Mac noob questions

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Stinkythe1, Mar 30, 2005.

  1. Stinkythe1 macrumors regular

    Mar 30, 2005
    I've been a windows user all my life. I have a few friends who have powerbooks and they've let me play around with them a little, but nothing to extensively. It was really neat.

    I've become more drawn toward macs more and more and have wanted to get one for a long time, because everyone I've listened to loves their mac. When the mac mini's came out, I was planning on getting one cause I wanted to hop on the mac bandwagon and see what it was all about. However, lately, I've discovered that my major (graphic design) requires that I have an ibook or a powerbook.

    However, even though I have played with a few mac's, I've never really "used" one (ie: installing programs, setting up stuff, changing options, ect...)

    1) Are there any websites that show how this is done and how different it is from using a windows machine?

    2) I was customizing a 12" powerbook, and I notice that it comes with the Airport Extreme Card. Does it also include bluetooth, or do you need to get that d-link adapter?

    3) Do you mac users ever find it fustrating that a majority of the software only works on a windows system, or are you generally satisfied with the software that is already available through apple and others (quicken, microsoft office, adobe, ect...)?

    4) HONESTLY: Is the mac os X as stable as everyone says it is? I've seen Linux freeze up, and during the macworld keynote, Job's mac froze (granted it was an unreleased version of tiger), but does it ever happen, even if it isn't the OS itself that crashes, maybe the application that you are using, and if it does, is it a big deal?

    5) How hard is it to totally screw up your mac? Windows is pretty much idiot proof, but being a mac noob, I don't want to do any kind of irreversable damage. Speaking of, if you do screw up your mac, is there any way to recover it? (like in windows you can reformat and reinstall windows)

    6) Is there any kind of maintenance that you have to preform? (such as defragmenting, downloading updates, ect...)

    That's all the questions I have for now. I'm sure that I'll think of some more.

    Thanks guys.
  2. Covington macrumors member

    Mar 18, 2005
    the middle of nowhere ... well, close enough
    1) Check the switch website on the

    2) Both are included.

    3) Sometimes it's frustrating, but there is always a better alternative that you can use for a mac.

    4) Yes, it's definitely more stable.

    5) Macs seem a lot more easier to use.

    6) Download updates and buy a virus scan. That should get you started.

    Hope this helps.
  3. LeeTom macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2004
    Powerbooks come with Airport and Bluetooth standard across the line.

    On the contrary... there are some really awesome applications that are only available on the Mac platform that I'm really happy with. Things like iSync, Salling Clicker, Delicious Library, Acquisition... Really well designed stuff without ANY adware/spyware.

    My Powerbook is extremely stable, honestly. I think I had 1 kernel panic back in the early 10.3 days. Just as with other OS's, if you keep your system tidy, you won't have many problems.

    If you do the basic stuff using the UI that you're given, it's pretty difficult to mess up a system. Don't delete or move anything in the System or Library directories. Likewise with the Library folder in your home folder. If you start getting into the command-line goodness that is available... then yeah, you could royally hose things. But it is probably easier to get your data off of your drive than with Windows. (for example, if you startup a mac holding down the T key, it turns itself into a firewire hard drive. Then you simply plug another mac into it using a firewire cable, and your hard drive mounts on the 2nd mac. Drag your data off!)

    I run the updates that Software Update tells me to get, and after the ones that require a restart, I run Repair Disk Permissions in the Disk Utility program. OS X does a pretty good job of defragmenting itself on the fly. And pretty much no one here runs antivirus software, and I don't think an adware/spyware remover exists for OS X, since that stuff is pretty much nonexistent

    Sorry I don't have a website for you (question #1), but I hope that helps. I gotta say, and this comes from a person who is a Windows poweruser that has no major qualms with it... OS X totally rules, as does the hardware it runs on. You won't be looking back after a few months on it.

    Lee Tom
  4. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    You don't really need to worry about it. Just get on your Mac and play around. Check out the help files, and stuff. It's all very intuitive, and if you need help with a obscure problem, just pop in here and ask.

    You can also include BlueTooth as a built-to-order option, just like the AirPort card. Re-check the configuration page, you probably missed the BlueTooth module option. If you decide not to build BlueTooth in, you will not be able to do it in the future, and will need the D-Link USB dongle.

    Not really, I got all the software I need. You do have to check on software you need and check if there's a version, or equivalent, for the Mac. CAD software are almost nonexistent on the Mac for example. Do your own research.

    The only thing I (and many) find frustrating is the Mac's dismal gaming selection. If you're not a gamer, it's not a problem for you.

    OS X does crash. It's not crash-proof, no OS is. But it is very stable. Sometimes programs do freeze/crash, but they almost never bring down the system. You just force-quit that app, and relaunch it. I've been using OS X since 2002, and I have only ONCE seen a kernel panic (crash), and that was because I tried to mount a disk image that OS X doesn't recnogize. And it's a very obscure disk image relating to ROMs of an ancient version of Mac OS. You will probably never encounter a disk image of this kind.

    OS X is pretty idiot-proof too. More idiot-proof than Windows. It's MUCH MUCH easier to **** a Windows system up. You calling Windows idiot-proof is hilarious in this context. And yes you can reformat/reinstall OS X, just like you can with Windows. It's much easier and faster with OS X.

    Yeah, you'll have to download updates, it's very easy though - just click the Apple icon on the menu bar, click "Software Update", then click download and install. That's it. You'll also probably want to repair permissions (it's in Disk Utility, in the Utilities folder in the Application folder... you'll know what I'm talking about once you actually use OS X). Other than that, nothing is really necessary. There's millions of maintainence and tweaks that geeks would probably want to do, but nothing of real importance, unless you got a problem.
  5. Jaffa Cake macrumors Core

    Jaffa Cake

    Aug 1, 2004
    The City of Culture, Englandshire
    To answer a couple of your questions...

    1) You could do a lot worse than looking at the switchers section at Apple's site – and, dare I say, you can learn a lot by browsing these boards

    2) The current PowerBooks come with Bluetooth 2 included. No need to mess about with an adapter!

    3) I don't find the software issue frustrating (apart from maybe the odd juicy game) – yes, Windows has a ton more apps available for it, but that's pretty irrelevant if the apps I do actually want are all available for my Mac (including all the design apps you'll need for your major).

    4) OS X is very stable in my experience. I've had a couple of kernal panics in the three or four years I've been using OS X (on various different pieces of Apple hardware), and seeing as that's doing intensive stuff in apps like Photoshop I'm more than happy with the performance.

    5) I think Macs are pretty forgiving in this way – after all, the best way to learn your way around the OS is just to have a play and get comfortable with it. If you do develop any problems then you'll usually find plenty of people here happy to help you out (just don't forget to do a search first to see if the issue has already been discussed... ;))

    Enjoy your new Mac when it arrives!
  6. JzzTrump22 macrumors 65816

    Apr 13, 2004
    New York
    Don't bother with virus protection. You will probably do more harm then good to your computer by putting norton or some other virus protection program on. I had norton because i thought it would help, but all it did was mess up my machine, even caused it to crash.
  7. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    1. Well, you came to the right place...

    2. For three generations now, PowerBooks have included Bluetooth as standard as well as AirPort Extreme as standard.

    3. I've found a bunch of great software at Version Tracker, Apple's own site which is here, and if you search MacRumors there have been a number of threads on where to find great free or shareware.

    4. iMac is over 35 days of 24/7 operation. PowerBook is up for nearly two days. And I travel everyday. It goes to sleep and wakes back up with no issues. I've had uptimes of over a week, which is amazing for a laptop.

    5. The only time I truly messed up OS X was when I started my iMac in FireWire target disk mode, started Carbon Copy Cloner, and then realized what it was doing so I stopped it. Net result: running 10.2.8's kernel on the iMac but everything else was 10.3.7. It caused major issues but it still started up and allowed me to log in. I did an Archive and Install on the iMac and in less than an hour it was running Panther. It gave me an excuse to upgrade it. :) Other than that, there hasn't been anything I've been able to do that can screw up OS X to a horrific level. And even still, you just Archive and Install and it is running again in less than an hour. Amazing.

    6. No de-fragmentation is needed, OS X does this for you automagically. OS X is set to auto download updates 1)After your initial log in and 2)Weekly be default. Or you can force it to run by going to the Apple menu->Software Update. Other than that, repairing permissions is the only other maintenance you need to do. Everything else either goes on its own or is optional (unless you are debugging.... very rare).

    BTW don't be afraid to let your computer sleep. Macs like to sleep. They wake up instantly, they to sleep instantly. It's a very cool feature of Macs.
  8. Stinkythe1 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 30, 2005
    Thanks for the answers guys. Here's a few more questions:

    7) Whenever a newer version of OS X comes out (such as tiger), do you just download the upgrade or do you have to buy the upgrade? How do the upgrades work? Is it like with windows? Like, with windows, if you were upgrading from ME to XP, you would just get the upgrade and install it and poof. The only problem is, if you were to screw it up and had to do a fresh install, you would have to install ME, and then install XP again. But if you got the full version, you wouldn't have to worry about that and just go straight to XP.

    Is there a upgrade/full version of the next version or what? How does that work?

    8) Do the powerbooks get hot like P4 laptops?

    9) How does battery life compare to other laptops? (ie between powerbook/celeron/centrino/p4)

    10) I was looking on the software part of the powerbooks site and I didn't see if it came with any kind of word processing software. Would I have to get iWork or is there some hidden thing? Usually PC's come with works, and if not, you could always use notepad.

    That's all for now. Thanks again!

    EDIT: One more thing:

    11) I would like to go for around 768mb - 1gb of ram in a 12" powerbook. Would it be better to go for the 256 and then buy the ram seperate and upgrade it myself, or would it be cheaper to go with it already in there?
  9. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    Upgrades for 10.x.x is free downloads, upgrades for 10.x are full purchases. There are no upgrade versions, only full versions for $129.99 a pop. Realize though, that 10.x numbering doesn't mean minor upgrades, Apple wants to keep the name OS X, so consider 10.x as full updates, like from 95 to 98 to Me to XP, etc.

    Not really, P4 are not chips designed for laptops. PowerBooks do get warm though, like any laptop.

    Better than P4's, not as good as Centrino.

    If you want a full-fledged word processor you'll have to buy one, such as Microsoft Word. But all OS X installations come with a basic word processor called TextEdit, which could be compared to WordPad on Windows.

    Better for you to get it separate, Apple gouges you on RAM.

    I don't want to offend you or anything, but many of those questions you can answer for yourself if you do some research. Do searches on the forums, read Apple's site, read various reviews, etc.
  10. flyfish29 macrumors 68020


    Feb 4, 2003
    New HAMpshire
    As far as stability- I am goingon 18 months with only one forced restart from crashing. I have had Safari and Mail crash occasionally in the 18 months, but only rarely and it only requires reclicking the icon in the dock and wating the few seconds for the program to reload- occasiionally it will take going into the apple menu to force quit a program that is locked up-usually from a weird web site or something and you simply restart the program as I described earlier. I run my iMac 24/7 with only the occasional rest period during vacations or long weekends I am away. I am a grad student and use my computer to multitask DVD burning for my part time job, photo software among other things and am on the computer for about 8 hours+ a day average surfing, mailing, researching, writing etc.

    Note: I don't tweak anything and don't load many programs beyond Office and a few others- but all are basic ones for the most part.

    I have owned four three macs in 12 years and loved them all. Never owned windows and never plan on it.

    Good luck
  11. freiheit macrumors 6502a

    Jul 20, 2004
    As a recent switcher myself... be careful, it's a mouthful

    As a recent switcher myself (summer 2004) I can maybe give some more light on these subjects. For starters, "installing" most MacOS X programs is literally as simple as dragging one file into your Applications folder, or onto the desktop, or wherever you want the program to live. Most times there's no lengthly installation/uninstallation process. There are of course exceptions, but the ones I've seen that actually have an installer program are no-brainers -- they usually just ask which disk you want to install onto (I have 2 hard disks in my PowerMac G4) and the rest is automated.

    Changing options is at least as easy in MacOS X as it is in Windows 98/2K/XP. There's a centralized System Preferences pane (Control Panel in Windows speak) where almost all of your systemwide options can be found. _IF_ you want to get into the nitty gritty with the UNIX command line, there's a helluva lot of power there (much, much more than the DOS-like command processor in Windows XP) but with MacOS X there is absolutely no NEED to use the command line. This I think really sets MacOS X apart from Linux and any other *NIX which are command line first and graphical as an afterthought. Apple has always been the mover and shaker in the graphical user interface world and they built MacOS X on that principle.

    I don't find the perceived lack of programs frustrating. Linux probably has 5X as many programs available as Windows. The problem is there's at least 20 different programs that all do the same thing (like dozens of text editors, graphical calculators and audio players) and many of them are text-based, not graphical. Linux has so many in fact that most newbies to Linux are immediatley put off by the number of choices they're given -- they can't understand why they might want KWrite instead of vim or vim instead of pico or pico instead of emacs.

    The same can be said for Windows versus MacOS X. Every VisualBasic user in the world has at some point released their own text editor, and they're all basically the same. I haven't counted, but I'd guess MacOS X has somewhere between 10 and 15 really good text editor programs (some graphical, some text-based). Do you need more than that? I sure don't. One works just fine for me unless it's got a lot of unique features, but for that I use a full-fledged word processor (of which MacOS X has MS Word, OpenOffice Writer, Apple Pages, and probably 3 or 4 others I'm forgetting).

    MacOS X seems to have at least one program in every conceivable category where Windows has one, and in many cases several.

    And then, I'm not a gamer so the lack of the latest and greatest mindless 3D shooter clone doesn't bother me one bit. I keep wondering when someone will finally come up with another original idea in computer gaming.

    Of course, you can have a Mac and a PC at the same time. No one says you must choose (well, Microsoft probably would say you must choose, but they have a vested interest in keeping users on the PC so they're hardly impartial). I have my PC (running WinXP) on one side of my desk and my PowerMac (running MacOS X 10.3.8) on the other. I share them with one keyboard, mouse and LCD monitor through a $35 KVM switch. I also sometimes use VNC or MS's Remote Desktop Control client so I can work in both systems at the same time.

    MacOS X is quite stable. At least as stable for me as Windows XP has been. But I come from a background where stability was always very high, even when most PC users were griping about how unstable Windows 95 was. OS/2 Warp was rock solid for me throughout the 90s. Windows 2000 surprised me by finally being as solid as OS/2. MacOS X is at least as much so.

    I haven't tried to screw up my Mac. I know it's possible. But I know I can also screw up Windows or any other computer I have administrator access to. One of the greatest things about MacOS X is, when you try to perform an action that requires administration rights, the system will prompt you to enter the admin password. If you're a regular user on a multi-user system and don't have that password, you can't perform the function, but the admin can simply type in their password and the function is performed -- without having to log out and log in as the administrator separately. This way you (as the administrator) can run in normal user mode for security, and still have 100% access (with security prompts) to administer the Mac without leaving your user desktop or running programs. It's a quite ingenious design.
  12. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    7. Minor updates (the 10.3.x) are free. The major updates (10.x.y) are not free but are supposed to slow down from once-a-year to once-every-two-years. You walk to your Apple Store, pay them $129, and you get a full blown CD. Stick that in and its simple as pi.

    8. My PowerBook tends to stay pretty cool. The fans rarely come on. I love that-- everyone else's PeeCee's fans are full-blasting and I am blissfully quiet. :D

    9. I can manage 5 hours with low screen, no BT and no AirPort, and setting the Energy Saver to Automatic. My friend's Gateway gets maybe an hour and a half. Maybe.

    10. You get a RTF editor called TextEdit. And BBEdit's TextWrangler is a great TXT editing application. Also look at SubEthaEdit. Changed the way I write stuff.

    11. PowerBook come with 512 MB standard-- pretty much good for most work that you do. 768 MB is what I have, and I'm a pretty much poweruser. 1 GB would be nice however. OS X loves RAM. Feed it and it will be happy. But note that you will not get 1 GB of RAM on a 12" because there is already 256MB of RAM on the motherboard. So you would end up with (adding 512) 768 or (adding 1 GB) 1024 MB of RAM. The other [read: bigger] PowerBooks have two SO-DIMM slots.
  13. twoodcc macrumors P6


    Feb 3, 2005
    Right side of wrong
    so if i were to install tiger on my mini, would i lose all of my data? kinda like when you upgrade windows, you usually reformat the HD.
  14. tfh1013 macrumors member

    Jan 17, 2005
    Somewhere, Overthere
    No... When you update from Panther to Tiger on your mini, you won't lose any of your data.
  15. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    Depends on how you do it. You could do a clean install which would be exactly that or an upgrade install which would preserve your settings.

    Panther (and hopefully Tiger) also has a very useful Archive and Install function where your Mac keeps all your settings/apps/user files and just reinstalls all the System files.
  16. gallivant macrumors member

    Dec 14, 2004
    It's worth noting that I'm pretty sure the OS upgrades get the educational discount, and some schools provide OSs to their students - I go to the University of Pittsburgh, and every student can walk into the Software Licensing and get, for free, the latest Windows and Mac OSs, plus Office for both. If your major explicitely requires a Mac laptop, there's a decent chance they'll offer that kind of stuff.

    In addition, there's no upgrade vs full version for new versions of OS X, nor do you have to activate it like XP. If you do manage to destroy your install, or just want to start over (not nearly as neccessary as with Windows), just pop in your latest version and do a fresh install. Tiger's going to be the last yearly upgrade, by the way - Apple, being fanatically close-mouthed about everything, won't even hint at when 10.5 might come out, but it won't be just a year after Tiger the way 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, and 10.4 came out one year apart.

    As for program availability, it doesn't really matter if 95% of software won't run on a Mac as long as the 5% that does is the best, which it often is. There's even a lot of really amazing stuff that you can *only* get on a Mac - Delicious Library comes to mind.
  17. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    Jaguar had it, too.

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