The transition is almost complete: I have ditched my Windows-based PC for a MacBook Pro.

My reasons?  Well, I could write a whole bunch of fluff about how as a developer I need to be able to test my work on multiple operating systems, and a Mac (with BootCamp and/or Parallels) allows me to do that.  

Or maybe I can tell you that when I attended the Google I/O conference a week or two ago, I felt completely un-cool because I wasn’t slinging around a MacBook Pro, unlike (at quick glance) half of the attendees at the conference.

(Side note: second most popular laptop?  IBM/Lenovo ThinkPads.  They were all over the place, too.)

Maybe I can say it’s because I finally watched An Inconvenient Truth the other day, which — unintentionally — pointed out yet another inconvenient truth: Keynote is way better than PowerPoint.  (Al Gore’s famous slide presentation was done in Keynote.)

I could say that using a Mac will make me more creative, or that a Mac’s built-in accessibility tools can help me design web sites and courseware that work for people with disabilities.

Perhaps I could tell you that I simply wanted to return to my roots: I was a die-hard Mac user for a solid decade before turning to the Dark Side.

In reality, I had no single reason to switch from Windows to a Mac, but have felt the urge bubbling for quite some time, for all of the reasons above and more.  One of the best reasons was: I wanted a lightweight but powerful laptop.  Simple enough, eh?  But the tipping point was something even simpler (and IMHO) funnier: Apple has a back-to-school sale going, which meant a free iPod Touch if I bought the MacBook Pro.  Sweet.

So now I have a MacBook Pro AND an iPod Touch.  I feel like such a hipster, only without the cool hair, cool clothes and bad attitude. I suppose a real hipster would scoff at the iPod Touch and say I should have gotten an iPhone. I’m not ready for that commitment yet… Apple needs to ditch AT&T before I get that particular toy.

Anyway, now that I’ve been playing with my new Apple goodies for a few days, I’m really appreciating (rediscovering?) the excellent user interface design, where it’s apparent that a lot of thought went into every aspect of the the UI.  And, of course, the MacBook Pro “just worked” from the start.

(Side note #2: Ubuntu also runs great out-of-the-box if you ever want to give Linux a shot.)

I’m also really enjoying the software that comes with a Mac. I don’t know if it’s a fair knock against Windows, but the software that comes with OS X feels more useful, and is certainly easier to look at! Apple’s iWork suite is cool, too; I already mentioned Keynote, and Pages is much slicker and easier to use than Word. Too bad I can’t use iWork applications at the office since none of my coworkers have Macs.

The iPod Touch has been a lot of fun, especially using Safari with the built-in WiFi.  I’m definitely going to start paying closer attention to how my websites and courseware fare in small-screen mobile environments.

Are YOU a Mac user?

Are you a Mac user?  Have any tips or recommendations?  I’m using Parallels to run Windows XP, so I still have access to my Windows-only stuff.  However, when it comes to Mac software, I’m starting over and need to figure out what’s hot and what’s not. I have iWork 08 and Adobe CS3, but not much else.

Anything else I should be using?

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  1. Philip,
    Instead of Parallels, you may want to switch to VMware Fusion. I had parallels and had problems with it crashing or freezing up after inactivity. I switched to Fusion and haven’t had any problems to date, it seems to just work better. As far as other tools, Aperture is a good one, MSOffice for Mac makes life easier, and I can’t wait for MobileMe.

  2. Thanks for the tip. Y’know, I *did* have some problems installing Windows (go figure), but it wasn’t due to Parallels. I installed Windows using the BootCamp Assistant. I’ve set up Parallels to use the BootCamp installation of XP. Seems to work pretty well so far. Not perfect, but not too bad. If I have problems, I’ll certainly give VMware a look.

    MobileMe sounds pretty cool, but I’d like to know how much it costs. Google’s spoiled me… I want all my web services to be free! 🙂

  3. Dude… like, FINALLY!!!!

    Must have:

    VisualHub – converting from any video format to any video format. Insanely handy to have. They also make an audio converter called AudialHub, and it’s becoming a very handy tool for me.

    OmniGraffle Pro 5 – Imagine if Visio didn’t suck…

    Pixelmator – Not as fully featured as Photoshop, but insanely cheaper and easier to use while being a beautiful app. It makes me WANT to edit photos and images.

    Delicious Library — use your built-in iSight camera and scan barcodes of all your shizz… and it uses Amazon’s APIs to flesh out what you have. Then, when you loan stuff out, you use it to check things out. If you don’t check it back in, it can send out reminder emails when people don’t get things back to you ontime. F’n brilliant and fun to use.

    Handbrake – free — use to rip those DVDs for your iPod Touch. Also good for converting those work DVDs your company bought custom and rip them to use with VisualHub to break them down into a format you can work with in Flash or iMovie or Whatever.

    iWork 08 – For Keynote and Numbers (imagine if you could make Excel BEAUTIFUL). Pages is a good enough word processor/document style tool.

    I have TextMate and it’s really good, but if you’re going to concentrate more on web dev (and not so much the PHP/MySQL stuff) you should DEFINITELY pick up Coda.

    You need SuperDuper (free) to back up your drive into a bootable working copy. Time Machine is good enough for everyday use, but in catastrophic times, you’ll probably want to boot right up with a backup drive, and Time Machine can’t help you with that.

    I use MarsEdit for blogging, but Ecto is fine. The same company also makes 1001 which is awesome for mass uploading pictures from iPhoto to Flickr.

    We can go on for hours about GTD apps for the Mac (I currently use Yojimbo, but I may add OmniFocus to the mix when I get the iPhone).

    BootCamp is your best performance option for running Windows and related apps. I don’t know if the other virtualization software can work with BootCamp drives, but Parallels can — in case you need to get to work on something in Windows but don’t want to dual-boot — at least that can be an option for you. It’s been not-stellar in the past, but Parallels is improving.

  4. You could try Ecto for your blogging, Things from cultured code for your task lists,Textmate for coding, Transmit for ftp, Cord for remote desktop access to your LMS’s, Overflow gives a nice display to access apps-keeps the dock tidy

  5. Free:
    Google Earth
    Google SketchUp
    NetNewswire (or NewsFire)

    Toast Titanium 9
    Agent Craig
    Mira (NOT Miro)
    NetFlix Freak

    Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual (Leopard Edition) by David pogue. Not to be confused with “Mac OS X 10.5 The Missing Manual” – “Switching” is gears specifically from someone going through the switch from Windows.

    Web:,,,, and

  6. @Aaron

    thanks for the tips. I do like the flexibility of using my WinXP Boot Camp installation via Parallels. the only issue i have is that Parallels seems to choke once in a while. i have 4GB of RAM, so i dunno why…

    Delicious library sounds cool. OmniGraffle, too, but i dunno if i want to shell out $ for a charting program (yet). i have Visio in XP, but i’ve never really liked using it.

    SuperDuper sounds good, but i need to figure out my external drive situation first. i noticed Time Machine doesn’t work with a Fat32 drive, which means i need to use a Mac-only external drive if I use Time Machine. maybe SuperDuper can work with fat32… I’ll have to check it out.

    Thanks again, and thanks to everyone who posted their suggestions, this is a great list for me to explore! 🙂

  7. No one mentioned 1Password. Takes care of all your online passwords and integrates with the iPod Touch.

  8. You could also try carbon copy cloner.

    Coda rocks. As does Transmit.

    Acorn might be better than Pixelmator, but you have CS3, so you probably have Photoshop.

    You can use iWork at work with the MS Office folks, it exports to .doc, and imports as well. As long as you’re not doing complex documents, it should be seamless.

    Other apps I have installed:
    Fluid ( allows you to create site-specific browsers – sweet for gmail, gcal, etc.

    Transmission – superb and free torrent manager.

    Songbird – try it and try iTunes – pick one. Made by Mozilla, has Firefox-type features.

    MarsEdit (or Ecto)
    AppZapper – great tool for wiping out programs completely.

    Sites to visit/subscribe to now that you’ve gone Mac:

    Oh, and get an Griffin Elevator to set your lappy on. Wonderful design and good value.

    When I get home and back to my Mac, I’ll check my Apps folder to see if there are anymore.

    Also, check out for a cheap bundle of apps and games you might find useful.

  9. 1. BBEdit for quick robust text/coding editor
    2. CS3 Design/Web Premium
    3. Final Cut Studio 2 Pro for Rich Media Dev
    4. iWork 8
    5. iLife
    6. Fetch for the BEST FTP
    7. Tip: ditch the Dock and use (command + Space in the Finder) to hit Quick Search Spotlight then start typing whatever file or app you want to hit
    8. Parallels personal preference…i am a former Virtual PC user until the Intel Macs came along
    9. Snapz Pro for video screen capturing for tutorials
    10. Get to know Utilities and utilities available through Apple Software Download
    11. Get to know the Terminal commands for faster routines OS/File
    12. Dig in deep to Xcode, Project/Interface Builder, Quartz programming, Cocoa
    13. Do have Apache running, did you figure out how to get it going with Leopard? PHP, MySQL, etc MySQL Admin app for admin purposes

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