Decided to get a Mac for my dad, some questions

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ecrispy, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. ecrispy macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2013
    Dad is 71, has been using a Windows pc for a long time. Right now he has a Dell laptop I bought for him 3-4 years ago, running Win 7. He uses Word a lot (for work, and he's also a book author) so he needs to manage 1000's of documents.

    We've never owned a Mac because of cost mostly. I've decided to take the plunge because hopefully it will be easier to use and more stable, and I have been saving some money. Because he wants a big screen, I might be limited to 15" and thus MBP, even though the Air is probably enough for him.

    Few questions I have -

    1. Colleague at work told me the last gen of MBP (the one with 650m gpu, pre-Haswell) get too hot and are unreliable - true? Was looking at refurb selection on Apple for those.

    2. Is battery on MBP's long lasting? He likes to treat his laptop as a desktop pc and leave it on his desk plugged in, except when he travels. That shouldn't affect modern Li-Ion batteries but the one on the Dell died in 1 year. And replacing it on Mac is expensive.

    3. It's probably not feasible to use iWork/Pages instead of Office since he needs to exchange the .docx files with others, right?

    4. I was thinking of buying him an external drive and set up Time Machine. Or perhaps Time Capsule, but that may not be worth the cost and difficulty?

    5. I'm concerned he won't pick up on many Mac features like trackpad gestures, Mission Control, app switching etc. I want to avoid a learning curve for him, but also want to avoid booting into Windows.

  2. Spink10 Suspended


    Nov 3, 2011
    1. No - as a general rule
    2. Yes
    3. Office for Mac?
    4. Time Capsule is simple but expensive.
    5. Its different
  3. bkribbs macrumors 65816

    Jan 15, 2012
    1 - No.
    2 - Have him unplug it once every week or two to keep the juices flowing. It will kill any battery never to get used.
    3 - I believe they can save in the same format, but Office for Mac would have a smaller learning curve than iWork, especially with the new versions that just came out.
    4 - An external hard drive + time machine should be fine. I would also suggest doing manual backups of important files/folders as there are some people with time machine problems. Not to familiar with it myself as I do everything manually.
    5 - He can learn that later. He just needs to adjust to scrolling with the trackpad and everything else he can click for. Then once he gets used to the basics, whip out the tricks.
  4. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I'll be candid with you -

    If you buy a Mac, load it with Win 7 for your Dad. He is used to a particular set up and making him go through learning a new system has diminished returns. At minimum if you are still insistent, run Win 7 in Bootcamp or via virtual (Parallels or VMware Fusion).

    Just remember, people get set in their ways and sometimes what we think is good for them is based on what we might find good for ourselves. - You are a decent person to want to help your father out. Perhaps let him play on a Mac first and see if he finds it easy enough to use. Also Word for Mac is not exactly like Word in Windows. Make sure he is okay with the Mac version.

    Best luck on whatever you decide to do and again, very cool that you take the time to consider helping your Dad out.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    If you have a brick-and-mortar Apple Store not too far away, take him there and let him check out all the various MacBooks, MacBook Airs, etc. Let him discover which one he likes best.

    I've had a 2010 MacBook Pro, has been very reliable and the battery is still around 90% of original capacity.

    If MS Word is your father's "main app" for writing now, he will probably want to continue with MS Word on the Mac, for compatibility. It's that simple.

    By all means get him an external drive for backup, but I would AVOID the Time Capsule. Expensive and many folks have had problems with them in the past.

    And -- for simplicity's sake -- don't use only Time Machine for backups. Use either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to make a clone of his internal drive. In a moment of extreme need or confusion, it will make it FAR FAR easier to get back up and running, and to find a needed file.

    If you don't think he'll "pick up" on the trackpad features, just go into System prefs and turn them all OFF, except for the basic ones. That's what I did for myself, completely happy with that. He probably will have no use for Mission Control (I don't either), etc. Don't worry about it at all -- after all, it will be _his_ Mac, right?
  6. PatrickCocoa macrumors 6502a

    Dec 2, 2008
    Bad move.

    Moving from Windows to OS X can be either a good move or bad move. In this case it's a bad move:

    1. The switch is driven by someone other than the user. Thus there is reduced incentive to explore and accept the differences in the OSs.

    2. Lots of existing files. There will be compatibility issues.

    3. Familiarity with existing workflow and programs. This will be gone in the move.
  7. allaboutmac macrumors newbie

    Sep 2, 2012
    I recently switched to a mac mini. I loaded Parallels and run Windows 7. I own a lot of Windows based software so it made sense for me to run a vm and not have to spend big bucks replacing software like Photoshop.

    One thing I did do was sign up at for video tutorials on the Mac software. is a video tutorial website. That is all they do. Base price for access to their site is $25.00 a month. You have to sign up with credit card. You can sign up and then cancel the membership the next day. does not pro-rate. So you would have 30days access to their site even though you cancelled your membership.

    You can also purchase a gift card (one time purchase) and send it via email to your dad. He can redeem it when he is ready to learn about his Mac. I purchased one month for my mom. It was $25.00. (You are not forced to purchase so many months at a time.)My mom needed to learn the newer versions of Word and Excel and so forth. This was a great way for her to learn it at her own pace.

    FYI- I was using their service quite a bit and then I had to cancel it. There were no hassles. No one called and bothered me about my membership or sent me a million emails to get me to reactivate my account. I appreciated that.

    Good Luck with your purchasing decision. Hope this is helpful.
  8. ecrispy thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2013
    Thank you all for the replies. The main reason I'm considering this is to give him a better computing experience, and a more stable computer.

    These are my concerns as well. He will visit me soon and I plan to take him to a Apple store and let him play with one and hopefully he can spend enough time to get a feel.

    His current workflow is not very efficient, I often try to teach him better ways to do things but like you said, people are set in their ways. e.g. he has to spend a lot of time remembering and searching for files, opening them in word, trying to find something inside etc. My hope is Spotlight will help in that.

    Based on feedback, it seems Time Capsule is not worth the price, so I'll teach him to use the external drive only and the other programs mentioned for a system image.

    And will definitely get Office for Mac. I read another thread here where people were not happy with Pages 5. His word files aren't complex at all, in fact he doesn't really need a full featured word processor since he doesn't do things like tables/layout, its just text. And since I've heard Macs are good for authors I thought something better may exists.

    I discussed with him and he is willing to give it a try so at least he's open. And frankly I've been learning about OSX and it seems attractive even to me, a die hard Windows guy :)
  9. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
    3. Open Office will open Word documents - it's free:
    I used it for a while after switching from Win7. It's fine but just not as good as Office for Mac. I suggest trying it and see. For Word it might be OK.

    Maybe you should try Win in Parallels and see if Open Office for Win is OK, then the OSX version will be the same. (or just keep using Parallels)
  10. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    There are some things you can do to make life a bit easier - where ever the doc files from Word are stored (on a Mac), create a short cut folder on the desktop and colour code it so that it may easily be seen. Also set up the internal view of the folder in a manner your father prefers. This way he can instantly get to the doc files. Since your father requires a computer for limited use, you may also want to keep the top screen as clean and simple as possible.

    About Word for Mac, it doesn't look exactly the same. This is again where confusion may set in. People (often seniors) depend on patterns and consistency in order to navigate computers. It would be as you suggested a great idea to go to the store and try out the Mac with him and the particular application(s) he may want to use - Word for Mac, Safari (or another web browser like Firefox or Chrome etc.) and also email.
  11. mattbaar26 macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2013
    With what he uses the computer for it sounds like he really doesn't need an expensive mac. If anything I would look at older 15 inch ones instead of an Apple refurb since you are talking about price being an issue.
  12. csjcsj macrumors member


    Feb 15, 2011
    La Jolla, CA
    Not using time capsule doesn't mean your dad would have to do anything. You can set the Time Machine app to work with any cheaper 3rd party external drive.

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