Mac OS X Newbie Seeking Forums, Websites, Tips, and Tricks
January 3, 2005 2:18 PM   Subscribe

MacFilter: I'm buying my first Mac shortly-- an iBook. (After years on first Commodore then Windows) Can anybody share any resources (forums, websites, etc) that they find useful? How about any tips or tricks for a brave soul's first foray into OSX?
posted by keswick to Computers & Internet (22 answers total)
Try Think Unix.
posted by orange clock at 2:26 PM on January 3, 2005 is a great resource.
posted by pwb503 at 2:29 PM on January 3, 2005 has often been very helpful to me.
posted by luriete at 2:35 PM on January 3, 2005

MacOSXHints is a great resource. Use it often. There are also innumerable Mac forums such as MacRumors and MacNN where the posters are generally very helpful, especially to new users.

In general, I would say that your first few hours and days with your new Mac will be alternately a joy and a frustration. There are many things in Macs that (I believe) are better than Windows, such as installing software and the ease of use. However, OS X is *very* different from Windows and you will no doubt get pissed off at not knowing how to do various seemingly obvious tasks in your new operating system. For me, I became very annoyed trying to grapple with file permissions and networking setup when it turned out that I was doing something totally unnecessary and could be solved by a simple Google search. So - keep calm, be patient and willing to learn. It's going to be an experience :)
posted by adrianhon at 2:36 PM on January 3, 2005

You could also Ask Metafilter.
posted by caitlinb at 2:39 PM on January 3, 2005

I strongly second the MacOSXHints suggestion, there's lots of great stuff. and if you get an iPod, consider buying PodWorks
posted by matteo at 2:40 PM on January 3, 2005

There is a brand new PowerBook in my house, and one thing that surprised me was that the built-in "check for updates" feature of Mac OS X completely boinked the system. Thankfully, it was a brand new computer with absolutely no 3rd party software, so I just re-installed from the setup disc and was back to a clean slate within 30 minutes. Needless to say, I'm glad that it happened when it did.

I checked the forums at (thread) and discovered that it is necessary to "repair permissions" before and after updating the OS, and under no circumstances are you to use any other software while the updater is running (I was using Safari at the time, shame on me). So the next time I tried to update, I was very careful, and it ended up going smoothly.

It's a powerful machine, and very cute, but I guess I was expecting a better user experience.
posted by hartsell at 2:40 PM on January 3, 2005

Personally, for finding software, I love the OS X section ofVersiontracker.

My recommendation: get Firefox. If you're an IE power-user, you may find that Safari is just way to stripped-down for your liking. I know that's how I felt. At the very least, you may want to look into Saft so that you can configure the heck out of Safari.
posted by C.Batt at 2:41 PM on January 3, 2005

The forums at MacMentor.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 2:56 PM on January 3, 2005

Remix of C.Batt's suggestion: get Firefox. (Links to the G4-Optimized builds of Firefox... much snappier and with added fiber!)
posted by basicchannel at 3:24 PM on January 3, 2005

its a little techy but very helpful is MacFixIt
very helpful when things go wrong.
posted by ShawnString at 3:41 PM on January 3, 2005

I have to somewhat disagree with Hartsell's statement (via the attribution to MacRumors) that it's necessary to repair permissions before installing an update. It's not necessary unless the ReadMe says so. Y'all read those right? If it says to unplug FireWire devices before proceeding (as it does in the update for 10.3.7) - do it. The warning is there for a reason. I work for a very, very large software company and I know what sort of info goes in these files and I know that they'll help people. Please read them!

I do, however, strongly agree with repairing the permissions before running any sort of OS update. Doing so will set the permissions of your Apple software back to the default settings. It won't effect any other company's products.

As for resources, I would start at MacSurfer and see where that takes you. It does refer to a lot of the sites previous mentioned and several more. They gather up the headlines from a dozen or so websites and post them on their page. They also have a very long list of links at the bottom of their page.

If you're looking for something tree-based, I would recommend going to your local bookstore and see what they have.
posted by glyphlet at 4:44 PM on January 3, 2005

I should clarify - your computer shouldn't burst into flames if you don't repair permissions before installing an update. If it did, I'd think that would be grounds for a class-action suit or somethink like that. If that needed to happen, why wouldn't that be part of the installer process? Since it doesn't have to happen, it's not.
posted by glyphlet at 4:52 PM on January 3, 2005

for day-to-day stuff i've started to rely on Macsimum News, and for general interest Daring Fireball - not to be confused, i might add, with the computer bursting into flames as mentioned by glyphlet.
posted by grimley at 5:11 PM on January 3, 2005

I'm glad you asked. I'm in the same position, so I want to follow this thread.
posted by absalom at 5:25 PM on January 3, 2005

Apple's own discussion forums can almost always provide answers to questions.

And....RTFM- in this case, due to lack of manual, the "Help" function of the OS (when in the finder) and in almost any program you boot.
posted by HuronBob at 5:32 PM on January 3, 2005

Before buying any new Apple product, check the Buyer's Guide to see when the new products are coming out.

MacWorld is January 11th, so regardless of that site's suggestions, you may as well wait to see what's coming.
posted by Laen at 5:48 PM on January 3, 2005

Try Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual (my first ever Meta post... YEAH!)
posted by cccorlew at 7:04 PM on January 3, 2005

Keswick, I've been a Mac user for over ten years, and even did Mac tech support for a while there. Everything I was going to say has already been said by others. I hope your iBook serves you well! You, too, absalom.

PS: I haven't read an edition of it since the mid-90s, but if you want to go from newbie to power user in fairly short order, "Mac Secrets, Panther Edition" is probably the way to go. (Previous editions were co-written with David Pogue, author of the book cccorlew points to, so that might be even better!)
posted by kimota at 7:23 PM on January 3, 2005

The most useful sites I've found for my iBook are to get useful freeware/shareware/offbrand applications, to see what the crazy sale prices on things are, and the apple forums.

There are two good threads not already mentioned here "what's on your dock?" and "OSX software recommendations?"

I like my iBook a lot, except for the faulty logic board that got replaced under extended warranty [in a week, even over Christmas!]. The damned thing is bulletproof. Get yourself some Klear Screen wipes [or the Apple branded equivalent] and a nice carrying case and enjoy.
posted by jessamyn at 8:34 PM on January 3, 2005

When I upgraded to OS X, I found all the forums. I checked magazines for tips and tricks, I bookmarked a dozen websites, and I downloaded crazy icons. Six weeks later, the novelty wore off. I don't use any of it anymore.

Count my vote to stick with the basics.
posted by cribcage at 8:54 PM on January 3, 2005

VersionTracker is teh suck in my opinion. MacUpdate is where it's at (substantially less blinken-crap hanging off the page).

The Mac Achaia forum at ArsTechnica is a great place to lurk for awhile.
posted by nathan_teske at 11:26 PM on January 3, 2005

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