Software for New Mac User


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 26, 2005
I'm a long time PC user who has recently decided to switch. After doing a lot of research I've decided to get a new 12" Powerbook.
Now I need advice on what software I should get to go with the new laptop. I'm looking to do the following: Web Surfing, email, word processing, simple digital photography, movie viewing, C++ programming. Thanks for your help


macrumors 65816
Jan 21, 2002
Tampa Bay Area, FL, USA
First of all, welcome! I can't speak to the programming, but for the other needs you list, here are my thoughts:

Web Surfing Many people (myself included) use OS X's built in browser, Safari. I like it because its bookmark management and popup blocking smoke everything else out there, and it's secure and has a non-intrusive interface. The other good choice is Firefox, which I'm sure you're familiar with. Just try them both and see what works best for your needs.

email OS X's built-in is simple and elegant, and is going to get even better when Tiger (10.4) is released later this year. There are alternatives (notably Entourage, which comes bundled with MS Office), but for all but the most power-users, is great. It also has primo spam filtering.

word processing Apple just released a new piece of software called Pages to compete with Word. I haven't used it, but I can tell you that the Office apps are far and away the most unstable I've ever used on my Macs.

simple digital photography iPhoto (comes with your Mac) is great for storage. I'd recommend PhotoShop Elements with a few good color-correction filters for editing.

movie viewing The built-in DVD player meets my needs, and I'm a Netflix junkie :)


macrumors 604
Feb 7, 2002
servognome said:
I'm a long time PC user who has recently decided to switch. After doing a lot of research I've decided to get a new 12" Powerbook.
Now I need advice on what software I should get to go with the new laptop. I'm looking to do the following: Web Surfing, email, word processing, simple digital photography, movie viewing, C++ programming. Thanks for your help
As for web surfing, I switch between Safari, OmniWeb and Firefox, probably use Safari the most and is already on your computer.

For email I just use Apple's mail, its easy and simple but yet powerful.

Word processing I would recommend either Pages in iWork or Office 04'. Unlike cleo's experience, I have never had a Microsoft Office crash consistently on any machine. Honestly, I can't remember the last time Word or Excel ever crashed on me.

iPhoto should meet your requirements for simple photography, but you weren't specific enough so I am not sure.

In the video viewing department there is a certain amount of apps to can get to ensure all compatibility. You already have quicktime. Go download RealPlayer, Windows Media Player and something like MPLayer or VLC and there is probably nothing you won't be able to open.

As for C++ programming you probably want to use XCode, which is free from Apple's developer site.



macrumors 604
Jan 20, 2005
Pretty much everything you want to do is already possible with the available software that ships with the PB.

Safari, Mail, TextEdit, iPhoto, Quicktime Player, Xcode.

Although if you need to expand your software choices, I'd go with extras like Microsoft Word or BBEdit, Adobe Photoshop, VLC or Windows Media Player.


macrumors 6502
Nov 26, 2003
When you get your PowerBook, check out the stuff in the Applications folder on the hard drive. Apple ships some nice stuff in there. On my last PowerBook, I got a full version of OmniGraffle and it's companion OmniOutliner as well as some other very useful goodies.

I concur with others who've suggested PhotoShop Elements for photo work and while there are tons of text editors, there are times when you just have to use MSWord.

And, contrary to what you might have heard, there is LOTS of software for the Mac - is your head swimming yet with all the choices? :) :)



macrumors 68030
Dec 30, 2004
Except the apps that are on the PB, I would recomend iWork and Photoshop and maby MS Office as well.
Other free apps are in the free apps section allreaqdy mentioned ;)


macrumors regular
Sep 10, 2004
For simple photo work, you may find iPhoto and GraphicsConverter enough for you. They both come with the PowerBook. I have the Corel Graphics suite (discontinued for Mac), but I always use iPhoto and GraphisConverter. I do really simple stuff though, you may find you have a greater need than I do.


macrumors 6502a
Jan 19, 2005
I would go with just a copy of MS word over pages with iwork, assuming you don't have a need for presentation software or excel, all the more so coming from a pc. MS word for the mac is a great program, alittle overpriced, but worth every penny when you need to share a doc with windows friends. iwork has a learning curve if your coming from word, but should get much better in rev 2.

Mail work great for personnel emails like .mac, gmail or earthlink. Look into the free trial account for .mac, I like it but some don't see the need.

I use Phototshop elements 3 with XP and it is a nice program for simple editing, sure the mac version is good too. You can manage your pics with iphoto and do some limited editing, check it out before you buy photoshop, it may be all you need, but not likely.

Down load VLC for movie playback, as quicktime requires a paid upgrade for full screen :mad:

Last, check macrumors 8-10 times a day


macrumors 6502a
Mar 31, 2003
Nelson, Wales
Some good advice so far, but I havent seen anyone recommend Mariner Write (wordprocessor) and Mariner Calc (spreadsheet) Price when bought together as a package: $ 89.95. There are boxed and downloadable versions, and the prices obviously vary.

If you can get an edu discount get Ms Office 2004, if not possibly consider a copy of MsOffice v.X, which you should be able to pick up second hand on e bay.

You might want to consider Nisus writer express (wordprocessor) and Mesa from P&L Systems (spreadsheet). Theres also open office of course, but I dont know alot about it.

I think that you'll find there are some excellent options out there that wont tax your wallet as much as Ms will. I think I'm correct in saying that all options have a downloadable test drive version of the software. So my advice is to download and see which one meets your needs best. Personally I use Ms Office 2004, but thats mainly because I had an edu discount. I dont use Powerpoint (Keynote 2 instead) and I dont use Entourage (I use apple mail).

I used to read alot of good things about Eudora e mail application when I first started using macs some five years ago, but havent seen it written about much lately. Thats probably due to the fact I havent looked. You might want to check it out, it used to get some really good ratings. Powermail is also another e mail app you might want to look at, and so is mailsmith. If your transfering e mail data from a pc and your using outlook, definately look at outlook2mac

Theres alot more choice on the mac than you think and I'm sure there are lots of people who can think of other good apps to recommend.

As for the photo stuff, and your other questions, I think youve had excellent advice so far. Trust me check out the apple downloads page and you'll be spoilt for choice. Just dont dip into your wallet until youve had a good look around.

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