Mac Equivalents of PC Programs

I get asked a lot by people “where is this thing I used to have” when people have switched from a Windows computer to an Apple. This article is just a quick write up to show people the equivalent or similar software between the two systems.

  1. Task Manager: In windows this is the program you go to when you need to end a task when its no longer responding. In windows you can access it by pressing ctrl + alt + delete on your keyboard or right clicking on the task bar and clicking on “Task Manager”. On a Mac you’ve got basically the same tool its just called something different – “Activity Monitor” you can access it by going to Finder > Applications > Utilities >Activity Monitor. If you just need to force close an app and don’t need the other features of activity monitor you can simply press Command + Option + Escape
  2. The “Start Menu” & Search: From Windows Vista onwards we’ve had search available in the start menu. On a Mac we have a magnifying glass in the top right of the screen known as “Spotlight” to use it, simply click on the magnifying glass then type in whatever you are searching for. As for the start menu, on a Mac you don’t really have a menu you’ve got the dock – the colourful pictures along the bottom of your screen. If you still can’t find a certain app you think you have you’ll need to go into Mac’s equivalent of Windows Explorer. More on that next
  3. Windows Explorer: This one tends to confuse a lot of people for some reason, probably because everyone got so used to clicking “Computer” or “My Computer” – on a Mac your file explorer is referred to as “Finder” it’s the first application in your dock that looks like a strange smiling face. If you click on this you’ll notice you can now navigate your files. Here’s another trick though if you want to go to a specific path where you know a file exists press command + shift + g and you can specify the folder you would like to open.
  4. Control Panel: On a Mac your equivalent of  “Control Panel” is System Preferences. You can access it via the Utilities folder in Applications, you can use spotlight to find it – or you can press the option key and certain function keys to bring up specific System Preference windows (for example try Option + F2 (Increase Brightness) – another thing that confuses people here is the lack of an “Apply” button – once you change settings they apply. The only time they won’t is if you haven’t clicked the padlock to allow changes first (this is in the bottom left of certain preference windows in case you haven’t noticed it)
  5. Command Prompt: Some people, especially computer technicians still like to have access to a command based or terminal system for running certain commands. On a Mac this program is called “Terminal” again you can find this in the Utilities folder or use spotlight to find it. Keep in mind though that commands you may have been used to in Windows command prompt don’t necessarily translate to Mac Terminal. For example, if you want a directory listing you’ll have to type “ls” instead of “dir”. If you’re familiar with Linux commands you’ll probably recognise that terminal responds to nearly all linux commands.

This is really just scratching the surface an mainly focused on things that are installed out of the box on each system. If you have a question about an equivalent app for either system leave a comment below!


Using an AUSKEY in OSX

If you work in accounting, or if you have a small business it is likely that you’ve had to use an AUSKEY for authenticating with the ATO.

You’ve probably also noticed that  it is not the most reliable thing to use – this blog will cover off some of the things to be aware of to get it working on a Mac.

The first thing to be aware of is that Chrome in OSX no longer supports Java, so you can’t use the Chrome Browser with to access the ATO portals any more. You can however use Safari or Firefox.

In my testing I’ve always used Safari and will be covering off what to be aware of for Safari.

  1. Make sure you’ve installed your AUSKEY or transferred it from another computer. By default AUSKEY is stored in the following location: /Users/yourusername/Library/Application Support/AUSKey – and in this folder you will generally have a keystore.xml file. This is the file you need for authenticating. If you are moving the AUSKey from another computer make sure you put it into this folder. If you install it via the ATO provided links it will install here by default.  To access the folder open finder and press Comand + Shift + G then type in the path listed above.
  2. Make sure you’ve downloaded and installed the latest version of java from
  3. Once you’ve downloaded try and access one of the portals such as – more than likely you’ll get a message saying that AUSKey is not installed. Most of the time this is due to the Java plugin not running. As of OSX Sierra Java is disabled by default in Safari. To turn it back on Go to Safari Preferences > Plugin Settings > Java then turn on the plugin for the ATO sites. SPECIAL Note: You need to hold down alt on your keyboard then press the menu and select “Run in Unsafe Mode” – in the picture below I’ve already done it and you will see it the menu now says “Run in Safe Mode” that is what you want yours to look like as well. Simply turning the plugin to “On” is not enough for it to work.



4. If you receive the error below when you try to login it means that you have not enabled                     unsafe mode. Go back to Step 3 and make sure you enable it


That is all you should need to do, now if you go and try to access the ATO portal you should be able to login as you normally would.

We have found that quite often after a java update the AUSKey system fails to work. Most times it is due to the plugin no longer being enabled. One of the easiest ways to re-enable it is go to and click the verify Java button. This will then prompt you to enable the plugin again. Once you have done that you should be able to access the portals as you normally would again.

The instructions above really apply to OSX Sierra but you will find it is a similar process for all versions of Mac OSX.

ATO Portals TAP & BP Portal on a Mac (OSX Mountain Lion and 10.8)

***SPECIAL NOTE: This will only work with the SAFARI browser, it may work in firefox but I have not tested it. It WILL NOT work in Chrome****

If you work in an accounting firm you will probably unfortunately have to use the ATO’s incredibly flakey Tax Agent Portal and Business Portal.

If you are moving from a windows computer to a mac you will need to copy your AUSKey from your existing system to the new Mac.

To do this goto your AUSKey directory:


In this directory there is a file called keystore.xml copy it to a USB device.

Now, that you have got the key store file saved you need to install the Auskey software and Java.

AUSKey for mac can be downloaded here:

Download and install the software.

Now that AUSKey is installed on the Mac, you will now have to plug your USB Key into your mac to copy the keystore.xml file to the AUSKey folder on the mac.

The AUSKey folder is stored in Library\Application Support\AUSKey

To open your library folder, open finder then click “Go” in the menu bar then press alt (option) this will bring up the shortcut for library.

Once in the library open Application Support folder, then open AUSKey folder.

Now drag and drop the keystore.xml file from your flash drive (or wherever you stashed it) to the AUSKey folder.

At this point you have the files that are required for accessing the portals set up but now you will need to install Java and edit it slightly:

Please refer to the first post here for the instructions on how to correctly install Java and the Java patch – However DO NOT try to access the portal like it says at the bottom.

Prior to accessing the portal goto:

One of two things will happen – you will either get a nice little java logo displayed or you will get text that says “Inactive Plugin” – if you see the Java logo go ahead and you should be able to access the portal (providing that the ATO have not broken it themselves).

If you see the text that says Inactive Plugin simply click the Inactive Plugin text and it should activate Java – run any of the applications and allow anything that pops up related to Java until you can see a Java logo where Inactive Plugin was.


Can not install .pkg files on Mac OSX

Recently I was called out to an onsite where the user could not install Adobe Lightroom.

After investigating further I found that the disk image for the application (the .dmg file) was mounting perfectly fine but the pkg file would come up with an error saying there is no file associated with file type .pkg.

This is because OSX uses the Disk Image Mounting utility for dmg files but it uses to unpack/install .pkg files.

It is important to first check the CoreServices folder under /System/Library/CoreServices and make sure that is in this folder. If it is, all you need to do is right click the package file, click get info then change open with to be the program

If the file does not exist, you can copy it from another Mac into your CoreServices directory and then you should be able to install the package file. Before doing this make sure that your Mac OSX Version matches the other Mac that you are getting the file from or it may not work.

It should also be possible to extract the file from your OSX installer disks if you still have access to them.