What I like About the Mac

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Gordon Atkinson's picture

 Leopard Spaces

Last time I told you that there were some awkward moments in making the switch from PC to Mac. But in spite of those, there are so many things I love about the Macintosh. Let’s start with the minor things.

Installing and deleting software is just as easy as it should be. When you click on a Mac software installation program, an icon for that program pops up. You drag that icon into your applications collection. That’s it. If you don’t want the program anymore, you simply drag the program icon to the trash can. A lot of things on the Mac are accomplished with simple, intuitive moves like that. And many things that require a software download on a PC come standard with a Mac. The “Preview” program, for example, views .pdf files, creates them, compresses them, takes screen shots and saves those to dozens of different formats. It’s the default viewing program for graphic files, and it has a compliment of editing tools built right in. The Macintosh is rich with utilities like this.

The much-hyped iLife programs live up to their billing. It’s true that you can make slideshows and movies and podcasts and all sorts of things with the software that comes standard with the Macintosh. This is no exaggeration: I can plug my digital camera into my Mac and have a slideshow with movement and music in 10 minutes. If I want it done nicely I’ll work on it for half an hour, but I’ve taken photos at a church event and had a slideshow for people to watch before the event was over. Let’s face it: When it comes to those kind of creative and fun applications, the Macintosh has always been several generations ahead of the PC.

I like the iWork programs as well. And they’re cheap. For $79 you get Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. Pages is like Word and Publisher 2003 wrapped into one program. Pages reads Word documents with no trouble and will export in that format as well. Numbers does the same for Excel and Keynote for PowerPoint. These programs are less robust than those in the latest Office suite, but be honest - how many people push these programs to the limits? For $79 I can do anything I need to do on a personal computer.

There is no way I could possible list all of the little things the Macintosh does well. It seems like every computer move you need to make has been anticipated by Apple and planned for. But let’s move on to my short list of favorite things about the Macintosh. These are the deal breakers for me, meaning they broke my deal with Windows. These are the reasons that I am now a die-hard Macintosh fan.

1. Security - While it seems clear that if Mac increases its share of the personal computer market, more bad guys will write viruses and other kinds of malicious software, currently the threat for a Macintosh is minimal. Apple's current statement does not admit any problem, but does advise caution. Just between you and me, I don't even have virus protection software on my Macintosh. The word on the street among Macintosh users is, have a router, don't download software from strange places, and you'll be fine. So far that's worked for me and for every Mac user I know.

2. Things just work - It’s true. Things work well on a Macintosh. I have a camera and microphone built into my Mac. They always work. And they work with every piece of software and website that needs them. I don’t have to install drivers - EVER. Because the hardware and the operating system are made by the same people, stuff works. It works so often that sometimes I forget how often things didn’t work on my PC. I’ve had my Mac for almost 2 years, and it has only crashed once. And that was when a piece of hardware went bad and had to be replaced, something that happens with all machines. Everything on the Mac works. And it works pretty much all the time.

3. Spaces - I can’t overstate how much I love this wonderful little Leopard feature. If I push the scroll button on my mouse, my screen shrinks and I am presented with SIXTEEN small screens, each one a blank desktop. I can drag an application onto any of those screens. I can have 16 programs open, each on its own desktop. Two quick clicks and I’ve changed to a different program with a whole screen to itself. I’ve had all 16 desktops in use at the same time and experienced NO slowdown whatsoever. It’s not as nice as having multiple screens, but it’s as close to that as you can get without the extra hardware.

4. Time Machine - Now we come to perhaps the greatest Leopard feature. Time Machine may well be the best and easiest backup system available, and it comes standard with the Macintosh. The technical way that Time Machine works is interesting, but the best way to explain it is to describe the user experience. I bought a 750 gig external hard drive for $139. I plugged it into the Mac. Leopard spotted it immediately - as it always does with anything you plug into it - and asked me if I wanted to setup this drive to be used with Time Machine. I clicked yes and the Mac took it from there.

Now, whenever my Mac is connected to this drive,Time Machine makes hourly backups of my system. It saves them as dated copies, every hour for the last two days, every day for the last two weeks, and every week before that. If I hit the Time Machine button, my screen drops away and I see a stack of screens going back in time. If I delete a file or change it and want to get it back, I just go back in time and find my computer as it was on a given day in the past. That means you can find multiple versions of any file, dating back to the first day you created it. When you fill up the drive, Time Machine alerts you and offers to delete some of the older copies if you wish. I recommend putting the drive in storage at that point and starting with a fresh drive. That way you’ll never have to worry about your backup drive wearing out and failing.

There is a small weakness with Time Machine. If you have a file on your computer for only a day or two and delete it, and then want to retrieve it 6 months later, it might not have made it into the backup for that week. But this is a very minor issue, since most things that are important are on your computer for longer than a week.

So what can I say? I love my Macintosh.

I was surprised though, I must say, when I was forced by my job with Jethro to go back into the PC world and use Vista. The Macintosh commercials and the media have made Vista sound like a wagon with three wheels. I, on the other hand, have been stunned by how great it is. If I had Vista back in 2007, I probably would not have bought a Mac.

Next: what I like about Vista.


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matt's picture

I have to agree on all these

I have to agree on all these points, however, go to a Macbook, especially the Macbook Pro and there are even more things I've found, especially in the touch pad functionality.

Some other laptop manufacturers are incorporating multi-touch like technology, but none of them compare to the simple intuitiveness of the Macbook multi-touch.

With one hand on my touch pad, in almost any application, I can scroll any direction, including diagonally, rotate images or anything in Preview, zoom in and out on anything, and utilise the expose functionality without needing to use the short cut keys, and thats just the default functionality, I can set it to do numerous other things as well, and it's all so intuitive!

Spaces is excellent on a laptop too where having a second screen can be highly impractical!

dirk's picture

i believe iwork is now

i believe iwork is now included free on new macs.

and i like vista, alot, also. but not enough to not own a mac.

Anonymous's picture

I should know what being

I should know what being cheap is all about. How cheap can you get?

Anonymous's picture

I have to agree with you. I

I have to agree with you. I use my PC for work and Mac for play and personal, and there are so many days when I wish it was all Mac all the time! Your statement "things just work" says it all for me...I can't tell you how frustrating it is working with my HP sometimes. And the support is awful when you have problems, which is often.

So after work, I sit on my bean bag couch with my cute little Mac and make things happen.