mac in the box
December 17, 2007 9:11 AM   Subscribe

So i just got myself an iMac yesterday. Of course, I like it. But what cool things can I do with it that I probably don't know about? Also, what should I be concerned about or not do? I know a lot about Windows and PCs, but next to nothing about this fancy new machine on my desk.
posted by Pants! to Computers & Internet (26 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
My brand new iMac had a wonderfully disastrous hard drive failure - physically broken mechanical parts - that resulted in a complete loss of years of work. So although this may not happen to you, back up your data. Now. Really.
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:18 AM on December 17, 2007

Macs and PCs can do pretty much the same things. The sky's the limit. You may look 'cooler' doing it on a Mac though. YMMV.
posted by mphuie at 9:21 AM on December 17, 2007

You can stare at the the 'Flurry' screensaver for hours.
posted by HotPatatta at 9:26 AM on December 17, 2007

Get to know the userland and the command line.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:27 AM on December 17, 2007

your imac comes with a built in microphone and webcam that you can use via ichat to video chat with people. enjoy. it's a blast.
posted by shmegegge at 9:28 AM on December 17, 2007

It's a very small thing, but I have never, ever seen a PC that you could "sleep" without disastrous side effects (usually related to the audio interface). Since switching to an iMac, I put it to sleep every night and only reboot it for system updates. Saves electricity and time.

Exposé is fantastic, too.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:32 AM on December 17, 2007

plenty of things. check out PhotoBooth. fun for the whole family. rip all your CDs into iTunes, and never have to get up to search for a song again. open GarageBand and make your own songs quick and easy. make a movie with iMovie. make your own web page with iWeb.

lots of these things you can do on a PC too, but the Mac comes with usable apps, not annoyware that works for a month and then complains until you buy it.

plus the lack of virii and malware, not to mention the even more annoying norton 'reminders'.

TextEdit will open, edit and save Word docs, or if you need more, check out Pages and Keynote. No need to buy Office. NeoOffice is free and works very well.

there's many many good free apps out there, as well as many good troubleshooting and informative websites.
posted by KenManiac at 9:41 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, what are your hobbies? What things are you into? How do you spend your time? There are widgets, iCals, and other things that can help make knowing about, organizing, or planning to do these other things easier.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:45 AM on December 17, 2007

I'd encourage you to play around with leopard's fabulous new 'local network aware' finder. Share some folders on any other computers, and they'll magically appear in the left sidebar. Install a vnc server on any other boxes you're running, and you're able to launch a remote desktop session from the same sidebar in the finder, with zero configuration on the client end.
posted by kickback at 10:09 AM on December 17, 2007

Assuming your iMac came with Leopard, buy an external hard drive to use as your Time Machine drive. Backups are imperative and with Time Machine, they are automatic.
posted by daser at 10:12 AM on December 17, 2007

lack of virii and malware

Not entirely accurate. Quicktime is particularly vulnerable to exploits on both Windows and OSX. Some of these are now live and being seeded through poisoned Google hits. Update it like yesterday.
posted by meehawl at 10:18 AM on December 17, 2007

Some variant on this question gets asked every week. Search the archives.
posted by mkultra at 10:45 AM on December 17, 2007

Here's something I didn't know about: you can easily turn your iMac into a wireless router. My iMac is connected to a cable modem; to access the internet wirelessly with my Windows laptop, I just turn on Airport and Internet Sharing on the iMac. The range is decent--I can work downstairs or out in the garden with the Mac on the second floor.

To do this:
- Open System Preferences
- Click Network, then turn on Airport
- Still in the System Prefs window, click Sharing, then Internet, and then Start.

Of course, I'd rather work on the iMac, but my clients require some Windows software. And I'm not schlepping my iMac out to the garden.
posted by PatoPata at 10:46 AM on December 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

While your iMac is on, hit the F12 button. Those things that pop up on your screen are widgets and you can download more.

Learn to use Expose, it's lifesaver.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:52 AM on December 17, 2007

Exposé is indeed the shit. I can't count the number of times when I'm on my PC at work and I try to flip my mouse into the lower right corner thinking it'll move all my windows out of the way.

I've been a Mac user since the beige toaster era and I'm still surprised by the things it can do.

I've picked up a ton of useful info by reading some Mac-related blogs via RSS, which allows me to quickly sift out the more fanboyish blather from the truly interesting. I've discovered a bunch of great software and hardware tips by reading Daring Fireball, Infinite Loop, MacSlash, The Apple Blog, and The Unofficial Apple Weblog on a daily basis.

And to read those RSS feeds, I'd suggest the world's best Mac RSS reader NetNewsWire.

Other things you can do?

Catalog and organize your books, CDs, DVDs and games.
Do some image editing on the cheap.
Play classic video games.
Find alternatives to default Apple software (some of which you may prefer, coming from the Windows world)
Do some stargazing.
Record some streaming audio.
Write some stuff.
Rip some DVDs.
Make some stop-motion animation with your iSight.
Keep track of your library books.
Make some old-school electronic music.

And don't forget to look at all the bazillion other AskMe posts on the same subject.
posted by 40 Watt at 11:19 AM on December 17, 2007 [5 favorites]

You played with the remote and Front Row already right?

Maybe you didn't. A friend of mine had her new Mac for a few months when I mentioned the remote while talking to her on the phone. "Oh, is that what that is?" she said. I instructed her to point it at the screen and push menu. She audibly gasped.

So, yeah, do that.
posted by The Deej at 11:20 AM on December 17, 2007

also, get quicksilver.
posted by shmegegge at 11:31 AM on December 17, 2007

or Butler.
posted by 40 Watt at 11:37 AM on December 17, 2007

I recommend setting up Espose with hot corners. I have the bottom left set to 'show all windows,' the bottom right to 'desktop,' top right to Dashboard, and top left to screensaver. It makes these tasks into gestures you can do with the mouse, and it's really handy.

I also recommend getting the Electric Sheep screensaver.
posted by mullingitover at 12:21 PM on December 17, 2007

Second the poster who said that you should get to know the command line. I sent the 80s and early 90s on a Mac before making the jump to Windows for work. Last year I poked my head back in and started using a MacBook and it was a real eye-opener.

As a Windows user, I was accustomed to a somewhat crippled command line. Ironically, the Mac's command line is now the real workhorse. It's a full UNIX shell with access to all the goodies you'd expect on a *NIX box. I've been in love ever since.
posted by verb at 12:53 PM on December 17, 2007

Expose, Dashboard and Spaces are huge timesavers.

I'm a big fan of setting middle-mouse button to All Windows, myself, and using that as my "switcher" but even the default F9-F10-F11-F12 are worth memorizing.
posted by rokusan at 1:00 PM on December 17, 2007

Lifehacker loves it some Mac software.
posted by Paragon at 1:17 PM on December 17, 2007

Hold down command["cloverleaf"]-control-d while mousing over text in Safari or other apps which use Apple's Cocoa frameworks.
posted by D.C. at 6:35 PM on December 17, 2007

Thank you muchly for asking. I too have made the leap to Mac, via a MacBook. It is odd to discover myself clueless about what I might want, after 20 years of windows. Alas, I didn't think of Stellarium, and was on a trip this past weekend and the stars came out.
posted by Goofyy at 5:52 AM on December 18, 2007

There are tons of creative developers who love providing all kinds of applications for the Mac. You can check them all out here at Apple, and see what floats your boat:
posted by DudeAsInCool at 11:42 AM on December 18, 2007

Get an external Hard Drive and set up Time Machine. It's the best and easiest backup system I've ever seen, and it's saved my ass twice since I bought my new iMac two months ago.
posted by Mcable at 3:22 PM on December 18, 2007

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