New iMac owner seeking advice
January 19, 2008 6:14 PM   Subscribe

OK: i know there are tons of posts asking some of the same things, and i have waded through many of them but may i beg your indulgence and ask a couple of relatively straightforward newbie questions? 1) If I need to work with Office documents from a PC environment (mostly word, occasionally PPT and excel) from time to time , can i do so without installing VM Fusion (which most here seem to favor) along with my Windows XP? Will Mac Office work with them? 2) Any discussions on how to best deal with the glare of the new monitor? 3) How good is the mail program: should i abandon gmail, run them both or go back to firebird? 4) Any reason to use safari if i already know firefox? Or consider one of the other choices? Thanks for indulging me. I have a lot to learn about this. ( )
posted by dougiedd to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1) Yes, just open the files in the mac. Complicated VBA macros (basically, anything writing files) may need to be adjusted to work in a mac environment, but 99% of the time everything'll be sweet.
2) I asked about this for my laptop. There are a few screen-darkening suggestions in there.
3) I use the mac's with my gmail account. Hunt around on gmail for the details on how to set up POP. IIRC there are instructions in the gmail help.
4) Safari integrates a bit better with the rest of the GUI... highlight some text and look at the 'Services' menu - safari will have more options enabled. It's likely that you, like I, won't really use it. I've tried to get into using Safari for this reason, but I do prefer Firefox, and tend to stick with it.
posted by pompomtom at 6:22 PM on January 19, 2008

1. TextEdit and Office can read and write doc files. Office 2004 is slow on Intel, but you've got VBScript. Office 2008 is fast, but no VBScript. If it's not a problem, than '08 is worth it. Or NeoOffice (less usage than multiple '04 apps, but ugly nonetheless).
2. Is the new iMac's screen glossy? Mine's the rev before the metallic (it's white) with a matte screen, and I don't have any problems. Try adjusting the angle of the monitor or moving your desk out of direct sunlight.
3. The mail program is pretty good. I don't use it with Gmail, but it works fine with IMAP.
4. Safari feels faster and looks better (smoother text, nice interface). Give Firefox 3 a shot - it's faster and less fugly on a Mac than Fx2. I came from Opera on Windows, but I prefer Safari over anything.

Also, check out iusethis, macosxhints, Pure Mac, Switch 101, and I bought a Mac.
posted by fleeba at 6:40 PM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

4) Safari 3.0. ...uh ....4 has an interesting bug that flushes cookies every so often (in my case almost immediately.) Still hasn't been fixed so I switched to Camino and love it; it's based on Gecko but feels much faster to me than Firefox 2. If you're concerned about GUI and integration, Pimp my Camino has some tips.
posted by ZakDaddy at 6:42 PM on January 19, 2008

You can set up Gmail through using IMAP. Much preferable over POP, in my opinion. is a pretty robust mail application that keeps things pretty simple.

I also prefer the way Safari handles RSS feeds, so I use it as my default browser. If I reach a site that has some issue, I can always use Firefox.
posted by qwip at 6:46 PM on January 19, 2008

Sidenote: Warning, many people (including myself) have had serious problems with + Gmail + IMAP. My problem has been duplicate downloaded messages, for others, using tags and labels. I had to switch back to POP.
posted by themadjuggler at 7:23 PM on January 19, 2008

If you're generating Office documents to send to Windows people, please make sure they have the appropriate filename extension (.doc for Word documents, .xls for Excel workbooks, .ppt for PowerPoint presentations). Windows is rather more simple-minded than OS X about keeping track of which files belong to which apps, and will be confused by incorrect or missing filename extensions.
posted by flabdablet at 10:23 PM on January 19, 2008

There are features of and of Safari which just make them unpleasant to use, to my taste anyway, and I much prefer Thunderbird and Firefox. It's a personal choice and many others disagree. Try all four and make your own choice.

Fwiw I work on multiple platforms, so having the same functionality on each makes TBird and FF more attractive. (Plus, I'd hate to be without the Firefox "Add Bookmark Here" add-on.)
posted by anadem at 1:39 AM on January 20, 2008

Wow! Lots o great suggestions! Glad i joined this forum! <>
1)I tried opening some word doc someone sent me to my email account this am using text edit but the format was rather gibberishy! So it would appear I will indeed need to either buy office for mac or install VM fusion or the like? I guess i could try one of the free suites like neo office: will that work?

2) Where does one find Firefox 3? I downloaded what was supposed to be the latest version and it appears to be
Is 3 a beta?

3) As to generating the right filename extension, is that simply a matter of editing the extension type on the fly?

Thanks everyone!
posted by dougiedd at 11:51 AM on January 20, 2008

One last thing: i really miss being able to highlight text with my mouse in firefox and right click to google that text: any mac options to do similar?
posted by dougiedd at 12:06 PM on January 20, 2008

In firefox, you can do exactly that. If you don't have a right mouse button handy, ctrl-click will get you to the context menu.
posted by pompomtom at 2:31 PM on January 20, 2008

3) As to generating the right filename extension, is that simply a matter of editing the extension type on the fly?

Go to Finder > Preferences > Advanced and check the box for 'Show all file extensions'. That should help.
posted by macdara at 3:18 PM on January 20, 2008

NB: I'm still using Tiger so the above might have changed in Leopard, but I doubt it.
posted by macdara at 3:18 PM on January 20, 2008

Hmm...control-click doesnt do anything : what am i doing wrong. right clicking also does nothing ot a highlighted term...
posted by dougiedd at 9:39 PM on January 20, 2008

1)I tried opening some word doc someone sent me to my email account this am using text edit but the format was rather gibberishy!

So you don't already Microsoft Office installed? Then you should definitely give NeoOffice a try before you even begin to consider buying the Microsoft product. It will cost you nothing to install, and will probably do everything you need. It will certainly let you work with Microsoft Office documents.

Is 3 a beta?

posted by flabdablet at 4:49 AM on January 21, 2008

Thanks: would you say Neoffice is better?
posted by dougiedd at 7:37 PM on January 21, 2008

It's better in that it feels faster compared to '04, but worse in that, well, it's not Word. By that, I mean that some word docs will lose their formatting. If you use styles, you'll generally be safe.
posted by fleeba at 11:06 PM on January 21, 2008

NeoOffice/OpenOffice does have a few minor inter-operability problems with Microsoft Office. But they're minor. They're of the same order as the inter-operability issues that exist between the assorted versions of Office itself, and are not likely to waste much of your time.

For the most part, the only thing you'll need to do in order to get along with Microsoft users is remember to use the File Type option in the Save As dialog to choose a Microsoft-compatible file format.

As an office suite, on its own merits, I personally find OpenOffice nicer to use than any of the Microsoft products. For a start, it doesn't go all limp and unmanageable when you try to edit a 200 page document with the word processor. It also doesn't hide three quarters of the available menu options from you by default, so it's a hell of a lot easier to find your way into than Microsoft Office is. And it doesn't have that @^@%%^#$@#! Clippit.

And it's free.
posted by flabdablet at 11:16 PM on January 21, 2008

Thanks ! NOw if i can just figure out how to use the mighty mouse with firefox i will be all set: how frustrating not to be able to spell check or highlight and open terms in google
posted by dougiedd at 8:07 PM on January 22, 2008

Control-click on the Mac does what right-click does on any sensible machine.

Or, you could just plug in a decent two-button wheel mouse.
posted by flabdablet at 8:25 PM on January 22, 2008

To do control-click properly: hold down the Ctrl key, click the mouse button, release the Ctrl key. Or is it the four-leaf-clover key instead of the Ctrl key? I'm pretty sure it's the Ctrl key.
posted by flabdablet at 8:30 PM on January 22, 2008

Thanks: i was confusing the mouse button with the scrolled click!
posted by dougiedd at 11:55 PM on January 22, 2008

Not sure if the new Mac's have it enabled by default, but if you want your secondary mouse button (right click), go to System Preferences>Keyboard & Mouse then enable secondary button.
posted by fleeba at 8:15 PM on January 23, 2008

what does enabling it do then?
posted by dougiedd at 10:37 PM on January 24, 2008

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