Tuesday, January 08, 2008

10 Tips for Switching to a Leopard Mac from a Windows PC

comic and tragic masks

You remember, of course, the classic story by O’Henry, “Gift of the Magi.” The husband [text deleted to not spoil the story -- ed.]; and the wife [text deleted to not spoil the story -- ed.]. Something similar happens when you first get your beautiful new Mac machine. You’ve got the hardware, but with everything you’ve spent on it, your budget is low and dry for buying new software for your Mac.

But wait! Nil desperandum! ... Your new Mac comes with some terrific software; and iWork ( $79) can solve your simple word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation needs. And yes Virginia, there is not only a Santa Claus, but there is freeware for the Mac. ... All at once you grasp that there’s no need to toss out the old as you ring in the new. Using BootCamp (free with Leopard) you can run your favorite Windows programs on your new Mac computer. Enthusiasts and fanatics have been talking about that possibility for the past 10 years. And now it’s it’s possible, it’s real, it's here now, and it’s easy to do.

This article describes a strategy for moving from a Windows computer to a Mac. It assumes that -- at least for a few months -- you’ll want to use the best of the software, shareware, and freeware that you’ve been accustomed to on your old Windows nag.

Here’s how I made the great transition. Use this as a rough guide to help you to devise your own plan.

1. Learn about the Mac basics. ... Learn how the Finder works; how the Mac keyboard differs from the one on the PC; and how to find your newly made files.

2. Carefully install Bootcamp. ... Bootcamp is the software made by Apple that allows you the choice of starting (and restarting) your computer with the Windows operating system or with the Mac Leopard. Apple provides (as a downloadable PDF from their website) a 26-page Installation & Setup Guide that you should read carefully; especially the part where you must choose which drive to partition. One false move here and you wipe out your entire hard drive, and obliterate all of Western civilization.

3. Install Windows XP with service pack 2. ... I prefer XP to Vista; but you could choose Vista instead. And yes, you’ll need to buy a copy: check the web for deals.

4. Move your data from your old computer to your new one. ... I used a Maxtor OneTouch USB external hard drive: its 300GB capacity was more than capable for the job. I simply dragged everything from the MyDocuments folder to the Maxtor; and then (when booted up in Windows) dragged everything from the Maxtor to the new machine.

5. Install your essential Windows software. ... WordPerfect, File Locator Pro, Manny’s Simple Note Cards, and TreePad were the first to bless my new machine. For your shareware shareware and freeware, it’s often simpler to download these installer files fresh from the Web, rather than dig up the original ones on your old hard drive. If you can’t find your registration numbers, contact the software seller and request these magic numbers.

6. Move your software's special settings from the old machine to the new one. My Wordperfect had macros and custom-made keyboards: the macros were dragged into the macro folder; and the keyboards re-appeared by dragging in a template file. Dreamweaver contains special information about folders, and the passwords to access your websites: a migration tool (free) made life a lot easier here.

7. Upgrade your hardware drivers. ... Now is a good time to search the websites of your hardware companies to find updates to the latest drivers, for hardware such as printers and scanners.

8. Test your Windows and your Mac systems. ... Open your programs; try to print and scan something; make sure all your important data is where you want it. Practice switching operating systems, from Mac to PC (just restart and hold down the “Option” key) and from PC to Mac (click the small button on your toolbar, then choose “Restart in OS-X”.

9. Soup up your Mac with Freeware and Shareware. ... Download Firefox and Open Office; and then check out useful shareware and freeware programs for the Mac.

10. Open up iCal -- set your tiny mouse button (on the top) to bring up iCal instantly -- and then wonder in wide-eyed stupefaction how you ever accomplished anything without it.

You’re done. Woo-hoo! ... Now go forth and have fun with your Mac.