Crossing Platforms: A Macintosh/Windows Phrasebook

Crossing Platforms: A Macintosh/Windows Phrasebook

by Adam Engst, David Pogue

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Like travelers in a foreign land, Mac users working in Windows or Windows users working on a Mac often find themselves in unfamiliar territory with no guidebook. Crossing Platforms: A Macintosh/Windows Phrasebook, with information presented in a translation dictionary-like format, offers users a handy way of translating skills and knowledge from one

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Like travelers in a foreign land, Mac users working in Windows or Windows users working on a Mac often find themselves in unfamiliar territory with no guidebook. Crossing Platforms: A Macintosh/Windows Phrasebook, with information presented in a translation dictionary-like format, offers users a handy way of translating skills and knowledge from one platform to the other. Whether it's explaining the difference between Macintoshaliases and Windows shortcuts or explaining how a Windows user would go about setting up Internet access on a Mac, this book provides readers a simple means to look up familiar interface elements and system features and learn how that element or feature works on the other platform.Crossing Platforms: A Macintosh/Windows Phrasebook includes:

  • A general introduction to the key differences between the Mac and Windows
  • A to Z sections for each platform: one section where Mac users look up familiar Macintosh terms to find the equivalent function in Windows along with an explanation of the differences; and another section where Windows users find familiar Windows terms with pointers to the Macintosh equivalent along with full descriptions of how the function works on the Mac and important differences between the two platforms
The complete translation dictionary-like reference book,Crossing Platforms: A Macintosh/Windows Phrasebook provides a simple solution for everyone who has been confused and frustrated by the arbitrary and sometimes capricious differences between the Macintosh and Windows operating systems. This book bridges the Mac-PC knowledge gap many users are faced with when work or preference demands the use of both a PC and Mac. Whether you already know the Macintosh or Windows, this book helps you navigate in the other operating system using your existing skills and knowledge.

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O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
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7.04(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.68(d)

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Chapter A:A-D

About This Program

In Windows: About This Program

To find out what version of a Macintosh program you're using, you choose the About command, always the first item in the Apple menu. But to ferret out the same information in Windows, you need to look instead for an About menu item in the Help menu for the application you're using. It's usually the last item in the Help menu, and it produces a dialog box filled with version numbers, serial number, and other info, exactly as in Macintosh "About" boxes.

To learn more about Windows itself, choose Help About Windows 9X in any Desktop window (such as a folder or Explorer window). The resulting dialog box tells you the version you're running, to whom it's licensed, the physical memory available, and the system resources usage level (see Figure A-1).

ADB (Apple Desktop Bus)

In Windows: Keyboard Port, Mouse Port, USB

Older Macintosh models rely on a technology (a jack and cable-connector style) called ADB (Apple Desktop Bus) to connect keyboards, mice, trackballs, and joysticks, along with a few other types of devices. On the PC, though, there's no technology equivalent to ADB and no single standard port for input devices (although someday USB may become such a standard). So, if you're adding a keyboard or a mouse to your PC, make sure to check the ports before purchasing.

Some PC keyboards have a large 5-pin round (DIN) connector, but others connect to a smaller 6-pin, round, mini-DIN port (also known as a PS/2connector). The 6-pin connector appears commonly on laptops, where space is limited.

PC mice, too, come in two basic varieties: the serial mouse (which connects to a 9-pin DB-9 connector) and the bus, or PS/2, mouse, which connects to the 6-pin mini DIN port. See Figure A-2 for diagrams of the three different ports. Depending on your PC, your back panel might be labeled with icons for the different ports.

Windows offers no standard means of daisy-chaining multiple keyboards and mice, as you can on the Macintosh, although Windows 98 does let you use multiple mice at the same time. This configuration is handy if your laptop has a trackball, for instance, and you'd like to hook up a serial mouse as well. In fact, many laptops let you attach a second keyboard or mouse so you can avoid using the cramped built-in keyboard and pointing device.

Adobe Acrobat

In Windows: Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat is a cross-platform program (versions exist for the Macintosh, Windows, and Unix) that lets you see documents on-screen as they were meant to be seen on paper, complete with graphics, typography, and original layout. You can also print these documents without loss of quality, even if you lack the documents' original fonts.

Some companies choose to distribute online in Acrobat format—more accurately called PDF or Portable Document Format—because of this guarantee of display quality. Other uses of Acrobat include sending proofs of documents to people who may lack both the necessary program and the necessary fonts to view the original file, and distributing forms such as the IRS tax forms, which must be printed out accurately.

Adobe put a lot of effort into making Acrobat files totally cross-platform. If you create an Acrobat file using Acrobat Distiller on the Macintosh, you can send that file to a Windows user who can read and print it using the free Acrobat Reader—and vice versa.

You can find much more information about Adobe Acrobat on Adobe's web site at


In Windows: Shortcut

A Macintosh alias is an icon that represents some other file, folder, or disk and takes up very little disk space, yet opens the original icon when double-clicked. In effect, it lets a file, folder, or disk icon be in more than one place at once. A common usage: put the alias for a commonly used item in your Apple menu or on your Desktop. In Windows, the equivalent icon duplicates are called shortcuts.

Creating shortcuts. To create a shortcut, right-click a file, folder, or disk; from the pop-up menu that appears, choose Create Shortcut. Windows creates the shortcut next to the original, calling it "Shortcut to Applications" (or whatever the name of the original was, as shown in Figure A-3). Shortcut icons match the originals, with the addition of an arrow branded on the icon (exactly as in Mac OS 8.5 and later). Once you've created a shortcut, you can rename it, move it, or copy it anywhere you like; double-clicking it opens the original file.

As an alternative method of creating a shortcut, open the window where you'd like the finished shortcut to reside. Then choose File New Shortcut. The Create Shortcut wizard walks you through the steps of creating a shortcut: choosing the original, naming the shortcut, and sometimes choosing an icon.

TIP: When you're asked to select an icon for the shortcut, the Browse dialog box defaults to showing you only programs. You must choose Files of type All Files to see other types of files from which you can steal icons.

Windows also offers several shortcuts to creating shortcuts:

  • Right-click any blank spot on the Desktop or in a Desktop window; from the resulting pop-up menu, you can choose New Shortcut to place a new shortcut on the Desktop.
  • If you right-click and drag an icon, Windows asks if you want to move the original to the new location, copy the original to the new location, or create a shortcut in the new location.
  • If you press Ctrl-Shift when dragging, Windows displays the same pop-up menu, but defaults to making a shortcut of the original in the new location (your cursor changes to indicate that it will create a shortcut).

You'll find that Windows is distinctly different from the Macintosh in one regard: if you try to drag a program's icon to a different window, Windows makes a shortcut in the new location instead, unbidden. To move or copy the actual program you must right-click and drag, or Shift-drag, its icon.

Special shortcut features. Windows shortcuts offer more control than Macintosh aliases. To access these additional features, right-click the shortcut icon and choose Properties from the resulting pop-up menu. In the Properties dialog box, click the Shortcut tab for information about the shortcut, such as target type and target location. The Target field contains the full pathname to the original.

The "Start in" field specifies the folder that contains the original item. (It may also identify a folder that contains files related to the original item, such as a folder containing documents to open at launch.)

More useful is the "Shortcut key" field, which lets you define a keystroke that launches, or switches to, the program referenced by the shortcut. (In other words, Windows has a built-in function that does what, say, QuicKeys does on the Macintosh—launches your favorite programs and documents from the keyboard. See for more information on macro programs in Windows.) To specify such a shortcut key, click in the field and press any key except Escape, Enter, Tab, Spacebar, Print Screen, or Backspace; your finished keystroke is Ctrl-Alt-[whatever key you chose].

TIP: Windows lets you duplicate shortcut keys for different shortcuts; the most recent one defined should overrule any duplicates. If a previously assigned shortcut keystroke is giving you trouble, however, right-click the offending shortcut, and choose Properties Shortcut Shortcut Key Delete.

Finally, the Run pop-up menu lets you specify which kind of window will open when you launch a program from its shortcut: a normal window, a window that's minimized to an icon on the Taskbar, or a window that's maximized to take up the full screen. This option is especially useful for shortcuts in the StartUp folder that run at startup; you may want certain background applications, such as speech-recognition engines or screen capture utilities, to launch automatically at startup but to minimize themselves to get their windows out of your way...

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