Switching to a Mac For Dummies


by Arnold Reinhold




About the Author

Arnold Reinhold has over three decades experience in the software industry. His first Apple product was a Mac 512. Arnold helped found Automatix, Inc., a pioneer in robotics and machine vision, and is coauthor of The Internet for Dummies Quick Reference, E-mail For Dummies and Mac mini Hacks & Mods For Dummies. He developed and maintains diceware.com, widely regarded as the “gold standard” in password security, and mathinthemovies.com.

Arnold studied mathematics at City College of New York and MIT, and management at Harvard Business School. You can check out his home page at hayom.com/reinhold.html.


To Max and Grete who put me here, and Josh who keeps me going. B’’H.


Author’s Acknowledgments

Thanks to Barbara Model, Carol Baroudi, Barbara Lapinskas, and Erica Rome for their help and suggestions. And thanks to the folks at Apple computer and their loyal customers who keep alive a dream that personal computers are not just utilitarian machines but can be tools that empower and inspire us.


Publisher’s Acknowledgments

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Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

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Composition Services

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Anniversary Logo Design: Richard Pacifico

Special Help: Virginia Sanders

Publishing and Editorial for Technology Dummies

Richard Swadley, Vice President and Executive Group Publisher

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher

Mary Bednarek, Executive Acquisitions Director

Mary C. Corder, Editorial Director

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Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher

Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director

Composition Services

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Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services




About This Book

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Typographic Conventions

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I : Informed Switching Starts Here

Chapter 1: Why Switch? Demystifying the Mac Mantra

Be Happy You Waited

Take Your Best Shot

Considering All Aspects — Advantage Apple

Switching Sides

Chapter 2: Meet the Mac Family

Checking Out the Common Features

Connecting on the Go with Your Apple Laptop

Starting Small — the Mac mini

Getting It All in One Box: The iMac

Maxing Out with a Mac

Getting the Right Graphics Processor

Adding On and Filling In

Chapter 3: Deciding What to Buy

Selecting a Conversion Strategy

Figuring Out What’s on Your Windows Computer

Navigating from PC to Mac Ports

Using Your Old Equipment with a Mac

Getting Ready to Buy

Shopping for Your New Mac

Part II : Making the Switch

Chapter 4: The Big Day: Setting Up Your Mac

Unpacking and Setting Up

Configuring Your New Mac

Chapter 5: Mac OS X for Windows Users

PC and Mac: We Have a Lot in Common

Adjusting to the Differences

May I See the Menu, Please?

Filing Away in OS X

The Finder Is Your Friend

Enjoying the Difference

Chapter 6: Moving Files from Your PC to the Mac

Backing Up and Movin’ On

Recovering Data from a Damaged PC

Dealing with Common File Types

Purging Your Files before Disposal

Chapter 7: Switching Applications

Processing Those Words and Numbers

Accessing Databases

Finding Graphics, Design, and Personal Finance Programs

Replacing Specialized Programs

Adding Functionality as You Need It

Part III : Connecting Hither and Yon

Chapter 9: Networking the Mac Way

Getting Wired with Ethernet

Networking Wirelessly

Getting Personal with Bluetooth

Networking in Other Ways

Sharing Files over Your Network

Chapter 10: Staying Secure in a Connected World

What Makes a Mac More Secure?

Protecting Yourself with Passwords

Hardening OS X

Removing Data from an Old Mac

Part IV : More Software, More Choices

Chapter 11: The Sweet iLife Suite

Easy Listening with iTunes

Picturing iPhoto

Directing Your Own Epic with iMovie

Burning Movies with iDVD

Composing Using GarageBand

Homing In on iWeb

Chapter 12: Enjoying Other OS X Goodies

Adding Handy Widgets to the Dashboard

Controlling Windows Fast with Exposé

Organizing Work Areas with Spaces

Searching for Files with Spotlight

Automator and AppleScript

Chapter 13: Oops, It’s a PC: Running Windows on Your Mac

Pulling the Rabbit Out of the Hat

Getting Started with BootCamp

Virtualize Me

Imitation, the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Emulation — the Other White Meat

Part V : Specialty Switching Scenarios

Chapter 14: Switching with the Whole Family in Mind

Macs for Kids

Macs for Seniors

Setting Up Your Mac for Specific Needs

Chapter 15: Switching Your Business to Macs

Why Use Macs in Your Business?

Macs in Small Businesses

Macs in Mid-Size Businesses

Macs for the Enterprise

Chapter 16: Converting from OS 9 and Other Operating Systems

Switching from Mac OS 9 and Earlier

Reclaiming Relics

Chapter 17: Desktop to Dashcode: OS X Advanced

Peeking at the File System Structure

Commanding UNIX

Developing Software on a Mac

Part VI : The Part of Tens

Chapter 18: Ten Terrific Troubleshooting Tips

First Things First

Spinning Beach Ball

Rebooting a Hung Mac

Reconnecting to the Internet

Printing Problems

Resetting Passwords

Ejecting CDs, DVDs, and Flash Drives

Weird Noises

Running Out of Disk Space

Keeping Your Mac Safe and in Tip-Top Shape

Finding Help

Chapter 19: Ten Cool Mac Tricks

iChat AV: The Next Best Thing to Being There

Podcasting with GarageBand

Building an HD Home Theater

Automating Your Home

Putting a mini in Your Car or RV

Living the Paperless Portable Life

Making a Photo Book

Producing a Movie for YouTube

Curing Cancer

Building a Supercomputer

Switching a Friend to a Mac

Chapter 20: Ten Creative Uses for Your Old PC

Sell It on Craigslist

Load Linux on It

Give It to Charity

Use It as a Pedestal

Have Your Kids Take It Apart

Enjoy It as Art

Use It for Target Practice

Disconnect from the Internet

Keep It for Old Media

Use It as a Picture Frame

Recycle It Safely

Mac Speak versus Windows Speak: A Translation Glossary


Maybe you love your iPod or iPhone and are curious about other Apple products. Maybe you’ve had one virus scare too many and are fed up with Windows. Maybe the daunting prospect of upgrading to Vista has made you open to other possibilities. Maybe you are a Mac fan who wants to show some friend how easy and productive Macs can be. Wherever you are coming from, I hope you find this book meets your needs.

Apple Incorporated of Cupertino, California, is over 30 years old, and few brands in the history of business generate such fierce customer loyalty as Apple and its Macintosh line of personal computers. That loyalty runs both ways. Apple knows that the people who decide to buy its products, for the most part, are the ones who actually have to use them. Offering systems that satisfy and even delight its users is a matter of survival for Apple.

Many of the virtues of the Macintosh are a matter of taste: the easy-to-use graphical interface, the elegant industrial design, and the integrated suite of software. But one virtue is a simple matter of fact: In recent years, when Windows users endured wave after wave of computer viruses, worms, spyware, and other evil software, Mac users were completely immune. ’Nuff said.

About This Book

Macintosh computers and the OS X operating system have more in common with Windows than all the hoopla would suggest. Still there are differences, big and little, that can cause problems for the unaware.

In this book, you find helpful guides for every aspect of your switch, from deciding that you do in fact want to switch to Macs, to making buying decisions, to setting everything up. You even find suggestions for what to do with your old PC.

Much of this book looks at switching to a Mac from a Windows user’s perspective, but most any new Mac user can find help. You find out the best way to transfer your things from Windows to a Mac, as well as tips on how to do common Windows tasks the Mac way. But users of Linux and older Mac operating systems who want some perspective on switching to OS X can also find assistance in this book, especially in Chapter 16, which was written especially with these users in mind. Similarly, I address the needs of both home and business users who are making or considering a switch.

If you have already decided to buy a Mac, you can skip the first chapter. If you have already bought one, start with the second part of the book.

Of course, you may read this book from cover to cover, if you’re that kind of person, but I try to keep chapters self-contained so that you can go straight to the topics that interest you most. Wherever you start, I wish you and your new Mac well.

Foolish Assumptions

Try as I may to be all things to all people, when it comes to writing a book, I had to pick who I thought would be most interested in Switching to a Mac For Dummies. Here’s who I think you are:

bullet You’re smart. You’re no dummy. Yet the prospect of switching to a new computer platform gives you an uneasy feeling (which proves you’re smart).

bullet You own a personal computer based on an operating system different than Apple’s OS X. This book is mostly aimed at Windows XP users, but I think it will be helpful to users of Windows Vista, older Windows editions, DOS, and Linux, and even owners of older Macs.

bullet You are considering buying or have bought an Apple Macintosh computer. You want to transition to your new computer expeditiously. I suggest straightforward methods and don’t attempt to cover every possible approach.

bullet Alternatively, you’re a Mac user who knows OS X well but wants a resource to give (okay, even lend) to friends who are considering abandoning the dark side. What a good friend you are.

bullet You have used the Internet and know about browsers, such as Internet Explorer, and search engines, such as Google. (If not, I recommend picking up a current edition of The Internet For Dummies, by John R. Levine, Margaret Levine Young, and Carol Baroudi.) I do cover getting your own Internet connection in case you are not hooked up at the moment or it’s time to update your service.

bullet You are looking to buy a new Macintosh (one based on microprocessors from Intel Corp.) rather than the older PowerPC or 68K models. While I briefly discuss the used market, this book primarily addresses the Intel Macs, which are all that Apple sells these days.

Whoever you are, welcome aboard. I think this book can help you.

How This Book Is Organized

I divide this book into the following highly logical (to me) parts. Each is self-contained for the most part. Feel free to skip about.

Part I: Informed Switching Starts Here: In this part, I explain why the Apple Macintosh is such a big deal and why you should consider getting one. I also introduce you to the Apple product line and present a few different approaches to conversion (no dunking in water involved).

Part II: Making the Switch: I help you decide what to buy and what you can reuse from your old setup. Then, I hold your hand as you make the big leap, moving your computing life to a Mac. OS X is a little different from Windows. I tell you what you most need to know to get started.

Part III: Connecting Hither and Yon: Macs are to networking what ducks are to swimming. It comes naturally, but there are a few tricks. We cover what you need to do to get your Mac online and talking to any other computers you have, including that old PC.

Part IV: More Software, More Choices: Your Mac comes with a ton of preloaded software (0.907 metric tons). And you can buy — or even download for free — a lot more. Windows advocates complain that little software is available for the Mac, but so much is out there that I could write several books. And, yes, lots of cool games are available.

Part V: Specialty Switching Scenarios: Kids, seniors, and businesses all have a lot to gain from the Mac way of doing things. I also talk about converting from other operating systems and dive a bit deeper into OS X.

Part VI: The Part of Tens: If you’ve read other For Dummies books, you’re no doubt familiar with The Part of Tens, entertaining lists containing ten (more or less) elucidating elements. They’re fun to write; I hope they’re fun to read.

And more!: In addition to all this, I’ve included a glossary in the back of this book and a Cheat Sheet in the front. The Mac world talks with a vocabulary all its own, and you may encounter other technical terms on your switching journey (everything is a journey these days). I think you’ll be happy to have this glossary of words and definitions on your bookshelf.

Typographic Conventions

For the most part, stuff you need to do on a Mac is graphical, but from time to time, I may ask you to type something. If it’s short, it appears in boldface, like this: type elm. When I want you to type something longer, it appears like this:

terribly important text command

Be sure to type it just as it appears. Then press the Enter or Return key. Capitalization usually doesn’t matter on a Mac. But OS X is based on UNIX (as I discuss in Chapter 17), and UNIX considers the uppercase and lowercase versions of the same letter to be totally different beasts.

In the text, Web addresses are shown in this typeface: www.ditchmypc.com. I leave out the geeky http:// part, which Mac browsers don’t need you to type in anyway.

Apple keyboards have a special key with an Apple logo (Ú) and a fan-shaped squiggle that looks like this: Ô. It has various nicknames — Apple key, fan key, propeller key — but I use its formal name, the Command key, in the text.

Icons Used in This Book

A little tidbit that can save you time or money, or make life a little easier. “Avoid jackrabbit starts to save gas.”

Pay attention. Trouble lurks here. “Never open the radiator cap on a hot engine.”

These are words of wisdom to keep in mind that could save your derriere in the future. “Have your car battery checked before each winter.”

Macs keep the gears and pulleys pretty well hidden. This is under-the-hood stuff for the technically inclined; the rest of you can skip it.

Where to Go from Here

Hey, it’s a Mac. You’re set. If you do have problems not covered here, lots of resources are available to help you (see Chapter 18). You can also visit my Web site, www.ditchmypc.com. I’d be happy to hear from you directly at switchtomac@ditchmypc.com, and would love to know what you think of this book and how it could be improved, but I cannot promise individual advice.

Meanwhile, use your new Mac to build a Web site, create a business, solve the world hunger problem, write the great novel of the twenty-first century, produce your first feature film, meet some cool people, or just have fun. After all, the rest of your computing life has just begun.

Part I

Informed Switching Starts Here

In this part . . .

Perhaps you are fed up with Windows and are ready to try something different, or maybe you’re a happy Microsoft user who is curious to read what silly justifications someone might come up with for switching to a Mac. In this part, I suggest some reasons I find compelling and address common objections. Then, I introduce you to the Mac family and help you figure out what to buy when you’re ready to take the plunge.