First Mac in an all-Windows environment!
November 6, 2006 8:10 AM   Subscribe

I have purchased a Mac for use in an all-Windows environment. I have never used a Mac. Converts: what are some of the things you've learned that helps ease the transition?

I have ordered the new Macbook Core2 Duo along with Parallels, though I really want to try to make things work outside of the VM. Aside from relearning how to use the mouse and navigate applications, with what else am I likely to experience frustration? Are there tools that are missing? Equivalents?

More info: We're an all-Windows shop with a large AD domain and lots of AD-specific things (like transparent auth and client certs for some websites). I'm assuming there are ways to integrate this Mac so that I preserve my network drives and all that other stuff - but I use Outlook, offline files, and probably several other Windows-isms that might not have Mac equivalents. Please give me your ideas on how to cope with this (self-inflicted) change, and share your frustrations - and hopefully, eventual solutions - if you've done this before.
posted by aberrant to Technology (11 answers total)
If you're getting a macbook for XP, just install XP with bootcamp.

Paralles is great, but if you plan on using the computer primarily for XP, use XP via bootcamp instead.

There are probably ways to do what you need with OS X, but to ease your transition, I'd say go with bootcamp for work, OS X for fun.
posted by eleongonzales at 8:28 AM on November 6, 2006

You may find that you have to have your network administrator make a change to the Domain Controller Security Policy on your server.

If that's not set properly, Macs generally won't be able to open the network drives you can get to from a PC. I believe the setting to change is to disable "Digitally sign communications (always)".

It took me forever to diagnose that little problem so I hope it's helpful to ya.

Also keep in mind that there are no drive letters in OS X. Your shares won't be mapped to a drive letter, you'll just access them by the folder name of the shared folder. This is a pain for me at work since we have two servers, yet they both show up on my desktop under the name "DATA" since that's the name of the actual shared folder on each server.

Another thing I bumped up against when using my Mac on an otherwise all-Windows network is that shortcuts don't work on Macs. They just show up as useless little extra files. I believe there are utilities that can let you use Windows shortcut files in OS X but I haven't tried 'em.

Those two Finder issues alone could bring your work grinding to a halt when you first switch.

Finally, as much of a Mac person as I am, I have yet to find a calendaring/meeting invitation solution that works as transparently and simply as Outlook. People hate on it constantly, but it's worked perfectly and silently for me for months straight. If you have Office for OS X you can try using Entourage, but I bet you'll be paralleling back over to the PC side to use Outlook frequently. Just my 2 cents.
posted by bcwinters at 8:45 AM on November 6, 2006

Response by poster: bcwinters, thank you for the tips - this is the sort of stuff I'm looking for.

eleongonzales, I don't relish the thought of dual-booting -- I want to use OSX for some other work-related business at the same time I do the office-related stuff, so I've decided against bootcamp. Thanks for the suggestion, though. Any more?
posted by aberrant at 9:06 AM on November 6, 2006

The first thing you do when it shows up is open up the system preferences and select keyboard & mouse options. Click the "modifier keys" button and swap command and control.

This way, control-c and control-v and every other keystroke you've memorized in windows will still work for the most part. Thanks to ten years of muscle memory from using windows, all my macs are setup like this and it certainly eased the transition.
posted by mathowie at 9:16 AM on November 6, 2006

One, the whole reason why you're posting don't reinvent the wheel. has most of the little things/solutions worked out (and is a great resource in general.).

Two, don't try and make your mac do things the Windows way. Learn the Mac way. Each has their advantages along the path.

For example, if you use Outlook, you'll still be annoyed/besieged by virii. Use entourage/mail, you'll be sacrificing a bit of outlook integration, but it will "feel" better than the windows equivalent. This isn't to say "XXXX" is right or "YYYYY" is wrong, but rather, Apple has a particular idea of GUI, and it's worth the battle (as a whole).

The less you use the PC side, generally, the more "mac" you'll be using. is a great resource for software equivalents as well.
posted by filmgeek at 10:09 AM on November 6, 2006

You might find David Pogue's missing manual helpful, either as reading to get you started or reference when you come across a specific problem. He's a pretty entertaining writer, and this will teach you all kinds of fun things that the Mac can do that you've never even thought of.
posted by vytae at 10:12 AM on November 6, 2006

filmgeek wrote "Use entourage/mail, you'll be sacrificing a bit of outlook integration, but it will 'feel' better than the windows equivalent."

...unless of course your workplace has an Exchange server that is configured to not allow email access by non-Outlook users. Office neighbor of mine has a Mac, and our Windows-only tech support staff absolutely refuse to enable anything akin to IMAP/POP or whatever is needed to allow him to check his mail using anything besides the Outlook web access (which of course only works as expected if you run IE).

If you have friends in IT who are willing to help you work through things, good. If not, you'll either be up to your ears in IT-related headaches, or you'll be running in Windows until you go home for the day. More and more IT staff seem to be trained in Windows-only settings, and are surprisingly resistant to anyone trying to use anything different.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:47 AM on November 6, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks. I'm in IT (security, but we're part of IT) - I really don't want to call too much attention to the fact that I have a Mac, nor do I want to incur the cost of multiple help-desk calls, so it's going to be a DIY effort. I'm ok running in Windows via Parallels, assuming everything that I'm used to on my current Windows system works - the Outlook macros, antivirus and firewall, shared drives, offline files, etc. As I find native Mac replacements, I plan on switching those. Does that sound like a good plan?
posted by aberrant at 11:48 AM on November 6, 2006

Don't bother.

There is no mapping of drives on a Mac, and there is ZERO exchange integration, (entourage is a joke) and authentication on your AD is going to be hell. Office is not a universal binary yet so it will run rather slow.

Install XP on it or return it.
posted by mphuie at 2:39 AM on November 7, 2006

I can recommend a few blogs that might be of interest to anyone switching. I've been keeping up with these in preparation for my own switch (Q1 2007, I hope): one digital life, My Journey to Macintosh, and the old standby, The first two provide practical tips. The last is helpful in understanding some Macintosh cultural issues from a pro-Apple perspective.
posted by wheat at 2:10 PM on November 8, 2006

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