I haz a Macbook, now what?
March 22, 2009 9:56 AM   Subscribe

Got a new Macbook, but not sure where to go from here...

So I just purchased a new Macbook, as I'm planning to go into iPhone application development soon. However, I am completely new to Macs. It's really strange, because for years I've always had a sort of filter on my brain to ignore any stories and articles I see about Mac stuff (and jeez is there a ton of it), and now all of a sudden I start to care. So after years of blocking out all of the Mac stuff on Digg, Lifehacker, and other tech sites and whatnot, I feel I'm kind of behind. I was wondering if anybody had some suggestions for things to look at for helping me get started with it, learn some of the helpful tips and tricks, and point me to some of the great free software available for it. Thanks for any help.

(Also, if it's helpful for any reason, I own a XP desktop and Vista laptop as well. I'm just finishing up my degree in Computer Science, so I'm pretty tech-savvy, just not-so-much with Macs.)
posted by nmaster64 to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Check out David Alison's blog. He switched from PC to Mac and blogged about it, and it helped me make the same move last summer. (Your best bet is to start at the beginning!)
posted by nitsuj at 9:59 AM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I did the switch in October, fortunately a lot of people around me have macs too. I went back and looked up everything Lifehacker had to say about the Mac OS X and it was helpful.

A friend directed me to versiontracker for finding mac programs to download. He likes the quicksilver application which enables you to hit a few command keys to find the exact program, file, or whatever in a few key strokes. The more I use it, the more I like it.
posted by lizbunny at 10:07 AM on March 22, 2009

You might want to check out this thread on the Green about this very same topic. Lots of good answers there. mrbill's list of apps is especially good for covering a lot of bases. Hope this helps.
posted by friendlyjuan at 10:22 AM on March 22, 2009

The page layout on this A switcher's guide is messed up, but if you scroll down it will show equivalent terminology between the mac/win, equivalent keystrokes and equivalent applications.

I also recommend Open Source Mac which keeps a minimalist list of popular open source apps per category, which I like because it doesn't flood you with options.
posted by furtive at 10:50 AM on March 22, 2009

Also, Sun offers a free (either open source or free commercial binary) Virtual Machine named Virtual Box which will let you run Windows on a Mac. It's gotten solid enough in the past year that I don't hesitate to recommend it, and will save you the hassle of switching PCs.
posted by furtive at 10:53 AM on March 22, 2009

Oh, something nobody tells you up front, but which I find terribly useful, is that the Mac equivalent to Remote Desktop is Screen Sharing, which unlike most OSX apps isn't in Applications but in /System/Library/CoreServices ... if ever you've used VNC then you'll be a pro at it, it's the same thing. It's also good to know that Microsoft offers a native Remote Desktop client for OSX.
posted by furtive at 10:58 AM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

seconding open source mac.
posted by history is a weapon at 11:48 AM on March 22, 2009

For free apps, I'm enjoying Skitch, but then I'm always grabbing screenshots of various sites/images/interfaces/etc.
posted by backwards guitar at 11:53 AM on March 22, 2009

Now would be a good time to grab the Adobe CS4 suite . . . my CC hooked me up with CS4 Web Premium for $600. Also they gave me the educational version of Office 2008 for $50.

While these aren't free they are, fwiw, state of the art in the standard toolage of being a 21st century computer wiz. (This is not to say that they are necessarily any good, but everything else tends to suck more).

Also FWIW I've had a Mac going on 20 years now and I generally don't mess around with third-party UI accoutrements any more. Back in the day, a few like Boomerang et al added some useful additions to the classic Mac OS but with OS X they add-ons I've seen are rather incremental.

Focus on using your new mac, not futzing with it.
posted by mrt at 12:10 PM on March 22, 2009

David Pogue is the personal-technology columnist for the New York Times. He is an excellent writer. I have read several of his books and always find him very informative and witty. Although I have not read his book about switching to OSX from Windows (Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Leopard Edition (Paperback)), I bet it is a very worthwhile read.
posted by konig at 1:16 PM on March 22, 2009

This is probably mentioned in some of the resources above, but here's my favorite hot key for mac (Leopard): when you've got an open Finder window, select a file and press spacebar for a preview of the file. This works for images, html, word docs, pdfs, and a whole bunch of other files. Very useful when you are quickly trying to locate a file or browse images.
posted by wundermint at 3:47 PM on March 22, 2009

I rely on Daring Fireball for most of my Mac related news needs. It seems to me that Gruber's really on top of things.
posted by kpmcguire at 5:23 PM on March 22, 2009

Best answer: Here's the thread I started when I was shopping for my first Mac.

I compiled a list of Mac apps considered must-have when I was getting used to my Mac (bought around New Year's):
  • CoconutBattery or Battery Health Monitor: tracks not only how much charge you have let in your battery, but also the health and age of your battery
  • Disk Inventory X: a visual mapping of what kinds of files are hogging your disk space
  • Espresso: in public beta now. If you're a web developer/designer, this is for you.
  • iTerm: Although Terminal now has a tabbed interface, iTerm has bookmarking abilities. I personally don't use it, but you might be able to make something out of it.
  • Onyx: tweak hidden system settings and does system cleaning and maintenance. Sorta like TweakUI and CCleaner combined
  • Choosy: in public beta. For links not in browsers, like in your email client or documents, etc., this lets you choose which browser to open them with
  • iStat: monitor your system's inner workings: mem usage, CPU, temperature, etc
As for blogs on Mac tips, TUAW has a Mac 101 section. While not comprehensive, you'll find little gems there sometimes. Mac OSX Hints is another good site for tips and tricks.
posted by curagea at 12:54 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

You might find the Mac 101 tips on The Unofficial Apple Weblog interesting.
posted by bigtex at 3:30 AM on March 23, 2009

Oh man, I'm blind. I'd better add something else to make up for that... my next recommendation would have been Mac OSX Hints, too.

The forums at MacRumors and AppleInsider are pretty good for general discussion and getting questions answered, in addition to a bunch of obsession over what the next big thing will be.
posted by bigtex at 3:36 AM on March 23, 2009

If you live near an Apple store you can go in for free "personal training" on various mac specific software.
posted by deebs at 11:42 AM on March 23, 2009

Hit F11 and see what happens!
posted by Wolof at 10:31 PM on March 23, 2009

« Older Is 28 too old to learn karate?   |   Is non stick cookware going to give me cancer in... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.