From PC to iMac

Transitioning from a PC to a Mac might be intimidating. Here are some suggestions to make the switch as easy as possible.

Many people are switching to Mac computers these days. So, for all of you who are thinking about switching to an iMac from a PC, Here are a some tips you should know.

The iMac

The new iMacs are great. However, if you’re like me you probably feel like you’re starting from scratch when you switch to an iMac from a PC. Well, don’t worry. Things aren’t as scary as you think.

When you purchase your new iMac, you should get your choice of a wireless mouse or the new Magic Trackpad. I absolutely love the Trackpad. If you’re accustomed to using a mouse, it will take some getting used to, but once you start using it you’ll most likely find it’s like an extension of your fingers. How cool is that?

Getting acquainted with a Mac is not too difficult. You’ll first notice that what you’re used to clicking on the right side of the screen is now on the left. That’s not too difficult to adjust to. Creating your bookmarks bar is something I have found to be useful and easy. Honestly, putting the sites I use most frequently on my bookmarks bar saves a lot of time and extra clicks.

When you purchase your new computer you will be able to also purchase and sign up for the Apple One to One program. This is something I definitely recommend. You can then make appointments for one-on-one training. Your first training session should be just an overview of the iMac. Then, what I have found the most productive is to keep a notebook next to my computer and as I work when I have something I need to do and can’t figure it out, I write it down. When I have a few items on my list, I go in for a One to One session. I also have the Mac OS X books for Dummies, which are quite helpful. I know my PC like the back of my hand and can easily maneuver around Windows without a second thought, but I’m not ashamed to admit that learning the iMac is, at times, a little confusing.

Hardware Necessities

I have to say that the new iMacs are beautiful. They look sleek and modern. The problem is that in order to look this cool, Apple put all the ports on the back of the monitor, which is also the hard drive. If you want to plug in a USB flashdrive (often called thumb drives) or other device, it’s difficult without turning the monitor around. A USB hub solves this problem.

Belkin 4-Port Ultra Slim Desktop Hub

I purchased the Belkin 4-Port Ultra-Slim Desktop Hub. It is designed for Macs and does not require any software. This powered hub simply plugs into a USB port and has the ability to plug 4 USB devices into this mini unit. Because the USB ports on the iMac are located on the back of the monitor, this hub makes it easy to use any DVD device without having to turn the monitor around to access the ports. The hub reaches around the monitor and provides easy USB accessibility to users. When a flash drive (or other device) is plugged into the hub, it is seen by the Mac the same as it would be if it were plugged directly into the computer. This hub is specifically designed for the new Macs but can also be used with PCs.

Western Digital External Hard Drives

For peace of mind, a back-up external hard drive is something computer users of Macs or PCs should always have. My recommendation is to get two external hard drives. One to continually back up your system, and another for additional storage. You can never be too safe. I chose two Western Digital hard drives to accomplish these tasks and give me added peace of mind.

Western Digital’s My Passport Studio is a small, portable external hard drive that can store your documents, photos, music, or other files, and you can easily transport this unit to any other location and plug it into another computer via the USB plug. The unit also has two FireWire 800 ports for fast transfer of data. The password protection option provides security for your data. This unit is formatted to work with the Apple Time Machine program that comes with your Mac and allows for continual backup. It provides security (password protection is an option), and is ready to work with your Mac right out of the box.

I also selected the Western Digital My Book Live, which provides a personal cloud that securely stores your data. What made this unit appealing to me was the fact that other computers on my network can securely access the data, so I can have my documents from my iMac stored on my personal cloud, and access them with my iPad or another computer. This is the easy way to be able to access all your music or photos from all your electronic devices. It provides security while at the same time allows for broad accessibility to your files.

Software Purchases

Microsoft Office for Mac

Microsoft Word is the most popular word-processing application. If you’re switching from PC to Mac, you will have plenty of new things to learn, so for this reason I chose to install the Office for Mac software. This way I was pretty well versed in how the different applications within the suite operate, That meant I had one fewer thing to study. The Office for Mac 2011 Home and Business Edition Suite contains Word, Excel, Outlook, and Powerpoint making it a great suite for creating documents, managing email, creating presentations, and much more.

Apple manufactures Pages, which is their word processing software, however most people are already familiar with the Office Suite so my suggestion is to stay with it. It’s functional and very user-friendly. If you have to install something, why not stick with what you know and trust? The only real confusion about this suite is when it comes to Outlook for Mac. Just about the only thing that is the same is the name “outlook.” It is basically a different program, however with a little experimenting, things become clearer. This program does not do everything my Outlook for PC did. There is not the option for different colored flags, there is not an outbox to see which emails have not been sent yet, there is not a way to easily check your contacts when creating an email, but there are ways around all of these differences. They just take a little getting used to. However, this program’s use of smart folders is its greatest feature. To avoid hassles, you might want to pick up an Office for Mac for Dummies book. (A more detailed article about how to use this program is forthcoming.)

Corel Toast

If you want to create DVDs that are viewable on all DVD players, you will need to install a third-party program. Apple doesn’t even make their iDVD software any more. The DVDs that are created on iMovie are only viewable on Macs, so my suggestion is to install the Roxio (now Corel) Toast software. It lets you create DVDs that are viewable on any DVD player, and with some additional downloads into the program, lets users create and print case inserts and covers, as well as other handy little things. Why doesn’t Apple make their iDVD software any more? I was told that most people don’t burn their own DVDs these days. They keep their music and videos on their computers, in a cloud, or on their phones or iPods. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I really like having my DVDs of home movies and slideshows. Toast is the solution.

Final Thoughts

If you are contemplating a switch from Windows to Mac, don’t feel like you might be over your head. Yes, there is a learning curve, but with a little patience you can overcome the difficulties you might encounter. And the people at the Apple stores are always there to help. If you want my advice, go for it. Once you start using the Mac, you’ll get more comfortable with all the ins and outs, and become a fan.

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