Meet the Macintosh!
Whether you're new to the Mac or new to computers in
general, you're guaranteed to find plenty of introductory information
in the links presented below. It's helpful to
learn basic terminology and to grasp the concept of certain metaphors,
like the Desktop (where you might keep things you're working on until
they're finished and filed away), the Finder (aka directory, where
every file has a name and icon), and the Dock (which contains one-click
shortcuts to frequently used apps).
Icons play an important part in identifying files and represent a
variety of file types, too. There are application program icons,
document icons, sound and image files (to name a few), and there are
also the folder icons used to contain and organize them. We highly
recommend using Apple's "Mac 101" tutorial link to become familiar with
Switching from PC to Mac?
Be prepared to ditch some old
habits and learn some new tricks! No more registry issues, no more
endless scans tying up CPU cycles, no need to fear your inbox, and yes,
you can now do simple things in a simple fashion (like dragging a JPEG
into an email without having to wade thru attachment procedures). In
fact, if you can think of an easier way to do almost anything, give it
a try; it'll probably work. And don't waste time installing drivers for
every device you attach to your Mac; try it first, you may be surprised
to learn there really is such a thing as "plug-and-play."
If you bought your Mac
at an Apple store, ask them about importing your PC files; they might
do it for you. (See below for more suggestions regarding data transfer
and switching platforms.) Don't be surprised if you have to replace
some of your older programs with Mac versions; although most apps are
cross-platform these days, some oldies are not. See the "Switch 101"
and data transfer links (above) for tips and info. Welcome aboard!
tried several times to install a driver for my [gizmo], why won't it
Before you try to install a driver, try
connecting that gizmo and see if it doesn't work - without having to
install anything. It probably doesn't need a special driver. Try it! If
you must install a driver, make sure the driver is up-to-date and
appropriate to your Operating System and machine specs (see gizmo's
A few words about
speaking) do one of three things:
How can I get a disk
out of my CD/DVD drive?
They blindly install software regardless of previous installations,
compatibility, or other factors; multiple installs = multiple copies.
They check for previously installed software before installing
anything, and may offer continue/delete or install/cancel options.
They may or may not overwrite previously installed files from earlier
installations; a corrupt file may be skipped, or it might be replaced.
depends entirely on how the Installer was written.
of this, it is usually wise to delete (or remove and archive) previous
installations of drivers/apps/software before reinstalling - unless, of
course, the installation is an update/upgrade which requires the
presence of previously installed software.
installers will have an "Uninstall" option to make removal easier (if
necessary), and will check for previous installs to avoid conflicts -
but many installers do not offer these functions. In addition, software
may already be included in your Operating System making additional
installations unnecessary (and possibly problematic).
And finally: Drivers on discs included with devices, if necessary, may
already be outdated at time of purchase. Check manufacturer's web site
for updates and current drivers that may be newer than whatever came in
Holding the mouse button
down during startup should eject all removable media, including
CDs/DVDs. If that doesn't work, you may have other issues and might
want to consider bringing your machine to the shop.
email settings are correct. Why can't I send/receive email?
If you haven't changed
any network/mail settings on your Mac, and email worked yesterday, it's
probably not your fault. Your service provider may be offline
temporarily; wait a day or so and try again. You might try to reset
modems and routers by removing power to them for 30 seconds, then
restarting them, or try your machine on a different network (different
location) before messing with network settings.
I need an anti-virus program?
The vast majority of our
clients (and I'd venture to guess Mac users in general) have never
encountered a virus. Ever. That's not to say there's no risk, but for
most Mac users anti-virus software isn't a necessity.
course, if you are running Microsoft Windows on your Mac, your Windows
partition _is_ susceptible to all that PC junk out there, and you
_must_ run the same anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-adware, anti-junk
utilities that are so necessary on PCs running Windows.
I need to run Software Update?
If you have broadband
(DSL, cable, satellite) the answer is yes, at least periodically. If
you're still on dialup, don't even try; take your machine to a broadband network. On the other hand: If it
works, don't fix it.
It's always a good idea to backup your
boot volume prior to applying significant updates, upgrades or
installations, thereby leaving yourself a back door if something goes
to a backup may be your only option for recovery in some cases.
does "Disk is almost full" message mean?
It means you're about to run out of free
space on your hard drive. If this happens and you ignore the warnings,
you will notice your machine slow down over time and you'll find
yourself watching a lot of spinning beach balls. Applications may quit
unexpectedly without room to work, and your machine may eventually
refuse to startup. You might be able to buy a little time by moving
photos, movies, music and large files off the drive to storage on
CDs/DVDs or other volumes, and you can also reclaim some space by
deleting cache files, old emails and unwanted debris - but these
solutions may not work for long unless you remove a large quantity of
A certain amount
of free space is required to operate efficiently (10-15% is recommended
minimum), and a full hard disk can effectively prevent use of
maintenance and optimization utilities. You may need to add a second
drive and/or replace your existing drive with a larger one and copy all
your data to the new volume. If you don't have a backup, now might be a
good time to set one up.
These are largely
determined by OS version/age and connectivity options. Transferring data from
late versions of OSX (on a functional Mac) to a brand-new Macintosh is
the easiest; your new machine will walk you thru the process the very
first time you start it up, and all you need is an ethernet or FireWire
cable. Early OSX versions and older machines may be a little more
problematic. You will likely need a Firewire 400 to 800 cable in most
cases (also known as Firewire 6-pin to 9-pin) for older Macs, and very
early OSX systems may need a tweak or two. Files and applications from
OS9 and earlier Systems are long obsolete and will be left behind - OS9
has not been supported since about 2001. If you have critical data that
old or older, it's too late to bring it along gracefully, so we'll have
to make some special arrangements. Generally speaking, the older the
data and OS, the more complicated it becomes to get from back-then to
First step: Cleanup and prep your old Mac.
Test and verify your old
hard drive, make sure it is operational and its data structures and
directory are intact; if errors appear, they should be repaired before
attempting to transfer your data. (If you don't know how to do these
things, we'll be happy to do the transfer for you.) Now is a good time
to clean house, too, and here are a few suggestions:
Startup your old Mac -
the one you'll copy from - launch your mail app and delete old emails,
junk and spam, then empty trash in your email program. Open your web
browser and delete any unused/unwanted bookmarks, clear browser's
history, cookies and cache. (Shortcut: See Safari's "Reset" command
under Safari menu.)
thru your hard drive: Remove all that stuff from your desktop by filing
things properly inside appropriate folders of the Finder (within your
hard drive). Drag unwanted items on the desktop into the trash. If you
want to go wading thru your Documents, Applications and other folders,
too, clean house as much as you feel comfortable. Just don't trash
anything unless you're certain you know what it is and you're sure it
should go. (Best to leave any and all Library folders alone, by the
way.) Once you're satisfied that you won't lose anything important,
empty the trash.
nCity performs data transfer or backup services for you, we do not delete anything without your
direct instruction. However, we may have to create a folder containing
desktop files for you, and move this into your hard drive for safe
keeping. We seldom empty the trash, although we are quite likely to
suggest that you do.
Data Migration on first run of a new Mac.
process assumes that your old machine isn't truly ancient, that machine
is operational, and that the old hard drive is fully functional. If
this is not the case, all bets are off! If all is good (and reasonably
current), continue Migration process.
The very first time you startup a new Macintosh, importing data is
merely one step in machine's initial setup process. Setup screens will
walk you thru importing your data from an older Mac (including accounts
and network settings) and it couldn't be easier. If you missed this
import step, then you have created a new user (login) account during
initial setup of the new machine. Your old data may be brought along at
any time, but it will be imported into a secondary account (your old
so you will wind up with two login accounts to sort thru. Remember those passwords!
your Applications -> Utilities folder is the
Migration Assistant app (right). Launching Migration Assistant from
your new Mac will initiate the same import process outlined above and
take you step-by-step thru importing your old admin account, apps,
files and network settings from your old machine to your new Macintosh.
you can run Windows on a Mac.
There are still a few
regrettable situations where some key Microsoft program or software
requires a version of Windows to operate. One example is the archaic
database used by our local real estate board; until they upgrade,
Windows is a necessary evil for all local agents. We can help with the
Mac side of your machine, and we can enlist additional assistance for
the PC side if necessary, but only you can decide how far to go and
what apps and files to bring along. (If you buy a new Mac from an Apple
store, ask them about transferring your PC data for you.)
Best way (at the moment) for running Windows and Windows apps on a Mac
is to purchase VMWare's Fusion
virtual PC app for your Mac. Other ways to create a "virtual
machine" solution include Apple's own Boot Camp
(free, included with MacOS 10.5 Leopard and later), and Parallels
Desktop. These utilities all
have one thing in common, and it's a potential deal-killer: You _must_
have a licensed copy of Windows with a viable registration key. (The
OEM Windows disk that came with your PC will not accept its
registration key on a different machine.) You may have to purchase a
new copy of XP, Vista or Windows 7, as appropriate.
The other major problem with running
Windows on a Mac is the fact that Microsoft Windows brings all of its
virus and malware vulnerabilities with it. You _will_ have to install,
update, use and maintain all
those anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-malware programs that are
mandatory for Windows users when running Windows on a Mac.
that are completely Windows-dependent must (obviously) be run under
Windows. Applications which are cross-platform (both Windows and Mac)
may be able to read/write their own file types without need of Windows,
which means importing to Mac shouldn't be a problem. Other apps may
have two versions - one for PC, one for Mac - and can usually import
their own files (with purchase of a Mac version), but there are notable
exceptions: Some popular bookkeeping and spreadsheet apps are
problematic, and some of these cannot even read their own files from a
previous version, let alone import data between platforms. It may be
necessary to check version upgrade and OS requirements for critical
apps you use, and check file import/export options between versions and
platforms. This info should be available online at program's web site.
Best choice: Make a
who say they only use email and internet should jettison everything
Microsoft. Export your docs, photos, addresses, emails and bookmarks to
a backup, import these to appropriate Mac applications, and leave
everything else behind. There are plenty of programs available for
Macintosh to replace whatever software you might currently use, many of
which are included with the MacOS (Safari, Mail, iTunes, Address Book,
Preview [for pdf files], to name a few).
If you must run a
particular program under Windows, consider taking everything else off
your old PC, disconnecting it from the internet, and dedicating that
machine exclusively to running your one Windows program (at least until
you pick a modern Mac replacement). Use your new Mac for everything
else. You can always network the PC behind a firewall, if you wish.
For more info:
security and the MacOS:
(By "passive" I mean to
exclude encryption and the more severe security tools included in the
Mac users haven't had to worry much about security issues, so having to
deal with login accounts and passwords and such has been something of a
problem for them. Apple's OSX has a surprising amount of passive
security built in, and almost all security measures are optional and/or
automatic, making it easy to ignore security issues entirely - if that
suits you. If the machine's admin account was setup
without a password, you only need to dismiss dialog boxes requesting
one when installing apps and changing settings. And, if automatic login is on
(System Prefs > Accounts > Login Options), you'll be able to skip
login altogether. But, your login password is only one of
many passwords required these days if you're online at all, so avoiding
it is kinda silly.
Still, some people seem to be able to go years without installing or
updating anything, and forgotten login passwords are an ongoing
nightmare here at the shop.
What's in a word?
programs and magic plug-in gizmos that retrieve secret codes,
character-by-character, are the stuff of fiction. It only happens in
Hollywood. Modern algorithms can encrypt a password right out of
existence, and a lost password can effectively stop you in your tracks.
No, sorry, we cannot "recover" lost passwords, or "reset" your password
to restore access to protected files. If we could, password protection
would be worthless, huh. (Had a guy bring his ex-wife's notebook in one
day, convinced I could hack into it somehow. He tried bribes, threats,
everything he could think of, became furious when I refused to even
try. One of the few times I've been thankful for unknown passwords.)
It helps to make a hard
copy of all (including rarely-used) passwords - along with email and
network settings. Create a text file somewhere on your computer and
print it out, or write your passwords down on paper - just be sure to
store such personal info in a secure location and remember where it is.
And you may need your password if/when
your machine winds up here in the shop, too, so record/remember those
passwords! Some day you'll be really glad you did.
Is security all that necessary?
You've always had to have passwords for email, discussion groups,
online accounts, and now you really should have one for your login
accounts, too. If you share your machine with anyone - your spouse,
kids, friends, anyone - you should each have your own login account and
password; it's easy to setup and will prevent multiple users from
getting in each others way.
Passwords exist because
there will always be that nasty element among us, and because privacy
is a valued commodity. Security and self-defense are basic human
rights, and both have become increasingly important over the years. The
stakes are high, and security measures have become a necessity of life
these days. By the way: The greatest threat to security on a Mac comes
from those who may have physical access to your machine - not from over
What happens if I lose my password?
your best guess: Try upper case, lower case, spaces, no spaces, every
possible password and combination you can think of. If you manage to
get it right, be sure to write it down somewhere safe.
If it's gone forever, there isn't much we can do except start over from
So..... don't lose those passwords!
are determined by available ports and protocols, and by OS version on
Best choice is Wireless
(Airport) or Ethernet which allows multiple Macs to share files,
printer and internet connection. Cat5 Ethernet cables are readily
available, and a quick, small network is easy to setup on modern Macs:
and wireless networks:
ethernet cables between machines (or connect thru router).
File Sharing on each Mac (if not already set).
under Network or Sharing in the Finder's sidebar for connected
For a small office
network (LAN) of reasonably current Macs, use ethernet cable and/or
AirPort to connect machines to a central router or gateway (with modem)
in a star configuration. Number of router ports dictates maximum number
of hardwired machines. (Some routers include a printer port.) Wireless
routers include wireless capabilities for multiple (portable) devices,
known as WiFi or AirPort. Early wireless used 802.11b protocol; AirPort Extreme works
with 802.11g wireless routers,
and current protocols include 802.11n (all
are backwards compatible with previous standards).
Simple 2-Mac crossover network:
If a crossover cable is
required, modern Macs will automatically detect and adjust as needed,
so a normal cable should work. Very old machines may require a
crossover cable. Look closely at the illustration (right) and you'll
see that all four orange and green wires are reversed compared to
standard ethernet (just above). This is a crossover ethernet cable.
Firewire (machine booted in
Target Disk Mode):
machines using a Firewire cable. Startup the target machine while
holding down the "T" key (Target Disk Mode). It will appear as another
hard disk on desktop of host machine.
else fails, you may be reduced to this, the oldest networking technique
available: Copy files to removable volume, then move said volume to
second machine. Rinse and Repeat as necessary.