Mac Love: Moving from a PC to a Mac

Mac Love: Moving from a PC to a Mac

Despite years of efforts to the contrary, I have officially joined today’s hottest cult, also known as Apple.

I recently decided that a serious writer needs a serious laptop. Especially if she’s aiming to be a travel writer, in which case the laptop needs to be not only highly functioning but highly portable, both of which my old machine was decidedly not.

That old machine was a 2006 17” Dell laptop running Windows XP. It was big, heavy, slow (despite many physical upgrades I made to it over the years), and certainly did nothing fancy. It also had some OS problems, like a corrupted desktop, so sometimes things didn’t always function properly.

After considerable research and thought, including endless debates of PC vs. Mac with my former roommate (who is, for all intents and purposes, a walking Apple advertisement), I decided to purchase a 13” MacBook Air. The little machine I’d chosen came equipped with a 256 SSD hard drive and an i5 processor, a model that would usually run over $1400.

But I decided to give the refurbished model (which actually endured stricter testing than a new model would) a try, thanks to the price tag of under $1000 after taxes.

Now, a slight disclaimer here…since I was moving up from a relatively ancient machine, some of the things I get excited about might be run of the mill in many of todays computers and not exclusive to Mac. These are just my humble observations on moving from an old PC to a new Mac.

Learning the New OS

Like I once did, many who are considering making the move from PC to Mac worry about learning an entirely new operating system.

I am very techie, and I clung to my ability to go in to the guts of my old PC operating system (OS) and screw around, so to speak. I always thought that Macs were so, well, restrictive. And certainly, they can be….but the one thing I didn’t account for? The stuff on Mac works so well that I don’t NEED to go in and screw around with the OS!

Still, with regards to learning the new OS, I realized that I since I was coming from outdated Windows XP, I was going to have to relearn an OS period, be it the Mac OS or Windows 8.1.

What I found was that even with 10 years of extensive PC knowledge behind me, my Mac was INCREDIBLY easy to learn. Granted, I have an extreme affinity for technology and generally pick up anything new very quickly (when I switched from a Blackberry to an iPhone, I had that baby down pat in under a day).

Also, I will mention here that being resourceful helps…when I get stuck somewhere, I typically can find the answer to just about any question I have through Google, with the result that I rarely find myself truly stuck.

Apple Compatibility

If there’s one thing I’ve been all about for years, it’s been trying to lessen the amount of stuff I have. This is, of course, helped by the fact that I’ve ended up moving at least once every year since I was about 25 (and hindered by the fact that I feel the need to have an excessive array of clothing to choose from).

I am still completely blown away by Apple’s compatibility within itself, and it’s only getting better with the new OS (Yosemite) and iOS (currently 8.1). I love having what is basically one giant smoothly integrated & working system.

Shortly after I purchased my MacBook Air, I also traded my WDTV Live streaming box for an Apple TV. And just last week, I upgraded from my iPhone 4S to a 64GB 5S, allowing me to finally move my 30GB of music to my phone and ditch my clunky mp3 player (also circa 2006) entirely.

Now, if it’s on my phone or my laptop, I can push it to my Apple TV and play it on a big screen. My texts and phone calls all come in through my laptop, keeping me untethered from my physical phone if I choose. And with the new Mac OS, all kinds of new “Airdrop” capabilities have come into play.

The one device I have that isn’t Apple, my Google Nexus 7 tablet, I’ve decided to maintain for the time being. I haven’t yet found it necessary to change it to an Apple product, although it may be something I’ll look into for the future.

The big bonus there is that my Nexus tablet is rooted, meaning I can hook it to external storage (what can I say, I love my physical storage), and that’s something I’ll NEVER be able to do with an iPad. In fact, it always has been and will likely remain the single biggest reason I staunchly refuse to purchase an iPad.

Odds & Ends

One of my hands down favorite things on the Mac is having multiple desktops. Swipe swipe…back and forth with ease, I keep one for work, one for play. I’m also a tab nut on my browser (meaning, I always a bazillion of them open), so you can imagine how helpful it is to have all my work stuff on one desktop and all my personal stuff on the other! The segregation works wonders both for keeping me organized and focused.

Here’s a few of the other bits that I’ve found so cool about my new machine:

- Installation of anything is sooooo dead easy! Download, open, drag, drop, done. Seriously, 10 seconds, all done.

- I can’t pinpoint what it is about the design of the keyboard, but I type faster the Air. Not to mention, I never imagined I need a backlit keyboard so badly….

- The swiping thing. Once you get used to swiping around on the sleek mousepad, it’s just awesome. Although, a warning, when you try to go back to a PC after adapting, you tend to look like an idiot.

- The Air is so tiny and light, it can come everywhere with me now (and often times does), making my claims to “location independence” all that much more legitimate.

- Lets be honest here, the design is so fluid and well…PRETTY.

For anyone who’s a Mac user, here also are a couple of my favorite lesser known programs/apps that make Mac life even easier.

Quicksilver - allows you to set a command to search for/open any program and open/move/copy files with a single keystroke.
Divvy - set a command to change window size using a grid for any program that’s running.
Fluid - turns any webpage into an app.

And the Flip Side?

Well, I’ve got to be honest, there isn’t much about this little machine that I don’t love…

I’ve heard so many weird Apple complaints from people, such as the right click and the delete key to name a few (these are SO easy to solve, both simply involve the use of the function (fn) key). Once a PC user gets used to the adjustment of doing things a little differently, it is actually easier and more intuitive than a Windows machine.

That being said, I still stand by what I have always said about iTunes - that it is one of the dumbest media programs on the planet.

Of course, and here’s the kicker…once you’re in the Mac world, there are restrictions. And one of those is that, really, for media management, you’re extremely limited, and iTunes pretty much ends up as the lesser of all evils. But it’s still a terrible program.

I have numerous grievances against iTunes, from the formats it tries to force you into using to the way it stores files to the corralling into purchasing extras like iTunes Match. Granted, me being me, I’ve either found ways around some restrictions or finally finagled things to the point where they’re at least bearable.

Yet it doesn’t change the fact…iTunes is the bane of my Mac existence. I’ve formed a grudging alliance with the program for now…but we’ll never truly be buddies.

Still, despite that little hiccup, I’ll stand up and say it:

Hello, my name is Gen, and I’m a Mac lover.

What’s your opinion on PC vs. Mac? Have you made the switch, one way or the other? Please share!

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