There’s no doubt that a lot of Windows PC users are changing to Macs

I can’t find figures on these migrations – in either direction – but my own experience tells me that a lot more people are moving from PC to Mac than the other direction. Certainly, in general terms, the PC market is fairly stagnant whereas Mac sales are still increasing (click here for some heavy-duty statistics).

By and large, those of my own clients that make the switch from PCs to Macs are happy with the move. On the other hand, I do know of more than one person who has subsequently switched back because of the “lack of control, flexibility, and software” that Macs offer.

Despite these reservations (which I have always shared), I have promised myself that this year I will give myself the thorough grounding in Macs that I have always avoided on the grounds that Macs aren’t real computers – just style accessories for graphic designers.

One problem with learning one way of doing something and then switching to another is that you can’t help bringing assumptions with you. So I’m going to do a few blog posts for others who are migrating from PCs to Macs and who have the same mini-tantrums as I do when something “obvious” doesn’t work. I’ve also made a new year’s resolution to get out of the habit of saying things like “it’s easy enough on a proper computer” when my Mac confounds my expectations. So, here we go then:

Right-click doesn’t display a context-menu

Mac Magic Mouse

The rather nice Mac Magic Mouse

If you have a two-button mouse or a swish Apple Magic Mouse, it’s very annoying when you click the right button and nothing happens. The “context” menu displayed with a right-click is something it’s easy to take for granted until it’s not there. The answer on the Mac is that you have to enable it, as follows:

  • Click on the Apple, then System Preferences, then the mouse (as circled in figure 1)
  • Enable the right-click by ticking in the box that enables the “secondary click” (as circled in figure 2)

Screen grab of accessing the mouse options on a Mac

Figure1 – Accessing the mouse options

Screen grab - enabling the right-click on a Mac mouse

Figure 2 – tick the box to enable right-click

There is no “print screen” button on a Mac

True, but there are keyboard options that work if you’ve got 40 fingers to execute them and the memory of an elephant to remember them.

In each of the following options, the best way to execute the command is to press the first two or three keys at the same time (Command, Control, Shift), keep them depressed, and then type the appropriate number key.

Print the contents of the screen to a file on the desktop

A screenshot of the file of a screenshot displayed on the Mac desktop

Figure 3 – a screenshot of the file of a screenshot displayed on a Mac desktop (and I defy you to understand that explanation)

Command+Shift+3 – captures the whole screen and saves the image in a file on the desktop (that will be identified by the name of “Screen Shot” plus the date and time of the capture – see figure 3).

Command+Shift+4 – lets you select a part of the screen to capture and save as above.

Command+Shift+4 then tap the spacebar – you can then tap on any open window and the screenshot will be taken of that window alone.

Print the contents of the screen to the clipboard

This is useful, of course, if you wish to paste the results directly into another program.

Command+Control+Shift+3 – captures the whole screen and saves the image in the clipboard.

Command+Control+Shift+4 – lets you select a part of the screen to capture and save to the clipboard as above.

Command+Control+Shift+4 then tap the spacebar – you can then tap on any open window and the screenshot will be taken of that window alone.

I think I’d better finish by saying that I’m not abandoning support for PCs: just giving more consideration to Macs than I have before.

Do you ever wish the “PrtSc” (print screen) button would do what you want – eg

  • Print the whole contents of the screen to the printer
  • Print a part of the screen to the printer
  • Save part or all of the screen to an image file that you can use and refer to later

Gadwin PrintScreen does all of this. Amongst the options are:

  • Capturing the screen, the active window, or a user-defined rectangle
  • Sending the captured image to any or all of the clipboard, printer, email, or file
  • Choosing the file format of a captured image (gif, jpg, bmp, tif, png)

Set your options to begin with and then just use it. You don’t have to plough through the options each time you use it – just press PrtSc (or a different key combination if that’s what you’ve chosen to do). If you set it to load up when Windows starts, it’s always there – at a single keystroke.

A lot of the images in my blog are captured with Gadwin. It’s also excellent for capturing web pages as the results are exactly the same as you see on screen, whereas printing web pages can often lead to unpredictable results and pages and pages of guff spilling out of the printer.

It’s very handy for keeping a record of on-screen forms that you’ve just completed. I have a special folder that only contains “screen captures”. Gadwin is set to always save to that folder so I always know where I saved an image that I may want later. Periodically, I clear the folder of images I’m not likely to need again.

Dilsblog - GadwinI have been using it for a year or two now and I just take it for granted. There is also a paid-for version (PrintScreen Professional – $21.95) that includes an image editor and annotation facility but I’ve never needed this.

Gadwin PrintScreen is free and is available for download at It works with all versions of Windows.

… and, yes, I did capture the image above from Gadwin’s website using the program..

© 2011-2019 David Leonard
Computer Support in London
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