Things I Took For Granted on a PC Before Switching To A Mac.

About 6 months before vista came out, I started building a PC.  It was a monster of a PC, with 4 GB of RAM, a conroe core extreme processor and a graphics card with 1GB of memory.
Once I got it working after some frustrating, it ran perfect with no problems for a couple years until I sold it to switch to Mac.  Now I have been on Mac for about 9 months, but I do find myself missing some of what windows has to offer.
I know many people have thought about switching to Mac, and I did a lot of research before I switched, but there is a lot of things I wish someone would have told me.
I am a very technical person and I have done a lot of work with the Unix command line so I had a head start compared to the average user.

Windows does a lot of things I always just took for granted because it was the main OS I used for day to day work (except for command line Linux for some things), and Mac does them very differently if it does them at all.  So here is a list of problems I encountered and what I learned moving from Windows to Mac and what I think about it now.

•    Mac can not natively read external hard drives that had my Windows files on it.  I had to install a program that could mount and read and write NTFS file systems.
•    My phone (Palm Pre) does not sync with Mac without a 3rd party program which costs 40 bucks and works, but is a bit frustrating on occasion.
•    I have an iPod touch and it syncs well with my computer
•    Sucky auto correct if any.  This is a big one for me. OSX has a built in dictionary and spelling that many programs use.  I ended up having to get another 3rd party program, Spell Catcher,  to use for some applications.  For example, i was never corrected to I automatically.  It does not even get red underlined without a 3rd party app.  On top of this, I have switch back and forth between what spelling programs to use as I am writing because other programs like web based input (think twitter and facebook chat) don’t interface well, and all sorts of funky things happen as I type.
•    Little freeware compared to windows freeware.  I ended up buying quite a bit of software to make my Mac usable for how I use it.
•    I still needed anti virus software.
•    I ended up buying Parallels and Windows so I could run some of my old programs like Quicken that doesn’t have good Mac versions.
•    I also ended up not using one of my favorite programs anymore.  The Journal is a great program, but using Parallels to run it is clunky and annoying.  Also using Parallels is a major battery drain, so I only use it when I am plugged in.  Since Parallels uses a lot of system resources to run, I only end up booting it up once in a while then shutting it down again.  There is another app, pretty much a windows emulator, but I found the journal does not work very well with it, the fonts get all messed up, and it takes forever (2 – 6 seconds on average) to change tabs or screens etc. This also meant I had to pull all my data off of those programs that don’t have Mac versions so I could still access it in a new way.
•    I have a 15 inch MacBook pro with all the upgradable options I could get.  It runs HOT compared to my old Dell Precision 17 inch laptop which I had at the same time I had my desktop.
•    The battery life sucks.  My Dell (which was a top of the line Dell) usual lasted for over 3 hours with me programming, surfing the web, etc.  After about 3 hours, I would plug it on and take a break for an hour, and come back and it would be mostly charged again.  Enough for me to work another 2 hours without plugging in.  My Mac book only lasts about 2 hours on a charge and it takes forever to charge.  It charges fast when the battery is very low.  But often takes more then 2 hours, to get the last 20 percent of the battery full.  I timed a complete battery charge after draining it to 1 percent in a little over 2 hours.  It took just over 4 and a half hours to charge.  I asked Mac about that and they said that was normal.  I plan to investigate this more.
•    There are a lot of great programs, many of them are pretty cheap too.  I love Bookpedia, Firefox, Mac Journal (which is the best journaling program I found for Mac but pales in comparison to my old one) … But I hesitate to use some of them because if ever go back to windows, I don’t want to lose all this data I put into proprietary formats.  It was a pain trying to get old data from other programs out.  The same things goes for iPhoto.  You can spend hours using the software to organize your photos, but if you ever switch back to windows you lose it.  Heck, the info does not even stay with the picture when you email it to someone for them to save.
•    Mac does not shot by folders at the top when looking at a folder view.  So I ended up having to redo my folder structures for ease of navigating.
•    All new shortcuts.  It is no longer control C to copy, but command C.  Since I still work on windows I end up hitting the wrong buttons a couple times on each computer when I go back and forth.
•    I have spent hours trying to get my xbox to interface with my Mac but I still have not gotten it to work.  I have tried using Parallels even and other 3rd party software.  I have not given up, but I have spent hours with what took me 30 minutes originally (MS likes MS products it seems :D )
•    I bought iWork which is Mac version of MS office.  Pages and I fought too much and I ended up just getting MS office for Mac.  I liked some of the other programs, but Pages/Word is what I use the most.  For me, Pages did not have the options I needed.  Not to mention, everyone else I typically send docs to uses word and I was always having to save everything as a word doc anyway.
•    Everything is the same but different.  I don’t have a start bar anymore, I have an apple menu and a dock.  I don’t have a task manager anymore I have an activity monitor.  No more msconfig from a run box, but startup info is kept under accounts (also, most things do not default put crap in there the way it happens on windows).  I can’t just hit the red close button to close an app, the red X in Mac closes the window but leaves the window open which is wonderful for some things like closing 1 word doc, but sucks while I figured that out with firefox since doing that loses all your tabs.  In firefox, you have to close the whole thing for your tabs to be saved next time you start up firefox.
•    There is no remote connection.  I use remote connection a lot to help fix IIS servers and computers.  I now have to use windows in Parallels to do this.  I could not even connect to another Mac to fix my aunts computer when she was having printer problems.
•    Installing software is very different.  Sometimes you just drag an icon to the apps folder and sometimes you actually have to click a couple next.  You always get asks for your password.  It was just a learning curve, but not a bad one.
•    In Windows, you can force your windows to have their own space in the start bar (so if you have 5 word docs open, you see 5 instances of word in the start bar).  So when you use Alt-tab to switch programs, you can change from one word doc to another.  Mac does not do this.  If you have 5 word docs open and you want to go to another one, you cant use alt-tab to do it.  You have to use spaces or expose, or right click on the doc icon or go to the window.  I don’t like these options because I have to take my fingers off the keyboard which slows me down.  Eventually I found a shortcut “command ` “but it does not work with all programs (it does not work with word) and some other programs have yet other short cuts.  I recently found a program called Witch which I am looking into to solve this problem.
•    The blue dot under the program in the doc means the program is open.  To actually close a program, I have to hit command Q.  Originally, I found this odd, but now I really like it.
•    Many programs don’t have the Mac version ready at the same time the Windows version is.  If they even come out with a Mac version.  For example, Google Chrome.  I had been looking forward to trying it for a few months before I switched, and they launched Chrome without a Mac version.

Even with all this, I am glad I switched.  I had to do a lot of googling and there was a step learning curve.  For the average user, there is a small learning curve, but since I like to understand exactly how something works and I want it to work exactly the way I want it to, I had to learn how to do all this on a new OS.
Later this week, I am writing an article of all the awesome things I love about my MacBook and OSX – basically what I miss when I am working on a Windows machine.

Adrienne :)

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