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Show me the wonders of the Mac....
November 11, 2010 7:09 AM   Subscribe

Mac newbie here who has some questions about it.

So I ended up getting a 13" MacBook Pro. (See here for my previous question on this topic.)

Previously on Windows all my life. Love the new machine, but, alas, some questions.

1) What's the easiest way to share files between a Windows PC and a Mac? Both computers access the same wifi router, but they don't see each other. I imagine that this is fairly easy to do these days but I'm not sure how.... (The Windows PC runs Windows 7.)

2) In Windows, when I use Excel, I can use the keyboard for almost everything. On the Mac a lot of the keyboard equivalents don't seem to be there. Is there any plugin out there that can replicate the ability of Windows-based Excel to make extensive use of the keyboard? I have Office 2011 on the Mac if it matters. I'm not interested in running Windows on the Mac.

3) Is the case of the MacBook Pro really alumninum? It feels plasticky to me, not metallic. (Not a criticism, more of curiosity about its design.)
posted by dfriedman to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
1. Dropbox
posted by unixrat at 7:11 AM on November 11, 2010

3. it's really aluminum
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:19 AM on November 11, 2010

#1 Dropbox.

#2 The Mac has lots of keyboard shortcuts, and you can create your own. Often, they're the same as the Windows ones, substituting the Command button (in the same location as the Windows button) for the Control button (e.g. Command + b, on Mac, = Ctrl + b, on Windows).

#3 Yes.
posted by wheat at 7:24 AM on November 11, 2010

Seconding Dropbox. I have both WinXP and Mac OS X on my MacBook, and use Dropbox to move files between the two OSes. Seamless and simple, and free as long as you can keep it under whatever their limit-du-jour is.
posted by briank at 7:26 AM on November 11, 2010

I also find myself using Dropbox on the home network these days, as it's generally much less of a headache than trying to set up SMB networking between the two machines.

If you do want to set up a Windows-friendly share on your OS X machine, go to System Preferences -> Sharing and check 'File Sharing' - then under 'Options' check 'Share Files and Folders using SMB'.

(Maybe someone else can give a quick rundown on setting up a share under Windows 7? My Windows knowledge is pretty much stuck at WinXP, and atrophying at that.)
posted by usonian at 7:33 AM on November 11, 2010

Here's a list of Mac keyboard shortcuts for Excel which might help.
posted by jonesor at 7:38 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dropbox is a program that's cross platform: Linux, Windows, Mac (non-ppc), iOS, Android and online access.It's a free online service, and might work well for the occasional small file or two. But you can also do it with your network.

You should select Finder, and up at the menu bar select Go -> Network. Is your Windows computer there? If not, you may need to adjust privacy settings on the Windows computer. On your mac, in System Preferences go to Sharing, then select File Sharing from the list. Select the options button, and allow Windows SMB access. By default there's a Public folder. You can add your home folder or user folder to the shared folders list and have full access within your network, with admin login, too.

2) I'm not quite sure what you mean. All of the short cuts should work if you replace ctrl with apple. It's not the same hand movement, so it'll take some getting used to. I try to remember that with mac shortcuts I'm using my thumb to hit apple, and on windows my pinky hits ctrl.

If you mean something else, turning on "fully keyboard access" should help, and frankly should be enabled by default anyways. In System Preferences select Keyboard, then under "turn on full keyboard access..." select "all controls".

3) yeah, it's aluminum. The case started as one block of aluminum, that's been cut down, each little speaker hole, battery indicator light, etc. Here's a step by step of it getting taken apart. Soon enough you'll feel it heat up like metal. :)

Ah, and the first thing I recomend to anyone new to Mac is to install Quicksilver. It's an application launcher, and lots more. Compose emails, look up address book contacts, create text documents, play music from itunes, run scripts, global hotkeys, etc. Basically it'll eliminate the need for Spotlight and your Dock. I almost don't know how to use a computer that doesn't have quicksilver, its so integral to my workflow.
posted by fontophilic at 7:49 AM on November 11, 2010

3. Yes, it's aluminum. I had one of the first AlBooks in 2003 (and actually, I still do, it runs my TV server) and the case got scratched and mangled - especially the wrist rest.

When I got my new MBP in July I immediately put a protective skin on it. They're tough cases for dropping and impact, but not so hot if you're going to be upset by cosmetic flaws.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:51 AM on November 11, 2010

Something that might be of interest is Bonjour Print Services for Windows.
posted by XMLicious at 8:05 AM on November 11, 2010

If you end up setting up BootCamp and put a Windows partition on there's a commercial program called MacDrive that makes transfer between the two drives on the same machine seamless. Otherwise there can be weirdness, especially on the Windows side.

Otherwise, yeah, pretty much Dropbox or using a NAS. A pretty good, albeit slightly dated, overview here.
posted by jeremias at 8:06 AM on November 11, 2010

I swear by Speck Cases for protecting the surface, if you're worried about it.
posted by odinsdream at 8:15 AM on November 11, 2010

I use Excel constantly and switched over to the Mac a few years back. It takes some getting used to, but I actually prefer the Mac layout now in Excel. I do find myself using a mouse more though, maybe just because I haven't learned all the shortcuts.

There does appear to be some shortcuts missing in the Mac versions of Office. I can't think of an Excel one off the top of my head, but in Word, I can't figure out how to do a Page Break without using the menus.
posted by dripdripdrop at 8:36 AM on November 11, 2010

Page break in Word for Mac is Shift+Enter+Return (or Shift+Function+Return if your keyboard doesn't have an Enter key).
posted by jamaro at 9:40 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you have set up your windows machine to have a shared folder, you can access it from a mac.

Click on the desktop / finder / whatever, then hit command-k. It'll pop open a "connect to server" window. Use smb://windows_machine_hostname_or_ip to connect to your windows machine.

While home/end don't do exactly what you would expect, their are keyboard shortcuts in most applications. In general:

Goto beginning of line: ctrl-a, end of line: ctrl-e (I believed cribbed from emacs, so you may find other helpful keyboard shortcuts looking in that direction).
posted by Phredward at 9:49 AM on November 11, 2010

Seconding put an adhesive cover on it, at least around the keyboard and trackpad. My much-beloved 12" PowerBook (same metal) dissolved and pitted where my wrists sat all day. (Apparently my superpower is being dangerous to metal) It'll keep your new machine looking nicer longer!
posted by at 12:03 PM on November 11, 2010

1) Enable windows file sharing on the mac, and you should be golden (as mentioned above: cmd-K then CIFS://windowsmachinename/sharename )

2) It's a bit involved, but I used to use Crossover Office, to enable me to run the windows version of excel under OSX, precisely because I'm so used to the windows keyboard commands.
posted by pompomtom at 2:46 PM on November 11, 2010

Dropbox is annoying if you have even a moderate amount of data to keep in sync on both ends, not to mention, you then need to keep all the data on both computers, which may mean having to upgrade two harddrives instead of one when you start to run out of room. Pick one computer (the one you'd use the most often) to store all your data. Share it over your network to the other one. The back up that one computer with some sort of off-site backup system.

OS X uses Samba to speak SMB as was already mentioned, I couldn't tell you what Windows does to try and speak AFP.

Seconding the full keyboard access. Why this is off by default in OS X I have no idea.
There's dozens more pages.
posted by Brian Puccio at 5:59 PM on November 11, 2010

You said they don't see each other. You cannot ping from one to the other? Are they on different subnets? Or maybe you have an overly restrictive firewall?
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:01 PM on November 11, 2010

bitter-girl: That's totally what happened to mine! I'm glad I'm not the only one. The last time I brought the PB in to the Apple Store the Geniuses looked at it like it was from space. Maybe I just had dumb Geniuses.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:02 PM on November 11, 2010

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