Getting along with a Mac

I realized recently that I had arrived at the fifth anniversary of a kind of freedom. It was in the summer of 2015 that I decided to see whether I could get along with a Mac. I had been using an iPad since they were first announced – I still am and wrote an update here. After the iPad, I quite swiftly moved to using an iPhone. So, I was somewhat plugged in to the world of Apple. I was becoming more and more tired of Windows frustrations and some friends persuaded me to invest in a Mac and give it a try …

And I am not going back! [Although I do need to use Windows for some work-related stuff sadly.]

I started out with a MacBook. I figured that, as my wife needed a new computer and her needs were quite straightforward, this would be fine, even if I did not get along with it. I very rapidly found that I could do everything that I wanted with ease. My next investment was an iMac with the 27” screen, which is easily the best computer I have ever used.

A computer is only good as the software – the apps – that it runs. Although I am happy to try new things from time to time, I have settled to a “tool box” that gets everything done:

Chrome is the browser that I use routinely. I am used to it and I like the synchronization with my iPhone and iPad; so, if I was looking at a website on one device, I can quickly find it on another. I am aware that it is considered a bit of a memory hog, but I am not too motivated to change just yet.

I use the standard Mail app for my personal email. I have tried others [like Kiwi and Spark] but it’s simplicity makes me come back to it. It has some annoyances, so I will probably investigate others again sometime.

For other personal communications I use a WhatsApp client app and the new Facebook Messenger app.

I have used Evernote for many years for a variety of purposes and have never found anything that can better it for functionality, particularly moving between platforms.

These are the apps that run all the time, along with some background utilities: DropBox, OneDrive, Magnet [great window tidying app], Clipy [clipboard manager], Dashlane [password manager] and Time Machine. Everything else is run as needed.

Microsoft Office is an obvious choice and it works on a Mac at least as well as Windows. The usual apps are Word/Excel/PowerPoint/Teams but I have also been playing with OneNote as I think it might be a good replacement for Evernote. I prefer its organizational structure, but the lack of edit-in-place attachments is frustrating.

For photography related matters I used Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. I recently trialled Affinity Photo as many people spoke highly of it, but I found it rather clunky; everything that I wanted to do seemed to take lots of steps.

For video matters – editing videos and capturing presentations – I use Camtasia.

Of course, there are other apps that get used from time to time – like Family Tree Maker for genealogy and Scrivener for some writing projects – and others that are nice to have to hand.

I am very surprised to find that many Mac users do not uses Spaces [virtual desktops]. This is a built-in and very easy to use feature of MacOS and I use it all the time – in slightly different ways on the iMac and MacBook. I guess the computers are flexible enough for us each to have our own way to work …

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2 thoughts about “Getting along with a Mac
  • Hi Colin! I am a multi-platform user, with mostly personal stuff on my Macbook Pro and work stuff on Windows 10 (yes, still more business, scientific and engineering apps for that). The user experience has converged for them, but Apple still has a slight lead.

    The Apple Time Machine backup system is superior to built-in and free (I don’t pay) solutions for Windows. For the latter, Microsoft Cloud has been more helpful in migrating between machines than trying to retrieve from a hard drive backup. IT pros that I know use paid solutions for Windows and it works for them. As an ordinary guy, Apple Time Machine has been as good as their Migration Assistant which I have used since the first OS X (now macOS) computers. Last Christmas helping a friend, we made a successful Time Machine backup of their old laptop then in the middle of migration to the new one, the former died! They were already having hardware-related crash issues, thus motivating the upgrade, and that was the final one. The TM backup put them right where they left off, and they haven’t looked back.

    I am using older installed releases of Microsoft Office (not 365) so I do check Word documents on both macOS and Windows to make sure that there is no extra line that bursts into a new page, etc. Resolutions may still be different, even on the same screen spec. I routinely help a friend check her Zoom backgrounds (her daily new screen is often the talk of her students after class, going by Slack threads) so we preview on both platforms to ensure that she doesn’t have a church steeple growing out of her head, or a gargoyle sticking out of her ear! 🙂

    I hope that you are having a decent summer in these trying times! G

  • @Gary – I can strongly recommend Evernote as a way of working across multiple machines/platforms. It means, for me, that stuff just follows me around with almost no effort from me. OneNote does something similar, but has some slight limitations [IMHO].

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