Mac Starter Guide

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Diatribe, Jun 17, 2005.

  1. Diatribe macrumors 601


    Jan 8, 2004
    Back in the motherland
    The Mac Starter Guide has moved and is now the Mac Beginner's Guide.

    This thread is officially dead. I will not update it anymore.

    From now on please only check this link for the new Mac Beginner's Guide:

    Mac Beginner's Guide

    Mac Starter Guide

    You just got your Mac and don't know what kind of software you need, what media player to use, what keyboard shortcuts there are and all the other little and big things about Macs and the community? Look no further, here it is in an aggregated list.

    Mac 101:

    The Mac OS X interface (How to use OS X)
    The Mac OS X apps and more (How to use the basic apps)
    Customize My Mac: Introduction (Change icons, etc.)
    Connect and Use My Devices: Introduction (Scanners, modems, printers, etc.)
    Troubleshooting 101: Introduction (When something goes wrong - also see the "Repair permissions FAQ in the next post down)
    The Mac Cheat Sheet (Write down all your settings so you don't forget)

    Apps: (f) free (s) shareware (c) commercial

    By no means is this meant to be an exhaustive list but it covers the basic apps that one might need.

    Media players:
    Quicktime (included with OS X) - should play most mpegs and mov formats (see Quicktime Fullscreen widget below)
    QT WMV codec (c) - to play WMV in Quicktime
    DivX codec (f) - to play DivX files in Quicktime
    Xineplayer (f) - a lightweight Quicktime alternative that plays the files QT does, DivX and some WMVs
    VLC (f) - plays pretty much all formats except WMV3 and Real media
    mPlayer (f) - the same as VLC
    WMP (f) - the Mac version of the WMP (plays WMV3)
    Real Player (f) - the Mac version of the Real Player

    Web browser:
    Safari (included with OS X) - the standard web browser, handles almost all sites and is the fastest
    OmniWeb (c) - another web browser with a lot of features
    Firefox (f) - the Mac version of Firefox
    DeskBrowse (?) - an awesome, lightweight browser, currently in beta development (not to be downloaded yet)

    System utulities:
    Growl (f) - a system-wide notification system that has all notifications in one place
    Quicksilver (f) - an application launcher that supports both a search window and customizable keyboard shortcuts
    Butler (f) - another application launcher
    Synergy (s) - an iTunes controller with menu controls, keyboard shortcuts and a very slick interface
    OnyX (f) - maintenance, system optimization and personalization utility

    Instant Message Clients:
    iChat (included with OS X) - handles .mac and AIM accounts, video and voice chat
    Adium (f) - THE instant messaging client for OS X. Handles all the major clients but no voice or video yet.
    Skype (f) - the Mac version of Skype, an instant message client for text, voice, video and VoIP chat
    MSN (f) - the Mac version of MSN, with limited functionality compared to the Windows version
    Mercury (f) - another MSN client that handles video chat over MSN (receiving only at the moment)

    IRC clients:
    Xchat (f) - IRC client ported from Linux
    Conversation (f) - another IRC client with a nice Aqua interface

    RSS Reader:
    Safari (included with OS X) - the standard OS X browser has built-in RSS support
    NetNewsWire (lite) (s) (f) - the shareware and free version of the most used RSS reader
    NewsFire (s) - another RSS Reader

    DVD/CD copying and burning:
    Finder, iTunes, Disk Utility (included with OS X) - burn CDs and DVDs from within OS X
    DVD2OneX (c) - a tool to compress DVD rips to standard DVD size
    MacTheRipper (f) - rips the movie from a DVD to store on your HD or burn on a DVD
    Roxio Toast (c) - a very good app that burns CDs/VCDs/DVDs/etc.
    Roxio Popcorn (c) - another compression app that burns too

    MacJournal (f) (s) - an awesome journal app with Wiki ability to write journals, texts, blog entries and more, export it to various locations
    SubEthaEdit (f) - a great word processor that'll even let you write with more persons on the same document via Bonjour (ex Rendezvous)
    VoodooPad Lite and Pro (f) (s) - another great text app with Wiki ability
    NeoOffice (f) - Open Office port for OS X (if you don't want to use MS Office)

    other apps:
    Delicious Library (c) - a media catalog app for DVDs, CDs, books and games with an awesome interface
    DVDpedia/CDpedia/Bookpedia (c) - another media catalog app with a lot more features but a bit worse design
    Ultralingua (c) - a dictionary app that lets you choose which modules to get (great for translations)
    Transmit (c) - the best ftp app out there
    Sailing Clicker (s) - control your Mac via your Bluetooth phone
    SuperDuper (s) - back up your stuff, you will be sorry if you don't
    Audacity (f) - Audio editor and recorder

    Scripts and other haxxies: (Use with caution)
    spanning for the iBook, iMac and eMac (f) - use an external monitor with your iBook, iMac or eMac with mirroring the screen

    App enhancement and other useful widgets:
    iCal events (f) - shows events from iCal for the next days, launches iCal (later version will also show To-Do items)
    FlipClock (f) - a replacement world clock for the analog-ly challenged. Includes an alarm option and many designs.
    Wikipedia (f) - an easy way to search the open source online encyclopedia Wikipedia from your Dashboard
    FastAmazon (f) - an easy way to search Amazon from within the Dashboard
    Countdown Calendar (f) - counts down the days to a specific date
    Airtraffic Control (f) - shows the networks around
    Sysstat (f) - shows the system stats in your Dashboard
    GoogleMaps (f) - search GoogleMaps from within your Dashboard
    eBay (f) - keep track of your current sales and bids on eBay from your Dashboard
    Quicktime full screen (f) - click to see Quicktime movies in fullscreen

    (there are more, this is just an extract, see below for more more sites with widgets)

    Keyboard Shortcuts:

    Attached Files:

  2. Diatribe thread starter macrumors 601


    Jan 8, 2004
    Back in the motherland
    part 2

    Other nifty OSX hints:
    How to use the built-in dictionary
    System-wide spell checker - in any app just ctrl - click and go to spelling and mark check spelling as you type
    How to create a zip file - highlight the items you want to include press ctrl + click(right mouse click) and choose "create archive"
    Drag files on dock items - just drag files on dock items to open these files with the app (pics to import on iPhoto, pics on mail to send, etc.)
    How to uninstall applications - just drag the application to the trash. There might be leftovers in a) the preference folder (just preferences that take up very few space) and b) the application support (may contain bigger files to support the app) If you want to get rid of all the traces of an app just search for it in Finder and delete everything. That's it. Simple as this.

    Troubleshooting - When something doesn't work - When some app, the finder, the desktop, etc. doesn't work follow these steps in the following order and see after each step whether it resolved the problem:
    1. Repair permissions
    2. Delete the preference file of the app
    3. Zap the pram

    Useful Mac related websites:

    Versiontracker - all your app needs satisfied
    Macupdate - the same as above - the biggest independent Dashboard widgets source widgets - Apple's own widget page - Free and pay widgets with an awesome design

    Mac OS X hints - various hints for OS X
    iTunes Scripts - various scripts to complement iTunes - desktop pictures (wallpapers) including wide screen ones - desktop pictures, many mac related ones - your premier icon source
    Resexcellence - everything you'd need to customize OS X

    Useful FAQs:

    OS X x86 FAQ - how is the transition to Intel going?
    Core Image FAQ - what is Core Image?

    MacRumors (Please read before posting):
    How do I get an avatar? - we all want one, here's how
    Rules recap - read or risk getting banned
    Guidelines for getting help - how to post questions
    MacRumors Forum FAQ - various interesting things to know

    How to repair permission, run fsck and zap the pram - the repair basics for your Mac
    Networking Windows with OS X - for your networking needs
    How to keep Dashboard widgets on the desktop - to free the widgets from Dashboard
    How to remotely control another Mac
    How to install Tiger sans DVD
    How to improve the Dashboard calculator skin

    Looking for a sleeve or a carrying case? - look no further
    Free iTunes 2005 - a list of all free songs given away by Apple

    If there is anything you think I should add, phrase differently or change tell me. If you find any errors I'll correct them and if you have more keyboard shortcuts I'll add them.
    I hope this is a help to everyone new to the Mac and for people that are looking for new things to learn.
    Oh and the second shortcut pdf is kinda empty so if you know any more shortcuts that are not on the first list, tell me and I'll add them in.
  3. katie ta achoo macrumors G3

    May 2, 2005
    This is great! It should be stickied and in HUGE, BRIGHT LETTERS, so we don't get the same questions (that are covered in this) 30 times a day. :)
    Rock on, Diatribe!
  4. Eniregnat macrumors 68000


    Jan 22, 2003
    In your head.
    I think after everybody adds their part, it should be synthised an posted as a tab on the MacRumors site, or at least as a sticky at the top of the forum. We then can revise it every 3 months or so.

    [This spot reserved for my Additions]
  5. 7on macrumors 601


    Nov 9, 2003
    Dress Rosa
  6. Gandalf! macrumors member

    Jun 15, 2005
  7. motulist macrumors 68040


    Dec 2, 2003
    Great job! 2 additions.

    1) Internet Explorer (because it's no longer built in as I've been told and there are very rare occasions when it is absolutely required)

    2) AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) because of the same reason, there are occasions where you are having trouble interopping with an aol'er and you need AIM to at least test where the problem lies.
  8. runninmac macrumors 65816


    Jan 20, 2005
    Rockford MI
    Thanks for all those links and things. Im sure its going to help out a lot of people.

    Edit: This needs to be Stickied!
  9. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    Great job.

    How about adding a few of the common accent key shortcuts into the second PDF?

    So that newbies can type Exposé™ more easily...
  10. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus


    Mar 10, 2004
    Bergen, Norway
    Nice overview.

    Maybe you should add Opera (f/s) to the list of browsers. Some ex-Windows and ex-Linux switchers might be used to that, and version 8 was just released.
  11. Xtremehkr macrumors 68000


    Jul 4, 2004
    Awesome, this has been needed for quite some time. The link to the hack that allows iMacs to use dual screens would be cool as well.
  12. thecow macrumors 6502

    Nov 24, 2003
    Timonium MD
    Just add how to get to the keyboard viewer.
  13. public enemy macrumors regular

    public enemy

    Jun 7, 2005
    i just want to say thanx for posting this. it is a big help- being a new mac user i have found new commands that make using my ibook so much easier. thanx again!
  14. Plymouthbreezer macrumors 601


    Feb 27, 2005
    People still wonder how I get the ´ to go over letters. :D
  15. tech4all macrumors 68040


    Jun 13, 2004
    That link doesn't work.

    Nice thread, btw :)
  16. Diatribe thread starter macrumors 601


    Jan 8, 2004
    Back in the motherland
    I have never encountered any situation where I needed any of the two. Either Firefox or Safari worked. And in the other case, either Adium or iChat worked.
    If there really ARE cases where it is required I'll add them. I just didn't want to blow it up indefinitely. Thanks for the feedback.

    I'll add those in over the weekend if you have any more, let me know.

    Huh? What are you talking about?

    I don't know, as I said I didn't wanna blow it up so much and after reading the recent reviews for Opera it seems not such a good idea.
    Convince me otherwise but I wanted to only list apps that are loved by most people with little to no issues to make it easy for the people new to Macs.
  17. Diatribe thread starter macrumors 601


    Jan 8, 2004
    Back in the motherland
    Another big thank you for all the nice comments and suggestions. I added a lot in and will do the shortcut pdf over the weekend. If you guys have any more suggestions let me know and thanks again for the awesome feedback. Glad it helps people. :)
  18. Freg3000 macrumors 68000


    Sep 22, 2002
    New York
    I agree this is a starter guide; we don't need to list every browser or IM app. Putting the *arguably* two or three best app in each category is fine considering the links the VT and MacUpdate were provided.
  19. panphage macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2003
    In the web development world, we call Opera users "Self-selecting". They tend to upgrade constantly. Opera users know where to get Opera. It seems like keeping this list full only of good Mac-specific things for newbies (which means firefox prolly don't really belong either, but meh) is a good filter.
  20. Lara F macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2005
    Montreal, Quebec
    Does Windows Media Player play WMV3 only when it's a .wmv file? I have a couple of .avi files that won't open on anything, and VLC says it's due to WMV3 encoding.

    Excellent guide btw - just wondering about this point. :)
  21. Diatribe thread starter macrumors 601


    Jan 8, 2004
    Back in the motherland
    Yeah, it should only have a wmv extension. Did you try all the media players? Could be some weird codec, VLC often says it's a wmv when it cannot read the file, but it is not necessarily true.
  22. wiseguy27 macrumors 6502


    Apr 30, 2005

    Diatribe, this is a very useful list. Thanks for that! :)

    How about adding NeoOffice ( to the list? It's a good substitute for those who need a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation application but cannot afford MS Office for OS X (or don't want to buy it). It does take quite a bit of RAM, though! :)
  23. spinne1 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 12, 2005
    Hermitage, TN USA (near Nashville)
    You have done a wonderful thing making this list. Here are my suggestions for additions:

    Some good System Preferences:
    ASM (s) brings back the OS 9 style application switcher in the top right corner of the menu bar
    MouseZoom (f) speeds up your mouse tracking
    WindowShadeX (s) advanced window manipulation

    Some good utilities:

    Carbon Copy Cloner (donationware) make perfect bootable clones of your hard drive to any other hard drive on your system (not over a network)
    CLIX (f) tool for guiding you through all the unix power available in Terminal
    Cocktail (s) system maintenance and interface tweaking
    File Buddy 8 (s) a high-level file utility
    Monolingual (f) remove all foreign language files in OS X and regain hard drive space
    OnyX (f) an excellent maintenance utility, similar to Cocktail but free
    Pacifist (s) extract individual programs out of installer packages
    Preferential Treatment (f) a preference file utility
    RapidWeaver (s) easy web page design for non-coders
    SafariSpeed (donationware) speed up Safari
    SiteSucker (donationware) download entire web sites in one fell swoop, pics, movies, sounds, and all
    Speed Freak (donationware) reprioritizes your applications' CPU usage, similar to Renicer
    SuperDuper (s) hard drive duplication tool, similar to Carbon Copy Cloner
    TinkerTool (f) essential app for unlocking hidden features of OS X and customizing your system

    Killer apps:

    GraphicConverter (s) a photo utility, not meant to replace Photoshop, but rather to supplement it
    RadioLover (s) record any internet radio into mp3s
    MP3 Trimmer (s) an mp3 audio file editor
    Sound Studio (s) audio editing and recording
    WireTapPro (s) record any sound on computer or from any audio input to several formats, including mp3 and aiff

    EDIT: I trimmed the fat, making it more useable for those newbies reading this post.
  24. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    First of all, go Diatribe! That's awesome.

    spinne1, nice list too but we need to keep it relatively simple so that newbies will read it. We don't want to flood them with information. :)
  25. Diatribe thread starter macrumors 601


    Jan 8, 2004
    Back in the motherland
    Added. Good idea.

    Although quite a nice list I don't think there is something really necessary in there. I'm still debating about some things and if there are people finding things in this list of absolute need, I'll add them. For now I think it's enough.

    Thanks for the flowers all. I'll add things as needed but, as I said, I don't want to make it huge.

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