs can support <shift>-click and <command>-click if they want ("command" is the funny clover thingy)

[NB: on non-mac keyboards the <alt> key is generally the same as <option>]


Yes, it is philosophically goofy to use keyboard shifts to alter the behavior of mouse clicks, but it has been that way since before windows existed. You get used to it.

Also, by design anything that conforms to Apple's Human Interface Guidelines makes all functionality available through the first mouse button only. "Special" clicks only provide a faster, interface for experts.

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I recommend enabling "Secondary click" for two fingers on your laptop's trackpad. To do so, go to the System Preferences app (most easily found by clicking on the Apple menu at the top of the screen) and go to trackpad preferences. This allows you to right click simply by tapping with two fingers on the trackpad. An external mouse with two buttons will also work fine. –  Doug Harris Apr 19 '10 at 14:07

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