Navigating a new computer operating system is always difficult, and macOS is no different. Most new Mac users have had to give up the habits of their former computers, usually running Windows, and re-learn how to function in macOS.
Although macOS is generally easy to adjust to, there are a number of problems that a new user will encounter.
Most of them stem from disparity in design and fundamental hardware differences. Here we’ve outlined some of the most popular challenges new users face and how they can solve them.
1. Creating and signing in to an Apple ID
You need an Apple ID to enjoy Apple’s Continuity features across all your Apple devices. You’ll also need one if you want to download apps from the App Store or use iCloud.
Too many new Mac users accidentally miss out on all these features by neglecting to create or sign in to an Apple ID on their Mac.
You can sign in and create your Apple ID when you first set up your Mac, but if you choose not to, you can still follow these instructions to do so.
2. Installing apps outside the App Store
The Mac App Store is the safest place to download apps, but not all popular apps are available there. For example, if you want to use Google Chrome, you’ll need to download it from the Chrome website instead of the App Store. But installing apps from different websites isn’t always that easy on a Mac.
By default, your Mac only allows you to open apps downloaded from the App Store and identified developers. When installing apps from unknown developers, you will be blocked with a warning that the app “could not be opened because the developer could not be verified.”
You can read more about exactly how to install these apps in our dedicated guide on how to install Mac software.
After opening them, some apps will take you to an installation process where you have to accept their terms and conditions. Others may ask you to drag the downloaded file to the Applications folder instead.
3. Getting used to the trackpad
One of the features that may strike a new MacBook user as cumbersome is how the trackpad works. You may notice that it scrolls in the wrong direction or doesn’t click when tapped.
Luckily, it’s easy to change your trackpad settings to make it work just the way you like it.
Go to the More Gestures tab and choose how many fingers you want to use to swipe between pages.
4. There is no Windows button
Mac keyboards don’t have a Windows button, and this can be a bit frustrating for new Mac users who are used to using it in Windows.
However, instead of the Windows button where you can search for apps and anything else on your laptop, the Mac has Spotlight for search and Launchpad for viewing all your apps.
Access Spotlight by pressing Cmd + Space, then start typing your search term. Once you’re logged into your Mac, you can activate Spotlight from anywhere. Spotlight is also great for getting quick calculations, conversions, and definitions. You can also use it to search the web.
To see all your apps together in one place, click the Launchpad icon next to Finder in the Dock. Or pinch with four fingers on your trackpad. You’ll see all your apps on separate pages. You can click one to open it, or click and drag to move and rearrange them.
5. Learning to Use the Finder
If you’re coming from Windows, you’re likely lost without access to File Explorer. Luckily, macOS has a similar app to use instead: Finder.
The Finder is the smiling blue face you see in the far-left corner of the Dock, and it’s used to manage files or folders on your Mac. Finder and File Explorer provide similar functions for managing files on your system, even though they may look different at first.
Like File Explorer, you’ll find your major folders (Desktop, Downloads, Recent, and so on) in the left pane. You can interact with the files just as you would in File Explorer.
However, you won’t find the Devices and Drives home screen you typically see in Windows File Explorer. Instead, you can find that information by going to System Settings > General > Storage.
We explored more on just how different these two apps are in our Finder vs File Explorer debate.
6. Taking Screenshot
Taking a screenshot on your Mac is simple but may not seem straightforward to new Mac users. Instead of finding the Print Screen button on the keyboard, you can use a keyboard shortcut to take a screenshot in macOS.