A friend of mine recently bought a Mac and felt overwhelmed by the difference in platform. This post is dedicated to her and others who are switching.
I searched around the Net, and personally the only guide that doesn’t overwhelm the average user is the guide from Apple. This is the one guide that every switcher must read. The first page itself deals with user interface, then navigation, then some parallels to Windows… It’s a little lengthy but a good read, complete with pictures to help.
After orientating yourself for a while, one would want to dive in and play around. So what’s good to check out? After all, the Mac has to be different, otherwise why bother buying a Mac? For starters, iPhoto is one of the must-see places on the Mac. Apple has put together a great overview of what’s new in the latest iteration of iPhoto, as well as what’s it about. In summary, iPhoto is great for the average shutterbug to dump photos, geo-tag them and tag them according to faces. Next would be iMovie. Similarly to iPhoto, Apple has also put together a page for iMovie (notice how guided the switch is?). In a nutshell, iMovie is the Mac equivalent of Windows Movie Maker, though the usage and outcome is quite… different. If you have had a vacation and would like to show off some clips, do try out iMovie. The third application (which means program) to try out would be Photo Booth. It’s basically an application that turns your computer into, well, a photo booth using the built in FaceTime camera. It’s really quite fun with all its effects; those with kids will love this.
As you play around and go back and forth from the guide, you’d get more comfortable using your Mac. Personally, I took about three weeks to get used (as in comfortable) to my first Mac, and by that I mean that I no longer press the wrong buttons or expect a different behavior than what its supposed to do.
When you are somewhat there, the last thing I’d recommend you to check out is Alfred. It’s a launcher, meaning that it’s a small application that allows you to launch other applications and do other stuff using your keyboard. Yes I know it sounds terribly geeky and redundant; why not use the mouse? But the point is often our hands are on the keyboard, and it’s really convenient to have this. I speak from personal experience because I never used a launcher in my life, but now I almost cannot do without it – though I have to admit I haven’t used all the features; I just use it to launch applications. Do check it out and I recommend installing it via the Mac App Store instead of downloading the file. This way updates are easier to track. Oh. Most importantly? It’s free.
This is a long enough post and I hope it helps someone out there. Drop us a comment/email for more discussion!