Along with blocking some trackers, running my own DNS with Pi-hole gives me the “super power” of being able to see what DNS queries my computers are doing. This morning, I happened to notice that my desktop PC had made a bunch of lookups for “wpad.lan”.
Pi-hole appends “.lan” to the name of any machine on the local network, but that’s not a name I recognized. So what’s going on here?
Googling for “wpad.lan” lead me to discover that it’s a protocol for automatically discovering and configuring proxy servers. Most operating systems have it off by default, but Windows defaults it to on. More concerning, having proxy auto-discovery turned on is a security concern. Not so much on a home or corporate network (indeed, it’s likely helpful for corporate networks, which is perhaps why it’s on by default), but if you have it on and connect to a public network (e.g. a coffee shop, library, etc.) an attacker may be able to see all the details of your http requests (not breaking https, but working around it).
The desktop PC isn’t super-portable, so I’m not too concerned about unfamiliar WiFi, but apparently this is even a risk if you’re using VPN, so I definitely want to lockdown the laptops.
A friend recently announced her job was requiring her to use a Mac, but she’d only ever used Windows and could anyone help her get started?
A similar work-related transition caused me to add Mac to my skillset a couple years ago and this request for assistance was the final push I needed to get my notes organized; here they are in a form that will perhaps help others as well.
I’m keyboard-oriented, so a lot of this focuses on using the keyboard and keyboard shortcuts.
One of the biggest changes from Windows to Mac is that for most things, where Windows uses the control (Ctrl) key, Mac uses the command (Cmd) key. It’s the one that looks like a square with loops on the corners. (If you plug a Windows keyboard into a Mac, you’ll use the “Windows” key as the command key.)
The control key does still get used, but it tends to be more dependent on the individual program.
On Windows, you can “Alt-Tab” to switch between programs. On Mac, you use Command-Tab to switch between programs, but it doesn’t work the way Windows does. If you have multiple copies of Word open, Command-Tab will bring them ALL to the foreground.
To switch between instances of the same program (e.g. Switch between a meeting agenda and a report) use Command-` (That’s the key in the far upper-left of the keyboard, usually between Escape and Tab. It’s also known as the “backtick” or accent key. The “uppercase” version of that key is the tilde.)
Navigating the file system
On Windows, you navigate the file system with Windows Explorer. On Mac, it’s the Finder. This is the blue “smiley face” which appears in the “Dock.” (When I started using Mac, this was at the bottom of the screen, with the Finder icon on the left. Your mileage may vary.)
There are at least two ways to launch applications
I find the fastest way to launch a program is by holding down the command key and pressing the space bar. This causes a prompt to appear where you can type the name of the program you want to run. As soon as you’ve typed enough for the program name to be selected, hit the Enter key to launch it. (This is the “Spotlight Search.)
Alternatively, in the finder, the area on the left includes an “Applications” tab. If you click on that, you’ll be presented with a list of installed applications.
Once a program has been launched, it will appear in the dock. You can right click on the application and choose to have it remain in the dock, even if it’s not running.
Mac keyboards don’t have a print screen button. If you plug in a Windows keyboard, the print screen button won’t do anything.
To take a screenshot in Mac, hold down the Command and Shift keys and then press the 4. You then use the mouse to select the area of the screen you wish to capture. Afterward, a thumbnail image will appear at the bottom right of the screen for 5-10 seconds. Click on the thumbnail to access the full-size image which you can then perform some rudimentary editing on before using Command-C to copy it into another program. (This is similar to the Windows-Shift-S functionality recently added to Windows 10.)
Along with Cmd-Shift-4, Apple’s list of keyboard shortcuts says you can also use Cmd-Shift-3 and (in newer versions of the OS) Cmd-Shift-5. (This latter apparently gives you an ability to record the screen which I wasn’t aware of before writing this.)
In Windows, programs are free to use whatever conventions they wish to launch program settings (generally a “Settings” item in the “File” menu, or sometimes “Preferences” under the “Edit” menu).
On Mac, program preferences are always (almost always?) accessible via a “Preferences” item on the menu item with the program’s name. This may also be accessed via the Command-Comma keyboard shortcut.
Accessing the Menu Bar
As mentioned at the beginning, I’m keyboard-oriented. I’ve not found a reliable way to do this. According to an article on c|net titled “Access menus via the keyboard in OSX“, you can use Command-F2.
Unfortunately, on newer Macbooks equipped with a touchbar, the function keys aren’t always available. As an alternative, you can use Command-Shift-/ (aka “Command-?”) to get into the Help search menu item. I find that to be enough of a hassle that using the mouse is easier.
OS X Daily (https://osxdaily.com/) has a lot of useful “How do I do [X]?” articles. Google frequently lands me there (or you can also specify “site:osxdaily.com” as one of your search criteria).