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20 things you can easily do on a Mac that are trickier on a PC

Apple fans are often amazed by how tricky Windows PCs are to use. Here are 20 things you can do on a Mac with laughable ease, but which are oddly difficult on a PC.


  • 4 installing apps Installing software
  • 1 backup mac Backing up
  • 2 backup mac Migration
  • 3 app store update Updating apps
  • 5 removing apps Removing software
  • 6 get online Getting online
  • 7 streaming media Media streaming
  • 8 defragging Defragging
  • 9 photos Managing photos
  • 10 run windows Install Windows
  • 11 look up words Looking up words
  • 12 time machine Retrieve old files
  • 13 Instant View View any file
  • 14 airdrop Share files
  • 15 screen recordeing Create screencasts
  • 16 template files Create template files
  • 17 annotate pdfs Annotate images
  • 18 phone calls Phone calls
  • 19 disk encryption Create encrypted files
  • 20 Make PDF Instantly create PDFs
  • More stories
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Installing software is easy on a Mac

The App Store is central to the OS X community and it makes software installation a breeze. Enter your Apple ID and Password and click Get. Microsoft is still playing catch-up when it comes to app stores, and most PC software is downloaded from (various different) websites and installed over the net.

How to find the best apps on the Mac App Store

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Next Prev 4 installing apps

The App Store is central to the OS X community and it makes software installation a breeze. Enter your Apple ID and Password and click Get. Microsoft is still playing catch-up when it comes to app stores, and most PC software is downloaded from (various different) websites and installed over the net.

How to find the best apps on the Mac App Store


It's easy to back up your hard drive on a Mac

Backing up your Mac is almost laughably easy. Just insert a new hard drive and OS X asks you if you want to use it to back up your Mac. If you've selected no in the past you just have to open System Preferences and choose Time Machine > Select Disk.

How to back up your Mac


Migrate everything you own to a new Mac

Moving from one Mac to another is ludicrously easy. Partly thanks to the Time Machine backup, but also because you can use software like Carbon Copy Cloner to transfer your whole hard drive to a new machine.

This process is incredibly tough in Windows thanks to Microsoft's anti-piracy measures.

How to transfer a Time Machine backup to a new Mac


Updating your apps is so easy on Mac

Have you ever tried to turn off a Windows PC? Hope you like the message 'Updating Windows'. Every time we try to switch off a Windows PC it seems to take about an hour as it installs the latest updates.

In OS X, updates to the system and apps are installed less frequently and are downloaded in the background and usually installed while you work. On the odd occasion that it needs to restart you'll get an alert and can delay it by an hour, or day, and Macs restart quickly and without fuss.


Removing software is easy on a Mac

Thanks to its Unix base, removing software is super-easy on a Mac.

Open the Applications folder, locate the app you no longer want and drag it to the Trash. It's gone. It'll leave behind a few small files in the preferences folder, but these don't slow down your Mac.


Getting online is easy on a Mac

Why is networking and getting online so difficult on a Windows PC?

Apple, on the other hand, controls the software and hardware, and ensures it uses the best Wi-Fi components, and makes sure its software squeezes every drop of performance from them. The current Macs have 2x2 MIMO boards and getting online is always a lot easier than on a Windows PC. It's a simple thing that makes a big, big difference.


Streaming your music and video

Apple's propriety AirPlay technology makes it super-easy to bounce audio and video to devices around the house. Sure, they have to be an Apple TV or AirPlay-compatible, but it's all seamless and automatic. Connect them to your home network and simply click the AirPlay icon whether you're in iTunes or QuickTime (or using your iPhone or iPad).


Defragging your hard drive

Mac users might be a little confused by this one. What on earth is "defragging"?

Defragmenting the hard drive is something Windows users have to do periodically to speed up their computer. Mac OS X does this quietly and automatically in the background whenever you install new software, so it's always up to date.

How to defrag and speed up a Mac: Debunking the defragging myth


Managing a large photo library on a Mac

Apple spends a lot of time thinking about what people want to do with a computer, and then making those tasks super-easy.

Apple's Photos app is a case in point. With Apple's new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library all your photos are automatically uploaded and stored online, and you get to see them instantly on all your Apple devices. No more syncing, no more transferring or managing files. Photos is the best example, but we could apply this to just about every Apple app, from iMovie to Keynote.


It's easy to install Windows

This is nuts, but it's actually easier to install Windows on a Mac than it is to install Windows on a Windows PC. Using software like Parallels automates the Windows installation process, you just need to enter the serial number and leave it to handle the installation. Windows then runs in a virtual environment inside Mac OS X.


Looking up word definitions on a Mac

Just right-click a word in compatible apps like TextEdit, Safari and Mail, and select Look Up Word. You'll see pop-up definitions from the venerable Oxford Dictionary, Apple's own dictionary, and Wikipedia. 


Retrieve old versions of a file on a Mac

Regretting a change you made to a document? If you're using a built-in app like TextEdit or Preview, click the file's name in the title bar and select Browse All Versions. Now you can move back in time to find a version before you made the edit - recent saves will be listed on the right of the screen.


Instantly view any file on a Mac

Select a file, then hit Space and you'll get a "Quick Look" of its contents - regardless of whether it's a document, movie, audio file or image.


Share files instantly with nearby Macs

AirDrop lets you share files instantly and easily with no need to configure anything, or even be on the same network.

Both users should select AirDrop in the Favorites list in Finder, then simply drop files or folders on the icon representing the other user. 


Record your display and create screencasts on a Mac

Open QuickTime Player and select File > New Screen Recording. Then hit the red record button, after which you’ll be prompted to define an area of the screen you want to record. Then click Start Recording to go!

Click the square button to finish and select the share button to upload.


Create template files for ANY app on a Mac

Create or select a file you want to use as a template, then right-click it and then click Get Info. Then put a tick alongside Stationery Pad. From now on every time you double-click the file you'll automatically create and save a copy. 


Annotate images and documents on a Mac

Double-click an image or PDF to open it in Preview, then click the Edit toolbar button (left of the search field). A new toolbar will appear showing tools you can use to add speech bubbles, arrows, or even a facsimile of your signature - useful for "signing" PDF forms. 


Make calls from a Mac

Open the FaceTime app then click choose FaceTime > Preferences. Now select iPhone On to register your Mac with your Apple ID/FaceTime account. You’ll then be able to audio and video call contacts, and also receive calls from them.

(Audio calling requires OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.)

How to make phone calls on your Mac


Create encrypted file stores on a Mac

Open Disk Utility then click File > New > Blank Disk Image. Choose a size and give it a name and location. Under the Encryption heading select either of the two options - both are bullet-proof when it comes to securing your data. Leave the other options as they are.

When you click Create you'll have a .dmg file that acts like a USB stick - when double-clicked it'll appear on the left of Finder windows, and you can copy files to and from it. Don't forget to eject it when you've finished.


Instantly create PDFs on a Mac

Open the file, or browse to a website, then click File > Print. In the print dialog box, click the PDF button at the bottom left, then select Save As PDF. 

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