My move from Windows to Mac OS

Well after over 15 years plus of Windows desktop operating systems as my main machine from my Gateway 2000 to my Microsoft Surface pro 3 last year…in late 2015 I decided enough was enough and I took the full plunge to a Mac Book Pro.

Earlier in 2014 I did buy an iMac but it got limited use due to me still having a Surface 2, and I just couldn’t get to grips with it while using Windows daily in my job so opted for using it for browsing the internet etc…if only I had persevered id of made the switch much earlier.

First things first…it takes some getting used too, and that’s understandable but once you do get used to it you sit thinking why didn’t I do this before (as I said above), all them hours on the Apple store hovering over the checkout button with a MacBook in the basket.

Hardware

The build quality is awesome and feels like a quality piece of kit as soon as you open the box…it put a smile on my face when I first opened it and saw the famous Apple on the lid. The build quality and how sleek it looks still impresses me today I’ve never owned a laptop that feels as well-built as this does and this backs up the price tag over a normal Windows Laptop.

The MagSafe 2 charger and port was something I had heard about in the past and it really does make sense, if you catch the cable it just pops off no breakages nothing snapped and snap it back in place and away you go again.

The battery life is impressive for a machine with a 15″ Screen, i7, 16GB Ram running multiple applications you seem to be sat for hours without needed to plug the machine into the power outlet and it still impresses me now as I’m sat writing this how long it lasts compared to other mobile devices I’ve previously had.

The screen is sharp and bright and even though it looks like you could tap the screen I don’t miss the touchscreen off my surface pro 3 at all, the multi-touch touchpad makes up for it not being a touch screen. The speakers were impressive on MacBook. I opened Spotify and let rip with Kilglande – Jubel and it was an impressive experience, using my Bose headphones with the mic gave me the added ability to answer iPhone calls through the mac which was a nice surprise.

The Apple MacBook Pro touchpad with its force touch and multi-gesture control is excellent, it’s a big space and just feels natural to use straight away you can see all the gestures here. The keyboard is also nice to use and doesn’t feel like a laptop keyboard, it takes some getting used to with it being an American layout over British with the @ sign moving and some other keys but once you get the hang of it, it’s enjoyable to use on your lap.

Software

Admittedly the first thing I did when I got the MacBook was to install parallels (after stroking it for about 5 minutes), just in case I needed a windows application (it’s still installed but hasn’t been used apart from booting up windows 10 to see if it worked as parallels were sold (it’s an excellent app).

Next up with the software I installed Microsoft Office from an Office 365 subscription – its was Office 2016 and as most of the documents I work in are word, and Outlook I’ve always liked as a mail app I decided it has to go on (later to realise publisher isn’t included as a mac app, was working on documents for a friend previously he wasn’t too pleased) – install process is simple for all applications and you soon get used to finding them in Launchpad (its like using an iPad if you have ever experienced that)

The battery life is impressive for a machine with a 15″ Screen, i7, 16GB Ram running multiple applications you seem to be sat for hours without needed to plug the machine into the power outlet and it still impresses me now as I’m sat writing this how long it lasts compared to other mobile devices ive previously had.

The screen is sharp and bright and even though it looks like you could tap the screen I don’t miss the touchscreen off my surface pro 3 at all, the multi-touch touchpad makes up for it not being a touch screen. The speakers were impressive on Mac Book.I opened Spotify and let rip with Kilglande – Jubel and it was an impressive experience, using my Bose headphones with the mic gave me the added ability to answer iPhone calls through the mac which was a nice surprise.

The Apple MacBook Pro touchpad with its force touch and multi-gesture control is excellent, it’s a big space and just feels natural to use straight away you can see all the gestures here. The keyboard is also nice to use and doesn’t feel like a laptop keyboard, it takes some getting used to with it being an American layout over British with the @ sign moving and some other keys but once you get the hang of it, it’s enjoyable to use on your lap.

Software

Admittedly the first thing I did when I got the MacBook was to install parallels (after stroking it for about 5 minutes), just in case I needed a windows application (it’s still installed but hasn’t been used apart from booting up windows 10 to see if it worked as parallels were sold (it’s an excellent app).

Next up with the software I installed Microsoft Office from an Office 365 subscription – its was Office 2016 and as most of the documents I work in are word, and Outlook I’ve always liked as a mail app I decided it has to go on (later to realise publisher isn’t included as a mac app, was working on documents for a friend previously he wasn’t too pleased) – install process is simple for all applications and you soon get used to finding them in Launchpad (its like using an iPad if you have ever experienced that)

Screenshot 2016-01-15 01.12.01
Launchpad Screen Example

Next up was would Safari open my web-based apps the same as I could on Windows, the answer 9 out of 10 times is yes but I found the memory usage of safari to be high for pages I kept open for long periods, so I installed trusty old Chrome which seems to handle the memory a lot better, I still use safari occasionally for links I click and so on but never keep it open for periods of time really. A good feature of Safari is having the ability to see what you were browsing on your iPhone and just carry on using it in Safari…find a good article on the train or while you’re out on your mobile but want to read more at home, just leave the tab open and pick it up, later on, your Mac and I find myself using this more and more over time.

After having the main applications I used I decided to look at the most popular applications installed for Mac OS are in the case, I was missing some treasures and this is what I came across and installed myself.

New Applications for me for the Mac

F.lux – to sum it up is an application to adapt the screen to your surroundings and time, it dims the blue of the screen to make it warmer at night and aids you going to sleep. It’s much more complex than this and you can read more and get the install here – https://justgetflux.com/

Recently apple announced they are going to use similar technology in the new IOS release to do the same for iPhone and iPad.

Alfred – This application is an excellent facility for someone new to the Mac OS, it gives you a very quick search function to find apps/contacts/file search and people will say why isn’t it built-in, well it is with spotlight but spotlight just seems slow compared to Alfred honestly. – https://www.alfredapp.com/

Gasmask – I often tinker with my windows host files to test websites etc but as a new Mac OS user found it difficult to find and keep finding my host file so this application was a godsend…can store multiple host files and switch easily with one click – http://clockwise.ee

LapLock – as a windows user I was so used to walking away from desktop, hitting CTRL – ALT – DEL and locking the machine that when I couldn’t do it quickly or see a way on the MacBook I was scratching my head for a while, I was considering a screensaver with a quick on time but this would annoy me in the long run so in the end I hit google and came across LapLock, simple click and the mac is locked great I though but then I noticed an extra added bonus…if you unplug the power cable an alarm goes off and it can text your mobile to say your device is being stolen which I thought was excellent until colleagues notice what happens when they unplug it!- http://www.laplock.co

Later I noticed while using Alfred to find lap lock there is a lock application that will lock the mac built-in (no alarm) but works just as well for locking the mac when leaving your desk.

Dr. Cleaner by Trend Micro – I came across this one in the app store and didn’t really think about having to clean up junk files etc but once I read about the optimisation and all the positive reviews I decided I might need to install it, it just sits optimising memory, when I remove an app it deep cleans and removes anything else that I would have missed from that app definitely worth a download. – http://appletuner.trendmicro.com/DrCleaner

Applications I carried over from Windows

Dropbox – I’ve used dropbox since its release and found it easier to share files and collaborate with people outside the organisation over OneDrive, but now OneDrive is offering a free 30gb and has similar integration into operating systems I am considering the switch but, for now, Dropbox is my go to cloud store/share. – http://www.dropbox.com

Spotify – This is a go-to app for me on any device…I sometimes just want to sit with my headphones on and crank up some music while I search the internet or read IT news (makes it a tad more bearable) and works just like on Windows. – https://www.spotify.com/uk/

Chrome – I mentioned this above and why I installed it so I won’t waffle on for this application – https://www.google.com/chrome/

LastPass – Been a big fan of LastPass for a long time, lets you use complex passwords every time without the need to remember them all, it installed seamlessly on to the mac – http://www.lastpass.com

OneDrive – The space free over Dropbox for personal usage makes me need to look at this as an alternative to Dropbox, to keep Dropbox and one drive synced I found this useful site (https://mover.io – free to keep them both in sync) – http://onedrive.com

TweetDeck – Always found this easier than using the twitter web page and its available on mac os so was installed day 1 – http://www.tweetdeck.com

FileZilla – Strange one for me this one, the application installed fine but just didn’t seem to work properly and I had intermittent issues connecting to FTP sites, I looked for alternatives and came across CyberDuck (more below) so at the moment I’m testing this. – https://filezilla-project.org

Brackets – when I found this application a while back I was sceptical…a free app from Adobe?!, once I downloaded it and started using it I never touched Dreamweaver again, there is a mac version and it’s just as good and free. – http://brackets.io

BitDefender – I decided to go with a product I know from my windows days, it’s £40 for a 1-year subscription and for the protection of my machine its worth the cash with a good scanning engine and management from a central cloud portal. – http://www.bitdefender.co.uk/solutions/antivirus-for-mac.html

Microsoft Remote Desktop – working in the I.T industry I often have to remote onto Windows servers on the local site and MSTSC has always been an adequate application for this, a Microsoft application for the mac is available the app store and works very well.

Applications I couldn’t find but had on windows – my alternatives

Netflix – SmartFlix – there is no application for this like on the iPhone, or on Windows…and it works perfectly in safari but just didn’t feel right, so an alternative I found was SmartFlix – not only did it give me an application to use it also gave me access to other countries Netflix with my UK account. – https://www.smartflix.io

FTP Client – CyberDuck – I came across this application on 2 occasions, one I was looking for an application to mount an FTP location (il get onto that later) and secondly when FileZilla my trusty windows FTP client was playing up, I’ve been using this application since then and its been a great little tool, I miss the local window for files when connected to a FTP site but I’m getting used to just dragging and dropping files from finder. – https://cyberduck.io

Text Editor – Text Wrangler – I’m a massive fan of Notepad++ (https://notepad-plus-plus.org) on windows and so I headed there for a mac version, to my shock it didn’t exist and the download button gave me a .exe (which parallels wanted to open and install for me) but I decided no, I need a mac alternative and so the search began again…i came across text wrangler in the App Store and was surprised how good it was, it’s given me an excellent alternative to notepad++ but I do miss how notepad++ gives me different view depending on the code I’m looking at.

Paint.net – Affinity Photo – Paint.net is a go-to application on windows for me for photo editing and anything similar, the disappointment of not having a mac client was hard I had to try a few applications before settling on one for the mac. I tried GIMP and I just couldn’t get to grips with it, I tried other free ones and the same it just wasn’t paint.net…I decided to take the plunge and buy an application, the go to paint application for Mac seems to be Adobe Photoshop but the cost is too much for a light user so instead, I found Affinity Photo, it was a good seller in the App Store and had raved reviews so I took a punt and it paid off…its an excellent bit of software and not too expensive at £39.99 compared to hundreds for Photoshop. – https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/photo/

Applications I found to be useful after a month or two of using the mac

Wunderlist – I kept seeing this pop up in the app store and decided to take a look, it had goo reviews and I wasn’t keen on managing tasks in Outlook as I’d started to move more to the mac mail client (it has its issues I’ll get to them) and its quick, lite and just easy to use..its now my go to for tasks, something I didn’t think I’d need – https://www.wunderlist.com

Battery Health – it’s more of an informative tool about the battery than something to improve the experience but gives some good info for free and is available in the app store.

App for WhatsApp – You might be thinking why would you put an IOS app on here, but it’s actually a Mac OS app that used WhatsApp web to basically chat on your Mac using WhatsApp, again if your sat at the machine anyway why would you pick up the phone to reply! – Available in the App Store for £1.49

CoRD – I came across this while using a remote support tool originally, when the java app started the remote support session to a Windows Server and it was asking for the CoRD location – obviously, as a techie I was on google straight away looking for the tool and to see what it was, basically, it’s this “CoRD is a Mac OS X remote desktop client for Microsoft Windows computers using the RDP protocol. It’s easy to use, fast, and free for anyone to use or modify.” What I found was it had a better command line interface (terminal I should say now) and so I had to download it for the remote support application anyway – http://cord.sourceforge.net

Annoyances (and sometimes a fix)

ZIP files auto opening – Coming from a Windows background when I download a zip file it remains a zip file, in safari it wants to open this on download…it was annoying when I need the ZIP as a plug-in for Kodi or WordPress – to resolve this I did the following –

Safari > preferences > General > uncheck “Open safe files after downloading”

Mac Mail – Few things in mac mail client especially the reading of an email when you click it without the option to stop this if you have the reading pane open, sometimes you just want to have a quick look…leave the email unread and come back to it later, not with mac mail you have to keep marking it unread which is highly annoying. To resolve this, some people get rid of the reading pane then double-click the email to open it, not for me that fix so I’m still just marking it unread. I have tried some other mail clients but not have to my fancy yet and I don’t fancy paying to read my personal email when to be honest I don’t get that much that isn’t junk.

Screenshot – when you want to screen shot you have to do some weird key combinations so I will list them here more for my reference till they embed in my head by default these end up on your desktop you can change this but I won’t go into that on here.

Command + Shift + 3: Take a screenshot of the entire screen. If you have multiple displays, a separate full-screen screenshot will be created for each display.

Command + Shift + 4: Take a screenshot of a defined area. Pressing this shortcut will turn your mouse cursor into a cross hair with pixel information. Simply position the cross hair in one corner of the area you’d like to capture, click and hold the mouse or trackpad, and drag to paint the area you will capture. Note that before you click, the pixel count displayed beneath the crosshair represents the pixel coordinates of your display (with 0, 0 representing the top-left of your screen), while after you click and begin to drag, the pixel count represents the size of the selected area.

Command + Shift + 4 + Spacebar: Take a screenshot of the selected window. To use this shortcut, press Command + Shift + 4 first, then tap the Spacebar. The crosshairs will turn into a camera icon. Hover this icon over a window and you’ll see the window become shaded in blue. Click the mouse or trackpad once and a screenshot of just that one window will be created.

I’ve taken the above from – http://www.tekrevue.com/tip/how-to-customize-screenshot-options-in-mac-os-x/ hope they don’t mind.

Showing the full date on the menu bar – if you’re used to windows and you look at the clock area for the current date, by default you won’t see that so do the following –

To permanently display the current date in the Mac menu bar, launch System Preferences (the gear icon in your Dock) and click on Date & Time. Alternatively, you can get to this same preference window by clicking the clock in your menu bar and selecting Open Date & Time Preferences.

mac date and time preferences

From the Date & Time preference window, click the Clock tab to see the configuration options for your Mac’s menu bar clock. To show the date, find and check the option labeled Show date. You’ll instantly see the abbreviated date (i.e., ‘Jul’ for July) appear in between the day of the week and the current time.

again thanks to http://www.tekrevue.com/tip/show-date-mac-menu-bar/ for this

I’m sure this section will grow over time as I get more and more used to shortcuts etc

Additional Hardware

Magic Mouse 2 – i always find myself buying a mouse when I get a laptop or tablet, mainly for when you’re working for long periods or need a bit more stability when in a paint application, I decided to go for the magic mouse 2 and wasn’t disappointed, it moves the magical touchpad experience to a mouse and feels comfortable and precise to use. Well worth the cost with the features and again Apple build quality…I went for the magic mouse 2 as it gave me the ability to charge the mouse with my iPhone cable which I carry anyway (who doesn’t carry one when you have an iPhone?) – http://www.apple.com/uk/shop/product/MLA02Z/A/magic-mouse-2

Keyboard – I didn’t actually go for a keyboard, I find the MacBook Pro keyboard fantastic to use and still use it even when docked.

Dock – The main reason for the dock I purchased was to give me more monitors when I was at a desk over just the MacBook Pro, I chose was the Elgato Thunderbolt 2 Dock – it looks nice and in keeping with the Apple look has impressive amounts of ports but then once it actually arrived I only found a use for the physical network port and here is why…I have two thunderbolt ports on my MacBook Pro so I can run two monitors off them instantly with a thunderbolt to HDMI cable, if I use the Dock I use one thunderbolt port on the MacBook and one on the dock to connect the dock, so now i have one spare on the Dock for 1 monitor and I need the other on the MacBook for the 2nd monitor sort of cancelling out the usefulness of the dock it would have been more useful for the dock to have 3 thunderbolt ports but a lesson learned.

Apple Headphones – might seem strange I’ve listed this as additional hardware but picture this…your sat at your Mac, headphones in listening to some music or watching a film…your iPhone is on the table connected to same WiFi SSID and a call comes in, pops up on your mac to answer the call and you can take the call over WiFi without having to take headphones out and pick up the phone (sounds lazy) but its things like this that set Apple apart from the competition and using a Windows device.

When I decided to write this it was going to be a few lines just to say it could be done, I didn’t want to go into massive detail about the hardware and compare CPU speeds and all of that as it was more my ramblings…as I got more into it I found myself giving myself advice if I had bought this mac from day 1, I then saw I was breaking down applications into sections and reviewing additional hardware (as an end user, not a techie) but didn’t want to go into too much detail just my experiences with it. I just hope it helps you as much as it helped me when I took the plunge to move to Mac OS from Windows 10.

My email is at the bottom of this site if anyone has any questions or suggestions email me.

Mike

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