Going from Windows to OS X

After twenty plus years using Microsoft and Windows dating back to DOS 6.1 and Windows 3.1, I am learning how to make the switch to OS X. One thing I had to get used to was how to bring up context menus that I would always invoke by right clicking an object in Windows. To right click in OS X on the MacBook Pro, use the Multi-Touch trackpad and tap with two fingers at once. Another was the Delete key functions the same as backspace on a PC. No Home and End keys on the Mac took some getting used to as well, command and cursor key combo’s did the trick. A majority of shortcuts can be replicated by simply replacing what was done with the Ctrl key on a PC with the command key in OS X.

Windows and OS X Keyboard Comparison

Sony VAIO FW290 Keyboard
Windows/PC Keyboard – Sony VAIO FW290
MacBook Pro Keyboard
MacBook Pro Keyboard

Here is a table of my frequently used keyboard shortcuts for each OS.

OS X Windows
Cut ⌘ command+X Ctrl+X
Copy ⌘ command+C Ctrl+C
Cycle Tabs control+tab Ctrl+Tab
Cycle Windows ⌘ command+tab Alt+Tab
Cycle Windows
Current App
⌘ command+ ~
End of Document ⌘ command+ Ctrl+End
End of Line ⌘ command+
or: control+E
or: Fn+
Force Quit
⌘ command+option+esc
Reload Webpage ⌘ command+R Ctrl+R
or: F5
Start of Document ⌘ command+ Ctrl+Home
Start of Line ⌘ command+
or: control+A
or: Fn+
Page Down fn+ Page Down
Page Up fn+ Page Up
Paste ⌘ command+V Ctrl+V
Select Words shift+option+ Shift+Ctrl+
Show Desktop fn+F11 Win+D
Spotlight / Run ⌘ command+space Win+R
Webkit Dev Tools ⌘ command+option+I Ctrl+Shift+I
Lock Screen

After enabling the lock screen in System Preferences > Security & Privacy by checking require password after sleep or screensaver begins …

For external keyboards with an Eject key use control + shift + eject

For keyboards without an Eject key, like the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Retina, use control + shift + power

Screen Capture, OS X

Command (⌘)-Shift-3

Take a picture of part of the screen

Command (⌘)-Shift-4, and then drag the crosshair pointer to select the area. Continue to press the mouse button, release the keys, and then press Shift, Option, or the Space bar while you drag to resize the selection area. When you are ready to take a picture, release the mouse button.

To cancel, press Escape before you release the mouse button.


base64 files
To base64 encode a file. Typically a font or image to inline into a CSS file. Add this function into your .bash_profile.

# usage: base64 foo.png
function base64() {
openssl base64 < $1 | tr -d '\n' | pbcopy && printf "\n\e[0;31m -- base64 string copied to clipboard -- \e[0m\n"
Compress (ZIP) Files
# to create a zip archive of the entire folder named myproject into myproject.zip
# and exclude .DS_Store, node_modules and .git directory
# cd to the directory that has the myproject folder, then
$ zip -r myproject.zip myproject --exclude "*.DS_Store" --exclude "*.git*" --exclude "*node_modules*"
Command History

Don't search history by grepping ~/.bash_history, or repeatedly hitting the up arrow, instead use control+R - press enter to immediately run the command.

Command Line Cursor
  • Ctrl + U: Clear line
  • Ctrl + K: Clear everything after the cursor
  • Ctrl + A: Move cursor to the beginning
  • Ctrl + E: Move cursor to the end

Change Owner and/or Group
$ sudo chown jimfrenette /usr/local

$ sudo chgrp staff /usr/local

$ sudo chown jimfrenette:staff /usr/local
Disk Maintenance
$ sudo periodic daily weekly monthly
Download Files
$ curl -O http://code.jquery.com/jquery-1.10.2.min.js
# open Finder in current directory
$ open .
IP Config
# Network
$ ipconfig getifaddr en0
# wifi/2nd adapter
$ ipconfig getifaddr en1

# External
$ curl ipecho.net/plain; echo

# grep example
$ ifconfig |grep inet
Launch Apps
$ sudo open /Applications/FileZilla.app
Print Working Directory
$ pwd

View hidden files and folders in Finder

$ defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles -boolean true ; killall Finder

Hide files and folders [default]

$ defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles -boolean false ; killall Finder
Shutdown / Restart
# shut down immediately
$ sudo shutdown -h now
# restart immediately
$ sudo shutdown -r now
# restart in 1 minute
$ sudo shutdown -r +1
Ctrl + D to logout of SSH session
Symbolic Links - symlinks
Symbolic link files contain path metadata of the target file or directory. If you move the target file, the symlink will break. Note that ~/ will target the current users home directory. This example creates a symlink to the Photos directory in the Downloads directory.
# /target /symlink
$ ln -s ~/Dropbox/Photos ~/Downloads
Web Server

Start a simple web server at the root of any folder by navigating to the folder. This example will create a web server with a base URL http://localhost:8000

$ python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8000

If you want to use port 80, simply leave off the port number that follows the SimpleHTTPServer command. Ctrl+C to stop the server

Other Useful OS X Tips

Activity Monitor

Use Spotlight (command + spacebar) and start typing Activity Monitor, select it to monitor what is going on with your system.

Finding Files

While in Finder, select Edit > Find (command + F). Then click the plus button to the right of the search window to add a filter. Select "other" in the first drop-down menu and select "System files". Now select "System Files" which is now an available option in the first drop-down. Select "are included" in the second drop-down and enter your search term.

I find searching for text inside of files hit or miss with Finder. The free Text Wrangler app does a nice job searching for text strings within files. Select Search > Multi File Search (up arrow + command + F). For Windows, my favorite free file search utility is Agent Ransack.

URL Shortcuts

Creating a internet shortcut that can be opened in both OS X and Windows is as easy as creating a text file and saving it with the .url extension



Published by

Jim Frenette

Web Developer - views here are my own except those taken from people more clever than me.

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