After years of using Windows, I recently did what I regularly advise others to do: I bought a Mac. So far, it’s been great, and to my surprise, relatively painless. I have had to solve a few problems, but none particularly difficult.

For Windows users interested in switching, here’s why I switched, what’s awesome about my new Mac, and what I miss about Windows.

Why I bought a Mac

Except for my high school photography and journalism classes, I have always used Windows PCs. Despite all the hype coming from Cupertino, Windows has always “just worked” just fine for me. So, unlike many misguided switchers, I did not decide to buy a Mac because of an ignorant impression that Macs are faster or more secure or even easier to use (for a proficient user, anyway). I guess I bought a Mac mostly because I was getting bored with Windows. Besides, my iPad has been a great experience, as has my recently-purchased iPhone 5. (Also: beautiful hardware.) Whatever the main motivation, when Windows 8 failed to impress me (and annoyed me a lot), I ordered a Mac mini.

First, the jury is still out on whether I have “switched” to Mac. I’m using one, and that is all. I still have Windows 7 on my ThinkPad and on my Dell desktop, both of which I still use frequently. That said, my Mac will be my primary computer for the foreseeable future.

What I like about my new Mac

I am not generally wowed by speed. A new computer had better feel way faster than an old one, as a general rule. Still, I am impressed by all the go-fast bits Apple squeezed into this little container. It has a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, and I maxed out the memory at 16 GB (I ordered a Crucial memory kit, though; I’m not paying Apple’s ridiculous memory prices). The 1 TB Fusion drive is one part speedy solid-state drive, and one part regular spinning platters. Everything is satisfactorily zippy. (I paid well for this, of course; my Mac mini was just under $1,300.)

The only real sacrifice, as far as I can tell, is the graphics. Apple is now using Intel’s integrated graphics instead of a separate graphics processor. It’s fast enough for me, though, and it works very well for wasting time playing Minecraft. If I ever become a hardcore PC gamer, I will get a suped-up Windows rig, anyway, so whatever I’m missing out on in the graphics department is not missed.

But really, the hardware is just a different box to set on my desk. The real difference comes from using it, and that means OS X.

Getting along with a Mac

I don’t like running emulators or virtualization, if I can avoid it, so I am trying to stick with native software. It has not been difficult. Most of my work is done in Google Chrome, Microsoft Office, or Evernote, and all are available for Mac. In fact, Evernote for Mac is nicer than its Windows sibling. I cannot say the same for Office for Mac 2011, however.

Office for Mac 2011 has almost nothing in common with Office for Windows or with any other software written for OS X. Instead, it exists on its own with a clumsy user interface. It works fine, even if it is not pleasant to work with. I have not had any problems creating or editing documents and sharing them with Windows users.

I have a copy of Acrobat for Mac, but I didn’t bother to install it until very recently. It was easy enough to find and install the ScanSnap software for Mac, and I found that it works just fine without Acrobat installed. Since OS X’s built-in Preview software does some basic PDF editing, I probably could have gotten along without Acrobat indefinitely.

I have not installed QuickBooks yet. I am trying to decide whether to switch to the Mac version or the cloud version, QuickBooks Online. But either way, I know it will work just fine. Although just like Office, I have heard the Mac version of QuickBooks leaves much to be desired.

It is obvious that designing software for OS X is fundamentally different than designing software for Windows. Companies that get that, like Evernote, make software that is a pleasure great to use on both systems. Companies that don’t, like Microsoft and Intuit, have me looking for native Mac alternatives, or else cloud-based options.

One of my favorite thing about Macs is the prevalence of keyboard shortcuts. This is a system that favors the mouse and trackpad, but leaves all the keyboard shortcuts in place, too. That means you can type things you use all the time, like em dashes, the ¶ and § symbols, and much more, just by using Option and Option+Shift plus the appropriate key. On a Windows PC, you have to memorize complicated Alt codes, which only work in some software, or set up shortcuts in Word that aren’t available in anything else. (You can also use text expanders, of course, which is what I do in Windows.) Legal writing is sometimes easier on a Mac, due to the ease of accessing special characters.

What I miss about Windows

There are not many things I miss about Windows, actually. And the things I do miss are probably low on most users’ lists. I miss being able to FTP into my websites from Windows Explorer. When I try in Finder, I can’t upload any files. I don’t like using traditional FTP tools, which are clumsy, as a rule, and I liked this easy shortcut when I needed to quickly get files on or off my websites.

I also miss the wide variety of free software available for Windows. I have used the free Notepad++ as my primary text editor for years, but I couldn’t find a good free text editor for OS X. Not one with code highlighting, anyway. Eventually, I spent $50 on BBedit. I’m not sorry, since it is a very good text editor, but I don’t feel like it is $50 better than Notepad++.

There are also a couple of things I thought I would have to do without, but I found solutions as good or better than what Windows offers.

Aero Snap

One of my favorite features of Windows 7 was the Aero Snap feature, which makes it simple to resize windows so they take up half the screen. All you have to do is drag a window to the left or right edge, and it will resize itself to take up half the screen. I use this feature constantly in Windows.

In OS X, resizing windows is a lot more fiddly. You can finally drag from the edges, instead of just the lower-right corner, but it’s still a pain to get two documents to take up half the screen apiece. Fortunately, there is BetterSnapTool, which brings Aero Snap to OS X, plus some additional features, like resizing to quarters and sixths, if you want. There are a few other utilities that do this, but I went with BetterSnapTool because it offers the most features and the best price.


A lot of the typing I do winds up being repetitive. Like signature blocks, HTML link tags, our weekly top posts roundup and other stuff. Plus, I really like having access to special characters like en dashes and em dashes without memorizing Alt codes. On Windows, AutoHotKey makes this pretty simple.

But on OS X and iOS, TextExpander is even better. Unlike AutoHotKey, a scripting tool, TextExpander has an actual interface that makes it easy to create text snippets. Of course, it is not as powerful as AutoHotKey, either, but I wasn’t using all the fancy features, anyway. I also love being able to sync up my text snippets with my iPhone and iPad.

What I don’t like about my new Mac

Apart from badly-adapted software like Office and QuickBooks, the keyboard is both a pleasure to use (see above) and a complete pain. I’ll never understand why it requires finger contortion just to copy and paste using the keyboard. Or why it takes two keys to get to the end of a line, but only one to get to the end of a document. Or why there is no forward delete key on the wireless keyboard. Or why the Home and End keys work differently in Office than in everything else, kind of like Shift+Delete in bbEdit, which screwed me up all the time until I figured out how to turn it off.

In the user interface, it bugs me that I cannot cut and paste files; I have to open two Finder windows and drag the files from one to the other, which requires quite a few additional steps. Or that I cannot administer files through a file open/save dialog.

But really, those are fairly minor quibbles. I have gotten used to the keyboard and its inconsistent behavior, and I have gotten used to the different ways the interface functions.

Should you switch?

I cannot think of any compelling reason to switch to Mac. As I have always said, there are good things and bad things about the Apple ecosystem, but in the end, it’s just a different computer.

Now that I have a Mac myself, though, I cannot think of any compelling reason not to get one. My migration has been relatively easy, and I none of the problems I have had took more than remedial computer knowledge to overcome.

So if you are interested in switching, go ahead. You will probably be glad you did (confirmation bias and all). If not, you will be just fine using what you have now.


  1. Ken Vedaa says:

    For those looking for a less expensive text editor with code highlighting I suggest Smultron. It can be acquired from the App Store for roughly $5. It does not have as many features as BBEdit, but it covers the basics for a reasonable cost of entry.

  2. Dan Sherman says:

    For aerosnap functions and really nice keyboard shortcut tweaking, you might want to give BetterTouchTool a shot. It’s free, too.

    And if you want to really have fun with your keyboard, try Alfred. Version 2 is almost out (I’ve been beta testing it), but V1 is awesome too. The powerpack is worth it just for the file-management.

    Finally, XtraFinder. It gives you cut/copy for files, tabbed browsing, putting directories on top… also free.

    Between those three, there is almost nothing I miss about Windows. Except for “keep window on top.” It was really nice to put a small video player in the corner of the screen, floating above all the other windows, while I worked on something else.

  3. Tom Stone says:

    OK, maybe not that hard but it’s been neither easy nor satisfying. I blame my iPhone for getting me into this. I’ve been on the iMac 16gb about 6 months now. The OS may be elegant but how does that help the user when the file system is hideous?

    Everything about this Mac screams: “you are a stupid user just let me do it for you!” Programs do what they want to do effortlessly. If I have my own ideas, I must get ready for a fight.

    Microsoft Office is central to so many operations, it’s more than inconvenient that the Mac versions are lame.

    The wireless keyboard is slick, its’ lack of a 10-keypad is unforgivable. I guess the brilliant graphic designers who like these so much are above working with numbers. Also no reasonable excuse for leaving off PgUp/Dn. Or fwd delete.

    For what I paid for this thing I could have had two screaming Windows notebooks. Needless to say, the Apple “no return” policy took effect the moment I broke the seal on the box.

    I don’t recommend the conversion to anyone.

  4. Rob says:

    If you don’t mind shelling out some cash, Coda 2 comes in on top as the best text editor on the market for any operating system. The interface is beautiful, and FTP and editing is combined seamlessly – you’ll never work another day in your life.

  5. Cody says:

    Just a few recommendations to make your crossover a little more permanent. Get Open Office for your word processing / csv needs. I’m sure you’ve heard of it and maybe even used it before, it’s my word processor of choice to avoid Microsofts clumsy Office for Mac. Also for a text editor, if you’re still looking for a free one, try Sublime Text. Hope you enjoy your Mac experience.

    • Sam Glover Sam Glover says:, I think you mean, not Open Office. In any case, LibreOffice is the one to get, now.

      I’ve stopped using OOo/LibreOffice, since preserving formatting is too important to me, and I frequently have to exchange Office documents with clients.

      • Mr. Neuron says:

        I went Mac 2.5 yrs. ago (iMac 21″ w/ 1TB HD/ 12GB RAM) and have never looked back, though as you note it’s not perfect. I agree that OpenOffice has too many formatting incompatibilities with Word to make it seamlessly useful. I have to run Windows on my Mac for a couple of office (govt) apps and for Quicken (Q for Mac sucks so hard it’s not funny), but only for that, and I got MS Office Student for that work use.

        • Brian says:

          So what you’re saying is that you use OSX for web browsing, and dual boot Windows when you actually have things you need to do due to a better user experience?

  6. Cara Emanuel says:

    “I cannot think of any compelling reason not to get a Mac”. Well, this is just a reminder that the price difference is a factor for many of us slobs on this side of the tracks. I work in the public sector and my office will not switch over to Macs ever, or at least not in my lifetime. I work on many of the same files in both locations, and I don’t have any interest in making that more complex. That being said, next time I need to replace a machine, if Windows 8 is going to be forced upon me, I might have to reconsider my position.

  7. Great article. I’m a long-time Mac user but have to run Windows in virtualization for a few programs.

    Most Mac v. PC articles are written by fanboys or haters on either or both sides. I found this article to be what most aren’t- honest and fair.

    Good job.

  8. Spiro says:

    I have been a Mac user for four years and like it very much. I am a heavy user because of my many software development projects and Virtual Machines.

    There are several tasks that require Windows and I need a Windows VM to complete the work. I have not found a good replacement to Visio and MS project. Aside from those, I am very happy. Cost is a factor to consider though

    • Eric says:

      I suggest you look at OmniGroup’s products. OmniGraffle blows away MS Visio and OmniPlan is a very good native Mac competitor to MS Project. I use and love both products (and OmniFocus as well, if you’re looking for a GTD app). OmniGroup has released compelling iOS apps as companions to the full-featured OS X products, and new versions of the desktop apps are in the works for later this year.

      I can’t believe that the author paid $50 for BBEdit and complained about the lack of a good free text editor when the makers of BBEdit also make TextWrangler, which is among the best free text editors I’ve used on any platform. I do share his lament for Microsoft Office though — it’s good enough to serve as my sole office suite, but it is indeed frustrating to use at times.

  9. Rich McGhee says:

    Good article! I made the switch last month – so far so good. I opted for the “One2One” support and have found it to be a big help. MacBook Air is fast and like all Apple tech, well designed and easy on the eye. Ramp time is faster than I thought it would be. Only thing I miss is Outlook for e-mail and calendar.

  10. Fred Cardenas says:

    I run Win7, Win Server, SQL, IIS (typical corporate type software) virtualized on an iMac. Actually works much better than it did on my old Dell. Response time is faster (in Windows), swapping virtual images to other windows machines is breeze and all backups go to Time Machine which is super easy to work with. Each O/S has it’s pro’s and con’s. Mac will never (I’ve learned never say never but at least for the near term) take the corporate world by storm. That means for pro users that run specialized software there’s really no other choice than going the Windows route. Nothing wrong with that, that’s just how it is.
    Consumers, on the other hand that just browse the net, listen to music, watch movies, etc. a Mac is an easy option. I’m just speaking for me, but I’ve found Apple’s mojo (once they got you in their tent) is their ecosystem. Purchase of books, software, music, even product purchases at the Apple store all go through your Apple ID account. It makes life very simple and that a nice bonus. Biggest benefit I’ve seen is the shelf life of the machine. It’s great. I’m not sure why, maybe the Dells I bought were just bad quality but it seems like I always had to replace those every 2yrs.

  11. HJRR says:

    After only using PCs for some 20 years, I finally bought a 13″ MBP (2008) in 2009. I hated the chickelet-keyboard for 1 day, now I love it. The build quality, especially the screen is 10x better than any laptop I even got from corporate America. Now I have a 17″ MBP (2011) which has the quad i7 and 16 GB RAM and a hybrid-drive. I can run everything all the time if I wish, including powerful virtualized environments with many virtual machines. With VMWare Fusion 5 which can finally access my discrete GPU even my 3-D games look great and are very playable in massive online player environments! I know you are paying more for a MBP with “comparable” features, but that only tells you half the story! Pay up for quality! And your EYES will thank you!

  12. Jerry Godsey says:

    For code editing I use Komodo Edit. It is free and works like a champ. I switched from Windows to Mac two years ago and I will never go back. My home network was a pain under Windows. When I went to Mac everything just worked.

  13. Peter says:

    Hi Sam,

    I was a windows user for over 15 years before I can to my senses and switched to a Mac. I was tired of spending the first 30 minutes of my day troubleshooting why my pc had frozen yet again. I now only use my macs for work and and one pc running windows 7 to support my customers.

    I would recommend the switch to anyone who is tired of windows. I also recommend instead of office for the Mac. And there are tons of good free software at the apple App Store.

    I even use the Mac (I now have 3 iMacs and a MacBook) and use them for everything. One of those iMacs is even a server. It is so simple even to setup a server because the Mac itself and OSX are simple. I have found so many times that I tried too hard to do something that was so simple.

    I know lots of people who switched to Mac but I don’t know anyone who switched back. I wish you all the best and welcome to the Mac.

    Pietro Iglio, Pietro-Tech

  14. Jason kohlmeyer says:

    Good article, I bought a MBA ( the cool way to say Mac Book Air) this past summer and use Win 7 on it, love it. Cost was a couple hundred more than a comparable ultabook, but got a great piece of hardware, with windows and MountainLion! So far my favorite computer ever.

  15. This is a great article documenting the journey of switching to a Mac after being a long time Microsoft Windows user.

    I bought my first Mac, a Macbook Pro running MacOS X 10.6.8, in March 2011, to develop my iPhone Apps Development hobby, and have published three apps on the App Store. The XCode development environment and the ease of testing Apps in the simulator and my iPod Touch add to the enjoyment of the hobby, although I’ve made almost nothing from the Apps.

    My Mac has become my primary PC for Internet Usage, Music Collections, and Photo Storage. I also use it to watch movies with my headphones.

    Being an information technology professional, I have Oracle VirtualBOX installed with virtual machines running Microsoft Windows 2000 and Linux. The virtual machines run at a reasonable performance for me to use my Microsoft Windows software on the Microsoft Windows VM and try software stacks in the Linux VM.

    Also, working commercially with UNIX as an administrator and supporting UNIX-hosted system environments, I really like the command line interface running Bourne Again Shell (BASH) that is available on Linux and UNIX.

    Migrating my photo collection to iPhoto was an interesting experience, and for me, it required thought to organise my photos into folders representing events before I imported it. Using this method of importing photos into iPhoto has made navigating the photo library easy.

    Adapting to iTunes from Microsoft Windows Media Player required me to alter my thinking. In Microsoft Windows Media Player, I thought of my music collection in terms of folders. In iTunes, for me to get the best usage, I’ve adopted the thinking that my music library is a massive bucket of music placed into it, and views (playlists) need to be created to restrict the view of the library to a specific criteria. Once I adopted this thinking, I am able to use the Playlist criteria’s feature to define the playlists I want, or simply drag the music into the playlist.

    Since having my Macbook Pro, I’ve got into the habit of using the Backup/Restore utility, known as Time Machine. Time Machine is so easy to use. Choose a portable hard drive that will be dedicated to backing up the machine, insert it into the Mac, click the Time Machine backup icon, and away it goes. I’ve chosen a portable hard drive that has double the capacity of the Macbook Pro’s internal hard drive.

    Please note that I remain to have my Asus F3F Dual-core 1.73GHz laptop with 3GB RAM running Microsoft Windows 7 Professional. I use it for Microsoft Office usage and graphic art work since I’ve built up a large collection of tools since the 1990s and 2000s. I also use it for Microsoft Access and Microsoft Visual Studio Express tasks.

    Strong qualities of using Microsoft Windows 7 I miss are:
    – Windows Explorer’s File System Navigation Versatility: The Finder is quite restrictive for me, as I am used to copy/pasting folder paths and pasting them into the Windows Explorer Address Bar. I would like to see this feature added to Finder;
    – Free Tool: 7-ZIP – Since 7-ZIP is open source, I’d like to see Finder have the ability to offer 7-ZIP compression, in addition to using standard ZIP compression;
    – Free Tool: Active ISO Burner – I don’t like using the Disk Utility to burn ISO images to CD/DVD, as another reason I bought my Macbook Pro is to not use the System Utilities menu (yes, I like to switch off being a techo on my weekends, except when developing my Apps);
    – Microsoft Access with VBA: Microsoft Access is a great standalone encapsulated tool to automate tasks related to data and have the code contained within, for specific project-related tasks;
    – Microsoft Internet Explorer: Some corporate web portals require Microsoft Internet Explorer 8+ to offer critical functionality; and
    – Crappy Printer Support: Yes, I have a really cheap wi-fi printer that is reliable in usage from my Microsoft Windows 7 machine, and doesn’t seem to work so great from MacOS X 10.6.8. It’s probably due to a lazy user set-up, as I can be lazy when it comes to PCs at home, but the drivers produced by the vendor (and I will refrain from names) don’t appear well-developed for Mac OS X as they do for Microsoft Windows. I also had my cheap printer one year before I bought the MacBook Pro.

  16. Joe Sixpack says:

    Macs are for folks who know nothing about computers. It’s an appliance. They drive Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords.

    PCs are for folks who understand what a hot rod is. They drive Dodge Charger RTs and Fiat Abarths.

  17. Bill Spry says:

    For a free code completion app, try TextWrangler, a free version of BBEdit from the same developers (obviously with some advanced features stripped out).

    Also, you can copy and paste files in Finder. You can also use the spring-loaded folders feature which is quite amazing. Finder-based CUT and paste, though, doesn’t work natively however.

    Lastly, I’m not sure what you mean by finger contortion in Mac for copy and paste via keyboard. Historically speaking, Mac invented keyboard-based copy and paste using the X, C & V keys. Cmd-C was the original copy. Since Microsoft lacked a Cmd key on their keyboards, they simply remapped it to Ctrl. Give it a few months and you, like me, might find copying and pasting on a PC to be finger contortion.

  18. Eric says:

    Glad to hear you are getting along. A few notes:

    1. I use Word and Excel docs all the time, but fortunately haven’t touched MS Office in years. Instead I use Apple’s iWork, which reads and writes MS docs just fine. For those times where the formatting gets screwed up or the spreadsheet is really complex, I use Libre Office.

    2. In my opinion, there are much better text editors than BBEdit. Check out SubLime Text 2 and the new TextMate 2 Alpha, which recently went open source.

    3. Copy/paste of files in finder works just fine using the standard command-C and command-V keyboard shortcuts (at least in Mountain Lion which is what I’m using.)

  19. Sam,

    Try this when copying files:
    Highlight the files you want to copy (list mode or icon).
    Top Finder drop down – and Copy.
    Yes, move to your second window at selected folder.
    Top of Finder – Paste.

    Drag and drop works probably faster.

    A really cool trick I remember at a Graphics meeting,
    If you want to drag a picture from the Finder to your WProc.
    or InDesign, etc., drag the file to the icon’s open App.
    Wait for the program to come to the front, then, drop the file at the insertion point!
    If you are doing text work, dragging your ‘Sunday’ editorial for your weekly
    Editorial (on Thursday – different readers :), this option may work.

    Used Macs since … ’88.

    Understand the frustration with admin files when opening or saving.
    I do a lot of save as – for copying a current file.

    A quick Word trick:
    When closing many files in Word, hold down Option before clicking on File,
    Close all will appear.
    Walah, all will close at once! Be ready.
    Same for Save – hold down Option before clicking.
    If all are saved, it’s really nice. If not, MS will ask to save the ones you edited.

    Welcome to the Apple family,

    Mr. Kerry Kennard

    In the user interface, it bugs me that I cannot copy and paste files; I have to open two Finder windows and drag the files from one to the other, which requires quite a few additional steps. Or that I cannot administer files through a file open/save dialog.

  20. Carl Hartman says:

    How long did you look for the many free UNIX > MacOSX ports available? The world is flooded with them. Just like you found them on your PC, they just didn’t float to your computer.

    I worked at a major TV network for about 10 years and was partly responsible for all the computers: about 300 half Mac and half PC. One day one of the IT staff came to me complaining about the Macs. So, I had him bring me all the documentation on the Macs and PC expenses. I had ONE repair bill for a Mac HD and almost NO labor. However, for the PCs we had about 3 FTEs for repairing PCs for the year (6000 hours). I told him to shut up, go back to his office and be glad I did not replace all PCs with Macs and eliminate his department.

    What you will find is that in the long run, for an enterprise, Macs are much less expensive as a business computer. Don’t like the Mac version of Office? Get Open Office. Personally, I’ve not used much PC software that isn’t clunky. Personally, I like Office better on the Mac, but I don’t like MS Office on any platform.

    Really? You are having trouble with keyboard commands? Mac’s keyboard shortcuts are almost all easier. Again, I find a PC clunky. We have several PCs. I have had staff tell me they want their Mac back.

    It will not take much time and you will love your Mac!

  21. Marco Christov says:

    I am a Linux user and now the whole office has switched to Ubuntu 12.04. Better than Windows in terms of stability and cost. Open and therfore easier and much much cheaper to maintain than Windows or Mac. The real issue should not be whether to choose Windows or Mac, but whether to stick with a paid, closed source system or switch to a free and opensource one. Remember mac and Linux were both developed from Unix.

  22. Harry Teichman says:

    I switched to Mac two years ago. I really like the Mac however…I don’t understand why no Mac programs exist for deltaview and worldox. But it is nice that downtime is practically nonexistent.

  23. Agnes Riley says:

    I switched to Mac in 2002, because my Windows couldn’t handle dragging objects in Illustrator. I was then mainly doing design and it was painful. I went back once more to Windows when I built my own machine and I thought I’d like it cause it cost me less money and it was a powerful beast. It was still Windows running on it and it was painful. Since then I bought numerous Macs and I love every one of them. Just upgraded to a new Mac Pro. Got now 24 Gigs of RAM, an SSD HD, an internal and external RAID and online backup. So I’m set.

    A couple of notes to you:

    I second Coda for web development. I recommend Transmit for FTP, Arq for backup to an Amazon bucket, Dropbox for file sharing and collaboration, Acorn for image manipulation, Domainbrain for storing website info, Adobe Lightroom for photo editing, TotalFinder for finder enhancement.

    Every day I can find new software out there that can make your life easier and better. And a lot of the software is free or affordable.

    Life is generally better working on a Mac. It is not Apple’s or the Mac OS’s fault that Intuit and Microsoft will not out enough effort into developing us proper software. Once I was told by Intuit support that they, indeed do not care about the Mac OS and Apple users, it’s not their market.

  24. Andrea says:

    Graphically and from a “crash” standpoint, the MAC is far superior than a PC. My first MacBook was a refurbished purchase and all I have placed is the powercord and one hard drive. I cannot say that the same for a PC. I also have the iPHONE and a mini IPAD. It is very user friendly and I must say…..brilliant for the hands to fly over the keyboard and the pictures and quality are amazing. I would like to ditch the PC because it is glitchy with Windows but I still have to work for a living. That is all that is used in my company. No complaints though otherwise as I am work for a fabulous company.

  25. Steve says:

    I switched to a mac in 2009 after about 17 years on a PC due to the halo effect (loved my iPhone, and my airport extreme base station router). It’s a love-hate relationship for me. Currently, I have a brand new 2012 27″ iMac with 32GB Ram and a 2011 17″ MBP. It’s my second iMac, and it is absolutely my most favorite computer I have ever owned, thus the “love” part. I also enjoy my AppleTV and how I can easily view photos from my iPad or iPhone on our TV through it, or listen to my music from the cloud.

    The “hate” part comes in because as a small business owner that does a lot of work for the US Government, I rely on Microsoft Office. I really like Office 2010, and Office 2011 for the Mac is a very poor substitute. It’s not even as good as Office 2007!!! For some ridiculous reason, Microsoft chose to use a different team to develop it, and they had to re-iinvent the wheel rather than follow the proven approach from Office 2010. When I spoke to Microsoft about this, I was told they tried to satisfy mac users. Ridiculous. If you’re wanting to use Microsoft Office on a Mac, it’s because you’ve used it in Windows (perhaps at work and you have a Mac at home) and you want the SAME experience.

    Microsoft Outlook is the worst of the Office products for me. Still crashes, and is no where near as good as it’s Windows brethren in terms of functionality.

    I also migrated our company to Office365, and all other employees in our company are on Windows PCs. Those in the corporate office just received new Dell XPS One 27″ all-in-ones, which are the closest thing to my 27″ iMac and are working great. The interface with Office365 is smooth on the PC, and they are going to get upgraded to Office 2013 at the end of this month, while I will still be relegated to Office 2011 (MS has no release date for any update to the mac version yet).

    Other things I don’t like about the Mac environment include the ridiculous decision to drop “Save As” and think that decision works for everyone. Fortunately, I was able to find a solution to re-enable that feature. I also think iCloud works good for music, photos, etc. but is a very poor substitute for Dropbox type functionality – Apple seems to have a considerable amount of trouble with the cloud (see MobileMe, etc.)

    For those switching to a Mac, I would still recommend it. When I bought my new 27″ iMac, it was very easy to download almost all of my apps (MS Office is not available there, nor Parallels, etc.) again from the Mac App store, which is very convenient.

    Other apps that I like include, in no particular order:
    1. Parallels 8 for running Windows 8 on my iMac,
    2. Pathfinder as a replacement for Windows Explorer,
    3. Alfred as a computer file search tool, miniRadio to listen to my favorite local station (FM99),
    4. Imagewell for resizing photos,
    5. Paprika for recipes (also has apps for my iPad and iPhone that are synced through the cloud),
    5. Rapidweaver for website development,
    7. Free Memory Pro for watching RAM usage and freeing up RAM memory,
    8. iMovie and iDVD – excellent tools,
    9. Dropbox!!!!, 1Password for password management which also includes iPad and iPhone apps that sync via the cloud,
    10. Scrivener – if you haven’t seen this, you MUST check it out in the App Store, it’s one of the coolest writing tools you’ll ever find. I use it to help research info for our government proposal efforts.
    11. DaisyDisk – disk cleanup tool
    12. Littlesnapper – screen capture tool
    13. Goalscape – goal setting and tracking tool
    14. Chrome – not a bad browser. IE is not available for the Mac, and I still run into problems accessing Government sites that call for IE, but I can make Safari look like it’s IE by clicking on the “Develop” tab, go down to “User Agent”, and then select IE 7, 8 or 9.
    15. FormMate for adding signatures and images to pdf files (I use this primarily for non-disclosure agreements and teaming agreements).
    16. Mindview mind mapping software

    I like to read articles like this as I usually get ideas others have posted as tools that work well for them, so I hope someone finds value in some of the ones I posted above.

  26. Mike Hurn says:

    I have a Mic Mini Server, that I (mostly) access via VNC.

    But the main thing is I use a PC mouse and keyboard.
    They work fine you need to take into account the Command and Option keys are swithed. But the main thing I like is that the extra keys on the mouse work as expected.

    Regards, Mike.

  27. Lee Mangold says:

    Sam – Finally an honest post on the matter! I, myself, have considered switching to a Mac for a couple years now, but it has really only been for the sake of boredom. The reality is, that my computer is a tool…and, as of now, it hammers that nail as-good or better than a Mac would. Unfortunately, to spec a Mac the same as my Windows 7 machine, I would be looking at about $3500… That’s a bit more than I want to consider for an experiment…

  28. This sums up my experience with PCs and Macs.

    I’ve grown to love inverted scrolling. It’s more intuitive to me. On my Mac, you invert the scrolling by clicking a box. Yay, inverted scrolling. Unclick the box and it scrolls conventionally.

    I wanted to do this on my PC. Ok, no click box. Google. Huh, apparently you have to edit the registry, which is way beyond my capability. Ok, registry edited. Wait, that didn’t work. More Google. Ok, third party software… that didn’t work either. Oh wait, it turns out you don’t have to edit one registry, you have to edit several of them. Ok, how do I find them? Ok, so when I use the find function it only brings up the one registry and I already edited that. More Google. Ok, got it, I need to go into the control panel, figure out exactly where my mouse device is located, and write down the number, then manually scroll through each registry and edit each one. There are about 20 of them. Did that work? Restart the computer and find out… man this thing takes forever to boot up. Wait, installing updates……. finally finished. Wait for it… wow! Ta da! Inverted scrolling, finally. But it doesn’t work on my trackpad, just the mouse device. Ugh! How can I get my trackpad to do inverted scrolling. Back to Google….

    That is the difference between a PC and a Mac.

  29. Philippe Warda says:

    Very well written article. A pleasure to read for this life long Windows user. I particular appreciate your final conclusions. I feel the same way.

  30. Eerie how close I am to making this leap too, and for the same reasons. This couldn’t be more timely.

    One question is whether you have a dual-monitor setup and if so how easy it was to craft with your new mac mini.

    • Sam Glover Sam Glover says:

      I don’t. I prefer one big monitor (a 24″ Dell, in my case). It would be a cinch if you were going to use Apple Thunderbolt Displays so you could daisy-chain the monitors. Otherwise, I’m not sure if you can use different ports for different monitors.

  31. Sierra says:

    I’m sticking with mac only because I’m too lazy to learn a new computer system. I’m one of those people who hate to update programs because they change things.

    However, I LOVE LOVE LOVE pages for all my word processing. I never could figure out how to make my own template in word, but it’s a breeze in pages, and makes form letters, invoices, billing, and everything else so much easier. I don’t know if Windows has come up with the equivalent of spotlight, but I love it for finding things when I can’t remember what file I saw something in.

    And I don’t understand the contortionist mention for cutting and pasting. You can easily change it to control X just like a PC, and I don’t find it contortionist. (The command key is certainly awkward)

  32. Aaron Alfano says:

    I’ve been a Mac user for 6 years and ran a solo practice law firm from my MBA for three years. I used Windows for 12 years before that and am now using Windows again for work (got a corporate gig).

    I find OS X much more fluid to use. Everything just goes, usually with just a keyboard shortcut. And everything just looks better on the Mac. Aesthetics may not be a huge consideration for some, but I think it sucks having to spend all day staring at something I find ugly. I also find the graphics and font rendering on Windows inferior to Mac–everything on Windows looks sort of fuzzy and pixelated to me, even though the monitors on my Windows machine at work are higher res than the ones on my Macs (yes, I have resolution settings maxed on the Windows machine). That said, Windows 7 seems to run MUCH better than XP ever did (thankfully, I never experienced Vista).

    Try Double Pane ( to manage windows on Mac OS X. It’s sort of like Aero Snap, but keyboard activated.

  33. Scott McPherson says:


    I switched my solo practice to all Macs about 9 years ago, at a time when it was really a scary proposition, and also tough to do without the use of an emulator. Back then, MS Office for Mac had a pretty poor user interface, and there were even some problems from time to time in sharing files, but it worked.

    I do take issue with your statement that you didn’t switch because of an “ignorant” impression that Macs are faster. This is exactly why I switched, and it was far from an ignorant impression (at least at the time). You are right in the sense that, out of the box, a PC running Windows is definitely as fast as a comparable Mac. However, and this was based on years of experience, Windows based machines would become slower and slower. When I switched to Macs it was before Microsoft came out with the XP, which was at least far more stable. But even with XP, I noticed on a home machine that performance would slow. Frankly, I got sick of having to buy new PCs every two years, which lead me to switch to a Mac.

    The Mac OS platform is rock solid, and the machines never loose their speed. If they do, it’s probably because you’ve overloaded the RAM. Plus, your comment about emulators is very antiquated, because a Mac can actually run Windows now (if you must have it). For anyone switching in this day and age to a Mac, it should be seamless with zero challenges. Again, that was not the case many years ago. In fact, many people couldn’t believe I would switch to a Mac. Today, apart from the improvements to vital programs like Office and Quickbooks, most software programs have a Mac and Windows version. And unlike days past when the Mac versions were sub-par, many times today I find them to be superior.

    By the way, as for your cut/paste question, I had always used the standard ctrl-x then ctrl-v. However, last couple of weeks I’ve been using an app available from the Mac Store called “PopClip.” What it does is, on a laptop or desktop, when you select text it acts like selected text on an IOS device (e.g., an iPad), with options to cut, copy, paste, etc. So now, no need to even use the keyboard shortcuts. Check it out.

    Best of luck,

  34. “One of my favorite thing about Macs is the prevalence of keyboard shortcuts.”

    Sam – have you found cheat sheet for the quick keys in printable (or PDF) form? One of the hardest parts of the transition to Mac for me was getting used to the new keyboard shortcuts. I just found the shortcut for the Section symbol (§), which will save me an enormous amount of frustration.

  35. andrew says:

    I just picked up a little macbook pro 13″ today for much the same reasons. I rely primarily on my Lenovo Thinkstation with all its oomph and will continue to do so well into the forseeable future as it has a lot of upgrade potential. My thinkpad though, just hasn’t been all that useful as using it just isn’t all that enjoyable. It’s heavy, it’s chunky and, perhaps the biggest problem, is that the touchpad is a pain to use.

    Most of all, I too was just bored with Windows. I know all of windows 7’s tricks too well and even at $40 windows 8 turned out to be a major disappointment.

    I’ve never been a fan of Macs for many of the reasons stated in the article, like the modifier key placement but as a laptop this little macbook is far more pleasant to use than any windows laptop i’ve had. We’ll see how it goes, but so far the smaller, lighter nimbler little macbook is proving to be a really nice change.

  36. Dave Riem says:

    Or you could just turn your PC into a hackintosh and save yourself $1500 as all the hardware is exactly the same in any Intel based PC built in the last 6 years.

    • Sam Glover says:

      You and I define the word “exactly” differently.

      • Dave Riem says:

        Well, lets take a closer look at that… Foxconn motherboards, intel processors, (any brand) PC DDR ram, western digital/seagate and/or hitatchi hard drives, Intel/ATI/NVidia GPUs, Samsung/LG/Wintek Display Panels. Do you mean the cases? Well obviously they have their own cases. Keyboards? We’ll now we’re talking peripherals. Besides, I didn’t know cases and keyboards equate to an over $1000 price hike. Or do you mean the EFI? Uh oh, no BIOS for the Mac, let’s charge a ton of money for that!

        • Sam Glover says:

          First, I’ve never heard of anyone with a hackintosh who was able to keep it going reliably. Second, I generally thinking going around violating EULAs is a bad way to do business.

          Apple computers cost what they cost. If you want to use an Apple computer, you pay the fee or you don’t use an Apple computer.

          • Dave Riem says:

            I know quite a few people who have been running hackintosh systems reliably for a few years now. That’s beside the point that what I said was they had the same hardware. I personally don’t use OSX because I don’t need it, there’s nothing I can’t do on my Windows PC that a Mac can do.

  37. Safety Samantha says:

    I remember that fanboy-ness didn’t really start to rear it’s ugly head for about 6 months after I made the switch. It’s been a few months for you. Are you any closer to being an evangelist?

    • Sam Glover says:

      Nope. I’m a convert, but I don’t think you will see me with Apple stickers on my car anytime soon.

    • Sam Glover says:

      5 months later, and I remain converted. Well, sort of. I still have a Chromebook for my laptop, and I usually run Ubuntu on my ThinkPad. So I try to avoid software and features that are OS X/iOS-only (syncing stuff via iCloud, for example, instead of Dropbox). But Mac will be my primary platform going forward.

      So yeah, a convert, but not a fanboy.

      • Safety Samantha says:

        I just glanced back up at your article, and I have to say that I definitely agree about the poor adaptation of Office. Word, in particular is infuriating, where it doesn’t apply styles consistently. So if I’m drafting any sort of long-form document, I’ve actually begun using InDesign instead of Word, because it’s so much better at keeping up with styles and cross-references.

        Also, I agree that iCloud sucks.

  38. Patin Law Group says:

    Switching to Mac computers in my office was the best decision I ever made. I’m not sure I will ever go back to PCs, but I agree with you regarding the delete key. That is the only thing I miss with the Mac wireless keyboard; forward delete versus backspace.

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