the Mac

By Chris Dillon. Version 6, 11 March, 2015. Latest version at:

    1. Getting set up

You need to acquire:

    • Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac. UCL members of staff may download this software from: If you are not a member of UCL, you may download Office for Mac from: As of the time of writing it costs £60 a year. It will download to your Downloads folder – see File management.
    • A PC mouse – you’ll work quicker with a two-buttoned mouse!
    • If your mouse doesn’t have two buttons, hold down the Ctrl key and click (Ctrl-click) to mimic a right mouse click. As on a PC, clicking with the left mouse button selects, double-clicking opens and right-clicking brings up any context-sensitive menu.
    • An adapter cable if you are going to link your Mac to a projector or external screen.
    • Careful – there is more than one sort, so it’s best to ask in the shop if you’re not sure.

You are asked for a password when you first start your Mac. Keep this somewhere safe, as you will need it each time you install software including updates.

    1. Interface

How do I switch it off?

Click on the Apple menu (top left) and select Shut Down.


You will notice red, yellow and green balls at the top left of many Mac windows. Click the red one and you close the window. However, the program is still running. Click the menu bearing the program’s name (top left) and select Quit or press Cmd-Q to quit a program.

Note: The Cmd key may be an apple or a square with small circles in each corner.

Note how the menu at the top of your screen changes depending on which program you’re using. Click the Dock icons (the large ones usually at the bottom of your screen) to start a program or make it active and display its menu.

The yellow ball minimises the window.

To size a window, click and drag its lower right-hand corner.


If a program doesn’t have an icon in the Dock, the first time you run it, you need to use the Go menu in Finder (see section 3) to go to Applications and double-click the icon. Once the program is running, you can Ctrl-click/Right-click the icon which will now have appeared in the Dock and select Options| Keep in Dock to create an icon there.

If you want to remove an icon from the Dock, drag it off using your mouse. (It disappears with a satisfying puff of smoke!) You ca also drag program icons to change their position in the Dock.


Moving around the screen with the keyboard is quite different on the Mac!

    • Press Cmd-back arrow to go to the beginning, or Cmd-forward arrow to go to the end of a line.
    • Press Cmd-up arrow to go to the top, or Cmd-down arrow to go the end of a document.

If you hold the Shift key down as you issue these commands, you select (rather than move).


Some Macs do not have Delete buttons – use the Backspace key.

Most Macs do not have # keys – press Alt-£ to display a #.

    1. File management

The Mac file manager, Finder, starts automatically when you switch on your Mac. You will find that most documents save to your Documents folder. Downloads save by default to your Downloads folder. Minimise any open programs and click on the Desktop if necessary to activate Finder. The menu at the top of the screen should change accordingly. Then use the Go menu to go to Documents.

To create a new folder, go to File | New Folder at the top of the screen once in the folder beneath which you want to create the new folder.

Click a file and press Cmd-Backspace to send it to the trash. Ctrl-click/Right-click the trash icon (bottom right on the Desktop) and select Open if you need to get something out of there.

If things get untidy anywhere, in Finder, click the View menu and select Arrange By and then Name.

Memory sticks, CDs, DVDs

If you insert a memory stick, a CD or DVD, it will appear as a white drive icon on your desktop.

(Incidentally, a .dmg file – used e.g. for downloading software – also appears as a white drive icon once it has been double-clicked.) If you want to eject your memory stick, CD or DVD, click the white drive icon and press Cmd-E.

    1. Editing commands

Drag across text to select it and press Cmd-C to copy it to your Mac’s memory. Go where you want the text to appear and press Cmd-V.

Note: Many function keys that would be Ctrl- on the PC are Cmd- on the Mac.

    1. Securing your Mac


If you are a member of UCL, you may download Sophos from:

    • Note the user name and password for the update server.
    • Double-click the .dmg file once you have saved it to your Desktop (unless it has opened automatically). Double-click the .mpkg file. Click Continue a few times.
    • Click Macintosh HD, then Continue and then Install. Enter your password.
    • Once the software has installed, click the grey Sophos shield top right and select Open Preferences. Click on the AutoUpdate tab and click the padlock (bottom left). Insert the Sophos user name and password you noted down. Click Set and close the window.

Making sure your operating system’s up-to-date

    • Click on the Apple menu (first icon top left) and go to App Store. Click the Updates icon, top right. Your Mac will connect to Apple and check whether your operating system is up-to-date.
    • Click Install n Items. You will be asked for your Mac’s password and may need to click Agree etc. a couple of times. This can take some amount of time, especially if it’s a new Mac, so it’s best to kick this off just before you go out!
      1. Software you could consider adding

The Mac native Web browser is called Safari. However, it is best to download Firefox from: and make it your default browser (it asks you during the installation).

If it comes as a .dmg file, double-click it and drag the icon to the Applications folder – you can find this by using the Go menu in Finder.

Here are addresses for other free software you will find useful:

    • Adobe Reader for reading (NOT editing! but see 10 below) PDF files
    • VLC Media Player opens most audio and movie files
      1. Mac laptops
      • Keep your Mac plugged in to save battery life, if you want the battery to have a long life.
      • If your laptop goes to sleep, press any key briefly or click the mouse to wake it up.
      • If you have trouble displaying your laptop’s screen on the wall when using a projector, check that you are on the RGB setting (NOT video). It may be a problem with the screen resolution. You can change that by going to Apple | System Preferences | Displays | Display and selecting something like 1024 x 768, 60Hz. You could also try reducing the number of colours.
      1. Setting up wired access to the UCL network
      • Obtain a network (“Ethernet”) cable e.g. from the shop in South Junction.
      • Click on the Apple menu, go to System Preferences and double-click Network.
      • Click Ethernet in the left panel if necessary.
      • Set Configure Ipv4 to Manually. Enter your IP address (you can get these and the other settings from, Subnet Mask and Router DNS Server.
      • Access software on Desktop @ UCL by going to in Firefox.
      1. Setting up EduRoam
      1. PDF files

Create a PDF file from your Word document etc. by pressing Cmd-P, clicking PDF (bottom right) and then Save as PDF.

Opening a PDF in Mac’s PDF program, Preview, allows you to combine PDF files. Go to View | Sidebar (click on the Drawer icon on older versions of OS X) and drag another PDF to the relevant location. It is also possible to rotate pages.

    1. Want to change your Desktop wallpaper?

There are some very attractive designs!

Click on the Apple menu and go to System Preferences. Double-click on Desktop & Screen Saver and click on the design you like most.

    1. Known issues
      • There is no Mac version of Microsoft Access. Get round this by using Access on Desktop @ UCL or convert your data to Excel or FileMaker Pro (commercial Mac database software).