Saturday, July 23, 2011

Learning how to use the Mac

So while it took me a while to actual purchase a Mac, it wasn't an overly difficult task.  All Macs, even the most basic, are more computer than I need so it was pretty easy to figure out which one to get.  I must say, I'm loving the 21.5" wide screen.  It isn't any taller than my PC but it's about twice as wide.  But that's not the point.

The point is - buying was easy.  Learning is hard.  When I unpacked it on Thursday night, EDP had to show me how to open a new tab in Safari.  And it took me a good 5 seconds to figure out which icon was the mail client.  But I'm slowly figuring things out.  Mostly by googling everything before I do it.

While I was waiting for the Mac to get here, I signed up for a couple of workshops at the Apple store in Square One.  This morning, I headed over for a Getting to Know Your Mac workshop.  In some respects, it was a huge waste of time.  In others, it was really valuable.  Part of the problem was that they didn't have enough demo computers for all of us.  Another piece of the problem was that there was a couple there who didn't have a Mac, they had an iPad.  So they kept asking "will this work on the iPad" and it derailed our trainer from focusing on the Mac stuff.  And then on top of all that, the store was really noisy so our trainer had to repeat herself a lot.  But, I learned a couple of great little tricks and am feeling more confident about using the Mac for day-to-day computing.  I was supposed to go back for a workshop on the new features of Lion but I cancelled it after I got home today.  I am definitely not going to learn all the ins and outs of a Mac by attending these workshops.  Today's workshop taught me about some of the features I was most excited for with Lion, anyway.  And it's a long drive for an hour workshop.

I've been working on importing my photos and my iTunes library over to the Mac.  Both have been lengthy processes because I have a lot of music and a lot of photos.  My iTunes library is about to finish importing and if I've done things correctly, I shouldn't lose my playlists or ratings.  There is a good chance I messed it up though - you can't just copy and paste your library file from the PC because paths are constructed differently on a Mac and a PC.  So I've had to do some editing of an XML file and I'm not quite sure I did it right.  We'll see in 15 minutes when my library finishes copying from the PC.

Once I get that done, my biggest thing left before I can wipe the PC will be deciding what I'm going to do about my personal finance software situation.  For years, I've been a user of Microsoft Money.  I have years and years of history in it.  It tracks my investments, my accounts, my budget.  All that stuff.  Well, not only is it not compatible with a Mac but Microsoft doesn't even make it anymore.  I've basically got three options - one is to install Money on my netbook and continue with business as usual on it.  Another is to run Fusion on the Mac so that I can run Windows and install Money on the Mac.  Or I can find a new piece of software that will let me import all my history into it and give me the same kind of reporting and functionality as Money.  You'd think that would be the easiest option.  But it would appear that no one offers everything that Money did.  I spent a good chunk of the afternoon installing trial versions of about 8 different programs.  None of them were really right for me.

So that's where things stand.  I'm feeling more comfortable with the Mac than I did when I set it up.  I'm starting to learn some of the short cuts and commands.  But I still need to get a book and work through it.  I've probably mentioned this before but there is so much that a Mac can do and if I don't take advantage of those things, I might as well have bought another PC.


  1. I use to manage our money. I doesn't do everything, but it is cross platform, ie, I can check stuff on my iPhone.

    I use Picasa mostly for photo management. iPhoto is dumb in my opinion.

    I can hook you up with a copy of Aperture too if you want :)

  2. I checked Mint out last night - it looks okay but I am hoping to switch to something that uses envelope budgeting. But it looked like the best thing for tracking investments.

    I'll probably end up installing Picasa - it's what I used on my PC and it's so easy to post the photos online. But I really like the photobooks that iPhoto can create so I'll probably end up using both.

    Talk to EDP about Aperture - the fellow I'm teaching me about DSLR's said Aperture isn't that robust and that Lightroom is the way to go. I probably won't be doing a lot of photo editing, though, so we'll put whatever EDP wants on.