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Crossing Platforms A Macintosh/Windows Phrasebook by David Pogue, Adam Engst

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Chapter 4. D

Date & Time Control Panel

In Windows: Date/Time Control Panel

In the Mac’s Date & Time control panel, you can set the Macintosh clock’s date, time, and time zone, switch between different date and time formats, and modify a wide variety of options for the menu bar clock.

The Windows Date/Time control panel, accessible in Control Panel → Date/Time, is less full-featured. You can set the date and time by following these steps.

  1. Choose the month from the Month menu.

  2. Enter a year in the Year field.

  3. Click the appropriate date in the calendar display.

  4. Enter the appropriate time in the Time field, below the analog clock display (see Figure 4-1).

The analog clock display is purely ornamental, as is the map display in the Time Zone tab, where you can choose a time zone from the list. (In other words, you can’t click to set the time or location.)

Date/Time control panel
Figure 4-1. Date/Time control panel

To change the time or date display formats, use the Windows Regional Settings control panel (Control Panel → Regional Settings), which has tabs for both time and date (see Figure 4-2).

Del Key

In Windows: Delete Key

The forward delete, or Del, key, which is grouped with the navigation keys (Page Up, Home, and so on) on Macintosh keyboards, deletes text to the right of the insertion point. (In graphics programs, it simply functions as a duplicate Delete key.) Maybe that’s why Apple eliminated the forward-delete key altogether from the keyboard that accompanies its current computers.

In Windows, though, the forward delete key (called simply Delete, to avoid confusion with the Backspace key) has a few additional functions:

  • Select a file and press Delete to send that file to the Recycle Bin (like pressing Command-Delete in Mac OS 8 and later).

  • Press Shift-Delete to delete the file instantly from your hard disk. Be careful using Shift-Delete, since you don’t have a second chance to recover the file, as you do when you put a file in the Recycle Bin.

  • The well-known Ctrl-Alt-Delete combination (originally used to restart DOS-based PCs) now brings up the Close Program dialog box, from which you can quit misbehaving programs.

Regional Settings control panel’s Date tab
Figure 4-2. Regional Settings control panel’s Date tab

Delete Key

In Windows: Backspace Key

Many Macintosh users still think of this key as the Backspace key, although on the standard Macintosh keyboards it’s labeled “Delete.” In Windows, though, it’s labeled “Backspace,” so we’ll make the same distinction.

In addition to its usual function—deleting the highlighted item, or deleting text to the left of the insertion point—the Backspace key has another function in Windows. Whenever you’re in a window that lists files, such as a standard folder window, Windows Explorer, or an Open or Save dialog box, pressing Backspace moves you up one level in the disk hierarchy. (Power users recognize this concept as the Command-up arrow shortcut on the Macintosh.)

Deleting Files

In Windows: Deleting Files

You can delete files and folders in Windows the same way you’re used to on the Macintosh—by dragging them to the Recycle Bin. However, Windows offers additional ways to delete files; see Trash for a full list.


In Windows: Desktop, My Computer

For the most part, the Macintosh and Windows Desktops are quite similar. Like the Windows Desktop, the Macintosh Desktop is, behind the scenes, actually a folder that contains files and other folders that appear on the backdrop, the Desktop, when you first turn on the computer. And anything you’d do on the Macintosh Desktop is likely to work on the Windows Desktop: renaming files, opening folders, dragging icons, and so on. You can drag document icons on top of application icons to open files. You can right-click objects on the Windows Desktop to summon a contextual menu, much like the one that appears when you Control-click the Macintosh Desktop.

On the other hand, the two Desktops are also different in subtle ways.

  • When you insert a disk or CD of any kind, you’re used to seeing its icon appear on your Macintosh Desktop. In Windows, no icon appears; you must open the My Computer icon on your Desktop to access your disk drives. See Disk Space for more information.

  • The Macintosh Desktop can hold files and folders from any disk, since each disk has its own invisible Desktop Folder. In contrast, the invisible Desktop folder in Windows lives only on the C: disk, so the Windows Desktop can hold only files and folders from the C: disk.

  • In Mac OS 8 and later, Desktop Printer icons appear on the Desktop; in Windows, Printer icons are stored in a special folder at My Computer → Printers. (Of course, you can create a shortcut to a Printer icon and store the shortcut on your Windows Desktop.)

  • In Mac OS 8.5 and later, the Network Browser appears in the Apple menu. The Windows equivalent, the Network Neighborhood, sits on the Desktop.

Removing icons from the Desktop. It’s easy to remove most icons from the Macintosh Desktop, but it can be more difficult to remove items from the Windows Desktop. In fact, you may find doing so impossible without the aid of the TweakUI control panel, an optional utility on the Windows 98 CD-ROM. (If you use Windows 95, you can download TweakUI from http://www.microsoft.com/windows95/downloads/default.asp.)

To remove “stuck” items from your Desktop, rename them, or create files from them so you can move them. (Note that you can’t necessarily apply all of these actions to each item; right-click each one, as shown in Figure 4-3, to see which actions are allowed.)

  1. Install TweakUI by installing the Windows 98 Resource Kit Tools Sampler on the Windows 98 CD-ROM at Windows 98\tools\restkit\setup.exe.

  2. Open Control Panel → TweakUI → Desktop.

  3. Click the box next to each icon’s name to remove or add a checkmark. Checked items appear on the Desktop.

  4. Double-click the names of items to edit them.

  5. If you’d like to move a Desktop icon to a new location on your hard disk, select its name, click Create As File, and then save the resulting file to the new location.

Modifying Desktop settings with TweakUI
Figure 4-3. Modifying Desktop settings with TweakUI

If you’re a fan of the Mac’s Button view, in which only a single click opens an icon, you can simulate that arrangement in Windows with a little work.

The Windows Desktop versus Finder Desktop. The most significant difference between the Windows and Macintosh Desktops, however, is that the Macintosh Desktop “belongs” to the Finder, along with all other Finder windows. So, when you switch into the Finder (by clicking any visible Desktop area, for example), all Finder windows appear over whatever other application windows you have open.

The fact that Finder windows appear over other windows when you click the Desktop exemplifies the different way the Macintosh and Windows handle tasks. In Windows, every window is a separate task that appears separately on the Taskbar. On the Macintosh, though, every application is a separate task that appears in the Application menu. Windows belonging to those applications are not separate tasks, and thus appear or disappear all at once.

As a Macintosh user, you may find it difficult to work in Desktop windows that contain files and folders, because windows from other applications can get in the way more easily then they would on the Macintosh. If your Desktop is too cluttered, special tricks await.

In Windows 98, enable the Quick Launch toolbar on your Taskbar, and then click the Show Desktop button to minimize all open windows In Windows 95, press the WIN key with the letter M. In both cases, you jump directly to the Windows Desktop, and all windows from other applications are hidden. (Click their taskbar buttons to bring them forward again.)

Changing the Desktop picture or pattern. For information about changing the Windows Desktop’s background, see Appearance Control Panel.

Desktop Patterns Control Panel

In Windows: Display Control Panel’s Background Tab

In Mac OS 7.5 and 7.6, you switch Desktop patterns using the Desktop Patterns control panel. The same feature is accessible in Windows from the Background tab of the Display control panel. For more information, see Appearance Control Panel.

Desktop Pictures Control Panel

In Windows: Display Control Panel’s Background Tab

In Mac OS 8.0 and 8.1, you switch Desktop patterns and pictures using the Desktop Pictures control panel. The same feature is accessible in Windows from the Background tab of the Display control panel. For more information, see Appearance Control Panel.

Desktop Printers

In Windows: Printers Folder

With Mac OS 8, Apple introduced Desktop Printers, icons on your Desktop that represent printers. You can drag documents onto these icons to be printed, making it easy to specify which printer you want to use for each printout. You can also open Desktop icons to review the print queue—to see which document is printing or to determine why a document may not have printed, for example.

In Windows, the same task is handled by the Printer icons located in My Computer → Printers. (You can also access these Printers by choosing Control Panel → Printers and Start → Settings → Printers.)

An Add Printer wizard walks you through the process of setting up a new printer, after which that printer shows up in the Printers folder. You can use printer icons much like Macintosh Desktop printers—drag documents to a Printer icon to print, open a Printer icon to view and control your print queue, and so on (see Figure 4-4). For more information, see Printing Files.

Print queue
Figure 4-4. Print queue

If you need to modify a printer’s settings, right-click it and choose Properties (or choose Printer → Properties when you have the queue open). The options vary by printer, of course, but you can change things like paper size, paper source, font rendering, and so on.

One printer is always your default printer, which means only that it’s the default printer when you print a document from within an application. You can always choose a different printer in the Windows Print dialog box, just as on the Macintosh.

DialAssist Control Panel

In Windows: My Locations

You use the Mac’s DialAssist control panel to modify how other control panels, such as the Remote Access control panel in Advanced mode, dial phone numbers. The same capability is available in Windows in the Telephony control panel. You’ll find this either in Control Panel → Telephony → My Locations (Windows 98) or in Control Panel → Modems → Dialing Properties → My Locations (Windows 95). For more information, see Location Manager Control Panel.

Dialog Boxes

In Windows: Dialog Boxes

On the Macintosh, you’re used to seeing dialog boxes in a wide variety of situations: changing settings, opening documents, printing, and so on. Windows uses dialog boxes for similar tasks, but there are differences that you may find either confusing or helpful.

Modality. The Macintosh has two types of dialog box. First, there’s the application modal type, which lets you work in other applications before closing the dialog box; this kind of box generally has a title bar, which you can drag to move the window. System modal dialog boxes, on the other hand, must be closed before you can return to work. (The Print and Save dialog boxes take this form.) These usually lack a title bar and can’t be moved; if you click anywhere outside of such a window, the Macintosh rewards you with only a beep.

Most Windows dialog boxes, on the other hand, are application modal. Windows has only a few system modal dialog boxes, such as the Shut Down dialog box, which prevent you from doing anything else until you’ve closed the dialog box.

Help in dialog boxes. Although relatively few Macintosh users rely on Balloon Help in dialog boxes, you can always choose Help → Show Balloons on the Macintosh. In Windows, you access the same kind of context-sensitive help by clicking the question-mark button in the corner of most dialog boxes, and then pointing to the various elements of the dialog box, as shown in Figure 4-5.

Pop-up Help window in a dialog box
Figure 4-5. Pop-up Help window in a dialog box

Alternatively, you can right-click an item in a dialog box to display a What’s This? button; click the button to display the pop-up help window. For more information, see Help.

Tabbed dialog boxes. In Windows dialog boxes, tabs separate different panels, exactly as in Microsoft programs for the Macintosh. Tabbed dialog boxes work well except when there are multiple rows of tabs. When you click a tab, the rows swap positions, which can be disorienting.

Dialog box buttons and keyboard shortcuts. Most Macintosh dialog boxes have OK and Cancel buttons; if you’re a keyboard fan, you can press the Return or Esc keys, respectively, instead of clicking them. Windows dialog boxes also have OK and Cancel buttons, and once again the Enter and Esc keys trigger them. However, Windows settings dialog boxes commonly provide an Apply button that saves the changes you’ve made without closing the dialog box, as clicking OK would do.

In Windows, you can control far more parts of dialog boxes from the keyboard. For example, you can trigger every button, checkbox, pop-up menu, and other element using keyboard equivalents, indicated on the screen by underlined letters (see Button for details). You can also press Tab repeatedly to select different controls within the dialog box. When you’ve managed to highlight the button or control you want, you can press Enter or Spacebar to “click” it.

Disk Cache

In Windows: Vcache

The Mac’s Memory control panel lets you change the disk cache settings. The disk cache is a standard computer feature in which frequently used data from the hard disk is temporarily stored in RAM in the event it’s needed again. Since RAM is so much faster than hard disks, the cached data is available almost immediately the next time it’s requested.

Windows offers a disk cache, too. However, most of the time you don’t have to change the Windows disk cache settings, since Windows manages them automatically. For more on memory management, see Memory Control Panel.

Disk First Aid

In Windows: ScanDisk

Disk First Aid is the standard Mac OS hard disk-repair program. On Windows, the corresponding program is called ScanDisk. As with Disk First Aid in Mac OS 8.5 and later, ScanDisk runs automatically after a system crash in the hopes of nipping fresh hard-disk problems in the bud. You can also run ScanDisk manually from Start → Programs → Accessories → System Tools → ScanDisk. Its interface is simple, primarily offering you the choice of standard or thorough tests (see Figure 4-6).

ScanDisk interface
Figure 4-6. ScanDisk interface

A standard test works like Disk First Aid: it checks files and directory structures for damage. The thorough test also scans the surface of the disk for bad blocks, which takes much longer and need not be run frequently, perhaps once a month at the most. (Most modern hard disks have bad blocks mapped out when they’re formatted; it’s relatively unlikely for them to develop more.) ScanDisk can automatically fix problems or ask you for each one—automatic fixing is generally best.

As with Disk First Aid, it’s a good idea to run a ScanDisk standard test once every week or so. The easiest way to do that is using Windows’ Scheduled Tasks, available in the My Computer window. For more information about scheduling tasks, see Macros.

Disk Space

In Windows: Hard Disk Properties

To find out how much space is available on a disk in Windows, open the My Computer icon, right-click the disk icon (such as the C: hard disk); from the pop-up menu, choose Properties. The resulting dialog box shows you how much disk space is available, complete with a useful pie chart.

Disks. For the Macintosh user moving to Windows for the first time, few surprises are as disorienting as the issue of disks and disk icons. When you insert a CD, floppy disk, or Zip disk, for example, no icon appears on the Windows Desktop. Even the hard disk doesn’t have an icon on the Desktop.

Fortunately, Windows isn’t without disk icons altogether—it just keeps them in a different place. Double-click the My Computer icon in the upper-left corner of the screen to reveal the full array of disk icons.

Think of these as disk-drive icons, not disk icons, because they’re permanent installations in the My Computer window, even when no disks are actually in the drives. The CD-ROM icon may change visually when a CD is actually in the PC. But when you insert another kind of disk, there’s only one way to find out whether or not it’s properly inserted and working: try double-clicking the corresponding icon in the My Computer window. If the disk window now opens, everything is fine—otherwise, you get an error message.

If you miss the directness of being able to access your disk icons on the Desktop, you’re not condemned to having to open the My Computer window every time you want to view your disk icons. Make shortcuts for these icons and place them at the right edge of the screen, exactly as on the Macintosh. (See Alias for more on Windows shortcuts.) Although these icons appear permanently there, whether or not disks are actually in the drives they represent, at least this step brings you one step closer to the familiar Macintosh environment.

Ejecting disks. Don’t attempt to eject a disk by dragging its icon to the Recycle Bin, thinking that it will work like dragging a disk to the Trash on the Macintosh—you’ll wind up erasing the files!

Instead, right-click the disk’s icon and choose Eject Disk from the pop-up menu. Alternatively, alarming as it may feel at first, you can eject a disk manually by pressing the eject button on the front panel of your PC—there’s one each for the Zip drive, floppy drive, CD-ROM drive, and so on. The disk pops out on its own.


Never manually eject a Windows disk by pressing its eject button while the little activity light is flashing. That indicator tells you that the PC is still recording to or reading information from the disk. Wait until the light goes out before pushing the eject button.

Erasing disks. To erase a Windows disk, such as a floppy or Zip, bring its icon into view by double-clicking the My Computer icon on your Desktop. Right-click the disk icon; from the pop-up menu, choose Format. A dialog box appears, offering such options as Quick Erase (deletes the files but doesn’t check the disk surface for problems) or Full (takes longer, but locates bad spots on the disk and marks them as off-limits). See Erase Disk for details.

Renaming disks. You can’t rename a Windows disk as you do other files. Instead, right-click a disk’s icon and choose Properties from the pop-up menu. Change the disk’s name in the Label field, keeping in mind that no disk name can be longer than 11 letters.

Drive Setup

In Windows: Formatting Disks

The software you need to reformat a PC hard disk is built into Windows; it’s not a standalone application. For information on reformatting disks in Windows, see Hard Disks.


In Windows: Drivers

A driver is a small program that lets a computer, either a Macintosh or a PC, communicate with some piece of hardware, be it a printer, modem, or scanner. Drivers are a much bigger deal in the PC world than in the Macintosh world, for two reasons:

  • Since there are many more manufacturers of hardware for PCs than for Macs, the possibilities for problems and conflicts are much greater.

  • Apple often writes generalized drivers that work for an entire class of hardware devices, which relieves manufacturers from having to create their own drivers. For instance, most laser printers use Apple’s LaserWriter driver, and many USB devices can use Apple’s generic USB driver. Many drivers, such as those for the mouse, keyboard, monitor, hard drive, speakers, and so on, are invisible and built into the Macintosh ROM.

Interestingly, one of the most important reasons for the success of Windows 95 is the huge amount of effort Microsoft put into creating and testing drivers for hardware peripherals. Other PC-based operating systems (including Windows NT, ironically) lack similarly good driver support, which proved to be a significant advantage for Windows 95.

Even so, drivers can be a major source of headaches on the PC because there are so many of them. Conflicts are relatively common and difficult to troubleshoot. Video card drivers are among the worst, since they can conflict with seemingly unrelated features of the computer. (Even problems as seemingly unrelated as an inability to read Internet newsgroups have occasionally been traced to outdated video-card drivers.)

Windows includes a huge database of drivers, but it’s only as current as the day Windows was released. (Windows 98’s updated driver collection alone is a good reason to upgrade.) All peripherals should come with the necessary drivers on disk, of course, and you should be able to download updates from most manufacturers’ web sites. It’s worth creating bookmarks to the web sites for products you own, so you can quickly check for driver updates when you’re trying to troubleshoot.

Microsoft’s Windows 98 Update Device Driver wizard can check for new drivers from the Microsoft Windows Update web site.

To check for an updated driver, follow these steps:

  1. Open Start → Settings → Control Panel → System → Device Manager.

  2. Click the name of the peripheral device whose driver you’d like to update.

  3. Click Properties → Driver → Update Driver. (If the Properties dialog box lacks a Driver tab, you can’t update the driver.)

  4. The Update Device Driver wizard asks if you want to search for a driver, then gives you an opportunity to specify where it should look: floppy drives, the CD-ROM drive, Microsoft Windows Update, or another location.

  5. If the Update Device Driver wizard finds a new driver, it offers to install the driver for you.

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