3 Tips for New Mac Users

I’ve been a Mac user for about three years now. I’ve become quite “integrated” with the Apple ecosystem, and recently, I’ve encountered many new (or prospective) Mac users who’ve had a few questions about their new system.

The Macintosh is certainly a different environment than Windows. Apart from the obvious graphical dissimilarities, there are certain aspects of the Mac that leave many befuddled by it – and thus, for this reason, some might be turned away from what could be a pleasant computing experience. In this post, I aim to provide you, the new or prospective Mac user, with 3 simple tips concerning my computing platform of choice.

1. You Can Run Windows on Your Mac

Most people think that Macs can only run OS X-exclusive software – and nothing else. However, since Apple transitioned to Intel processors, they’ve included a nifty, free tool with every new Mac called BootCamp. Using BootCamp Assistant and a copy of Windows (preferably the latest edition), you can have the best of both worlds, being able to dual-boot your Mac into either OS X, or Windows. Running Windows in the BootCamp environment means you’re effectively running a native version of Microsoft’s operating system on your computer, thus ensuring the full Windows experience. You can use “virtualisation” software such as VMware Fusion or Parallels, and this will allow you to run Windows-native apps side-by-side with your Mac apps, but the downside is that there may be some performance glitches. However, the message here: yes, you can run Windows on a Mac.

2. Microsoft has a version of Office for Mac

Microsoft has two versions of the industry-standard productivity suite we’ve all come to love (and possibly hate). Microsoft Office is the staple diet of the Windows world, but did you know that there’s a version made to run natively for Mac? It’s called Microsoft Office:Mac 2011 (that’s the latest version). So before you go out and get a copy of Windows, install it through BootCamp, and then get a copy of Office 2010 to install in that partition, wait! Rather get the native version of Office made specifically for your Mac. It ensures compatibility with the Windows version of Office, so your projects and assignments can be created safe in the knowledge that they can be read exactly as they were intended to on other systems. And if you don’t want to splurge on a copy of Office:Mac, you can always get Apple’s alternative, iWork. Whilst it hasn’t been updated in a long time (the last version came out in 2009), it is still quite powerful. It includes three apps: Pages, Numbers and Keynote. Whilst Numbers isn’t exactly an Excel killer, Pages allows you to create beautiful documents and Keynote is certainly far superior to PowerPoint. Apple is now selling the iWork suite as separate apps available through the Mac App Store.

3. Safari doesn’t have to be your default browser

Safari is Apple’s own web browser. It’s a great app, and it has some nifty features. However, you don’t have to settle with using Safari as your default browser. In fact, apart from Internet Exploder Explorer (which is, thankfully, only for the Windows OS), you have a wide choice of windows into the WWW: there’s Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. And if you browse the Mac App Store, you’re sure to find even more alternatives that are designed for specific tasks, such as turning your favourite social apps and email systems into apps of their own, complete with their own icons.

The Mac is a great platform in my opinion. And the fact that it’s gaining traction – rapidly – throughout the world is testament to the design and engineering prowess of 1 Infinite Loop in being able to create an integrated system that works effortlessly to allow you to do more.

If you have any other tips for Mac users, be sure to drop them in the comments below.

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