Freebies for Switchers
by Alan Zisman (c)
published in Low
7 January 2010 Mac2Windows
With the increased popularity of the Mac, Apple has taken to boasting
of the number of switchers - Windows users who have purchased a Mac,
either to replace their no-longer-in-use Windows system or as an
additional computer. Much about the Mac makes immediate sense to
longtime Windows-users, but some things are a puzzle.
Among the top puzzlements:
- Where's the maximize button? Despite the name
Windows, many users prefer to make their foreground window fullscreen,
covering any other windows. Windows offers them a maximize button - a
little square near the right-end of the title bar - to do this. The Mac
seems to offer the equivalent - the green circle near the left-end of
the title bar, but while it makes the window larger, it doesn't fill
- Where's the Start Menu? The Start Button in the
lower left-corner has been a prominent feature since Windows 95, whose
introduction used the Rolling Stones' Start Me Up in its advertising.
Many switchers need help to look in their Mac's Applications folder to
find applications that lack Dock icons. Frankly, that does seem a bit
- Why don't programs close when I close their window?
Some do, but many or most Mac apps don't, a black mark against the
Mac's fabled user interface consistency.
The kind folks at Blazing
have taken pity on the switchers, releasing free
tools for the first two of these puzzlements, making new Macs a little
bit more (dare I say) Windows-like.
is a 416 KB download. When run, apparently nothing happens. But click
the Mac's green Zoom button, and now it will maximize the window,
Windows-style, filling all available horizontal space and all the space
between the menu bar and the Dock. Clicking the green gumdrop again
restores the window to its previous size.
However, it doesn't work with all programs. The Finder,
Safari, Microsoft Office components, and iWork components are supported
by default, but not necessarily others. To make it work with other
programs, you first need to stop Right Zoom from running - not
something obvious in a program without an interface. You can also
restart or log out and log back in. Or open a Terminal windows and
type: killall RightZoom
To get to Right Zoom's configuration settings, find the application in
the Finder and hold the Command key down while double-clicking the
The configure dialogue box lets you choose to apply Right Zoom only to
the default list of applications or to try it with all applications
(except a select listed few). You can add or remove applications from
the lists - removing an application simply requires highlighting its
name in the list and clicking the [ - ] button. Adding an application
is a bit quirky, however. Clicking the [ + ] button pops up a list of
all currently running applications, letting you add from those if
desired - in other words, an application must be running to add it to
If you click on the [ + ] button and nothing happens, go to the
Terminal and try to shut down Right Zoom again. Unlike most Mac
dialogue boxes, your changes don't immediately take effect - there are
Apply and Close buttons at the bottom; if you click the Close button
without previously clicking Apply, no changes will take place.
Blazing Tools notes that you may not be able to maximize an inactive
window - you should click on it first to make it active, then maximize
Start Menu for Macs
Blazing Tools' Start Menu is also a small free download. Running it
adds a blue apple icon to the Dock - leave it alone for a moment as it
takes a minute or two before it's ready to work. After that, clicking
on it opens up a large, scrollable menu showing the contents of the
Application folder, in effect, a faux Windows-style Start Menu.
Right-clicking (or Control-clicking) the icon gives a more compact
list, and scrolling down to the very bottom (it can be a long list!)
includes the option to quit the program.
You can change Start Menu's dock icon - Blazing Tools includes a few
alternate icons: black and grey ("graphite") Apple logos along with a
Vista-style Windows logo. The procedure is somewhat awkward, though -
explained in the "Important!" PDF file that accompanies the downloaded
There are a number of other ways to add a Start Menu-equivalent to your
Mac; I previously wrote about one of them, Xmenu. Alternatively, you
could simply drag the Applications folder to the right end of the Dock,
accomplishing pretty much the same thing, though without the blue Apple
icon or the ability to move it to a more Windows-like location near the
left-end of the Dock.
Adding a login item
If you become attached to Right Zoom and/or Start Menu, you may want to
have them start up automatically with your Mac. In that case, you can
add them to the startup list in the normal way: open System
Preferences, go to Accounts, and click on the Login Items tab. Either
drag the program icon from the Finder into the list or click on the [ +
] button to add it to the list. (You may need to first click on the
Lock icon and enter your password to allow changes to your preferences).