Converting from Windows to Mac OS

As you may already know, I decided last week that I had rebuilt Windows for the last time. My Windows laptop got corrupted somehow and none of the usual tools I use could fix it, and the only way to fix it would be a complete reinstall of the OS.  I said “Deja Vu” for the last time and bought a Macbook Pro for me and two iMacs for the house.  I got a pretty good deal on all three, spending just about $2000 for three 2-2.2 GHz machines with 2 GB of RAM and large enough hard drives for the job.  This is slightly faster than the laptop and PCs that I had, so I thought it would make a good transition and wouldn’t bankrupt me all at the same time.

Since this is a backup blog, I’ll limit the number of PC/Mac posts. I’ll actually keep updating this one and putting more and more stuff in it until it gets too much, after which I’ll start another one.

The Good

  1. The system is way faster and more responsive than the Dell system from which I “upgraded,” even though the hardware is actually less impressive from a numbers perspective (I have 1/4 the amount of RAM I had in Windows).  Apps just open, instead of staring at an hourglass for many seconds. Firefox is particularly faster.
  2. When you combine the overall feistiness of it with the “feature” that I can leave many apps running without hurting the performance, it gets even nicer.  Right now I have Firefox, iTunes, Finder, Mail, iCal, Skype, Tweeterdeck, Entourage and whatever they call Notepad running.  And I’ve never seen anything that looks like an hourglass and have 471M free of my 2GB of RAM.  I need 2 GB of RAM just to boot Vista!
  3. Clicking Terminal takes me to a Unix prompt.  No more loading Cygwin to fake Unix. I have Unix right here if I want it, like when I want to run top, which is what told me I had 471M free.  Actually knowing Unix lets me do a few fancy things on here that the average user would never even think of.
  4. I love how you install apps.  Just drag them to the application folder.  None of this dialogue box running for many minutes and updating the registry nonsense.  You want an application? Just drop it into the applications folder.  Wow.
  5. I love the quick buttons in Finder to get to recent docs, etc.
  6. I loved how the CD loaded and unloaded, although I kind of jump the first time it did it. (It doesn’t have a tray, which is what I’m used to.)  I think this way is cleaner.
  7. I love that the Mail application moves me from the current message to the next message when I delete the current message.  I never did understand Outlook’s stupid practice of taking me to the previous message when I delete a message.  Something simply like that is very nice.
  8. I also love that I can accept Outlook/Exchange invites in Mail no problem.  That would have really stunk if I couldn’t do that.
  9. I love how Time Machine works.  It backs up everything on the box.  When you buy a new machine or harddrive, you just plug it in and Time Machine automatically restores everything — or so it says. I’ll be testing that soon.
  10. I love the way it prompts me for my password before installing something or changing a system setting.  Nice.

The Infruriating

  1. I usually edit my blog posts right in the web browser.  There’s a key sequence that I kept hitting that basically said “Back.”  There goes everything I’ve typed.  Fool me once, shame on me.  Fool me, oh well.. I did it twice before I gave up and switched to a text editor and I’ll cut and paste when I’m done.  I yelled nasty words at my computer when it did that.

The Frustrating

  1. [Answered] The  button below the touchpad on this used Macbook Pro takes quite a bit of force to press — way more than is comfortable.  I used it all day yesterday and by the end my thumb hurt.  Many people told me that it might just be my laptop.  In fact, it appears in later models they did away with the button altogether.  [The guy I bought it from is replacing the top cover for me.]
  2. The magical “it just pops out” power connecter is cool, but you know what?  Sometimes it just pops out when you don’t want it to. 
  3. Firefox has crashed three times in two days, always when I had lots of tabs open.  Not sure what’s up there.  I’ll be checking out other browsers.
  4. [Answered] I haven’t quite got the whole watching movie thing figured out.  It’s frustrating that I have to buy an extra-cost add on to play MPEG movies in Quicktime. (Answer: Looks like Real Player plays MPEGs.)
  5. [Answered] In Windows, if I had a directory with a bunch of pictures in it, I could just double-click on one of them, and it would maximize with left/right buttons at the bottom, and I could easily scroll through the pics.  When I do that now, the pic opens up in “preview,” but the left/right buttons are dimmed out.  It looks like the behavior is different if I actually open Preview and use File, Open.  What’s up with that?  (Answer: Select mutliple files then open them in preview.)
  6. I just plugged in a brand new iTouch and it wants to charge me to upgrade to the most recent firmware.  What’s up with that?  That’s not really a Mac thing but it is an iPod thing.
  7. If I select multiple files in Finder and hit enter, it does not open them.  it just gives me a “bonk” error sound.
  8. I can’t seem to make a new mail folder in Mail.  I can make a “smart folder” whatever that is, but it doesn’t look like I can make a new folder that gets sent to the Exchange server.  I had to go to OWA for that.
  9. Contrary to this 2006 commercial from Apple (which, BTW, is not available on and is only found on youtube), iLife is not “included with every Mac.”  (It is included with every NEW Mac, though. But if you buy the Snow Leopard updated OS disk, it’s not going to come with iLife 09.) That means I have to buy iLife if I want iPhoto, iMovie, etc. It may have been included at one time, but it’s now a separately licensed product. Now it’s “only” $99 for a family license (and I found i on ebay for $60), but even Windows includes a photo manager and Movie Maker for free.

The “It’s weird but I’ve figured it out via my Mac buddies” stuff

  1. The button problem was solved by activating the click features in the touchpad. One finger tapping is a left click, two fingers tapping is a right click. Two fingers dragging up/down/left/right scrolls the active app.  That solves the hard button problem.
  2. A lot (but not all, oddly enough) of the hot keys from Windows translate into MacOS hotkeys if you change the CTL key to the Apple/Cloverleaf key (for some reason referred to as the Command key). For example, CMD A selects all text, CMD C copies, CMD X cuts, and CMD V pastes.
  3. Here’s one hot key that didn’t translate. I used to use CTL, Arrow and CTL, Shift, Arrow to move between words in a document.  ALT, Arrow and ALT, Shift, Arrow does that here.  If you use the CMD key in that scenario, it just goes to the beginning of that line, or selects everything from your current cursor position to the beginning of the line.
  4. I bought Office 2008 home, although it does not have support for Exchange (which I need).  I did this because Snow Leopard had support for Exchange built-in. It turns out that means you have to use the built-in apps for mail, calendar, and address book.

Answered Questions

  1. Why  when my power supply is plugged in does the light on it sometimes display green and other times displays amber? (Amber = charging, Green = charged)
  2. How do I make PDFs of Word docs now? (Just save as PDF)
  3. The Backspace key says Delete, and there is no Delete key (a key that deletes text in front of it).  Is there something I’m missing? (Fn Delete will delete forward of the cursor)
  4. The  little red 5 on the Mail icon tells me I have five messages. What is the little red 5 on the iCal icon telling me? Just that I have 5 appointments today? Someone said yes, but that is not the case.  Right now it says 6, and I only have 1 appt today. (It’s the number of appt requests you haven’t responded to.)
  5. How do I get Mail to display just the unread messages? (Just sort on the status column, then filter on that. I think Outlook is nicer.)
  6. I now bought Office 2008 Standard so I can connect Entourage to Exchange.  Can I continue using just Mail without having to use iCal? (Sure, just don’t start iCal.  But now that I’ve run Entourage, I’m going to use it instead of Mail.)

Unanswered Questions:

  1. What’s the difference between clicking the red button and the yellow button?  In both scenarios, iTunes keeps playing, so the app is still running.  I already know that if I want to really stop and app, I have to use CTL Q, but that’s not the question I’m asking.  What I’m asking is what’s the difference between close and minimize?  The only difference I can see is that if I minimize (yellow), I get a mini version of the app in doc on the right.  Yes, I know that you have to do App Q to really quit the app.  The best answer I’ve heard is that minimizing saves system state and closing doesn’t.  But again, iTunes keeps playing and Mail keeps receiving emails and beeping me if I close it, so that doesn’t follow.  So I’m still left with the question.
  2. Why does the default search on Mail not search everything?  It says it’s searching “Entire Message,” when what it really means is that it’s searching the Entire Body. You have to click on From or To to get it to search those.

That’s what i have so far.  I’ll update it as I have more.

----- Signature and Disclaimer -----

Written by W. Curtis Preston (@wcpreston). For those of you unfamiliar with my work, I've specialized in backup & recovery since 1993. I've written the O'Reilly books on backup and have worked with a number of native and commercial tools. I am now Chief Technical Evangelist at Druva, the leading provider of cloud-based data protection and data management tools for endpoints, infrastructure, and cloud applications. These posts reflect my own opinion and are not necessarily the opinion of my employer.

11 thoughts on “Converting from Windows to Mac OS

  1. stormsinger says:

    Hey Curtis!
    Made the main switch to Mac about 9 months ago. I use Fusion (or Boot Camp) to get to any Windows specific apps and that has really helped with my transition. Have really enjoyed nearly everything about the mac. There are little things that are frustrating but overall I really like the responsiveness of the system. Bonus points for Apple as when I ran Boot Camp to create the Windows partition for XP the drivers were all included on the OSX install disc!

    Currently we (coworkers and I) are working on our very windows centric boss to pull him into the Mac world a bit. The “entry drug” was the iPhone he got to replace the Windows Mobile that had gotten really frustrating for him.

    Some comments on the questions/comments:

    Under Frustating:
    2 – i really love the pop out/magnetic plug. With two kids and a fairly large puppy (she’s about 50 pounds now at 8 months) running around I’m glad to have it. We’ve nearly ruined my wife’s computer because the kids will jump around and literally tear the power adapter out of the computer! When that happens to me I just pick the plug back up and put it back in. πŸ™‚
    3 – i find that firefox with a bunch of plugins will crash occasionally. You might check the plugins before moving to different browsers.
    5 – i use Finder for this kind of function. if you open finder, go into the directory with all the pics and then switch to the “Cover Flow” style (it’s the fourth icon across the viewing style list) you get pretty much what you describe.
    6 – most likely the iTouch is on firmware 2.x and the latest is 3.x. The same thing happened when we bought my wife a brand new iTouch in August. leftover inventory with 2.x firmware i think. You might be able to talk to the retailer you bought it from as I *think* some of them have certificates to do the upgrade free. Not sure on that one though.

    Under unanswered questions:
    1 – as near as I can tell green means the battery is charged, amber is when it’s charging
    2 – do a file save as in word and then click the doc type and see if you have a PDF type. I do and haven’t done anything to modify office for that so think it’s built in.

    6 – delete goes back, clicking Function-Delete deletes forward of the cursor.

    Enjoy and I hope that helps a little bit. πŸ™‚


  2. davidy says:

    Before MacOS X, you could just drag and drop the “System” folder to another hard drive and then boot from it. You can’t do this with MacOS X.

    Get yourself a copy of Carbon Copy Cloner, and create a backup copy of your boot disk on your TimeMachine disk. Now if something happens to your primary boot disk, you can boot from the TimeMachine disk and use the machine until you replace and repair the primary disk.

  3. cpjlboss says:

    It is nice to be able to boot from CCC, but it has no history. It’s a clone of the current state of your harddrive. If you decide you need to go back to a previous version of a file, forget it. You can only go back to the version in the clone.

    With TM you can have as much history as you have room for.

    What would be nice is to be able to take TM backups based on a CC clone. IOW, you make the CCC clone, then you tell TM to only backup incremental files from now on, essentially using the CCC as the full. I don’t think you can do that.

  4. pteo says:

    Made the switch about year ago and have been generally positive since…except for the 3 apps that I need to run that still needs windows. Used Windows since 3.1 and faced many of the same annoyances.

    >> Why when my power supply is plugged in does the light on it sometimes display green and other times displays amber?

    Amber = Charging, Green = Fully Charged

    >> How do I make PDFs of Word docs now?

    In the print dialog, the bottom left corner should have a PDF button. Click on that, save as PDF. Works on most/all applications. Nice having this built into the OS.

    >> I now bought Office 2008 Standard so I can connect Entourage to Exchange. Can I continue using just Mail without having to use iCal?

    Am using Mail and iCal – thing is most apps will synch with iCal. Now waiting for blackberry to release their mac desktop so that I can sync my blackbery. Otherwise, will have to shell out for a third party utility.

    >> What’s the difference between clicking the red button and the yellow button? In both scenarios, iTunes keeps playing, so the app is still running. The only difference I can see is that if I minimize (yellow), I get a mini version of the app in the doc on the right.

    Red closes the Window (same as Apple-W), Yellow minimizes the app. Neither will kill the app – you need to Apple-Q or quit from the menu.

    >> The Backspace key says Delete, and there is no Delete key (a key that deletes text in front of it). Is there something I’m missing?

    Delete = Fn+Del (or get an external keyboard)
    Backspace = Del

    Little weird but…


  5. rob says:

    I assume your frustration stems from pressing the backspace key and getting the firefox back-a-page behavior. I share your rage at that one.

    Thankfully this is easy to correct via the Firefox about:config options screen:

    set “browser.backspace_action” to 2

    poof! no more rage. πŸ™‚

    As for producing PDFs, note that the OSX print dialog box will always include an option to save your output to a PDF file.

    And as for paying for that ipod touch firmward update, it’s a side effect of some SEC accounting rules. Some think this charge is going away soon. Reference:

  6. stormsinger says:

    Hmmm all of the macs we have bought for the company came with the iLife suite (or most of it as near as I can tell). The installs are on a second disk though so if you do a clean install of the OS you don’t get the extra apps … like the developer apps and iLife etc. So you might look there before you go buy that stuff.

  7. Pinback says:

    I bought the initial model of MacBook Pro, just after they came out. The cable near the magsafe connector on the original power supply failed just out of warranty. I’m careful with my equipment, and the only maintenance I’ve needed to do is an occasional cleaning.

    I’ve since plunked down 79$ for a replacement supply. I bought a more recent MacBook for my wife, and the cable failed at the magsafe connector on it too. So I bought a new supply for that one as well.

    The cable on one of the replacement supplies is beginning to fail at the supply end. The quality of this cable (which is only two conductor) is shameful.

    I would encourage you to not be careful with the power supply. If you see any sign of wear at all, you want it to fail before the warranty is up.

    Since there is no source at all for this connector, Apple has made no apparent improvements in build quality, and the improved strain relief is only showing up on supplies suitable for the AIR, I’m likely to hack a standard coaxial power connector into the MBP.

    On the flip side, I would encourage you to try the Apple bluetooth Mighty Mouse. Being able to right click by right clicking is worth the money. Especially if you run Windows under Parallels Desktop or Bootcamp.

  8. bcheath says:

    To open selected documents in the Finder using the keyboard, hit Command-down arrow. Command-Up navigates to the parent folder of the one you’re viewing.

    If you use Firefox, get the Firefox PDF Plugin extension to display PDFs using the OS’s built-in PDF support (no need for Adobe Reader bloatware)

Comments are closed.