User:Nava Muni/Mac4NonMac

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A Pragmatic Mac Primer for non-Mac Mentors

Speaking the Lingo

While the behaviors are not 100% identical, the intent surely is ...

  • PC: task bar, recycle bin, Conrol Panel, Start
  • Mac: Dock, trash, System Preferences, Apple Menu


The Mac OS has several features which could stump the new Mac user or a non-Mac user attempting to provide help. These are Expose, Dashboard, Front Row, and Spaces (Leopard).


Exposé gives the Mac user access to the windows of currently running applications.

  • F9, Fn+F9
    this key (combo) will "pull back" the desktop view and show all application windows
  • F10, Fn+F10
    this key (combo) will "pull back" the desktop view and show all windows for the CURRENT application
  • F11, Fn+F11
    this key (combo) will "push away" all application windows and reveal the desktop


Dashboard is Apple's answer to "desktop widgets" - small, lightweight utility applications and gizmos.
F12, Fn+F12 will overlay the screen with the widget presentation.

Front Row

Front Row gives the user full-screen playback access to his media-rich files: music, videos, images.
CMD-ESC will replace the desktop view turning your Mac into a giant video iPod, cinema, and photo album.


Spaces is Apple's answer to virtual desktops. Like all the other features, it can be turned on and off. With Spaces active, you can have anywhere from one to 16 virtual work spaces. Applications and their windows can be dragged from one "space" to another. This is not your "traditional multiple desktop" feature. Each "space" shares a common, underlying desktop; only the applications and their windows are moved from one space to another. It's new to Leopard. F8, Fn+F8 will "pull back" the desktop view and show all the Spaces and each application (window) in its assigned space. CTRL-<digit> can be used to "jump" to a particular Space; CTRL-<cursor> can be used to "scroll" to a particular Space. There are mouse actions that will "drag" an application window from one space to another.



The Mac keyboard is a little different than the PC keyboard. Where the PC keyboard has a "menu" key and "Windows" key, the Mac has an "option" (OPT) key and a "command" (CMD) key. The "command" key is sometimes called the "propeller" (⌘) or the "Apple" (Black apple-16.jpg) key.

Most of us are used to instructions that request key combinations like ALT-F, CTRL-C, or SH-CTRL-K. In the Mac world, this might be OPT-F, CTRL-C/CMD-C, SH-CTRL-K/SH-CMD-K.
Note: the CMD key is not the same as the CTRL key; it sometimes behaves that way.

In SL, the "option" key behaves like ALT - but don't ever think they are 'the same.'

Application cycling on the Mac is via CMD-tab; on the PC, it's ALT-tab.

Beware of CMD-space -- this invokes Spotlight, a search utility.

Function Keys

A standard installation of Mac OS X has the keyboard configured in such a way that the function keys are not "standard function" keys but are actually "special feature" keys. (A "special feature" would be volume/mute, brightness, Expose, Desktop, Dashboard, Spaces.) If configured "out of the box" with the F keys accessing "special features," the use of the Fn (function) key must be used in combination with the F key to get a "standard function" key. Example:

(default "special feature" mode after Mac OS X installation)
  • Fn+F1 would be "Second Life Help"
  • F1 would be "lower brightness"
("flipped" to "standard function" mode [via System Preferences] - my preference)
  • F1 would be "Second Life Help"
  • Fn+F1 would be "lower brightness"

Backspace & Delete

A PC has both a "backspace" and a DEL (delete) key. Depending on the model of Mac, you'll have just a "delete" key or possibly both a "delete" key and a "back-delete" key (⌦). For Mac users, the "delete" key is equivalent to the PC's "backspace" key. "Back-delete" on a Mac is equivalent to a PC's DEL key. (On Mac keyboards lacking a "back-delete" key, you can press Fn+delete to get the "back-delete" behavior.)

Meta Keys and the Mouse

OMG! Where are all my mouse buttons?! Since the beginning, the standard Mac mouse has had one button. For a standard Mac application, you perform a "right click" through a CTRL-click. In SL, this becomes CMD-click. However, all modern Macs will accept and recognize multi-button mice. Therefore, it's quite possible for you to "right click" by ... right clicking!

Natively on the Mac,

  • to select a span of items, the shift key is used
  • to [de]select a single item, CMD-click is used
  • to "right click," you use CTRL-click

In SL,

  • to select a span of items, the shift key is used
  • to [de]select a single item, CTRL-click is used
  • to "right click," you use CMD-click

NOTE: when doing an SL "Bulk Upload," the "native Mac" mouse/keyboard behaviors prevail. (So to pick several, non-sequential files for upload, one would use the CMD key, NOT the CTRL key.)

Option/ALT and CTRL Key Combos

In SL, the Mac "option" (OPT) key behaves like the PC ALT key. Many in-world keyboard shortcuts can be executed as either CTRL or CMD combos.
There are a few noted exceptions …

CMD-H will hide SL (CTRL-H opens/closes chat history)
CMD-OPT-H will hide everything *but* SL (CTRL-ALT-H does nothing)
CMD-M will minimize SL (CTRL-M opens/closes the map)

BE CAREFUL! There could be utility applications running in the background that watch for particular key combo. These will most likely interfer with SL.

  • I run a utility called "Namely." Its "hot key" is CMD-R. That's "Always Run" in SL.
  • If the resident is using Leopard and has Spaces active, then you need to watch out for CTRL-<digit> and CTRL-<cursor> combos.

The CTLR-<digit> combos usually open the editor window(s). In Spaces, CTRL-<digit> controls which desktop is active. A Mac user should always use CMD-<digit> for opening editor window(s). If Spaces is turned off, then CTRL-<digit> is "safe."
Additionally, with Spaces enabled, CTRL-<cursor> will switch desktops. If Spaces is disabled, then CTRL-<cusor> has no effect.

Copy, Cut, and Paste

Natively on the Mac, CMD-C, CMD-X, and CMD-V are used for copy, cut, and paste. In SL, you can use these combinations or the common PC combinations of CTRL-C, CTRL-X, and CTRL-V. The same is true for "undo:" CTRL-Z or CMD-Z.

Operating System Version

To find out which version of Mac OS X the resident is using:

  1. go to the Apple Menu (upper right)
  2. choose "About this Mac"

Version 10.4.x is Tiger Version 10.5.x is Leopard (As of 2008-02-11, Mac OS X 10.5.2 is the most current.)

Click "More Info ..." to open the System Profiler. Here you can discover the resident's graphics/displays information.

Pulling Out the Rug

If SL hangs, try these (in order of 'severity')

  1. quit SL (CTLR-Q, CMD-Q, File -> Quit)
  2. Apple Menu -> Force Quit ...
  3. press and hold the power button until the computer turns off

If SL crashes (not hangs), it's usually a good idea to reboot.

Running Other Applications Simultaneously

For most Mac users, running applications simultaneously with SL is fine. However, there are some applications that can be problematic. This is usually due to the fact that these applications are graphically-intensive:

  • Photoshop (CS2, CS3), Illustrator, InDesign, The GIMP
  • Poser
  • ACD3, Maya, SketchUp/Google Earth
  • iMovie, iDVD, Final Cut, Pro Tools, Avid
  • system software update
  • rarely: any Web site with embedded streaming video (like YouTube or Torley's tutorials)


Almost all of the "operator error" mishaps with SL on a Mac involve either mistyping or mis-clicking. 99% of the SL crashes inflicting a Mac involve the its video subsystem. There are many, many more "video subsystem configurations" for the Macintosh computer line than there are Macintosh models! (For example: the "iMac" has no less than 12 (!!!) different video subsystem configurations!)


Second Life Mac Flashcards

Course-related Materials

See "Mac Video Subsystems" for a video subsystem listing.
The PowerPoint presentation from 29-Feb-08 (and its PDF version).

Other Valuable Resources

Check out the Help:Mac_OS_X_(technical_issues) page in the SL Wiki.