PC to Mac transition

Rancho Relaxo

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I've been a PC guy since high school (a sweet 386, 20MHz with an 80MB hard drive). Years pass, and I'm happy in the PC domain -- heavy word processing, surfing, a bit of home audio recording and the occasional game (usually an older RPG or strategy gem). Sadly, my current laptop PC suffers from chronic overheating issues (I blame Toshiba for a pretty crappy cooling design), and I've been muddling through with my work PC, which is a great machine but pretty heavily locked down by my employer.

For my birthday, my girlfriend gave me a MacBook Air. I couldn't be more grateful. Seriously. She asked that I spend a week with the machine, and we could exchange it for a PC. Aside from my irrational disdain for certain aspects of the Apple subculture, I want to give it a fair shake. And maybe, this is exactly the kind of device for my meager needs. Some additional info:

1. I own no other Apple devices (though my girlfriend does). I have an Android phone, Roku, non-iPod MP3 players, and multiple Kindles.
2. All of my digital content resides with Amazon and a bit with Google.
3. I have a decent amount of files on older PCs/removable hard drive (music, photos, Word docs, etc.)
4. I'd largely be using this to write, surf, record the occasional song idea/fragment and maybe play a fun game or two.

My many questions:
1. As a PC guy, what's going to drive me crazy about switching to a Mac? For one, I'm fairly adept with keyboard shortcut commands in Windows. Am I going to lose my mind?
2. What's going to be easier? Simpler?
3. How painful will it be to transfer files among devices?
4. Can I run older Windows programs (such as games, like Civ IV) through an emulator, or am I wasting my time? Certainly not a dealbreaker.
5. What cool programs/apps are out there?
6. How do I give it an adequate and fair trial? And ultimately, do I keep it?

Thanks so much for any advice. And forgive me, but I couldn't find a thread already dedicated to this.
 

Rovin Romine

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I moved my whole personal/office set up over to Macs about 4 years ago. I did get the MS Office suite for Mac, which I spend most of my on-line time on (excepting browsers).

Apple isn't quite plug and play, but it's close. I'd say that a huge chunk of the commands/shortcuts overlap from Mac to Apple, and the analogues make a lot of intuitive sense. I've almost never needed to do one tenth as much tweaking, reloading, rebooting, etc. as I had to with a PC/Windows based system.

The biggest frustration you might have with Macs is that some specialized/specific things you might do on a PC will be a pain on the Mac until you find a workaround or a specific program/application. For example, I don't like the digital image handling in the stock applications - I often like to drop pictures in file folders for work. Apple's model is that you want one big Picture archive for your family shots. Whereas I'd prefer to sort things manually and keep the shots separate.

To me it feels like 90% of the stuff is well done by Apple, and I have to find workarounds for 10%. Whereas in Windows, I could do exactly what I wanted, except it often worked crappy, looked lame, and I'd have to spend the same amount of time tweaking.

Apple also has a good online knowledge base - I usually find whatever I need there.
 

mt8thsw9th

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Re: #1, there's a bit of a learning curve, but I've found that there's actually more you can do shortcut-wise on a Mac. And the gestures on the trackpad are second to none. Yes, even better than a trackball.

#4: Just get Virtualbox and install a copy of XP or Windows 7; no need for an emulator. I am using VMWare Fusion, but my virtual system has always run smooth as hell. Though why not just get Civ IV for your Mac? I use VMWare to run Windows for work, but also to use Excel since I find the Mac version to be (perhaps intentionally) neutered.

#6: I've yet to meet someone (including myself) who has given a Macbook a test drive and wanted to go back to their old Windows system, but your mileage may vary. I was pretty anti-Apple products at one point as well, and changed my tune after giving them a whirl.
 

Orange Julia

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I just did this about a month ago, and I was really struggling, but I would not trade it for anything. It is light and the battery last forever and I can still charge my Android phone off it. I did end up getting a mouse and I find the screen small, (i got a mbp 13") so it is not easy to edit video and pictures yet.
 

bohous

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The biggest frustration you might have with Macs is that some specialized/specific things you might do on a PC will be a pain on the Mac until you find a workaround or a specific program/application. For example, I don't like the digital image handling in the stock applications - I often like to drop pictures in file folders for work. Apple's model is that you want one big Picture archive for your family shots. Whereas I'd prefer to sort things manually and keep the shots separate.


To me it feels like 90% of the stuff is well done by Apple, and I have to find workarounds for 10%. Whereas in Windows, I could do exactly what I wanted, except it often worked crappy, looked lame, and I'd have to spend the same amount of time tweaking.

Apple also has a good online knowledge base - I usually find whatever I need there.
Apple's media management continues to be the biggest source of frustration for me as well. Apple works hard to commit you to iTunes/iPhoto and makes it a challenge to simply drag/drop from source folders to external devices. It can be done but it's just not as simple as PC. I tried to continue to manage my photos outside of iPhoto for a while but eventually succumbed.

One keyboard item that may take some getting used to is the Delete button is a backspace button on Mac. I still don't understand why neither have implemented a simple <-del / del -> system.
I also can never remember what the ctl/alt/del equivalent is for Mac. Fortunately I rarely need it, unlike my PC.
 
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Orange Julia

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Agreed that a continuing issue for me is media management. The HD is too small for my music and photos so I keep a few pics in Mt dropbox, but use an external drive for music and photo archives, on a pic in the kitchen, update my mobile music players from that one instead.
 

mt8thsw9th

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Delete is what backspace is on PC, and fn delete does the same as delete on PC. Backspace is the left arrow key on Mac, which like on a typewriter does not delete anything, but that's neither here nor there.
 

teddykgb

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the media management front tends to be the biggest obstacle. When you grow up in a Windows world you're just used to using folders and filing things and it's a very hard habit to break. Apple really doesn't want you doing this (for better or worse) and it causes the most friction I think for people who come from a Windows world and just want to see their files.

One tip: embrace Spotlight. It's really really really good at finding your files and applications. Learn the keyboard command (Cmd + Space) and use it liberally. Where the files are stored can be pretty incidental, especially if you get into all the labelling capabilities they've added recently. If you're using a Mac and not using Spotlight in my opinion you're doing it wrong.
 

luckiestman

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Man, excel sucks on Mac. I don't get why. I guess I could dual boot Windows, maybe that would work but then what is the point.
 

HriniakPosterChild

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As a PC guy, what's going to drive me crazy about switching to a Mac? For one, I'm fairly adept with keyboard shortcut commands in Windows. Am I going to lose my mind?
I used Windows (as a dev target platform at least) since v1.04. I started using a Mac for work 4 years ago and bought one for myself when I retired about 2 years ago.

What I still cannot internalize in the base of my spine (where keyboard commands originate) is that Mac OS cares about the app ownership of windows. On Windows, I Alt-tab through all top level windows without giving a shit about who owns what. On Mac, I have to Splat-tab through apps and splat-quote through the the Windows owned by that app. If I don't have that right by now, it's never coming.

It's never changing, I'm never getting it right, and it's not a deal breaker.
 

luckiestman

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I find the latest Excel for the Mac quite good -- what issues are you having with it?
unless something changed, the keyboard shortcuts are not the same and that is the killer right there. The data analysis tool is not available. I have a new Macbook pro (issued to me). It is a sweet machine except for these Office Suite shortcomings. Also, having to hit fn delete is bullshit.
 

Rovin Romine

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Try Outlook.

Shudder
Oh yes. I forgot to say that I don't use Outlook. Given that I have an iphone, the regular apple Mail/Contacts/Calendar aps are fine and sync up way more easily than Outlook. I don't even think about Outlook anymore. I really just use Office for Word and some Excel.
 

Gdiguy

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As I mentioned above, just use Virtualbox. No need to ever dual boot.
I use Parallels, but same comment - Windows in Parallels on my Mac is the best PC laptop I've ever owned. I've had the same issue with Excel on Mac, and decided to just install it in Windows instead - other than adding an extra 20 seconds to 'boot', it works totally fine (with a short learning curve of how the Windows shortcuts are encoded in Mac keys)

I'd say I'm a particularly good use case (I do a lot of scripting on our lab servers in terminal, which is obviously easier to deal with than Cygwin or PuTTy terminals on windows), but my overall experience matches what's already been said - doing simple stuff is much easier, but once you get into specific things you want to do it becomes a bit of a crapshoot as to whether it's within what Apple 'thinks' you should want to do... for example, doing backups they way they want you to (via Time Machine) is very easy, but trying to manually back up an iPhotos library is a horrific pain.
 

The_Powa_of_Seiji_Ozawa

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I have the same frustration with the lack of a forward delete key. So I downloaded a free program called Karabiner, which is an easy to use keyboard remapper with many popular switches you can choose from or you can make your own remappings. So I selected the option that turns the backslash key into the desired delete key and haven't looked back. You can still use the backslash in this setup by hitting fn-backslash, which is fine by me since i used the forward delete key way more often.
 

johnmd20

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I love my Mac laptops. If you're switching, it might not be a bad idea to sign up for a year of one to one service. That is what I did, I took 3 hour long "courses" and I got the whole computer down. It was pretty solid, I learned so much, nothing was left to change.

That said, I will wholeheartedly echo the comments about photo storage. I keep all my photos sorted by year, and then in individual folders. You really can't do that on Mac, so I always will need a windows computer in my home. Not a big deal, I like playing around with both styles, but I really am not sure what Apple's goal is with regards to photo libraries.
 

crystalline

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That said, I will wholeheartedly echo the comments about photo storage. I keep all my photos sorted by year, and then in individual folders. You really can't do that on Mac, so I always will need a windows computer in my home. Not a big deal, I like playing around with both styles, but I really am not sure what Apple's goal is with regards to photo libraries.
I use Picasa on a Mac to import and manage photos in folders arranged by date. It works great. The Picasa UI is suboptimal but it's better than keeping a windows PC. I use Lightroom to edit and enhance the photos.
 

mt8thsw9th

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I have the same frustration with the lack of a forward delete key. So I downloaded a free program called Karabiner, which is an easy to use keyboard remapper with many popular switches you can choose from or you can make your own remappings. So I selected the option that turns the backslash key into the desired delete key and haven't looked back. You can still use the backslash in this setup by hitting fn-backslash, which is fine by me since i used the forward delete key way more often.
Why don't you just use fn-backspace?

And if you do just want one click, why wouldn't you change backspace to "forward delete", and fn-backspace to "backwards"? I suppose you're using the latter more, but seems like unneeded muscle memory if you're using someone else's setup, for example.
 

Orange Julia

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My current work around regarding some pics is to upload via Dropbox from my phone (Camera uploads) and from SD card in my various cameras and then use them up past to facebook, send in emails. Very inelegant and sometimes hard to find things from a few months ago. If it's surprising to me that there isn't a better interface for pics in the Mac side... I have yet to figure out how to access pictures on my iPad air except via Dropbox... I guess I could use iCloud?
 

gtmtnbiker

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Apple's media management continues to be the biggest source of frustration for me as well. Apple works hard to commit you to iTunes/iPhoto and makes it a challenge to simply drag/drop from source folders to external devices. It can be done but it's just not as simple as PC. I tried to continue to manage my photos outside of iPhoto for a while but eventually succumbed.
Over the weekend, I was helping my sister-in-law put some movie clips on her iPad. She has a MacBook Pro. So I selected a bunch of them from my thumb drive and dragged them to ITunes but it actually opened a bunch of movie players instead. I kept struggling with this and finally gave up and just did it one at a time. Not sure why it's so hard. I also can't stand iTunes philosophy of having an iOS device sync with only one library.
 

B H Kim

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My current work around regarding some pics is to upload via Dropbox from my phone (Camera uploads) and from SD card in my various cameras and then use them up past to facebook, send in emails. Very inelegant and sometimes hard to find things from a few months ago. If it's surprising to me that there isn't a better interface for pics in the Mac side... I have yet to figure out how to access pictures on my iPad air except via Dropbox... I guess I could use iCloud?
I have been very happy with the Photos app and iCloud photo storage. It syncs all photos on my iPhone, iPad and Mac into a single photo library accessible on all devices. The only drawback is that Apple charges considerably more for iCloud storage than other cloud storage services (I pay $10/month for 1 TB), but I'm willing to pay a little extra for the convenience.
 

Orange Julia

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That reminds me. I have a bunch of DVD movies and I'd like to put a few on my iPad Air 2--is it relatively impossible? I can rip them to one of the desktop machines first but then what?
 

NortheasternPJ

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Try Outlook.

Shudder
Outlook 2016 is great. All previous versions are a horror show.

My three issues are lack of WebEx integration, lack of Evault integration and lack of OneNote integration. OneNote blows on a Mac anyways though which is a shame.

Other than that I find it on par with PC Outlook. I get about 300 emails a day and 100% rely on my outlook calendar to function on a daily basis. I switched at work from Outlook 2013 on a PC to Mac 2016 and I'd never go back.
 

HriniakPosterChild

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That reminds me. I have a bunch of DVD movies and I'd like to put a few on my iPad Air 2--is it relatively impossible? I can rip them to one of the desktop machines first but then what?
Commercial DVDs with encryption, or home made DVDs?

It's very possible if you can get unencrypted ISOs for them. You can mount the ISOs and point the builtin DVD player at the virtual drive, but it has been a long time since I worked through the mechanics.
 

HriniakPosterChild

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Outlook 2016 is great. All previous versions are a horror show.

My three issues are lack of WebEx integration, lack of Evault integration and lack of OneNote integration. OneNote blows on a Mac anyways though which is a shame.

Other than that I find it on par with PC Outlook. I get about 300 emails a day and 100% rely on my outlook calendar to function on a daily basis. I switched at work from Outlook 2013 on a PC to Mac 2016 and I'd never go back.
Are you on an Exchange server, or using iCloud as your calendar? The latter is not great, IMO.
 

Orange Julia

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Commercial DVDs with encryption, or home made DVDs?

It's very possible if you can get unencrypted ISOs for them. You can mount the ISOs and point the builtin DVD player at the virtual drive, but it has been a long time since I worked through the mechanics.
Commercial dvds...
 

Rancho Relaxo

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I just wanted to thank everyone for weighing in. It's been very helpful. Thanks to the holidays, I haven't had much time to monkey around with my new machine, but a few tiny observations:

1. The battery life is pretty damn amazing.
2. The only accessories I have right now are a 2TB removable hard drive and a microphone preamp for recording. I haven't really had a chance to use either.
3. I just purchased MS Office (for $10, thanks to the home-use program through my employer). Word looks very clean and easy to use. I haven't tried Excel or PowerPoint, and I'm not sure about Outlook. I kind of want to keep as much stuff in the cloud as possible.
4. The biggest thing so far is just getting used to the little things I took for granted. Things like installing programs and shortcut keys built up after years and years of use. It's just kind of jarring, after being so self-sufficient in the PC world. It's compounded by switching back and forth between the Mac and PC (I have an HP laptop for work).

Again, thanks. Plenty of great information here if I get stuck, though whenever my girlfriend found me checking in here, she would roll her eyes and tell me she wished I wouldn't keep researching ways of turning the Mac into a PC.

I'm going to stick it out.
 

Orange Julia

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I'm traveling with my android phone and macbookpro, and I want to move some music files from my mac to my phone but it seems to be impossible. I downloaded the android file transfer and it opens up the location of my music on my phone but I cannot physically transfer files over. Is that an iTunes thing or a mac thing or what? It is really frustrating. I even tried to move music into my dropbox folder and then would move it on my phone from the dropbox to my SD card where the music lives but no dice.
 

B H Kim

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I'm traveling with my android phone and macbookpro, and I want to move some music files from my mac to my phone but it seems to be impossible. I downloaded the android file transfer and it opens up the location of my music on my phone but I cannot physically transfer files over. Is that an iTunes thing or a mac thing or what? It is really frustrating. I even tried to move music into my dropbox folder and then would move it on my phone from the dropbox to my SD card where the music lives but no dice.
If you're a Prime member, you can upload music files using the Amazon Music Mac application and then download them on your phone using the Amazon Music app.
 

B H Kim

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That seems overly fussy. Whatever the hell happened to USB + Drag n Drop?
I agree that it's a cumbersome process just to move a few mp3s, but the broader benefit is that you can stream anything you upload. I uploaded my entire iTunes library (including a lot of stuff I bought elsewhere or ripped from CDs) to Amazon and all of it is available to stream on my phone/iPad/etc.
 

Orange Julia

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I just worry that at some point music not bought at Amazon will somehow be locked out of that process, never to get it back again.. I am also on hotel WiFi which is about as slow as molasses on a cold day. I also like to use my phone as a standalone media player, because I'm not always connected to a network that allows me to stream things.

My problem with using the android file transfer that soxhop references about is that I get it all ready to drag and drop folders from the music folder (not from iTunes, but I cannot physically move anything. I didn't try to move individual files over (like single mp3s from a whole album) though, because I just got too frustrated. It isn't a huge deal because I can easily transfer music to my phone from one of my PC laptops/desktops when I get home in a week, but I am surprised that it is not at all simple to do what Mac has always done easily--drag and drop, coupled with the USB... Not sure why my computer doesn't recognize it as a drive--if not the phone proper than at least the SD card in the phone (and no, i don't have a micro SD adaptor, otherwise I'd just pop it in and move the music onto it)
 

LondonSox

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I was moving in this direction a while back, when I moved back to the US I was like ok time to switch.
Then I learnt some very unpleasant things about apple and have actually switched to Android (bar my work phone which is provided) and back to PC 100%.

Essentially if you travel a lot, or are very likely to move regions (eg US to Europe or Asia etc) apple is (or perhaps was) the devil.

I move from the UK to the US, so I had UK itunes/ app store etc photos etc. My wife is American she has a US itunes, apps, photos etc. One would overwrite the other, you couldn't have both on the main computer, and synching any item would attempt to overwrite and wipe the old version.
I called I went in, I asked about emigrating my account to US. What could we do. Nothing. You don't OWN anything with apple, the music, the videos, the apps. Nothing. I was told I'd have to create a new Us account, REBUY everything again and THEN it would be ok to be able to have my wife and my photos on the same home computer. This was on top of course of more expensive equipment.

This was so insane and ridiculous I moved away entirely. But expensive surfaces aside I'm not sure PCs are going anywhere. I recently replaced my laptop and I wanted a cheaper one - but actually one that was in some ways worse (a lot of non separate graphics cards in quite expensive PC laptops now) was very similar price to my old (abused) fully game capable one. When I return to the US again in a year or two (fingers crossed) I'll face the same decisions again. So I'm going to follow your migration and see hyow you feel in a couple years.
 

PimperlTrazom

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FWIW, I remember reading concerns about transferring music to non-IOS devices due to iTunes. Downloaded Double-Twist and can just drag & drop music from iTunes to android device.

I switched 7 years ago to Mac and can honestly say I can never go back. Go nuts helping my older cousin with her PC issues and it's frustrating as all get-out dealing with it, despite having been on a PC myself for so many years before.

(OT) Since the Sandbox is no longer active, just wanted to post something to thank this community. Despite not being a Sox Fan, have lurked here often for especially the great post-season discussions and insights, as well as, any big news happening in baseball (or anywhere, really). LOVED how you guys were so objective and even unbiased about the Mets (despite '86), too. I was rooting for them big-time. My favorite Phillies' forums weren't even worth checking due to all the met-hate, and favorite Yankees' forum gets taken over by trollish goofs who the members keep answering (but I digress:>). Anyways, thanks.
 

JimBoSox9

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Anyone making the switch needs to install the free CheatSheet application. Just hold down Command for a few seconds, and it will open an overlay showing you all the available hotkeys for the program you're in.
 

PimperlTrazom

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Well that went over my head. While I am kinda hurting/immobile right now, have not been at all mean or catty in the Pete Rose thread, I don't think (unless you're Fay Vincent, of course). :)
 

Rancho Relaxo

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I'm not sure if this has been answered or not, but is there a simple way to pull files off an Android phone and drop them on my MacBook HD via USB? I have a number of video files I'd like to upload to a shared Dropbox, but they're super huge and somewhat easier to upload from the MacBook (assuming I can them there, that is).