I have been a Windows user and have recently started using OS X (I have Snow Leopard on my machine).

I wanted to learn about the basic applications in OS X (e.g. Terminal) and other commonly or some important utilities used in OS X. I know a lot of important apps come bundled or pre-installed with OS X, but I am not aware of a lot of them.

Could someone please point me as to where I can learn about such apps and what are the important apps which I should know about?


David Pogue's book Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Snow Leopard Edition is highly recommended. As you can tell from the title, it's designed to explain Snow Leopard to people who are coming from Windows. It's 650 pages.

There is a second, larger (900 pages), and more comprehensive book from David Pogue called Mac OS X Snow Leopard: The Missing Manual which is not aimed at Windows users and goes into greater depth about how to use Snow Leopard's features.

  • 1
    I was going to answer with pretty much the same recommendation. The missing manual series of books are very very good, and the Snow Leopard one in particular is incredibly useful both for users noew to computing or switchers from other operating systems. Plus you can likely pick it up cheap as it's technically out of date these days for users of Lion and above. You can buy it electronically too from the publishers, via their confusingly named Safari store :) – stuffe May 1 '12 at 12:41

The Mac 101 on Apple website seems like a good place to start.

And of course, Ask Different.

  • Thx a lot ...The link you gave is useful, however I am looking at more technical apps/utilities like Terminal/Keychain, etc – hmthr Apr 26 '12 at 10:17
  • Additionally there is Switch 101 apple.com/support/switch101. @hmthr Maybe you should narrow down your question in a way it becomes answerable on this site. – Gerry Apr 26 '12 at 11:19
  • The terminal is a unix command line interface, so it is a big topic -- there is everything from power user text editors (emacs) to quick ways to change OS X user preferences (or even add users) to languages like Perl and Python and down to tiny things like listing files. If you want a basic introduction I'd google "unix command line tutorial" or similar. – David Rouse Apr 26 '12 at 11:33

Mac OS X is a Unix based system. Most Linux command line tutorials will work for Mac. Here is a really good one that I used. You could search for Bash, Shell, Mac command-line, etc.


I highly recommend every new mac user check out ScreencastsOnline. This is a weekly podcast by Don McAllister who is really well regarded in the mac community. I listen to a lot of mac related podcasts, and Don is the one the other podcasters go to when they can't figure something out. He used to be a Windows IT guy who made the switch to mac several years ago. He now works full time reviewing and explaining Apple tech to the rest of us.

His weekly episodes alternate between free and member's only. The free episodes are just as good as the member's and a great way to try before you buy.

Specific to your question, he did a 2-part review of all the applications in the /Applications/Utilities folder a while back. The first part is free and can be viewed here. Take a look at the full back catalog of several hundred episodes and you'll see that he covers pretty much everything.


I don't think there is some you "need" to know. Other than couple utility apps like Onyx and Stuffit Expander/ The Unarchiver everything depends on what you do. Also I use Sparrow over the default Mail app. For some reason it kept asking my passwords all the time so I just shut it down.Annoying indeed.

For knowing about new apps I would suggest twitter. Also app store is a good place to look for stuff.

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