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Power user setup on OS X

Casey Liss just got his first Mac. (I guess I won this.)

Note to Windows readers: This post is full of the little squiggly “⌘” symbol found on the “Apple key” on the keyboard. Windows’ Unicode support is half-assed, so if you can’t see ⌘this⌘symbol⌘ or if it shows up as question marks or boxes, oh well. You’re probably already skimming over this post anyway because you’re angry that someone on the internet is writing about Apple again and their computers are for hipsters with too much money and how could they charge so much for looks and you got such a good deal on that 9-pound Windows laptop with the blue LEDs and you hate Macs except that you last tried them in 1995 when they truly did suck and you’d get one now if you could afford it but you don’t want to admit that but don’t worry you’ll change your mind and buy one anyway in 6 months.

Casey, welcome to the addiction! Here are some quick tips for power users getting started on OS X for the first time.

System Preferences that you probably want:

Shortcut keys that are your new best friends:

(Note: Command == Apple == ⌘. And in menu shortcut-key descriptions, ^ is Ctrl, up-arrow is Shift, and that weird slanty-dashy symbol is Option.)

Generally, most common Control-and-single-letter Windows shortcut keys map directly to the ⌘ key with the same letter on Macs (X/C/V/Z/P/A/S). You have to get used to using your left thumb instead of the pinky for the modifier, but you’ll find after a bit of time that it’s actually far easier to reach.

It may take a little while to get used to the distinction Apple makes between applications and windows. You can close every window of some apps, but they still remain open (as long as that dot’s below their icon in the Dock) unless you Quit them (⌘Q). And Alt-Tab (⌘-tab here) doesn’t work like Windows because it goes through applications, not windows — and ⌘-tilde goes through windows of just the current application.

Oh, and you probably want to install Quicksilver, move Spotlight to a different shortcut key, and bind Quicksilver to ⌘-space.