Essential Mac Basics for Beginners

Do you think it’s time to start using Apple computers? Become a professional by using these essential Mac basics for beginners.

Apple is one of the most valuable companies in the world—that is, they have a value of more than $1.3 trillion!

Based in California, they design and manufacture a variety of devices from tablets to smartphones. Not only that, but they sell personal computers as well.

Known as Macs, they’ve been around since the 1980s. If anything, they’ve only become more and more popular in recent years.

Did you recently get a Mac? Need some tips on how to get started? If so, you’re on the right page.

We’ll be going over a few essential Mac basics below. Keep reading to learn more!

About Mac Computers

The term “Mac” refers to Apple’s series of Macintosh computers. Powered by macOS, they are capable of all the same general functions as PCs.

As it is, they come in a variety of models, one of which includes the iMac—an all-in-one desktop computer. Aside from that, there’s also the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, both of which are designed for portability.

Is it your first time using a Mac computer? Here are a few things that you might want to familiarize yourself with!

Using Spotlight 

Spotlight is the search engine that runs on your Mac. You can use it to find almost anything including documents, emails, apps, and more.

To run it, click on the small magnifying glass at the top right corner of the screen. Alternatively, you can bring it up by using the keyboard command, Command+Space.

Taking Screenshots 

Mac keyboards do not come with a “print screen” button. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take screenshots, though—the process is just a little different.

To take a screenshot of your screen, hold down the keys Command+Shift+3. You should hear a brief camera shutter noise.

There’s the option of capturing a portion of the screen as well. To do that, use the shortcut Command+Shift+4.

Force Quitting Apps

It’s not uncommon for some apps to freeze and crash. If that happens, you may have to force quit the application.

The easiest way is to press Option+Command+Escape—that will bring up the “Force Quit Applications” window. From there, you can select the app that you’d like to force quit.

Copying and Pasting

Generally speaking, there are two ways to copy and paste on Macs. The first method involves using the shortcuts Command+C (copy) and Command+V (paste).

You can also copy and paste using the top menu. Start by selecting the text or item that you’d like to copy.

Next, pull down the “Edit” menu from the top. Choose “Copy” and navigate to where you’d like to paste the copied item. From there, return to the “Edit” menu and choose “Paste.”

Using Siri 

Siri is your intelligent personal assistant. By default, it will listen for your voice. If you want to use it, enable it in your System Preferences.

Once it’s activated, you can ask Siri by pressing and holding Command+Space. If you want, you can also type to Siri—you just have to check “Enable Type to Siri” under the “Accessibility” pane.

Accessing YouriCloud Drive 

iCloud allows you to share data across multiple Apple devices. To activate it on your Mac, select “System Preferences” from the Apple menu, and click on “iCloud.”

You’ll be prompted to sign in to your iCloud account. Once you’ve done that, click on “iCloud Drive” to enable it.

As far as accessing your iCloud Drive goes, you can do so with Finder. That is, you should see “iCloud Drive” in the left column.

For more information, you can check out

Using Activity Monitor 

Activity Monitor is the Mac equivalent of Task Manager. You can use it to check various things in real-time such as memory usage and disk activity.

In addition to that, it’ll also show all the processes that are running. In some cases, the name may appear in red—that means that the program is not responding.

Depending on what it is, you may wish to force quit the program.

Using Time Machine 

Time Machine is a built-in feature that lets you back up your Mac. For example, you can use it to back up your apps, photos, or music.

To do so, all you need is an external hard drive. Simply connect the device and select it as your backup disk. That will allow Time Machine to make automatic backups hourly for the past 24 hours.

Note: Once the disk is full, it’ll start to delete the oldest backups.

Using the Dictionary App

Macs come with a system-wide dictionary that allows you to look up any word. All you have to Control+Click the word or phrase. From there, select “Look Up” in the shortcut menu.

For those using a Magic Trackpad, you can look up the definition by clicking the word with three fingers (assuming that the gesture is activated in Trackpad Preferences).

If you want, you can even activate additional dictionaries. You can download them directly from the “Dictionary” App by navigating to the “preferences” menu.

Mastering the Mac Basics

And there you have it—nine Mac basics that’ll get you started. As you can see, there are a number of things that you can do with these computers. If anything, you just have to get used to it!

Interested in more posts like this? Then make sure to check out the rest of our blog!