Switching to a Mac® For Dummies®

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Table of Contents

Switching to a Mac® For Dummies®



About the Author

Arnold Reinhold has more than three decades of 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, Green IT For Dummies, and Mac mini Hacks & Mods For Dummies. He developed and maintains, widely regarded as the gold standard in password security, and The Math in the Movies Page ().

Arnold studied mathematics at City College of New York and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and management at Harvard Business School. You can check out his home page at


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

Author’s Acknowledgments

Thanks to Barbara Model, Josh Reinhold, Carol Baroudi, and Barbara Lapinskas for their help and suggestions and to Rebecca, Kathy, and Dennis at Wiley for numerous corrections and suggestions that improved this book. Also, thanks to the folks at Apple and their loyal customers, who keep alive the dream that personal computers, cellphones, and music players can be not just utilitarian machines but also tools that empower and inspire us.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments at . For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

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Maybe you love your iPad, iPhone, or iPod and are curious about Apple’s Macintosh computers. Maybe you’ve had one virus scare too many and are fed up with Windows. Maybe the daunting prospect of upgrading to Windows 7 has made you open to other possibilities. Maybe you’re a Mac fan who wants to help a friend discover how easy and productive Macs can be. Wherever you’re coming from, I hope you find that this book meets your needs.

Apple, Inc., of Cupertino, California, is more than 35 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 are, for the most part, the ones who have to use them. Offering products that satisfy and even delight its users is a matter of survival for Apple.

Many virtues of the Macintosh are a matter of taste: its easy-to-use graphical interface, its elegant industrial design, and its 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, botnets, and other types of evil software, Mac users were essentially 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, differences exist, big and little, that can cause problems for newcomers to the Mac.

In this book, you find helpful guides for every aspect of your switch, from deciding that you do in fact want to switch to a Mac, to making buying decisions, to setting up everything. You also find help getting started with all the cool software that comes with your Mac, including iPhoto for organizing your snapshots and iMovie and GarageBand for making your own media extravaganzas. I tell you how to use your Mac with other Apple products you may own, such as the iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Apple TV. You even find suggestions, responsible and irresponsible, for what to do with your old PC.

This book looks at switching to a Mac from a Windows user’s perspective. You find out the best way to transfer your information from Windows to a Mac, as well as tips on how to do common Windows tasks the Mac way. But most any new Mac user can find help here. I also address the needs of both home and business users who are making or considering a switch. And if you have an older Mac and want to move stuff on it to OS X, check out the bonus chapter available on this book’s web page: .

OS X often provides more than one way to accomplish a task. I try to describe one straightforward method for each task, perhaps with a keyboard shortcut, rather than confuse you with lots of options.

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

You can read this book from cover to cover if you’re that kind of person, of course, 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:

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

check.png You own a personal computer based on an operating system different from Apple OS X. This book is aimed mostly at Windows XP users, but I think it will be helpful to users of Windows 7, Windows Vista, and even older Windows editions.

check.png You’re 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 solution.

check.png 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.

check.png You’ve used the Internet and know about browsers (such as Internet Explorer) and search engines (such as Google). I briefly cover getting your own Internet connection in case you’re not hooked up at the moment or it’s time to update your service.

check.png You’re looking to buy a new machine. This book addresses only the Intel Macs (ones based on microprocessors from Intel Corp.), which are all Apple has sold since 2006. It also focuses on the Lion version of the Macintosh operating system, OS X, which comes with new Macs and the iLife ’11 application suite.

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 around.

In Part I, “Informed Switching Starts Here,” I explain why the Apple Macintosh is a big deal and why you should consider buying 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,” helps you decide what to buy and find 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,” tells you that Macs are to networking what ducks are to swimming: It comes naturally, but a few tricks are involved. I describe what you need to do to get your Mac online and talking to any other computers you have, including that old PC, as well as your iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Apple TV.

In Part IV, “More Software, More Choices,” you find out that your Mac is supplied with a ton (0.907 metric ton) of preloaded software, and you can buy — or even download for free — a lot more, especially from Apple’s Mac App Store. Windows advocates complain that little software is available for the Mac, but so much is out there that I could write several books about Mac software. And yes, lots of cool games are available, too.

Kids, people with special needs, and businesses all have a lot to gain from the Mac way of doing things. In Part V, “Specialty Switching Scenarios,” I dive a bit deeper into OS X.

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

There’s more! In addition to providing all these elements, I’ve included a glossary in the back. The Mac world uses 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 guide to Mac jargon on your bookshelf. There’s also a Cheat Sheet listing common commands and shortcuts (found at ) and a bonus chapter that’s aimed at helping people still using old, pre-OS X versions of the Mac operating system (found at ).

Typographic Conventions

For the most part, stuff that 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 the line 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 19), 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: . I leave out the geeky http:// part, which Mac browsers don’t need you to type, anyway.

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

You also see the Apple logo (macapple) in menu commands. It refers to the Apple menu, headed by that symbol, in the top-left corner of your screen.

Icons Used in This Book

tip.eps A tip is a little tidbit that can save you time or money or make life a little easier. (“Avoid jackrabbit starts to save gas.”)

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

remember.eps Keep these words of wisdom in mind, and save your derriere in the future. (“Have your car battery checked before each winter.”)

technicalstuff.eps Macs keep the gears and pulleys pretty well hidden. This icon marks under-the-hood stuff for the technically inclined; if that’s not you, you can skip it. (“Regenerative braking converts your hybrid’s kinetic energy back to electricity.”)

Where to Go from Here

Hey, it’s a Mac. You’re set. If you have problems not covered in this book, lots of resources are available online to help you. You can visit my website: . I’d be happy to hear from you directly at . I’d love to know what you think of this book and how it can be improved, but I can’t promise individual advice.

Meanwhile, use your new Mac to build a Facebook page, create a business, solve the world hunger problem, write the great novel of the 21st 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.

Occasionally, technology books require updates due to changes in hardware or software. If this book does have any technical updates, you can find them at .

Please note that some special symbols used in this eBook may not display properly on all eReader devices. If you have trouble determining any symbol, please call Wiley Product Technical Support at 800-762-2974. Outside of the United States, please call 317-572-3993. You can also contact Wiley Product Technical Support at .

Part I

Informed Switching Starts Here


In this part . . .

Perhaps you’re fed up with Windows and are ready to try something different or maybe you’re a happy Microsoft user who’s curious to read what silly justifications I come up with for switching to a Mac. In this part, I suggest some reasons for switching that 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.

Chapter 1

Why Switch? Demystifying the Mac Mantra

In This Chapter

arrow Why switch?

arrow Overcoming objections

arrow Advantage Apple

arrow It’s okay to switch

Apple Macintosh computers aren’t perfect. They can’t cure bad breath, save your marriage, or fix a bad hair day. Talk to enough Mac owners, and you’ll find one who thinks he got a lemon and wasn’t satisfied with Apple’s service. You can probably find a cheaper computer that will do what you really need. The majority of computer users get by using Microsoft Windows, and you can, too.

So why even think about switching? Macs offer a far better experience, that’s why. Value matters in tight economic times. In big ways, such as security and industrial design, and in countless little details, Apple makes the extra effort to get things right — right for the user, not for some corporate purchasing department. For those of us who spend a good part of our lives in front of a video display, those easier-to-use controls, well-thought-out software choices, and better hardware fit and finish all add up to create a tool that lets us do what we want and doesn’t get in our way. For more casual users, the simpler Mac design means less head-scratching while you figure out how to perform that task.

Life is too short for Windows aggravation. Computers are now integral parts of our lives: We use them for work, for play, and for communication; we use them to find mates, to shop, to express ourselves, to educate our children, and to manage our money. They help us fix our homes, cure our diseases, and make new friends. No one has time to fuss over them, fix crashes, fight viruses, clean out hard drives, figure out why the printer won’t work, reload the software, or press Ctrl+Alt+Delete. We need computers to be there when we want them. For the most part, Macs are there when we need them. Macs just work.

Microsoft isn’t run by a bunch of idiots. The company is managed by some very smart people, and it hires top-notch engineers. Just getting a product as complex as Windows out the door takes extraordinary talent. But Windows is designed for corporations. A Microsoft engineer revealed in his blog that one of the company’s corporate users had 9,000 programs for Windows. The user simply couldn’t afford to update them for new releases. Microsoft Windows has to support all the old software that’s out there. Apple is better able to let go of the past and therefore is more nimble in developing new ways to make your life easier.

Apple sees its mission as harnessing the rapid advances in computing hardware to create revolutionary new products that improve our lives. The Macintosh, the iPad, and the iPhone are all filled with groundbreaking innovations. They’re cool to look at and to own. Why buy boring?

Taking Your Best Shot

The question of which is a better personal computer — a Macintosh or a Windows PC — provokes passion matched by few other controversies. Were the world less civilized, Apple fans would long since have been burned at the stake by the more numerous Windows users who are fed up with hearing how great Macs are. Instead, the debate rages over claims that Macs aren’t suitable choices because they’re too this or can’t do that. The following sections outline the principal objections.

“Macs are too expensive”

These days, every dollar counts. At this writing, you can buy a new Windows computer for as little as $300. Netbooks sell for even less. But a cheap product that causes you daily aggravation — and has to be replaced in a couple of years — is no bargain. When you price configurations from quality manufacturers that match the standard features on a Mac, the difference in price drops and often disappears. In the United States, you can buy a complete and very usable Mac desktop setup for less than $600 (assuming that you already own a suitable display, keyboard, and mouse), and you can buy an ultralight MacBook Air laptop for less than $1,000. If those prices are too much for your budget, see the tips in Chapter 3 for getting a Mac for less.

tip.eps The arguments for buying a Mac are based on quality and total cost of ownership, not on initial purchase price. PCs have hidden costs, such as virus-protection software and periodic disk rebuilding, and they generally are replaced more often than Macs are. Few people boast about how cheap their car is or how little they spent for their home entertainment center. Quality matters, and when cash is scarce, quality matters even more.

“Switching is too hard”

I’m not saying that switching from a Windows PC to a Mac is painless. If you’ve been using Windows for a while, you’re used to its idiosyncrasies. You made a big investment in learning how to use all that Windows software, not to mention the amount you paid for it. You may find some aspects of the Mac hard to get used to, though I guide you through them all in Chapter 4. But on the whole, switching isn’t that bad. Macs and Windows PCs have more commonalities than they have differences. And Apple has new tools to make switching even easier, including a Windows Migration Assistant, described in Chapter 6, and an optional One-to-One program at the Apple store that does the file transfer work for you. All in all, I think that you’ll find a switch easy enough and worth the effort.

“I’ll be left with no software”

Many Windows advocates claim that less software is available for the Macintosh. The standard smart-aleck Mac-user answer is “Yeah, we really miss all those viruses and spyware programs.” But some truth to this objection exists. Certain highly specialized programs run only in Windows. Where equivalents exist for the Mac, you may have fewer choices.

On the other hand, thousands of software titles are available for the Mac, and they cover the needs of most users quite well. In fact, some great software is available only for the Mac. Every new Mac comes with the following:

check.png Apple applications: These applications handle your e-mail, instant messaging, address book, calendar, and (of course) iTunes.

check.png The Apple iLife suite: This collection of programs lets you manage photos, make movies, authoring DVDs, create websites, and compose your own music. It even teaches you how to play an instrument.

check.png The Mac App Store: An easier way to buy quality, inexpensive software. Pioneered for the iPhone. It attracts an army of developers, big and small.

check.png A built-in camera and powerful FaceTime videoconferencing software: All new Macs (laptops and iMac desktops) that have a built-in display have the camera, and the software works with industry standards.

Some longtime Windows-only software is now available for the Mac, as developers have realized that they were missing an important market. One example is AutoCAD, widely used by architects and mechanical designers. Another is the popular QuickBooks accounting system for small business, though it lacks some features of the Windows version. Moreover, the Mac OS X operating system is built on top of Unix, and Apple follows the Single Unix Specification (SUS). Therefore, a large amount of software developed for Unix and Linux operating systems can run on your Mac, including many popular, free open-source packages. Much of that software doesn’t run in Windows.

Finally, Macs can also run Windows, so you can still run the odd program for which an equivalent isn’t available on the Mac. All new Macs run on Intel microprocessors — the same ones that power most Windows machines. In fact, any Mac sold since mid-2005 is also a full-fledged, strictly kosher PC, one that can run the Windows 7 operating systems as well as any PC on the market. So if you must run software that’s available only for Windows, you can use it on a Mac, too. Yeah, you have to buy and install Windows separately, but I walk you through that task in Chapter 16.

“Macs are dying out”

Macs were close to dying out in the 1990s. Their share of the personal computer market was less than 3 percent. That share has been climbing steadily, however, and at last report was 15 percent in the United States. Market share doesn’t tell the whole story, however. Apple commands some 35 percent of all profits made from selling personal computers. Its competitors are locked in a death spiral, competing on price and doing everything they can to shave costs at the expense of quality. The success of the iPad, the iPhone, the iPod, and the iTunes Store makes more PC users consider Apple. More than half of all new Macs are purchased by people who were using Windows, and 40 percent of college students buy Macs.

“Macs are not expandable”

Since the earliest days of the IBM Personal Computer, PCs have come in big boxes that a user could open to install expansion cards or to add memory and hard drives. Steve Jobs horrified the techie end of the PC world when he built the original Macintosh as a self-contained unit that users weren’t supposed to open. Although Apple offers a model with expansion slots (the top-of-the-line Mac Pro), and although memory slots on current Macs are easy to access, Apple encourages expansion by hooking up accessories with easier-to-use high-speed cabling. Apple invented FireWire, a blazingly fast expansion port that lets users attach high-performance devices without opening the box. The PC world responded by developing its own fast expansion port, USB 2.0, which Apple then adopted.

Now Apple and Intel have jointly developed an even faster way to hook up accessories: Thunderbolt. (It’s not easy to top a name like FireWire.) Thunderbolt packages on a wire the same PCI Express technology used in modern PC expansion slots. It’s a game changer, with speeds up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0 and 12 times faster than FireWire 800. You can connect more than one device to a Thunderbolt port, and it even doubles as a Mini DisplayPort so that you can hook a large video display to the end of that Thunderbolt daisy chain.

remember.eps All new Macs offer Thunderbolt and USB 2.0 ports, and many include a FireWire port, allowing a wide range of accessories to be attached just by plugging them in.

See Chapter 2 for an introduction to the Mac models now available.

“Macs don’t comply with industry standards”

Early in Apple’s history, Steve Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple and its engineering genius, came up with a clever way to squeeze more bits onto a floppy disk (an early form of portable data storage). Unfortunately, this design made floppy disks written on early Macs unreadable on IBM PCs. That gave Apple a reputation of being an odd duck from a standards standpoint. Apple has never been able to shake that reputation completely, even though it later added PC-compatible floppy drives and is now exemplary in sticking to industry standards. Indeed, Apple was the first to popularize now-ubiquitous computer industry standards such as Wi-Fi wireless networking and the Universal Serial Bus (USB). Other standards gobbledygook that Macs support include Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth, IEEE-1394 FireWire, PCI Express, Thunderbolt (see Chapter 3 for more details), and the Intel microprocessor architecture. The Apple web browser, Safari (also available for Windows), carefully follows the latest HTML5 Internet standards — more so than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer does.

“I need Windows for work”

So run Windows on your Mac. You have to buy a copy, which is an added expense. But both operating systems run fine on a Mac, and you can still use Mac OS X when you’re not working. Using third-party virtualization software, you can run both operating systems at the same time, with Windows applications appearing on the Mac OS X desktop alongside native Mac applications. I tell you more about how all this works in Chapter 16.

“Macs are a poor game platform”

True, more games exist for the PC, but plenty are available for Macs, including top titles like World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, StarCraft II, and Spore. Many more are coming. Large game companies like Blizzard have committed to the Mac platform, though many independents have not. The Apple iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch have proved to be successful portable game platforms, attracting new game developers to the Apple universe. All low-end Macs include integrated graphics processors; the high-end Mac mini, all iMacs and the 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro laptops add a second high-performance AMD Radeon HD graphics chip; and the Mac Pro can be ordered with two top-of-the-line graphics processors. Multicore main processors add more graphics performance, and Lion’s OpenGL unlocks the power of these graphics devices for more computing tasks. If you’re a serious gamer, you probably know all about the latest graphics processors, but I tell you more about them in Chapter 2.

“Windows 8 will kill Apple”

Microsoft spent five years and billions of dollars developing the Vista operating system, in part to end the scourge of computer viruses and spyware that have plagued the PC world for more than a decade. After Vista proved to be an embarrassment, Microsoft spent more years and more billions to rework it into Windows 7. During the same period, Apple has been devoting its energy to improving its OS X operating system from the user’s perspective. While Windows 7 and Windows Vista were gestating, Apple released six improved versions of OS X, code-named Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, and now Lion. (Someone at Apple likes big cats.) Perhaps Windows 8 will close the gap. We’ll see.

Considering All Aspects — Advantage Apple

Apple has adopted strategies that give it important advantages over the competition provided by Microsoft. The following sections explore what you need to know about each one.

One neck to wring

Microsoft sells its Windows operating system to dozens of companies that make personal computers. This practice has benefits in that competition among these PC vendors keeps prices down, but it also means that Microsoft has to support a bewildering variety of hardware designs and components. This support includes not just all the variations now being sold, but also products that are no longer being sold but are still in use, including PCs made by companies that have left the business. Outside a brief flirtation with licensing in the mid-1990s, Apple has maintained complete control of the design and manufacture of products that use its software. This vertical integration greatly simplifies Apple’s development efforts, allowing it to bring out new versions of its operating system much more often than Microsoft has been able to.

Vertical integration also has benefits for customers in terms of reliability and service. If you have a problem with hardware or software, Apple has a strong incentive to fix it. With the computer, operating system, and much of the software supplied by a single vendor, Mac users don’t have to worry about being shuttled from company to company (“I’m sorry, but you’ll have to contact Fly-by-Night Software to solve your movie-editing bug; it makes that application”). Any problems with the extensive suite of software that comes with a Mac are Apple’s problems. There’s only one neck to wring.

Apple is the industry thought leader

Anyone who follows the high-tech industry is used to reading articles about amazing new technologies that are going to revolutionize our lives — and then never hearing about them again. One of Apple’s roles in the computer industry is picking and choosing among those new ideas. For the most part, technologies that Apple picks are adopted by the rest of the industry, particularly by Microsoft. Apple may not have invented the graphical user interface, Wi-Fi wireless networking, USB, the smartphone, or tablets but Apple’s adoption and careful implementation of these technologies made them industry standards. Apple users get the good new stuff first.

Appearances matter

Sometimes, you can judge a book by its cover. Sometimes, function follows form. Early in Apple’s history, Steve Jobs recognized that aesthetics matter. The design team that created the first Macintosh computer included a fine artist who was involved in everything from the design of the graphical interface to the artwork on the cardboard box that the Mac came in. When Jobs returned to Apple, he restored artistic quality to prominence at Apple. From the original lollipop-colored iMacs to the latest iPad, Apple products have won awards for excellence in industrial design. Figure 1-1 shows the elegant current iMac all-in-one computer.

remember.eps Quality industrial design means more than arranging all the buttons and jacks in a pleasing way. It also means questioning each feature and eliminating unnecessary doodads. The result is something that isn’t just easy to look at, but also easy to understand and simple to work with.

Figure 1-1: The iMac offers everything you need in one smart package. The Magic Trackpad shown here is a handy option.


Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.

A case in point is the optional Apple Remote. Remotes for most consumer products rival an airplane cockpit in complexity; the Apple version has just six buttons.

Looking forward, not backward

Apple leadership in technology extends beyond picking winners. Apple is also the company that decides when to tell a once-popular technology, “You’re fired.” It was the first to introduce 31⁄2-inch floppy disks on personal computers and the first to drop their use as a standard feature. Other technologies that Apple was the first to drop include the RS-232 serial port and the dialup modem. You can still find these features as external add-ons if you really need them, but Apple realized that most of us no longer do. Letting go of old technology wards off the feature bloat that plagues the computer industry. Unneeded features increase complexity and make machines harder to use and more prone to problems.

Getting top-notch products

Apple makes money on the products it sells. Unit for unit, Apple is the most profitable company in the industry. How does the company do that with such a small share of the market? The same way that Mercedes-Benz or BMW or Armani does: by branding. Apple doesn’t sell products that are interchangeable with products sold by half a dozen other companies. It sells unique products — products that are sufficiently superior that customers willingly pay a bit more for them. The benefit to you, as a Mac buyer, is the simple reality that no company can keep such an enviable position in the long run without delivering top-notch goods. You do get what you pay for.

iPad, iPod, and iPhone

Apple’s runaway success with the iPod personal music player, introduced in 2001, has given the company the kind of market dominance in mobile computing that Microsoft has enjoyed in the PC market.

The iPhone has been hailed as a revolution in personal communications. It comes in two versions: a four-band phone that uses the worldwide GSM standard, allowing its use anywhere, and a version compatible with the Qualcomm standard used by Verizon in the U.S. Both versions include iPod music, a pair of cameras, and video technology and direct Internet access via Wi-Fi or cellular phone links. Apple includes a version of its operating system called iOS in the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, with a well-integrated and easy-to-use interface, all in spectacularly elegant packages.

Apple gives away a version of its iTunes music software that runs in Windows. The company is betting that iPod, iPad, and iPhone customers who use Windows will be impressed by iTunes’ ease of use and will give the Macintosh a closer look when they’re ready to upgrade their computers. You find out more about iTunes in Chapter 11.

Switching Sides Can Sting

The Mac-versus-PC debate ranks as one of the great divides in the modern world. Just because these feelings are whipped up by marketing departments doesn’t mean that they lack emotional impact. Your computer choice forms part of your personal identity. Mac users have a reputation for a certain smugness. (“You just got a virus? You mean, like a cold?”) Much of that attitude is defensive, of course. It’s no fun being a minority in a PC-dominated world. (“You bought a what? Are they still making those?”) Few other choices we make in life can be as self-defining — perhaps religion, political party, and sports team to cheer for. People who move from New York City to Boston, for example, invariably suffer mental scars inflicted by changing their baseball allegiance from the New York Yankees to the Boston Red Sox. (Some of them never recover and have to live the rest of their lives eking out a living writing books for technology novices.)

This kind of psychological trauma doesn’t have to happen to you just because you switch computer platforms. Think of it this way: The PC won the great war. Apple was forced to abandon the Motorola processor family and convert to Intel. Macs are now just PCs in more stylish packages with better software. You’re not abandoning your mother’s cooking — just sampling a different cuisine.

No matter what I say, you probably won’t completely escape the emotional side of switching to a Mac. When you feel the shame of betrayal and the pangs of guilt coming on, repeat this mantra: “It’s just a computer. It’s just a computer. It’s just a computer.”