iPads are beautifully simple devices to use and an excellent introduction to Apple computers. If you have used an iPad and are thinking about upgrading your PC or laptop it may be that you are considering changing from Windows to Mac. Indeed, the imminent release of Windows 10 may seal that particular deal. Windows 8 has failed to attract much love in its lifetime, and Windows 10 has similar Frankenstein tendencies.

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Many people have started with an iPad and loved it so much that they've switched to using a Mac for their laptop or home computer. Things are a little different on OS X than they are in Windows, so we've put together a list of the 10 most common questions new users ask us about exploring the wonders of OS X.

We should say that OS X is very easy to use. Much easier than is Windows, in fact. But just to ease the transition, here is our iPad users' guide to using a Mac. And why not also check out our PC users' guide to using a Mac: how to move from PC to Mac?

And if you don't fancy that, why don't you see what you are missing in our OS X Yosemite vs Windows 10 comparison review. Don't forget: a Mac is the only device on which you can run Windows and OS X at the same time. So if that sounds like an interesting option, check out our story: 'How to run Windows on a Mac'.

1) iPad users' guide to a Mac. How to download Apps

The App Store on iOS has been a tremendous success, so Apple has wisely recreated it on the Mac (as indeed has Microsoft in Windows). An App store means that you can guarantee any software you install is safe for your system, and will work well. It's one of many reasons that Apple Macs are so much more secure than are Windows PCs.

Look in the dock at the bottom of the screen and you'll see the familiar blue icon with an A inside. Click on this and you'll be taken directly to the Mac App store. Navigation is the same here as it is on an iPad, so when you find something you like you can click on the icon for more detail, or the price to purchase and install the app. You use the same account details as you would on your iPad, and the store remembers the apps you buy so you can download them again later if required.

2) iPad users' guide to a Mac. How to set up email

You can install Microsoft Office (or Outlook Express), as well as other third-party email clients, and you can use webmail. Of course you can. But just like an iPad the Mac comes complete with its own email client. Instead of an envelope the icon for Mail is a postage stamp with an eagle inside.

Click this and the Mail app will launch and prompt you to enter your name, email address, and password. Once you've done this click on create and the app will fill out the rest of the details for you. Click create again and your emails will be imported. If you have multiple email accounts then go to Mail in the top left hand corner, click Preferences, + in the box that appears, and then repeat the process. (See also: MacBooks vs Windows laptops - which is best?)

3) iPad users' guide to a Mac. How to use the trackpad

The multitouch gestures on an iPad are a very useful way to navigate around the system. Mac users aren't left out of the fun thanks to the excellent trackpad controls. To ensure that they're running you'll need to click on System Preferences>Trackpad. Now you'll find a three-page selection of gestures, each of which you can turn on or off via the tick boxes. As you highlight each one you’ll see a video demonstrating the gesture in action. This is also the place where you can turn off Apple's confusing 'Natural Scrolling' setting.  

4) iPad users' guide to a Mac. How to find applications

Finding apps on an iPad is merely a case of moving through the screens until you see the icon. OSX is a little different, but there are several ways to locate your applications quickly.

Holding Cmd+Space launches Spotlight, allowing you to search by name for your app. Alternatively going to the dock and clicking on the silver icon with a spaceship inside (Launchpad) will bring up icons for your installed applications. If you have the trackpad gestures enabled then you can also do this by pinching in with your thumb and three fingers.

5) iPad users' guide to a Mac. How to install a software update

When your iPad has any updates available it displays a red circle on the App Store icon with a number inside. OS X does exactly the same thing. If you see this in the dock click on the icon and you'll be taken to the Mac App store. Here you'll need to click on Updates in the toolbar at the top of the screen, which should also have a number showing in the upper right corner. Now you can click on the Update button to each app or select Update All if you have a few ready to go.

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6) iPad users' guide to a Mac. How to set up iCloud

One of the real advantages of Apple products is how seamlessly they work together. iCloud is probably the best example of this as it syncs up your photos, emails, contacts, and documents across all your devices.

To set it up go to System Preferences, look under Internet and Wireless, and select iCloud. Then enter your Apple ID and password. Now you tick the boxes of things you want to sync. On your iPad go to Settings>iCloud and do the same. The next time you take a picture or create a document on your device it will magically appear on the other.

7) iPad users' guide to a Mac. How to use Dictation

Dictation on an iPad is a great way to quickly make notes or write emails without using the on-screen keyboard, thankfully you can also use the feature on your Mac. Go to System Preferences>Dictation & Speech, then enable Dictation. Now when you double press the Fn key on an application that allows text entry, say Pages, you'll see the familiar microphone icon appear. Just speak normally, then double press the Fn key when you've finished.

Mac Mini owners will need to buy an external microphone to make this work, but if you have an external webcam then OSX should default to using that instead.

8) iPad users' guide to a Mac. How to use FaceTime

One of the most useful features on an iPad is Facetime, but a 10-inch screen isn't always big enough. So why not make use of that glorious 21" monitor with Facetime for Mac? Find the app either using Launchpad or Spotlight (see above), launch it, then you should see your face displayed on-screen.

The right panel lists your available contacts, so click the name you want, then select either their email or mobile phone number and Facetime will automatically begin the call. Remember that, just as on the iPad, Facetime only works with other people that have OSX or iOS devices.

9) iPad users' guide to a Mac. How to send an iMessage

The Mac version of iMessage retains the simplicity found on the iPad and can be up and running in seconds. First launch the speech bubbles icon in the dock. You may be prompted for your Apple ID (the same one you use on the App store). Enter this and you'll be taken to the main iMessage screen. Click on the compose icon (square with a pen inside), then the blue 'plus' icon on the right to select a contact. Friends with iMessage accounts have a blue bubble next to their mobile number. Click the number, type your message, press enter and your message is on its way.

10) iPad users' guide to a Mac. Where do I find my notifications?

To find a list of your recent messages and alerts on an iPad all you have to do is swipe down from the top, thus revealing the notification bar. OSX has a similar feature which can be found by clicking on the three-line-icon that resides in the top right corner of the screen. Trackpad users can also open the notifications centre by swiping two fingers in from the right edge of the pad. Once open you'll find upcoming calendar appointments, app related messages, and - if you setup your accounts in System Preferences>Mail, Contacts & Calendars - posts from Twitter or Facebook. (See also: 20 things it is easy to do on a Mac that are tricky in Windows.)