A Month of Mac

My post yesterday titled Rethinking The Laptop resulted in three very specific pieces of feedback followed by me taking one specific action.  The feedback was:

  1. Dump Outlook
  2. Get a solid state drive
  3. Get a Mac

After mulling things around for 24 hours, I decided to once again try my annual switch to the Mac. Fortunately, I have a very nice Mac from last year’s effort (a MacBook Pro 2.4 GHz with 2 GB) so I fired it up, configured Mail and iCal to work with my Exchange server, downloaded Chrome, Xmarks, and Tweetdeck, and away we go.  I’m still getting used to the option key and trying to learn all of the key sequences that my cool Mac friends use, but I’m enjoying the screen and so far haven’t reached for my Lenovo x300 once today.

While I was swimming I decided that since I was going to be in Alaska for July, I’d bring only my MacBook, my iPhone, and my iPad.  As much as I like my HTC EVO, I figure that if I’m going to really give the Mac a try, I need to go cold turkey (or – well – cold non-Mac) and see if I get over the shakes during my four week exile.  I’ll either come back a Mac user or not.

As one of my friends tweeted, “get a Mac – friends don’t let friends use Windows.”  So – be a good friend and remind me of all the fun apps that I need for my Mac to be extra cool.  And where’s a tutorial for all those fun keystrokes that make the windows fly around the screen?  Oh – and is there a great blogging client for WordPress or do I have to use WordPress’s web UI?  And what about Digsby – is iChat good enough or should I try something else for all of my various chat accounts.  Yeah – the list goes on, but what the hell.

Ross (my IT guy) bet me $100 that I’d beg him to ship my Windows desktop to me within a few days of getting to Alaska.  Help me win the bet.

  • Rick Gregory

    Actually I'd have dumped Outlook… 🙂

    But since you're on a Mac, try…

    1) Chat client – Adium (http://adium.im/)
    2) WP client – Marsedit (http://www.red-sweater.com/marsedit/)

    • Well – I effectively dumped Outlook. Even though I'm still using Exchange I theoretically shouldn't notice it.

    • I concur on Adium – definitely the best chat client on the mac. I generally don't use a blogging client – so I'll have to check out Marsedit.

  • Yep Adium is the choice for IM. For blogging clients, MarsEdit is good, but I'd also suggest Blogo and ecto to check out.

    Don't forget to download Quicksilver (to quickly launch apps). I like NetNewsWire for feeds myself (over straight Google Reader).

    CyberDuck should be your go to FTP client, unless you want to pay, then I'd suggest Transmit.

    Skitch for screenshots.

    That's a pretty good core set to start with.

    • Transmit 4 for FTP if Brad needs it… you can mount remote servers on the desktop as volumes (it uses MacFuse). $35.

      Oh and Brad – Exchange – kill it. No, really. 🙂 (I know, you can't really… )

  • The new version of MarsEdit (3.0) is an awesome WP front end.

    Grab a copy of TextWrangler (free little brother to BBedit) for all those times you need a text editor.

    Try a copy of Acorn if you need more image editing than Skitch.

    1Password for passwords. JungleDisk (also available for Windows, in case you revert) for online backup. Evernote to share stuff with your iPhone and iPad.

    That’ll get you started. 🙂

  • GizmoWu

    Don't load an app for screenshots. Use the Mac built in one by press Shift + Command (Apple Key) + 3 and voila, you have a screenshot. Don't clutter your Mac with more junk than necessary.

    • Yaardvaark

      Cmd + Shift + 3 to take a screenshot of the entire desktop
      Cmd + Shift + 4 to turn the cursor to a crosshair, drag a region and release to take a shot of that area
      Cmd + Shift + 4, Spacebar to turn the crosshair to a Camera icon, hover that over any window and click to shoot just that window.

    • Peer Stritzinger

      Get Skitch, thats not only Screenshots but lets you instantly paint in it write on it and drag&drop it anywhere.
      — peerst

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  • I like MarsEdit as a blogging client: http://www.red-sweater.com/marsedit/

    For chat, Adium works with a bunch of different systems: http://adium.im/

    A couple utilities I wouldn't live without:

    Growl (for notifications): http://growl.info/

    Launchbar (keyboard-based app launcher): http://www.obdev.at/products/launchbar/index.html

    The main thing to remember about Mac OS X: it's different from Windows. The differences can be annoying until learned — but they're learnable.

  • The app that's changed my life the most is OmniFocus (if you're into the Getting Things Done thing). It integrates with a lot of other apps and also syncs with their iPhone (coming soon for iPad) version. http://www.omnigroup.com/products/omnifocus

  • WriteRoom and OmmWriter are great for distraction-free writing. Tracks is a nice app that lets you control iTunes through a Spotlight-like interface. Clips is also a nifty app that lets you keep an infinite number of clipboards, so you never lose any of what you've "copied."

    If you've only got 2 GB RAM, you'll probably want to use Chrome or Safari instead of Firefox. Upgrading to 4 GB, if you decide to stick with the Mac, will be money well spent.

    Congratulations on your journey from the dark side.

    • John

      Got a link for Tracks? My Googlefu is failing me.

      • Looks to be http://conceitedsoftware.com/products/tracks for Tracks. I think I'll stick with SizzlingKeys http://www.yellowmug.com/sk4it/.

        Of course, if your Mac is late enough, you probably have hardware keys on your keyboard to control iTunes.

        • Yeah, that's the correct link.

          Hardware keys are great for skipping and pausing, but Tracks actually lets you search your library and queue up albums like Spotlight does for files. I've never tried SizzlingKeys so I have no basis for comparison.

          • I use SizzlingKeys for pause, next-track and volume (for AirTunes/Airfoil).

            For searching and queuing, I've found the iTunes UI to be fine. I usually queue a couple of albums at a time.

  • Pwb

    Part of your problem might be the windows oriented it guy. I’d agree with some that you can avoid some of the unnecessary things like screen shotting and app launching. The built in screen capture is terrific but make sure to learn all the combinations. For app launching, cmd + spacebar is fine. The only thing you may struggle with is calendaring and excel which continue to be better on windows. Other than that, macs are much more pleasant to use.

  • Dale

    For learning all the menu shortcuts in just about any application nothing really beats Keycue – it costs 20 euros, but it's worth it. http://www.ergonis.com/products/keycue/

    • Dale

      Ergonis also make Typinator. Typeit4Me is also good.

    • Giving Keycue a try right now. Thanks!

  • Some shortcuts to remember:

    Command-Shift-3 takes a screenshot
    Command-Shift-4 gives you a selector to choose only an area of the screen to grab. If you hit spacebar with this up, you switch to only snapping a picture of a window. Very handy.

    Expose is your friend. Easiest way to see what's going on. Either hit the F3 key on your keybaord, or set up Hot Corners in System Preferences > Espose & Spaces. I have my corners set up so that all I have to do is flick my cursor around to see anything I need to.

    As far as apps go:

    Chat – Everyone's already said it, but use Adium for sure.

    Mail – I've heard some people having great success with Postbox (uses IMAP) as their mail client. I use Gmail's web interface, so it's not for me, but check it out: http://www.postbox-inc.com/

    Dropbox – Still an absolute must. I never have to worry about losing another doc again because they're synced perfectly.

    AppZapper – The uninstaller that Apple forgot to include. Works beautifully.

    • For gmail users, I recommend MailPlane, lets you switch between gmail accounts easily, acts as a desktop client (is a desktop client). http://mailplaneapp.com/

    • Yes, expose makes the Mac much more usable. I'm surprised by how few people use it.

      I have it set up so that going to the upper-left corner displays all windows and going to the lower-right corner moves them out of the way to display the desktop.

  • Walter Blaurock

    I guess I'm a bit late to the party, but I definitely second (or maybe 7th) Adium. As far as I'm concerned, it's the best chat client there is on any platform I've used.

  • Great post.. interested to see how it goes.. I bought a Mac a while back but was never fully converted. Now I use my MacBook for surfing the net and listening to music but I still prefer Windows 7 for my development and design work. Not to mention I'm a PC gamer so I'll probably always have a reason to have my PC around one way or another..

    Anyways, great post!

    • Interested to know why you stuck with Windows for dev work – what was the rationale?

  • I would highly recommend you get 4 gigs of ram in the machine. It will make a world of difference on the speed side and will cost you around $100.

  • I'll echo MarsEdit– they've recently made some nice upgrades so that you don't have to mess with HTML coding if you don't want to. For the keyboard shortcuts, check out the Keyboard Preferences Pane. They're all listed there. Since you're on a laptop and there's overlap, you'll also want to note the option to have the f-keys function as normal f-keys or as the special functions (brightness, volume, etc.).

    Someone else mentioned OmniFocus, but I would recommend checking out the other Omni software as well– OmniGraffle (like Visio only better), OmniPlan (like MS Project only better), and especially OmniOutliner (I know of no Windows equivalent).

    Some keyboard stuff: to forward delete on a laptop, use fn+delete. To move the cursor a word at a time, use option + left/right arrow, to go all the way to the end of the line, use command + left/right arrow. Similarly, do the same with the up/down arrows to move a paragraph at a time or to the top & bottom of the document.

    Two other fun/cool things. Doesn't work in every app, but if you hover your cursor over a word and hit ctrl-command-d you can get a dictionary definition pop-up. Second, hold down the shift key as you play with the various Exposé tricks and they'll animate in slow motion.

    • John

      I just recently switched and did not know about Fn+Delete. Thank you.

  • JulesLt

    Sounds like a recentish MacBook – if you haven't already, go into System Preferences and enable the 'advanced' trackpad options (tap rather than click, two-finger right-click, and four-fingers for Expose aka whizzing the windows around the place.

    As for option / control / command – my solution in the end was remapping the Windows keyboard to switch CTRL and CMD – I can understand why Windows used CTRL as a shortcut (unlike the Mac keyboard, Windows had to deal with all those existing PC keyboards out there) but not why keyboard manufacturers fail to address the ergonomics (there's a good reason why the shortcuts are CMD-Z/X/C/V compared to the finger-strech of CTRL-V).

    Other apps – I like TextMate for coding – enough that I've bought e-editor and am investigating Sublime on Windows (although much of the power is the Unix integration). The learning curve to being truly productive with TextMate is quite high though (and the lack of update is worrying) but it's the first editor I've used to make me shift away from vi, and I miss it when using the editors inside IDEs.

    OmniGraffle for Visio.

    And don't underestimate the power of Preview for basic image and file conversion, and TextEdit for basic text editing – it's more sophisticated than WordPad.

    Oh, and Dropbox – install Dropbox and make the Dropbox folder your 'documents' folder (so long as it isn't anything you wouldn't trust to be on another companies server). Document backup and sync with your Windows machine and phones sorted.

    I'd second any recommendation for NetNewsWire and MarsEdit too.

    BashFlash – really useful on a laptop, as you can see when Flash ads are killing 25% of your battery life, and kill the plugin instantly. I prefer this to ClickToFlash, which is the other option.

  • Chrome, iWork, Tweetie, uTorrent, Movist. Consider Airfoil for streaming any audio anywhere.

  • As others said, Adium is your go-to IM client. Get the current beta release. http://adium.im/beta/

    Text-editing, it's either BBedit or TextMate (kinda the emacs/vi debate of the Mac world).

    FTP, Transmit wins hands-down but you have to pay for it. CyberDuck is awesome freeware (I bought Transmit)

    MarsEdit for your blog-composing needs.

    A list of MacOS keyboard shortcuts is here: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1343

    LaunchBar is a great app-launcher. QuickSilver used to be the hotness, but isn't being as actively developed since the lead moved to Google.

    Acorn for mid-to-light image editing.

    Don't bother with Adobe Acrobat. Preview kicks its ass, and MacOS X has built-in PDF output for… everything.

    Get a copy of VLC for all your bizzaro video-viewing needs. Flip4Mac if you have to have more explicit WMV support.

    Tweetie is your Twitter client of choice. Friends don't let friends do Adobe Air.

    Yojimbo is my "everything bucket" of choice (notes, images, bookmarks, passwords, serial numbers). Others like Evernote Premium.

    • Roy Kaller

      Thanks for the Tweetie recommendation. TweetDeck seems to command a system priority disproportionate to its value when updating status, often halting other more critical Mac OS processes.

  • Some great suggestions already, especially MarsEdit, OmniFocus, and 1Password.

    If you really want to geek out on keystroke shortcuts, also check out TextExpander and Mail Act-On. I predict that Outlook is the only Windows app you will miss. Mail is a nice app, but many features you expect to be there require add-ons.

    Another suggestion is to go check out a podcast called “Mac Power Users” on iTunes and cherry pick some episodes that might be relevant for you. They do a great job going deep on specific apps and topics as opposed to the usual news and gossip oriented Mac podcasts.

  • quick question about you dumping outlook, are you still using it to manage your contact lists for your phone(s)? (Your iphone and your evo?)

    • I'm still using an exchange server but my expectation is that it fades into the background.

  • Phil

    Blogging client: MacJournal (also and excellent organizer)
    Blogging client: Shareholic extension for Chrome
    OpenOffice for docs, spreadsheets

    — just the tip of the iceberg (I switched 3 years ago and haven't looked back)

  • Hey Brad, I just made the switch over from my ThinkPad to a MBP a couple months ago. My indispensable apps list:

    Nambu for Twitter
    Caffeine (Prevents screen from dimming)
    Postbox for email (you really should switch to GApps)
    Jumpcut (Clipboard saver)
    Fluid (turn any web app into a desktop app, I use this because GCal web is superior to any desktop client)
    Adium (Although Trillian is getting closer)
    Jing for screenshots/screencasts

    Things I've tried and liked but haven't been inspired to buy yet: TextMate, Transmit, MarsEdit

    The thing I miss the most when going back to my ThinkPad is the multitouch trackpad. I really like two-finger scroll and 3-finger forward/back. I also wish Windows had the equivalent of Cmd-H. Cmd-` cycles windows within an app. It won't take you long to be PC/Mac shortcut key 'ambidextrous'. Built-in print-to-PDF is really nice.

    That's my recent Mac-newb braindump 🙂

    • You might wanna check out Skitch instead of Jing… the latter reeks of Windows.

  • Whatever you do, don't get lured into virtualization with Parallels or VMWare. You don't need it. Always find another way.

    You'd be surprised how much you can get done with Chrome and iTerm (freeware terminal client).

    • Yup – I'm trying not to ever run Parallels. I view that as \”cheating\” plus I can't imagine that it'll make me happy.

  • I would recommend few things that made my switch, 2 years ago, smooth:
    1. Quicksilver – complete pleasure – http://quicksilver.en.softonic.com/mac
    2. Textmate – http://macromates.com/

  • I have a wave of everything I use. Guaranteed win of the bet if you employ everything.

    • Awesome! Looking at it right now.

    • Finsrud

      I 2nd this list. Well done.

  • alex

    Quicksilver is one of those mind traps. You start using it on the Mac, head back to Windows for some “irreplaceable feature” and find that you’re missing Quicksilver, and now can’t feel comfortable in Windows anymore. I’ve got Quicksilver activated by Command+Space, Spotlight being relegated to Command+Option+Space.

    Command+Space, google, tab, tab, “search term”, enter – bam, there’s a web page with the google search results.

    But be warned, learning all the cool stuff you can do with Quicksilver will help you while away many days of otherwise productive time.

    Evernote, for folks using multiple devices during research for papers/articles/shopping.

    • Ditto about QuickSilver – I've been using it for > 6 years and love it. Couldn't use any other platform because of it.

  • And, when you get homesick, you can always use Parallels.

    If you use Apple Mail, be sure to use a have a non-Exchange SMTP server available. We have problems sending emails with large attachments through Exchange from Apple Mail.

  • El Payo

    :is there a great blogging client for WordPress"

    MarsEdit3 – http://www.red-sweater.com/marsedit/

    Use Adium for your multi chat accounts. – http://adium.im/

  • +1 for Skitch, makes them instantly uploadable/sharable if you so desire.
    Pixelmator is a great lightweight bitmap image editor
    Readability extension for chrome is wonderful https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/mopng
    Flux for nighttime http://www.stereopsis.com/flux/
    Backblaze for backup
    MagicPrefs if you are using a Magic Mouse (which I highly recommend)
    If you're feeling super nerdy, som shell config stuff – http://github.com/jferris/config_files
    Nestopia for NES emulation + Joypad Connect/Joypad iPhone app (use iPhone as the controller :))
    Transmission is a great bit torrent client
    VirtualBox is a free, great VMWare
    VLC for playing any media iTunes/Quicktime chokes on.

  • Apple maintains a pretty comprehensive list of Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts for doing just about anything:

  • The funnest part of this is going to be collecting $100 from Ross on August 1 and the making (I mean \”enticing\”) everyone else in the office to switch.

  • Ross has got to be crawling in his skin.

    I’m a fairly vanilla OSX user…

    non-standard s/w installs:

    – Adium for IM

    – Tweetie for Twitter

    – LogMeIn for remote access from other desktops (windows or mac), or iPhone (http://logmein.com )

    – MenuMeters to watch system resources (http://www.ragingmenace.com/software/menumeters/)
    – Flip4Mac to view infrequent windows-only video codecs (e.g. wmv)

    – bounce between Firefox and Chrome for browser

    – gmail for email, calendar (thus no native software clients for these)

    non-standard system settings:

    – scroll arrows on top and bottom instead of both on bottom (System Prefs -> Appearance -> Place Scroll Arrows)

    – auto-hide doc so it’s not always taking up space (System Prefs -> Dock -> Auto show/hide doc)

    – disable all Expose goop so inadvertent mousing/key’ing doesn’t make the window manager do weird things (System Prefs -> Expose/Spaces -> disable everything)

    – more expose goop disabling through Prefs -> Keyboard -> Keyboard Shortcuts -> Expose & Spaces

    – disable Front Row crap Prefs->Keyboard->Keyboard Shortucts->Front Row

  • Marshall

    I would subscribe to Don McAllister's ScreencastsOnLine http://www.screencastsonline.com/ for getting up to speed on most any Mac software and hardware. When you subscribe you also get access to the archives so you can pretty much find a tutorial on anything you want / need.

  • There’s a great blogging software called MarsEdit – it works with all popular blogging engines and I hear it’s fun to use.

    Personally I recommend Movist for movie watching (if you “rent” movies from Torrentia), Transmission for aforementioned trips to land of free stuff and Facebook Notifications to get rid of notification emails.

  • Yet another +1 for Quicksilver
    Omnigraffle to make you never want to use Visio ever again
    Handbrake to rip/convert just about anything to iPhone/iPad formats
    Colloquy for IRC
    CoRD if you have to use Windows RDP
    OmniDiskSweeper for finding out where your disk space went
    Steam for blowing off steam 🙂

  • Thomas

    You can find some shortcuts in this pdf file: http://macmost.com/downloads/MacMostKeyboardShort

    Btw here in Denmark I can get a rubber cover for my MBP with printed shortcuts of the most important ones. Could not find a US version, but it might be worth searching for?

  • I used to resist just like you, but over the past few weeks we've switched the last remaining PC users (including me) at Viget. It's been a smooth transition in part because for the last year we've been moving as much as possible to Google Apps (gmail, calendar, docs, etc.). With Chrome (which I've been hooked on for a long time) all these apps are very consistent.

    It also helped that I broke my Outlook habit about 6 months ago. I don't like the browser experience of gmail & calendar better, but both work fine and ultimately the benefits of having both in a browser has been worth the trade-offs.

    Key for the transition is to surround yourself with Mac power users for a couple weeks if you can. We've been running "microclasses" at the office to share all the kind of tips you're getting from this post. Hopefully you'll stick with it. My world seems much more orderly with my MBP next to my iPad and iPhone.

    • Hey Brian we switched our company to Google Apps last year as well. How do you manage your company's contact list? We find Google contacts woeful but perhaps we're missing something. thanks!

      • Yeah, contacts is lacking for sure. We use the 37signals products, so we track shared contacts in Highrise (or Basecamp for project-specific contacts). It's not ideal right now, but with Google we've come to expect the products to evolve — so, I expect they'll get around to improving it. For us, it's not a critical need for our business right now.

  • Daniel

    Great blogging client? MarsEdit. I've used it since I quit using my own. 🙂

    • MarsEdit it is! I've started using it and love it already. I've already forgotten how to use Windows Live Writer.

  • Bill Adkins

    Brad – Like Jud, I'm pretty vanilla with OSX, but I have found this site pretty useful for shortcuts/commands. Good luck with the transition!

  • I haven't seen mention of a mouse. I had to get this one. Works perfectly and supports left and right clicking.

  • A very handy shortcut: Cmd + shift + / (i.e. cmd + ?)
    This takes you to the search field in the help menu. When you start typing a blue arrow pops up and points to the menu item. I find this easier than manually looking through the menus for what I'm after.

    The shift key is often used for 'complimentary' shortcuts. For example:
    – cmd + z is undo, and cmd + shift + z is redo.
    – In Safari cmd + w is close tab, and cmd + shift + w is close all tabs in the current window (i.e. close window)

    Pressing shift when viewing menus shows these options if they're not listed separately. For example select the file menu in Finder and press shift (the same is true for alt too).

  • For "whizzing the windows around the place" F9 gives you a view of all windows in all apps (excluding minimized). CLick on one to go to it, or F9 or Esc again to return to the window you came from. F10 accomplished the same thing, but just with the windows in your current app.

  • i use Adium for multi-client IM – http://adium.im/
    apple map via IMAP for all Google Mail/Calendar syncing
    apple ical -> google -> iphone for over the air calendar sync
    parallels for when you need windows

    I made the switch 3 years ago and won't go back

    good luck!

  • Two thoughts:

    (1) Get a SSD drive for your Mac.

    (2) The hardest problem for me in switching was the loss of the Control-C X and V shortcuts which were hard wired into very low levels in my brain. I emulated them which took me about a day to get working with a combination of quicksilver and applescript. Email me if you want instructions on how to do this.

  • Quentin

    Scribefire is a decent blogging tool… it was originally released for Firefox and has sinced been released as a Chrome and Safari version. http://www.scribefire.com/

  • I'm by no means an Apple evangelist but I cannot imagine why anyone would want to work on a windows machine. When I visit my parents and have to use their computer the frustrations sometimes have me pass on using a computer altogether (which gives me more quality time with them, so I guess I'm glad they have a pc 😉 )

  • Bob Spryn

    Textmate is a must for any development. Custom macros, bundles, triggers oh my.

    Launchbar though, is the single best productivity improving tool on the Mac. Lightning fast application launcher, clipboard history, search templates. There is nothing out there nearly as quick or flexible. Hit the shortcut, type the first couple letters or an abbreviation of the file/application you are thinking of. It figures it out. If there’s several, choose the right one the first time and it remembers it next time. Way faster than hitting the dock. Also hit apple-/ and paste that thing that you copied about two hours ago and forgot to save somewhere. Obdev.com

    Beyond that safari 5 is super quick. 1password saves passwords across browsers and devices. Pathfinder is a must for dealing with lots of files (finder replacement). Jing is a great video/snapshot sharing tool.

  • Bob Spryn

    One more thought on launchbar. Download it and force yourself to use it for a week. After you figure it out, you’ll never live without it again, and certainly won’t switch back to windows.

  • Try Alfred instead of Quicksilver

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  • Mark Wood

    Things from Cultured Code is a great alternative to OmniFocus, which can be a little heavy. I like that you can organize tasks by projects or “Area of Responsibility” which can contain individual items or projects. It syncs wirelessly with the iPhone and iPad versions, and supports multiple devices.

  • Great thread and most of my recommendations have already been posted. A handful of items to add:
    * While Command-Tab cycles through your open applications (just like Alt-Tab on Windows), Command-' (that is, the tilde key) cycles through open windows in the foreground application.
    * Drop MS Word and PPT in favor of iWork Pages and Keynote. As with the OS, they both take some getting used to (hint — it's all about the Inspector and being a non-model interface) but once you figure them out you'll be hooked. The trick is to unlearn all of the bad modal interface habits of MS Office.
    * Excel vs. Numbers is a different story, because Numbers really can't handle large/complex models — I've built models that take 15 seconds to update in Excel but 5+ minutes in Numbers. With that said, for smaller jobs Numbers can be a huge time saver… the killer feature is having multiple independent tables on a single sheet. Hard to believe that Excel didn't have this capability years ago.
    * I use Time Machine for regular backups and use SuperDuper! for weekly disk image backups. It's all about redundancy.
    * I use Things for task management (another GTD tool). Most usable interface for me and syncs via wifi to iPhone and iPad apps. The downside is that you have to buy each one separately.
    * Run Disk Utility -> Repair Permissions every now and again to clean up system file permissions. There's some debate as to how much it helps, but it feels good to do a little housecleaning.
    * iStat Menus: puts most of what you have access to in Activity Monitor (the Mac equivalent of Windows Task Manager) in your menu bar. As a former IT admin, I like to know what's going on with my system at a glance. This was shareware but now is paid.
    * Last one: it's worth getting familiar with Console (my advice: click Show Log List and select All Messages). Complete system logging in a relatively readable format. Let's you see exactly what is happening at a system level, and will be useful if you encounter any persistent application or system crashes.
    Ok, that was longer than I expected but I hope this is helpful! Welcome to the club.

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  • _me_

    the most important thing you can do to enjoy your switch is be patient and accept the differences. windows users HATE that you close an app on the left instead of right; they can't get the close a window vs. quit the app; installing apps is different…. and a variety of little things like that.

    if you get passed those, simply learn the really useful stuff, like using spotlight to open things: press cmd-space type in your app (e.g. 'mail') and hit enter. mail opens. you can do this with almost anything, thus rendering the mouse irrelevant (funny when thinking about using a mac, eh?). learn the other keyboard shortcuts too.

    once these things are normal for you… believe me…. you will never ever want to use windows. you won't have to reinstall the os, you won't have to optimize the system, you won't have all kinds of background crap running always slowing things down. and…. you pretty much never have to reboot so things start working again (i go weeks without rebooting).

    oh yea, go get more ram. it will make things better. believe me. good luck.

  • One more thing I forgot:
    * Click-to-Flash plug-in for Safari — blocks all Flash from loading by default. If you want to see a given Flash element, just click to load it. Also gives the option to load the YouTube movies in H264 format, though it can throw off some of the page rendering. Flash is a huge resource hog on any Mac — it's easy to watch using Activity Monitor or iStat Menus, or just listen for your fans to spool up.
    * For browsing, I use Safari for reading (no Flash) and Chrome for entertainment (full Flash). If the system starts to get hot and bothered, I just close down Chrome and everything settles down.

  • Diomedes IRC for your IRC client. http://apphacker.com I use it on mac and it's better than Colloquy.

  • As one of the enlightened people that avoid Apple products I decided to blog the reason why:

    And thankfully Android is here to save my day!


    • Bob Spryn

      Wow. Your comment doesn't come across as pompous at all. I'm totally going to listen to what you say.

  • If you use iCal, I wrote a tool to let you add events via text string, as in "Movies with Mork Friday 9pm" instead of all those damn clicks that iCal forces you to do.

  • "windows fly around teh screen" – go to System Preferences -> Exposé & Spaces -> Exposé and just configure it.

    If work is using a more modern cisco VPN, you can configure it directly in System Preferences -> Network

  • Ivan

    At the end of the day you might need this: Anti-Social is a neat little productivity application for Macs that turns off the social parts of the internet http://anti-social.cc/

  • Josh Simpson

    so many great suggestions! just a couple i didn't see mentioned…all are free and should be easy for you to learn and use.

    Butler is a nice program if you need to program custom keystrokes…one thing that really bothered me about using excel on a mac was that i couldn't use F2 to edit cells…butler allowed me to program a custom key assignment just for that one application.

    Cog is the go-to app for high-quality audio – if you have any FLAC files to listen to, use cog. i still love itunes for my mp3 management but being somewhat of an audiophile i am loyal to this lossless codec, and Cog is the way to go for mac users.

    if you like to listen to Pandora, I recommend PandoraBoy for browser-free streaming.

    Chicken of the VNC for, you guessed it, VNC.

    Lastly, if you experience severe windows withdrawal, or need to run any other OSes but don't want to shut down and reboot with Bootcamp, VirtualBox is a free VM tool and can run pretty much any OS you throw at it from within OSX, albeit some tweaking may be required. the forums are great for info though and I've been able to solve pretty much any problem i've encountered.

  • Brad's been pretty quiet about Mac's lately…. but he's only 14 days into the "30 days with my Mac" discipline…. hey Brad you didn't slip back into WINDOWS useage, did you?? ha

    • I'm on my Mac 100% of the time and loving it. I'm not even sure if I remember how to use a Windows PC anymore. We'll see in a few minutes since I'm about to use the one downstairs as a DVD player for the P90x workout that I'm about to do.

  • Well – the Vista box from two years ago failed. It can’t seem to figure out how to play a DVD. I’m now hauling my Mac downstairs to play the DVD and do my workout!

    • Did you say P90X workout? Didn't you get the memo – that program is for people in their 20's! It's INSANE.

      I have a friend who's 18 year-old son was on it, he wants to be a personal trainer and was doing P90x when i was over having dinner with his parents. The kids was a whooped dog within 3 weeks, lol:)

  • If P90x turns out to be too easy, there's always "the Insanity workout", which puts P90X to shame!

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  • Darwin

    Your "IT guy" won't have anything to do if you use a Mac.

    • IT Guy

      Oh that's right, a MAC is like Jesus. The Mac will solve network problems and make updates to the website. Also the Mac will prepare you for a 911 type disaster. Yes, you are right the MAC is like Jesus it will cure all problems.

      Bottom line MAC's are computers, computers need service. All computers have their own set of issues and MAC are no different. A business need to nimble to hit a home run, without a IT Person, MAC or Windows the business will be crippled.
      Do me a favor, explain the process of mapping to a network drive and how a user can access it every time they are in the office or offsite.

  • Great post. I just upgraded my laptop and iphone and similarly excited about the beauty of apple's topline products currently. A couple apps I use all day are: quicksilver http://www.blacktree.com/ (launcher and search), taskpaper http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/products/taskpaper (todo list with cloud syncing), getcloudapp.com (very simple cloud based file hosting), and I love this little scrolling google reader ticker called Snackr http://snackr.net/, for some time I have been using fluid to create my own app version of google reader http://fluidapp.com/, but need a new OSX blog reader – suggestions?

  • Bman

    Clearly you need help. Step away from the crack pipe. Try to remember that Apple almost went under if it wasn't for the IPOD. Yep IPOD.. Not Mac. IPOD. At the end of 2009, Mac had 10% of the desktop market. 10%. Crack man bought em a Macintosh

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