From Windows to a Mac: A guide
Writer: Edwin Yap
Published: Fri, 04 May 2012
Last month, I dealt with the subject of PCs versus Macs, including some of the pros and cons of selecting one over the other. This month, we discuss some practical tips on how you move from the PC to the Mac, assuming you’ve decided to try doing so.
PC users adopting the Mac often fear that their unfamiliarity with the Mac OS will cause them to be confused and unable to do things with the Mac. In truth, many of the functions are similar with Windows although the OS are completely different by design.
For instance, on a Windows PC, you’ll have your Explorer programme used to manage your files, while on a Mac you’ll have your Finder programme which acts pretty similarly to your Explorer. Even the famous “Alt-Tab” buttons, used to switch programmes on your PC works the same on the Mac. And there is even the “right-click” button on the mouse or touchpad; it’s just activated in a different way.
There are of course some minor differences on the Mac; for example, the Mac keyboard does not have a “page up/down” button. Instead you use the “Function” key together with the arrow keys to move between pages. Also, if you do use your Mac to connect to a LCD projector, you’ll have to buy an adapter as the Mac VGA port is not a standard connection. But these are minor issues.
Porting data over
Amongst the first things you’ll want to do after getting your Mac is to transfer your data over. While the Mac is based on a different OS, it will read all types of common files you’ve stored on your PC.
There are a few ways to move your data from your PC to the Mac, depending on how much data you need to shift. If you’re only transferring say office productivity files such as Microsoft documents, spreadsheets and powerpoint files that are less than four or eight gigabytes (GB) in total, try using a pen drive.
If you have more to transfer, one good option is to buy yourself an external hard drive. Doing so will be a good investment as I would recommend that you get a back up drive for your Mac anyway after you’ve shifted your files over. External hard drives are inexpensive and range between RM250 to RM500, for sizes between 500GB and 1,000GB (1Terabyte).
Transferring files between your PC and external hard drive is a breeze; just plug in the USB2.0 cable and drag all the files you need into the drive. After that, disconnect from the PC, plug into the Mac and drag the files over the Mac.
If you don’t have too many e-mail to move, try forwarding them to a free web-based e-mail provider like Google or Yahoo and configure your Apple Mail to that account so you can download them from the web.
If, however, you have hundreds of email stored on Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express, there are several steps you’ll have to take to get your e-mail over to Apple Mail. Apple has a support site to help you with this.
Software for Mac
Once you’ve moved all your data to the Mac, you’ll be able to use all the bundled software on your Mac. For calendaring functions, there’s iCal; music, iTunes; email, Apple Mail; browser, Safari; photos, iPhoto; movies, iMovies and Quicktime.
Contrary to popular belief, there is a wide variety of software you can download for use with your Mac as you would with your PC. Some are free while others you pay for.
Examples of free software available are Firefox browser, Thunderbird e-mail client, Skype Internet telephony, Adobe Reader, and Adium, a programme that amalgamates all instant messaging software such as Yahoo IM, MSN, and Google Talk and Facebook chats.
Some examples of commercial software are Microsoft Office Student/Small Office Edition or an Adobe Photoshop equivalent called Acorn. There are literally hundreds of software that’s available over the Apple website or other third party websites. Not all of them will suit you but you won’t be short of choices after moving to a Mac.
If you find that you can’t get away from Windows, the beauty of the Mac is that you can load Windows on it too. This is a feature in the Mac known as Boot Camp. Basically, Boot Camp allows you to have a choice of loading Mac OS or Windows when you start your machine.
If you have some spare cash, you can opt for software that allows you to not only load Windows on your Mac, but to do it on-the-fly i.e. switch from Windows to Mac and back without shutting down the machine. There are two applications in the market designed specially for this; Parallels Desktop for Mac or VM Ware. Both software allow for free trials before buying. I find the product quite satisfactory, having tried it myself.