When I get my first mac, what do i need to know?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by iBunny, Apr 17, 2004.

  1. iBunny macrumors 65816

    Apr 15, 2004
    I am in a dilema on deciding between a iBook and Powerbook. Any way, whatever I choose, it will be my first mac. Scary isnt it. I build my own PC's and am a enthusiast and have worked with all versions of windows and is what I am accustomed to.
    When I get my first mac, i will be in the desert with no water so to speak. I wont have a clue on anything more than turning it on. well, not really, but... what are some 'advanced' things I should know to help me out. Since I concider my self a PC Power user, I am more than the average user.

    Things im looking for is:
    1. What software do I need / you reccomend me getting in addition to my new Mac

    2. What utilities do I need for optimal system performance? How much should I defrag? anything i should disable for better performance? Drivers do I need to go to 3rd party sites for updates?

    3. Any settings you recommend me changing? stuff like that....

    Just general power user settings adjustment under OSX, and since I never used a mac or a mac os for that matter, i am in the Dark.

    Thanks all
  2. Rincewind42 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    What do you intend to do with your machine? This is pretty much key, as I can't think of too much that is a must have for everyone, and I doubt that too many others can either.

    Updates for anything that came with your system usually come through Software Update automatically as they are released, so that isn't a huge issue. And neither is defrag really, but if you do it TechTool Pro will defrag your drive. I don't think most people do it all that often unless they have really high performance requirements (digital video and audio mainly I would say).

    Mostly just hidden settings, which you should get TinkerTool for (do a search for it on VersionTracker). Other than that, most settings changes are personal to you so until you get your machine you probably won't know what to ask here.
  3. realityisterror macrumors 65816


    Aug 30, 2003
    Snellville, GA
    for optimizing my computer speed i use both System Optimizer X and Cocktail. some of the things they do overlaps, but i feel my iMac is a bit snappier afterwards... i usually do it after installing updates that require a restart because as you've probably heard, nobody, i mean nobody, with half a mind shuts down their mac regularly.

  4. markoibook macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2004
    Reading, UK.
    I was in a similar situation to you just over a year ago when i got my ibook.
    I am doing a degree in Computer Science and Cybernetics, and as I'm sure you can appreciate it is a very technical degree. Traditionally, Windows PCs are the norm, as most software is written for Windows.
    since switching, I've had no problems - and in fact hardly use Windows at all. You will find lots of Mac software which will equate the windows software which you use, except you will find the software is usually of a higher quality, and freeware!
    You will find life a lot less stressful with Mac, no crashes, viruses, worms, etc. to worry about, and you will find it just works. Whereas I have to reboot my PC once a day or so, my ibook just keeps on running - my current uptime is 23 days, and thats only because I had to reboot for an update.
    I too was worried about the jump - I was very worried I would end up with a machine I couldn't use, but don't worry. One word of warning - whilst MS Word X is very useful, I wouldn't use Entourage - Apple's Mail, iCal and Address Book are in my opinion much, much better programs.

    BTW - you don't need to worry about defragging - Mac OS X is a REAL Operating System - it doesn't need defragging as it sorts it out as it goes along. In addition, IMO you do not need a virus checker (no Mac OS X viruses) or any other system tools - as Mac OS X is Unix based, all these tools are in the OS already - the only reason they exist in the Windows world is cos Windows is behind ;)
    One word of advice though - because of Mac OS X's Unix base, it runs a set of maintenance scripts at 3am to tidy up the system, and if your Mac is asleep at this time, they won't run. Don't worry, it doesn't harm your system if they don't run - they just tidy up a bit. But you can use something like MacJanitor to run them when you want.

    Good luck with your switching - go for it!


    Incidently I am in the process of setting up a section on switching to Macs at my website - http://www.foylesystems.com Please feel free to visit and send me comments on what you think I should include!! :D :D
  5. dragula53 macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2003

    Get onyx, it is the best optimizer/maintenance utility I have ever seen. it's good. really good

    you can do everything manually, or go to the automate tab and do em all at once. I do that once a week or so..

    I'd get either office v.x, openoffice, or office 2004

    get virtual pc to ease the transition (most people I know who have vpc don't use it after a while though, the mac versions of stuff are usually pretty solid)

    get tinkertool, it's a must for system modification..

    be sure to download windows media player 9, mplayer (or vlc).

    unrarx for decompressing rar files

    diskwarrior is good for fixing broken disks

    go to haxial and get calculator 1100. os x's calculator sucks (it uses floating point to do its calculations.. so sometimes it will give you a really odd answer. 19.000000001=19, etc)
    it is very nice. nicest calculator I have ever used

    get teal for a nice little image editor. nothing fancy, but nice for editing images

    get the gimp if you are a cheapie and want a badarse image editor. or buy photoshop

    graphic converter is also nice, if you want something nearly as good (and not nearly as bloated) for a small amount of money

    shapeshifter is very nice for themes

    go to www.unsanity.com for stuff related to gui modification. you have to pay for some stuff.

    Toast is also very nice. good for creating dvd's and burning cd's and dvd's
    well worth the 99 bucks.

    If I could give everybody advice about macintosh problems, the #1 I can think of that everybody runs into is a problem with permissions. unix sets up ownership of files.. and if your permissions aren't right, it isn't gonna work.

    most of the time when you have a problem running an application. it will bounce a couple times in the dock and then close like you never ran it. this is an indication of a permissions problem. right click, or go to view, view options. and change the permissions manually, or use onyx or disk utility to repair permissions. 99% of the time, that fixes an application not working right.

    anyway, most importantly, don't become a fanboy. macintosh are pretty spiffy, but apple isn't perfect. and blind followership doesn't help anybody.

    hope that helps.

  6. wPod macrumors 68000


    Aug 19, 2003
    Denver, CO
    wow, calm down every! great recomendations but i think FAR too much for a first time switcher. sure a couple months or a year or so after switching they may be ready for all the above recomendations but lets take this one step at a time. Remeber the scary things for a first time switcher are 'where is the right mouse button' or 'i hit the 'X' on the window and the program doesnt close' ok. . . so maybe you get over those in a day, but still remeber the basics. as for your questions. . .

    1) get M$ office or openoffice or the sorts. with that you will be able to read/use all your old M$ documents and read the docs from all your peecee buddies.

    2) most basic utilities that you need are already under the 'utilities' folder in your 'applications' folder. Such as 'Disk Utility' these will get you through the first few months or until you start using your mac extremely hevily for video/audio/image editing or the moving around of other large files. otherwise under normal use I still stick with what Apple gave me. That and in the terminal you can run normal unix utilities

    3)the default settings are pretty good. if you want to share a folder or such you can play around with sharing but generaly apples come set quite secure.

    For more help I would recomend one of two books. I personally used "Mac OS X Advanced" by Maria Langer. At the time it was the 10.1 version, im sure there is an updated version for 10.3. I have also heard that "Mac OS X: The Missing Manual" by David Pogue is very good as well. Those help answer all the little questions you will have. I was a peecee computer technician for 5 years before i got my first mac and the Langer book helped me with all the 'advanced' stuff i wanted to know about a mac. and now my buddies who had macs before i did come to me for help when their macs arent working!
  7. Horrortaxi macrumors 68020


    Jul 6, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Here's my "simple switcher" advice: Unpack your computer and turn it on. Then use it for a couple hours. That's it. I know it sounds funny to someone who has never had a Mac, but it's a really easy transition--especially if you're a proficient Windows user.

    If you get stuck or need to know more, the 4 best resources on the web are google, versiontracker, apple, and the macrumors forums.
  8. thirteen1031 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 23, 2004
    Hey, iBunny. Welcome to the Land o' Mac...where things just work :D

    As said, it depends on what you want to do--all the software you really need is on the Mac. But you may want M$ Office (new version for the Mac coming out soon!)--the Mac version is better than the MS version, from what I hear.

    Also MacJanitor--just to keep things running smooth.

    Remember, by the by, you don't need to shut down your Mac. You can keep it on 24/7 if you like (so long, of course, as it's plugged into a wall socket). Just run Macjanitor once every so often to keep it clean. Which, I think answers question #2 as well.

    After you recalibrate the battery, you might want to think about re-setting the energy savers and brightness and such to optimize battery time. On the powerbook you should get a good 3 and 1/2 hours (depending on what you're doing). On an iBook you'll get a good 4-4 and 1/2 hours.

    In the end, however, all setting adjustments are entirely up to you. One thing you ABSOLUTELY should get, and should get right away (as soon or before you get the Mac) is THE MISSING MANUAL: PANTHER


    Pogue's book is the missing Bible for OS X--fun to read, and includes a "switcher" section detailing the differences. It'll let you know about all the changes you can made in your settings so that you can tailor your Mac to your tastes and needs. It'll tell you step by step how to do that--though, really, Macs are so intuitive, and you're obviously so ahead of the game that you probably could figure it all out just playing around on the Mac for a day.
  9. Krizoitz macrumors 65816


    Apr 26, 2003
    Tokyo, Japan
    Lets see, we'll have to teach you the secret hand shake, and of course there are the secret meetings. Lets see there is the secret oath, and of course the secret recipe chicken...oh wait wrong secret :D
  10. thirteen1031 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 23, 2004
    Don't forget the initiation!

    Don't forget the initiation! I like the part where we get to start chanting: "One of us! One of us!" And then we reveal the crocodile pit!

    Now where did I stash my robes?
  11. thecombatwombat macrumors member

    Mar 15, 2004

    Ok, as many people have said here, what sort of tasks do you use your windows boxes for?

    In general though, I'm surprised that no one's mentioned OS X's unix underpinnings. I know you said that you come from a Windows background so this is probably not what you are looking for exactly, but OS X's real versatility comes from it's compatibility with bajillions of lines of unix source code.

    Though OS X comes with many great utitlities (bash, X11, apache, samba . . .) the Fink Project provides a massive selection of unix software for mac.

    Don't worry if these things are unfamiliar to you, but if you really want to know your mac, then explore unix.
  12. iBunny thread starter macrumors 65816

    Apr 15, 2004
    I am going to be using iTunes alot, Microsoft Office 2004 all the time, Internet, chat, using soundtrack often, playing with iLife and what not, and watching DVD's. Thats basically all i am going to do.

    But why i asked is because on a windows machine ( i know i know, but you cant blame me, its all i know ) you have to perform system maintnence often such as clearing out cookies and temp internet files... i dunno how to do that on a mac.... or, defraging... i dunno how to do that on a mac.... there is no "right click" so its even more confusing for me... :p

    and I seee alot all these programs like tech tool pro i think ? that you can click a button and it optomizes a computer? what does it do exactly? should i get a program like this? if so which one? for me tweaking settings and making the OS faster is done in the regestry in windows for me.... and i know how to do that... just normal power user info i am looking for...

    thanks :)
  13. dragula53 macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2003
    right click

    There is a right click. just get a 2+ button mouse
    os x supports up to 5 button mice.

    you can have expose' doing all kinds of neat stuff

    cookies are the same.. there is an internet cache, as well.

    the main tweaks are prebinding and there is also something called.. buffered window compression? for column view in the finder. there are also daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance scripts. which you can also run.

    between prebinding and repairing permissions you should be set.


  14. ToddW macrumors 6502a

    Feb 26, 2004
    For what it's worth, I just switched. I got a refurbed powerbook and love it. What I found is that everything I ever needed was already on the laptop. After a week I decided to get a bluetooth mouse. I got the MX900 and it works great with my powerbook. It was a little jumpy when I was doing a bunch of file moving over Airport Extreme, however all I did was download a program called mouse zoom and it worked like a charm. As far as software I have messed around with iLife, and burned a couple of CD's I really haven't had a lot of time lately to mess around, but the wireless capabilities is what astounds me the most. I would just mess around with it a lot and get used to it. Set some goals for the stuff you want to get done. Remember you are going to switch email/surfing the net/music whatever you are going to do with it and just start doing it with the mac. Simple as that.

    Godd luck.
  15. Nny macrumors regular


    Apr 7, 2004
    well, yes, a lot of tools are already there... they just aren't user-friendly to get at unless you know unix. I agree with some other posters that Cocktail is a great utility. Gives you access to update prebinding, cron scripts, permission repair, and delete caches. If you find yourself using iPhoto a lot I would recommend iPhoto Diet (iPhoto saves every original you edit and they can take up some serious hard drive space unknowingly). Don't think you should need much else utility-wise.
  16. ToddW macrumors 6502a

    Feb 26, 2004
    also, one thing about the mac i found it extremely easy to network with the pc. It just seemed to work.

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