Patterico's Pontifications


Making the Great Leap: PC to Mac

Filed under: General — Jack Dunphy @ 10:46 pm

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

I bought my first PC back in 1984 and have been working on one ever since, but yesterday I took the great leap and bought a MacBook Pro. I’m stumbling through the transition process, and this is my first post produced on the new machine. I’d be grateful to hear advice and recommended resources from any readers who have made the same transition. Thanks in advance.

–Jack Dunphy

49 Responses to “Making the Great Leap: PC to Mac”

  1. It’ll take time, but it’ll be worth it. Command plus sign makes the type bigger. Command S. saves your file. Command Z undoes what you just did. You’ll find the address book and the mail program work well together. In the first few weeks, the greatest of these is Command Z.


    Judith Jance (3f5900)

  2. Jack – I would be glad to give advice on resources to someone switching from PCs to Macs, but unfortunately I do not know any good psychologists in Southern California. :)

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  3. OH,oh.

    I denounce myself.

    Machinist (497786)

  4. Borg assimilates another one . . . it’s hardest on the families, of course.

    Adjoran (ec6a4b)

  5. I went to a 24 inch aluminum frame IMac two years ago and have not had a single system failure. Still works like it did the day I bought it.

    Haven’t bought a notebook yet, but am waiting for my first IPhone now.

    shipwreckedcrew (436eab)

  6. Comment by Machinist — 7/10/2010 @ 11:35 pm

    Thank you, Machinist. They use Macs at my daughter’s school. For MAP and COGAT testing, among other things. It will be something to discuss at the Executive Board meeting.

    nk (db4a41)

  7. Valve has Steam for the Mac now. You can get most of the Valve games (Half Life 2, Team Fortress 2, etc.) for the Mac.

    Xmas (535760)

  8. dont drop it – or fling it against a wall

    EricPWJohnson (cedf1d)

  9. You might buy or continue using your Wintel-type mouse. I’ve watched a number of people transition and about the only issue they ever have is missing the “right-click”.

    When we’d hire Wintel-types, we’d tell them to give it six months before arguing to switch back. Funny thing, out of the scores of dedicated Wintel users, some with decades of experience and some openly antagonistic to Mac, none ever did.

    Bob Leibowitz (e88839)

  10. Jack, I’m doing the same thing next week. Can. Not. Wait.

    Vivian Louise (643333)

  11. I’ve used Macs and PCs since the first of each. In my work, I use a MacBook Pro 15.

    The most important tips are

    (1) follow the tutorials and take one of the Apple store “mac for PC users” classes

    (2) If you need some windows-only software, buy VMWare Fusion. Running Windows XP in fusion on the mac is faster than running it on my desktop PC with a faster processor.

    (3) Using Fusion you don’t have to buy new productivity apps right away, but can experiment.

    (4) Don’t believe that because it’s a mac there are no virii or malware that will attach it.

    (5) You’ll find yourself much more productive and faster in navigating folders, duplicating files/folders, and a whole lot of desktop tasks. (I’d estimate less than half the time)

    Recall that Microsoft licensed a very very early version of the Mac interface that went into Windows. They didn’t keep up with Apple, who are the mass market UI leaders by far. Yes, Win7 is a try (I know).

    BillC (3bd5b3)

  12. One more thing. For desktop use BUY THE APPLE MAGIC MOUSE. I always carry one with me on the road.

    iPhone gestures, leave it on the desk and use it as an excellent trackpad, use it as a bluetooth mose — takes the navigation to a much higher level. Don’t even think of wasting money on (e.g.) the MS Bluetooth mouse.

    And I can use it with Windows: run a Windows virtual machine in VMWare Fusion on the mac — it uses all the mac devices, and accelerates Windows use in the same ways.

    No, I’m not a stockholder – but I bought two, one for one of my home macs, one for my laptop road case.

    BillC (3bd5b3)

  13. And, just think, you now have a path to install a Unix system. Ubuntu works great on the PC’s you have. You can even dual boot and go into Windows to remember the pain.

    cedarhill (72858f)

  14. sell the Mac on craigslist and buy a pc.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  15. If you use a two or more button mouse, be sure to go into System Preferences (click the apple symbol in the upper left to find it), set your mouse preferences to work with the two buttons. It is not automatic.

    I have also configured mine to shut off the track pad when a mouse is connected. Apparently, I have some sort of body chemistry that makes the track pad do things if my hands are anywhere near the pad.

    the friendly grizzly (670827)

  16. I gave my wife a Mac about four years ago. She had never used a computer except at work and that was a very simple, repetitive hospital system. I was going to set up a class for her but never got around to it. She just picked it up. Once in a while she will ask me a question about some new process and she is by no means a sophisticated user but it was so intuitive that she never took a class.

    I used Macs 15 years ago when they used an incompatible operating system. Then I sort of drifted back to the PC. When they went to the Intel system, I went back and now have six of them. I got one for my daughter when she went to college as she was always picking up viruses with her music and weird web site browsing. It’s been two and a half years and no virus or trojan yet. When she was using a PC, she had one at least monthly.

    Mike K (82f374)

  17. the freedom from viri is certainly a plus for the MAC, and having the software that runs a virtual PC on your MAC cuts down the negative aspects…
    My preference is for a light weight convertible Tablet, which means PC. The iPad is not a tablet.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  18. I still use Windows at work (and write software for Windows) but love my Mac – a couple of years old, now – it’s as snappy as it was when I bought it and it’s much more rugged than I would have expected.

    For running Windows apps on a Mac, I use Parallels. It’s capable of running Windows apps (fast) on the Mac desktop. When it’s running, it even puts a Start button on the dock. I can run MS development tools (e.g. Visual Studio) and work on software while still using Mac stuff.

    Macs aren’t immune to malware so it’s a good idea to remain vigilant as far as websites you visit and all that.

    (PS: All: for what it’s worth: if you have an iPhone 3G, don’t upgrade to iOS 4… it is so slow as to be worthless. It’s probably OK on the 3Gs since it has faster hardware.)

    Rob (babbe0)

  19. First things first, pop the Software Restore CD that came with your Mac into the disk drive and run the Optional Installs package application you’ll see on the disk. You should *really* install Rosetta immediately as certain applications, most notably Microsoft Office 2008, require this framework.

    Rob’s suggestion to use Parallels is a good one. Taking it a step further, I would actually partition the hard drive in two parts: one for Mac OS X 10.6, one for Windows 7. You can either decide to boot directly into Windows or you can use Parallels to run both OSs simultaneously.

    I highly recommend that you buy some sort of external hard drive, be it an Apple Time Capsule or a simple FireWire 800 stand-alone. You’ll really want to make use of Apple’s Time Machine backup system as it has really come in handy for me.

    I also recommend that you install multiple web browsers. I use Safari for most of my daily browsing, but I also have Firefox, Chrome and OmniWeb installed for various tasks.

    Install Flip4Mac as soon as you get the chance.

    And if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. I’m more than happy to help out.

    h2u (147639)

  20. You will never be sorry. I started on an Apple II in 1978, went PC as soon as they became available, but couldn’t stand it any more about 3 years ago…

    robertl (47f9bd)

  21. To be honest, no one I know who went to Macs was sorry they did.

    I hate Vista so much I thought I might go with A Macbook Pro if I ever replace my Vista laptop so I could run XP and try Apples OS. I bought an extra copy of XP Pro just to be able to install it on any future desktop I might build within XP’s practical lifetime.

    Machinist (497786)

  22. “I admit, I have said some pretty nasty things about Mac users on this site. For example, it’s my claim that the lack of muscle use with that 1-button mouse eventually causes their right hands to atrophy into an unsightly deformed claw. As a modern, urbane PC user, I have three buttons on my mouse, which keeps my fingers exercised and normal looking. Or at least most of them.

    In my defense, however, I’ve also said a couple of nice things about Mac users, such as noting how much money they save on clothes since part of the ‘Mac lifestyle’ is to wear the same baggy sweaters and jeans they wore during their lefty college days at Berkeley.

    Still, I again said something cruel about Macs just the other day in the comments, and this time a fellow commenter justifiably called me on it:

    ‘My Mac is perfect just as it is; I just wanted to make you admit it. And to make you quit hatin’ on my Mac.’ ”

    GeneralMalaise (9cf017)

  23. My only beef with Apple and Apple users is that they are all such douchebags and tools. Other than than, fine.

    The fact that you’d pay about 2x what a comparable PC would cost just to have a little apple logo on your computer speaks volumes.

    ms. docweasel (8d579f)

  24. h2u –
    Thank you. I too just bought a Macbook about 2 weeks ago. Just installed Flip4Mac (now can view a video a colleague sent without booting up the netbook). Now onto f/u on your other recommendations.

    CardioNP (d18b93)

  25. The Mac 1984 commercial was only shown once, at the Superbowl.

    In 1986 when my youngest son went off to college, he (actually I) had to buy a Mac512Ke. I have it in my man cave and it still works.

    Since that time I have bought dozens of macs. Right now I’m on a white2.4 GHz Dual Core MacBook running OS X 10. 6.4. My wife has a PowerPC G5. My old G4 PowerBook is in the guest room.

    This story explains why I like the Mac. My neighbor’s daughter was getting married and her artist mother wanted to design and print the invitations. I was at work when my phone rang. It was Barbara with a Mac problem. At the time, I did not have a Mac in my office and I had never used the software she was using.

    She told me what she wanted to do but could not. I had her read me the menus, and pull down the commands. In about ten minutes, we had the problem fixed. She thanked me and went back to the design effort.

    As a guy who had a Sinclair, a Vic 20, a Comodore 64, several IBM PCs and clones, I tried to imagine helping Barbara on an MS-DOS or Windows machine.

    arch (24f4f2)

  26. My first computer was an Apple 2e and then a bunch of Macs. I became a Mac snob and hung out with others at the San Diego Mac users group.

    Then a blew out a $4800 Powerbook and then another (Bronze) at $4200. That was it.

    In 2003 I went over to the dark side and still have the $1000 Dell desktop and it runs perfectly.

    When Steve Jobs stops wearing that black turleneck maybe I’ll consider another Apple product.

    PC14 (4a4ed3)

  27. What amazes me still is all the vitriol on this subject. You use the computer “type” that fits you best. Different people prefer different systems.

    The PC “haters of Macs” amuse me. I remember the 80s, when these people would say that using a mouse was “stupid,” how line commands were “superior” to GUIs.

    I don’t think that PCs are bad. Competition is good. But snark, of course, is eternal.

    Eric Blair (02a138)

  28. And fun.

    Machinist (497786)

  29. Consider this piece of software, it is to me an absolute requirement:

    Path Finder by cocoatech

    dv (bab348)

  30. And, just think, you now have a path to install a Unix system. Ubuntu works great on the PC’s you have.

    Indeed. I’m writing this on Linux Mint, a great Ubuntu derivative. Very polished, performs great on modest PC specs, and it’s free.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (fb9e90)

  31. Machinist, I have been a Mac user since 1984. Most of the time, things are pretty darned good with the machines; I have had enough of them to get some lemons, it’s true. But I often say that I am Steve Jobs beta tester (I am writing this on an iPad, for example).

    My wife has never used a Mac, and is PC all the way. So I often tell people that we have a “mixed marriage” over our computer differences. Often she tells me that things are easier with PCs, but I see her spend a long time trying to fix problems.

    The upshot is that everyone is different. In the old days, you could modify or repair a PC more easily than a Mac, but this is no longer true. And I am, again, amused by the convergence of things that PC folk told me was superior, to things that Apple ripped off from Xerox PARC.

    It all depends on what “feels right” when you operate the machine.

    The snarking may be fun for some people, but I guess I have been listening to it for too long. My wife used to give me trouble about Macs until her Vista experience. But that is how business works: companies try different things, people open their wallets as they wish.

    As always, I enjoy reading your posts.

    Eric Blair (02a138)

  32. Thank you, Sir.

    I have been tempted but I don’t change easily. I have many friend with Macs so it’s fun to kid and be kidded. I have no interest in the heat some people seem prone to when discussing this. I have to think Vista was an Apple plot. I can’t think of anything Apple could have done to steal more PC users. Vista I do indeed hate with a passion. I have it on my laptop or I would just install XP.

    Machinist (497786)

  33. It took my wife and I several weeks to “de-install” Vista from her laptop. So I know what you mean.

    It reminds me of the old days, when some wag described “WordPerfect” as “the most difficult PC video game.”

    Eric Blair (02a138)

  34. OMG – so much to think about and to do.

    Vivian Louise (643333)

  35. Machinist:

    I liked MS-DOS. It was relatively fast and did all the things I needed at the time.

    The one piece of software I hate is MS Office. It corrects what I type. Too big, too slow, too many unnecessary features and that talking paperclip drives me to physical violence.

    In the 1980s, I used Microsoft Works. It was simple, small, fast and terrific. It came on one 3.5″ disc. I put together a database spreadsheet of 1000 companies, senior executives names, addresses, telephone numbers and some facts about their business. I mail merged the letters. Unlike MS Office at $200, it only set me back $70.

    arch (24f4f2)

  36. Jack –

    My only advice is to put the box back in the box. Return it now, as next stop will be lattes at Starbucks and 10,000 Maniacs’ CDs in the VW

    enoch_root (174a66)

  37. That annoying talking paperclip has inspired some wonderful videos.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (fb9e90)

  38. I think I probably would have prefered Tablet technology merged with MS Windows 98 second version if I had my druthers. I use my computer enough to try to figure things out but no more, so every time a new IE version comes out or some such I’m wondering what happened to the things I am used to, and it is a pain.

    h2u- do you also use Windows? Are you an IT professional with your own business? (My kingdom for PC help I can have implict confidence in!!!)

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  39. Dear arch….

    I’m not sure about what happened to computer programming as a business, but I have a hypothesis.

    It used to be that there were small programs, that did what 95% of users needed, and were relatively inexpensive.

    Illegal copying made that less viable. Thus, the birth of “bloatware” that requires so much more storage, processor speed, and RAM. Office is a great example. Do most people REALLY need all that? I know I don’t.

    But human nature, in my hypothesis, drove the changes that are so irritating.

    Eric Blair (02a138)

  40. *sigh*

    And another misguided soul goes over to the Dark Side.

    I decided against Apple many years ago, for many reasons – software only available from Apple, inability to program “to the hardware”, inability to customize the machine, and so on. As for the GUI, I didn’t install Windoze on my PC until Win95 came out; now I run XP Home – but I still do much work using older software and command-line utilities on an old 386 (MsDOS 6.22/4DOS 4.0) that sits on the table behind me.

    Rusty Bill (ca7b34)

  41. I’ve been a Mac user since 1989. Been a software engineer since 1982, developing (among other things) on-board satellite software, automated test equipment, and other embedded systems. Even did some Mac programming in the 90s.

    Eric, the code bloat that Microsoft products have undergone is legendary. Some years ago, I found out that Excel had a grammar checker in it. Who needs to check grammar on a spreadsheet? But it was some milestone on a schedule that some manager thought was a good idea. When your mission is to keep delivering software, you don’t tell your bosses that some new feature makes no sense.

    Some chump (e84e27)

  42. There was an onion-like parody audio cooked up by some navy guys about the loss of the Soviet submarine Kursk.

    In the spoof, they try to load the new Gorby 2000 torpedo and the computer tells them they need to contact MicroSoft for an updated Windows 98 driver for torpedo. The upgrade doesn’t work but it arms the Gorby and launches it with the tube closed.

    Anyone who had ever sat in his office while the IT techs installed software on his PC has witnessed the same process. I do not know how people in IT retain their sanity.

    arch (24f4f2)

  43. It’s a matter of personal preference. Both Windows and MacOS will do everything necessary, as will Linux. They do it differently and most people find one or another more comfortable. There are very few area where on OS is much better but they exist. Windows is best if you’re a professional programmer, use computer aided design or just have to have the “hottest” games. Macs are usually better at visual design including desktop publishing. Unix boxes appeal to nerds and the impoverished.

    Disclaimer: I am not a computer professional. I use both Macs and Windows machines. I prefer Macs. I have owned one since 1987 ( my beloved SE gave up the ghost at the age of 19 ). I use a Windows machine at work and it generally does what its supposed to do. Macs are easier for me and I expect they might be for most people. Windows machines are usually cheaper, although for matching functionality the cost is pretty close.
    My advise has always been, pick your hardware based on the software you want to use. Find your program and get the computer that runs it best.

    Ken Hahn (951659)

  44. Had access to a Mac back in the mid-eighties: It was OK!

    Didn’t get a computer for myself until my Sis gave me a handmedown MS-DOS unit about 10-years later…it wasn’t as easy to use (as I remembered it) as the Apple.

    Built a new computer a few years later and installed Windows-95, which was OK; but, in ‘0X(?) received a new Compaq with XP-Pro to enable use of a gov’t required data system and thought I was in heaven.

    Wanted something faster, and saw an e-Machine on sale at Costco with an AMD dual core processor and thought that would be neat (and a lot faster than the Compaq), but (after buying it) heard so many bad things about Vista, I never took it out of the box.

    When W-7 was announced, I immediately took the e-Machine to Staples, bought W-7, and had it installed. After, learning the quirks (it is a pretty straightforward advance from XP), I’ve never looked back; and have put the Compaq to use as it was originally intended – and that use only.

    These things are only tools, and if they won’t do what you need to do, either outsource, or buy new hardware.

    AD - RtR/OS! (f4b0b9)

  45. I have a Mac and hate it. Have been trying to unload it for a while, but they lose 1/2 their value the first year. Why do I hate it? It crashes more often than my Win 7 box, is slower, cost more, has software that is generally dumbed down from the Windows version (e.g. MS Office). less software, more expensive applications and runs hotter than a charcoal grill.
    The worst part though is that it feels like a dumbed down version of Windows 7. It just seems like everything is harder to access, slower and less intuitive. I am sure some like the simpler interface, but I hate having to resize windows from a single point on the bottom right hand corner, as one example. YMMV.

    Doug (d4c559)

  46. If you feel nostalgic or want to run old stuff, you can always install a bootable version of Windows via Boot Camp, which is pretty easy to do.

    If you’re having issues with the [non-traditional] trackpad, you can customize it (e.g. turn most of it off) in system preferences.

    jvarisco (9b7ede)

  47. Hi, Jack — there’s some terrific Mac-only writing software called Scrivener (only $39.99) that I’m using on my next book. Really helps keep information organized while you’re writing. If you’re just doing op-eds still, you may not need it. But, I’d love to read a book by you.

    Here’s the link to the software:

    Amy Alkon (6146c8)

  48. arch #42 – we keep it backed up in a regular basis, to restore as needed …

    Alasdair (205079)

  49. I have to use Windows PCs at work, because the tools I use aren’t available for other platforms. For the most part, it’s fine – I’ve been using PCs since DOS 1.25.

    A couple of years ago, I replaced my home PCs with Macs, because I don’t need to use those tools at home, and I got tired of dealing with making Windows play nice with hardware – at work, I’ve got several hardware adaptors for which I have to reinstall the software almost every time I use them. I’ll deal with that type of hassle when I’m paid, but in my own life, I prefer things to run more smoothly.

    wheels (7623cc)

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