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Windows PC User Switching to an Apple Mac: What I Learned


Glenn Stok is a technical writer with a Master of Science degree. He enjoys evaluating products, and can clearly explain their features.

Are you a Windows PC user thinking about getting an Apple Mac? I switched after 30 years using Microsoft, and I’ll tell you what I learned and what I needed to do to make the transition.

I have a Masters Degree in Computer Science, so I should have found this easy. But there were things that I needed to resolve. In the end, it was worthwhile. I'll make it easy for you.

This article is lengthy, but feel free to browse the subheadings and read what's important to you. I won't get into any involved technical explanations. The purpose of this article is to show you the difference between Apple macOS and Microsoft Windows.

My Mac Mini

My Mac Mini

Why I Decided to Switch to an Apple Mac

When I was ready to buy a new PC, I began to research the pricing. I was surprised to discover that Windows no longer included the applications that I need, such as Outlook for my email and MS Word to write document files. These cost extra now.

Apple includes useful applications, such as email and a calendar. And other apps are a lot less costly than the equivalent on a PC.

Diehard MS Office users such as I am, are not at a loss with Apple. Microsoft makes a Mac-compatible version. I’m using it, and it’s completely compatible with all my old files, and it’s functionality similar.

A strong motivating factor for switching my desktop to Apple was that I already had several Apple products, such as the iPad and iPhone. I thought it’s time to get an iMac for my desktop so that I’m totally in the Apple ecosystem.

The advantage is that all my devices can sync with one another via Apple’s iCloud. For example, when I set a reminder on one device, it’s also available on the other. Any additions I make to my contacts on my desktop are in my contacts on my iPhone. That's the advantage of modern technology when properly implemented.

Comparing the iMac to the Mac Mini

Once I decided to go with Apple, I compared the latest iMac to the Mac Mini. I didn’t like the iMac because it’s a sealed computer built into the screen. If the hard drive crashes, you can't open it to change it yourself.

Apple has a particular way to peel off the glass screen to get inside. The same is done with the iPad and iPhone when a new battery needs to be installed. Obviously, this is not something for an end-user to do.

The iMac is available in two screen sizes: 21.5-inch and 27-inch. The smaller size has no user access to change memory. You have to buy it with all the memory that you’ll ever need. That is more expensive than similar premium-quality memory made by other manufacturers.

I also didn’t like the glossy screen. It reflects light like a mirror. I wanted to have my own choice of monitors. You can use any monitor with the Mac Mini.

I actually saved money by buying a 1080p HD TV for the monitor. It connects to the Mac via its HDMI port. I discovered that a good HDTV has the same quality as the iMac screen.1

The Vizio HDTV I'm using as my monitor with my Mac Mini.

The Vizio HDTV I'm using as my monitor with my Mac Mini.

16 Major macOS Releases

I felt more comfortable with the Mac Mini because it is more flexible than the iMac and costs less too. There are no limitations since it uses the same macOS and apps that run on the iMac.

I ended up buying a late 2012 model in December 2012 with a 256GB solid-state drive rather than a hard drive. I wanted the extra speed you get with a solid-state drive, and 256 Gigabytes was enough for me.

It had Mountain Lion installed when I bought it. Microsoft required people to pay for upgrades, but Apple always upgrades users free to the latest macOS. Since then, I had upgraded to Mojave.

As of late 2019, Catalina was the 16th major macOS release. I didn't upgrade to that yet because it only supports 64-bit software, and I still have one older 32-bit app that I didn't replace.2

I’ve had my Mac Mini for eight years now. The 2020 model uses the 8th Generation Intel Core processor, giving it much more power. I might decide to buy the next release since they just keep getting better. Besides, my late 2012 model won't be able to run the next macOS after Catalina.

The following table shows the difference between the various models.

Comparison of Mac Mini 2012, 2014, and 2020

Mac Mini 2012 MD388LL/AMac Mini 2014 MGEN2LL/AMac Mini 2020 MXNF2LL/A

2.3 GHz Intel Quad-Core i7

2.6 GHz Intel Dual-Core i5

3.6 GHz Intel Core i3 Quad-Core

4 to 16 GB SDRAM

8 to 16 GB SDRAM

8 to 64 GB DDR4 RAM

1 TB 5400 rpm HD or 256 GB SSD

1 TB 5400 rpm HD or 256 GB SSD

256 GB to 2TB PCIe SSD

1 Thunderbolt port (10 Gb/s)

2 Thunderbolt ports (Ver 2)

2 Thunderbolt ports (Ver 3)

Mini DisplayPort

DisplayPort replaced by 2nd Thunderbolt

Native DisplayPort output via Thunderbolt

4 USB-3.0 ports (5 Gb/s)

4 USB-3.0 ports (5 Gb/s)

4 USB-3.1 ports (5 Gb/s)

HDMI port

HDMI port

HDMI Ver 2.0 port

SDXC card slot

SDXC card slot

SDXC card slot

Gigabit Ethernet port

Gigabit Ethernet port

Gigabit Ethernet port

3.5mm headphone jack

3.5mm headphone jack

3.5mm headphone jack

802.11ac Wi-Fi

802.11ac Wi-Fi

802.11ac Wi-Fi


Bluetooth 4.0

Bluetooth 5.0

No More User-Accessible Memory

The Mac Mini's before 2014 had a user-accessible capability to change the RAM, so you weren't forced to buy memory from Apple.

I bought mine with the least amount of memory and expanded to the max memory of 16 Gigabytes by buying two 8 Gig chips from Amazon. That was a lot cheaper than purchasing the memory directly from Apple.

All Mac Mini models no longer make the RAM user-accessible.

Apple Makes Things Simple for the Layman

When I started using the Mac, I was disappointed that the features I was used to having on a PC were not available. At first, I thought Apple didn’t provide the same capability. But then I found that the same features do exist in Apple's macOS. One just needs to enable them.

Apple disabled advanced features because they feel most people are computer illiterate and don't understand computer-related tasks. How sad it is that they think that.

I know you can handle it, and you want it, so I'll show you how to enable all the hidden features in your Apple macOS.

How to Show the URL in Safari's Status Bar Before Clicking

Apple’s Safari web browser has some useful features disabled by default to make things simpler for the layman.

I like to see the actual URL of a link before I click on it. That helps me avoid clicking to a fraudulent site that may inadvertently install malware on my machine. For this reason, I always hover my mouse over a link, so I can verify if the actual destination is what I expect it to be before actually clicking on the link.

On my PC, that always displayed in the lower-left corner when hovering. But my Mac did not show this information until I discovered that I could enable that too, by selecting:

“View > Show Status Bar”

Show URL in Safari's Status Bar

Show URL in Safari's Status Bar

How to Enable the Developer Menu in Safari

As a web developer, I need to examine the source code of web pages at times. That is also useful when I want to check out a problem.

Apple hides the ability to do that by default, but it can be enabled. If you want to see the source code and have other nifty developer’s tools, you can turn on a “Develop” pull-down menu. Here’s how:

In the Safari menu, select:

“Preferences > Advanced tab”

Under the Advanced tab, place a checkmark for

“Show Develop menu in menubar”

as shown below. Now you’ll have the additional “Develop” menu.


How to See a Web Page Source Code

After you have enabled the "Develop" menu, the source code of any web page can be viewed by clicking:

“Develop > Show Page Source”

By the way, I also downloaded and installed Firefox on my Mac. Firefox has that option to see the source of web pages as a default setting. And it’s easier to use than the source view in Safari.

Show Page Source in Safari

Show Page Source in Safari

How to Make the Magic Mouse Work Normally

Scrolling with the Smart Mouse was a bit strange at first because it was backward from the way I was used to with a scroll wheel.

The Magic Mouse has no moving wheel, but it responds to the movements of your finger on its surface as if there were a wheel.

I discovered that this backward scrolling could be reversed so that it functions as a standard mouse wheel. Just change the “Scroll Direction” in the Mouse settings under System Preferences.

Handy File Usage Features

Apple also likes to hide file-handling features because many people don't think about a file structure. And again, they want to make things simple.

However, you are one of those who understand the nature of organizing data, and you want that power in your hands. So I'll cover all that in the next few sections.

How to Show the Path to Files in Finder

A feature that I always liked having on my PC was the ability to see the directory thread when viewing a list of files.

With Finder, you can list files sorted by name, date, size, or other criteria. You can also list files by location, known as folders.

But what if you forgot where you saved something?

I like to know where my files are located. That is not a standard feature on a Mac because Apple thinks people don't understand what a file structure is. Or maybe they just want to keep things simple.

Apple's tool for finding your files is the "File Path Bar" in Finder.

I was able to enable that feature in Finder as shown below by selecting:

View > Show Path Bar”

Show Path Bar in Finder

Show Path Bar in Finder

How Finder Organizes Files

As you've known on your PC, you can save files in folders (or directories), and you can create new folders to organize your data.

Each folder can have subfolders that you create to place your files in meaningful locations. But sometimes we tend to forget where we saved a file. I admit that forget once in a while.

The Finder app allows you to select the folder you want to browse. A default list of folders is in the left-hand column of Finder. Preset folders are Applications, Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Movies, Music, and Pictures.

You can include other folders your've created if you want then quickly available. Just drag the folder to the left-hand column.

How to Find Forgotten Files

Did you ever completely forget where you saved a specific file? You created a folder for it, but you can't recall what you named it. I've done that many times, and it's frustrating.

That is where Finder's search feature comes in handy. Just select the home (top-most) folder in Finder and enter any string of data in the search field. All the files with that data string will appear, no matter where you saved them.

Files are listed in time order: Today, yesterday, Previous 7 days, Previous 30 days, and Earlier. That makes it easy to find a forgotten file if you can remember when you worked with it approximately.

Tagging Files with Color Codes

Files can be tagged with color dots, as shown below. There are several colors to choose from, so you can use different colors to represent various categories.

For example, I use yellow to mark files that I need to work on with high priority.

Prior to OS X El Capitan, Apple highlighted the entire filename with the selected color. I feel the change to using merely a colored dot was a poor choice since the dot is not as noticeable. I don't know why they ever bothered to make that change.

Tagging files with color dots

Tagging files with color dots

Protection From Opening the Same File Twice

I remember on my PC, Windows let me open the same file that was already open by another program. It did not warn me until I tried to save it. That might have been too late if I had made a lot of changes that I didn't want to lose.

With the Mac, when I open a file that already is open, it automatically switches me over to the window where I have the other program using the file.

I think that’s much safer since it avoids making the mistake of editing the same file in two different windows, which would cause the first saved version to be lost. You can’t make that mistake with a Mac.

Other Useful Mac Features

In the remainder of this article, I'll discuss some useful features that are unique to Apple.

Speak Time and Alerts

The Mac has speech capability that you can enable for various tasks, such as speaking the time on the hour or half-hour.

It can also speak alerts from applications. I like having my reminder app say: “It’s 2 PM, leave for the doctor appointment.”


All macOS from Mountain Lion to the latest can be enabled to let you dictate in any application where you would generally be typing.

That is similar to Siri that I use on my iPad. It works well, and it even underlines words that it is not sure it understood. But it sometimes types something entirely different than what you meant, just because it sounds the same. You need to be cautious with it and review what it types for you while you're talking.

Reminder App

I found that when I enter a reminder for a specific date and time, it is also present on my iPad and iPhone. And it alerts me on both. That works the other way around too. Anything I enter as a reminder on any Apple device will alert me on my Mac as well.

You do have to enable iCloud for that to work. The apps on all devices stay in sync with one another via iCloud. I don't allow iCloud for every app, just for those I want to enable syncing between devices.

Compatibility with the HP Printer/Scanner

I use an HP printer. With my old PC, I had to install the HP Solutions Center, a software package that controlled all aspects of the printer.

When I connected the printer to my Mac, it was immediately recognized, and the Mac downloaded the correct driver from Apple without any effort.

I found that I was able to use the printer and the scanner. It all worked flawlessly.

Microsoft Office for Mac

I wanted to have the full MS Office suite since I was used to it. But I didn’t need Outlook because Apple comes with its own email app.

There are two versions of Office for the Mac:

  1. WPX includes Word, Powerpoint and Excel,
  2. and WPXO, which includes Outlook as well.

They are both available on Amazon or from your local office supply store.

I could have used Apple’s version of Word and Excel. But that was my choice. Apple's Pages app is somewhat similar to MS Word, and Numbers is the app that replaces Excel. You can download both at no cost from Apple's app store.

Protection From Malicious Software

Apple has something called Gatekeeper in OS X Mountain Lion (and above) that helps protect users from downloading and installing malicious software.

Users are protected because developers need to apply for a Developer ID certificate. Gatekeeper uses this ID to avoid installing potentially malicious software.

It takes an extra step, with user verification, to install software that was not verified by Apple and does not have a Developer ID. You can select a different option that allows you to download and install any software, but I don’t recommend doing this.

As long as you keep the default settings in place, Mac OS doesn’t allow adware or spyware to get installed.

You will also be saving yourself from unwanted malware if you avoid opening any attached files you receive in an anonymous email. That's true even with Windows PCs.

Thanks to the extra security built into Mac OS, anti-virus software is not really necessary. But if you do decide to use one, it is advisable to disable it when performing OS updates. Some third-party anti-virus software cause problems when Apple installs OS updates.

Stealth Mode in macOS Firewall

Mac OS also has a built-in firewall. You can set it to stealth mode, and I highly recommend that you do. When in stealth mode, no one can ping your machine. It will not respond.

Hackers ping random IP addresses until they find a live one. Then they try to gain access to steal your personal information that you may have in files. I wonder why Apple doesn’t make stealth mode the default.

To enable stealth mode, click on “System Preferences” and select “Security & Privacy.” Then select the “Firewall” tab. Click “Firewall Options” and place a checkmark for “Enable stealth mode” as shown below.

Enable stealth mode in Apple's Firewall

Enable stealth mode in Apple's Firewall

How to Run MS Windows in a Mac Window

Since I have a few older programs that only run on Windows, I wanted to continue using them. There are several software products that allow you to run Windows on a Mac.

The two most common and stable products are:

  1. Parallels Desktop for the Mac
  2. VMWare Fusion

I use Fusion. It lets me run Windows in a Mac Window while other Mac apps are running. You do need a legal copy of Windows to install on the Mac with Fusion.

Note that even though the VMWare's software is called Fusion, it has nothing to do with the Fusion Drive. That has confused some people because Apple chose to call their new hybrid drive by the same name—Fusion.

Hard Drive Vs. Solid State

Apple's Fusion drive is a hybrid. It's a combo hard drive and solid-state (SSD). The system uses intelligence to decide where to place data. Files that are used often are stored on the faster SSD.

I decided not to have a hybrid because I think too much can go wrong with all that sophisticated intelligence.

However, I still wanted an SSD because it has no moving parts, and therefore, it's faster than a spinning hard drive.

So I ordered my Mac Mini with an SSD drive. That's a choice you have to make based on your needs and your desire.

How to Copy Files From PC to Mac

One of the most important things to understand is "file compatibility" between Windows and Mac.

Windows PCs use a format known as NTFS. If you use an external drive for backup from your PC that's formatted as NTFS, then you can read the files from that drive directly into the Mac.

Mac OS X v10.3 or later can read the contents of an NTFS formatted drive, but you cannot write from the Mac to NTFS. It's only one way. At least that's how you can copy all your files to the Mac.

Later, you can use that drive to backup your Mac, but it needs to be reformatted for Time Machine.

How to Use Time Machine for Backup and Recovery

After I was sure everything was on my Mac, I reformatted my backup drive for Apple's Time Machine. Apple uses a format known as Mac OS Extended (Journaled), which is required for Time Machine.

When you first try to run Time Machine, it will guide you through a few simple steps to get it set up. It will detect the backup drive and assure the proper formatting. If it's not right, it will ask you to permit reformatting the drive. Of course, that means any data on the drive will be lost.

Once that's done, Time Machine will seamlessly back up every hour. It will take a long time at first, but each backup after that only copies files that were modified.

I love Time Machine. It runs flawlessly in the background to keep weekly, daily, and hourly backups. The oldest files are removed when the drive gets full, so that the next backup can proceed successfully.

I had used it already several times to go back in time to get older versions of files and to retrieve data I had deleted and needed again. I also used it once to bring my entire system back to the previous day after being worried that I might have installed malware. That's why it's called Time Machine.

To Sum Up

I have been using my Mac Mini for eight years now without any negative issues. I have become spoiled by the speed of booting. I no longer need to wait to use my computer as I did with my PC.

I am sure the speed has a lot to do with the fact that I chose to use an SSD drive. SSD is pure flash memory—no moving parts to slow down file access. And it draws much less power too.

Time Machine has saved me from disaster several times. It was easy to find the version of a file from the archives that I needed.

Apple always kept my apps updated with no hassles. And Mac OS had been improved several times. I never had to pay for an upgrade.

If you use Time Machine to back up your system, you can restore it to the original files and entire system structure if anything goes wrong after upgrading the OS.

As I mentioned, I already had to go back in time once, when I installed third-party software that turned out to cause problems. Restoring was easy, and Time Machine did all the work.

Life is good with Apple.


  1. "The Best Computer Monitor is an HDTV" - TurboFuture.com
  2. Roman Loyola. (April 4, 2020). “How to check if your Mac’s software is 32- or 64-bit” - Macworld

Questions & Answers

Question: How does one use Siri and dictation on the Mac Mini when it has no built-in microphone?

Answer: To use dictation or any app that requires voice input, you need to connect a microphone to the Mac. You can do that with a microphone (or headset with mic) that has a 3.5mm plug to connect to the headphone jack, or with a mic that attaches to a USB port. The Mac will recognize either input.

© 2015 Glenn Stok


Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on February 27, 2020:

Manny Shah - The Mac has the same copy and paste features that you have on Windows. You highlight the text, right-click, and select copy. Then place the cursor where you want to paste, right-click and select paste.

The shortcut keystrokes work the same way too. But instead of Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V, you press Command-C and Command-V, respectively.

Manny Shah on February 27, 2020:

Great article. I'm on the fence to switch to Macbook as I'm tired of slow performance of windows laptop and considering they are so expensive for similar spec, there is no advantage.

However, hearing horror stories of the learning curve (mainly from non macbook users) was putting me off, mainly you cannot copy paste using the shortcuts in mac.

Your article makes it so assuring and helpful as I will be mainly using my mac for devleopment in IDE and mostly standard application which have a mac equivalent.

Timothy Arends from Chicago Region on February 04, 2020:

Another Mac mini user here. I am trying your stealth mode tip! As a long-time Mac user (even one-time fanboy) I had to go in the other direction and get an Alienware gaming PC simply to run the top Virtual Reality apps but I still do most of my day-to-day stuff on Mac from sheer force of habit.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on August 14, 2019:

Pam, Copy and paste works the same on an Apple as it does on Windows. Highlight the text and right click. Then select copy. Place the cursor at the destination, right click, and select paste.

Alternatively, instead of right-clicking, you can hold the command key (same as the CTRL key on Windows) while pressing C to copy or V to paste.

Pam on August 14, 2019:

Is there any way to copy and paste I use this feature a lot

Hello from Singapore on August 05, 2019:

How refreshing! Your way of describing how you use your computer makes it very easy to understand differences and highlighting the little things which matter to Joe Average. For Joe Above-Average there is terminal which speaks the language of servers and the internet. I switched 10 years ago because I was sick of windows8. I am using win10 at work and would not consider ever going back privately.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on June 12, 2019:

Alex Chia - VMware’s Fusion lets you install other operating systems on the Mac, but I agree that this opens the door for malware too. For this reason, I installed and run Avast (my choice) on Windows that runs with Fusion on my Mac. In my opinion, Avast is the best anti-virus and malware detection because it can run “outside” of Windows prior to bootup. It works well under Fusion too.

As for Windows slowing down the Mac—I do notice that everything I do in Windows is slow, but the Mac apps keep running at top speed even when I have Windows running in another Mac window. So it doesn’t slow down the Mac. It just runs slow itself.

Alex Chia on June 12, 2019:

HI Glenn, Wouldn't installing Fusion on a Mac slow it down and subject the Mac to malware in a window environment?

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 25, 2019:

Smart - Try reading my article and try using a Mac before posting your opinion.

Smart People use PC's on May 24, 2019:

If you are a gamer, then mac's are useless to you. If you are a streamer pc's are for you also. If you have a job, nearly all of them use windows. I can do anything with a pc for cheaper than a mac. Good luck with your mac and keep telling yourself how wonderful it is. If you want to pay more and get less, mac is a clear winner.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 10, 2019:

Jack Lee - I couldn't deal with the Apple mouse either. It was too small for my hand. I use the two-button Logitech with a scrolling wheel. The Apple Mac supports that. All the settings can be adjusted in the Mouse settings under System Preferences.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on May 10, 2019:

I also switched a few years ago and found the mac to be simpler to use once you adjust to the single button mouse instead of the PC two button mouse.

The Apple magic mouse was a problem for me and caused me pain in my wrist and palm. I think it is poorly designed and should be avoided.

The best feature of the mac is the antivirus protection and pop up blockers. It just seem to be friendlier to the user and works seamless to upgrade. No need to buy extra anti virus software as on the PC.

I would not go back to the PC unless I am forced to use it.

Yuliss on July 21, 2018:

Thanks for this article! I am one of the computer illiterate people,lol. I am using windows currently, but thinking of switching. Thanks for discussing the differences in ways I can actually understand!

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on June 10, 2018:

The Windows Key becomes the Command key on a Mac and the Alt key is replaced by the Option key.

There are similarities between the shortcuts, such as P, X, C and Y for print, cut, copy and paste, respectively. You just need to hold the Command key while pressing these shortcuts instead of a Control key.

Other PC keyboard shortcuts have their Mac equivalents too, but some require a different sequence of keys. You can find any of them with a simple Google search.

Johannah M on June 10, 2018:

Hi Glenn! Just wanted to ask if the short cust keys in a Windows PC still applicable in a Macbook Pro?

Arnie Miller on March 31, 2018:

I'm an old PC die hard like you, and am considering switching to a Mac. Your article was very helpful and has encouraged me to make the leap.

Thank you.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on December 28, 2017:

Johnz - Sounds good. I'm actually using a 1080p HDTV as my monitor on my Mac. If you didn’t get your HD monitor yet, you may want to look into that. I wrote another article about that. You can find it on my profile page.

Johnz on December 28, 2017:

Hey Glenn,

Thank you for your insightful and thorough article! I'm making the change soon. Sick and tired of dealing with constant window issues. I like your idea (and will implement myself) using a mini mac and an HD monitor. I've bookmarked your article for further reference.

Thanks again!

Arpana on December 27, 2017:

Nice article! Looks like a complete Beginner's Guide for the users switching from Windows to macOS.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on November 18, 2017:

Eric Farmer - The need to start using different software when switching from one OS to another is always an issue.

I like the fact that I can still run Windows on my Mac alongside the Apple OS. VMware makes that possible. I have some old Windows programs that I still use.

Eric Farmer from Rockford Illinois on November 18, 2017:

I do not use Macs but I switched to using Ubuntu. So I understand somewhat about moving away from Windows. My biggest issue was starting to use different software. I already had mostly used open source software though so I did not have to change too much.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on November 07, 2017:

Anne Ryefield - I can relate to your last statement. It's been five years now that I am using a Mac. When friends ask for help with their Windows computers, I'm as a loss. Windows has changed so much since then. It actually seems very user UN-friendly.

Anne Ryefield from USA on November 07, 2017:

Thank you for writing this article. Though I've been a Mac user since 2010 or so, I have always had a laptop - the Macbook Pro. I didn't know about the differences between the desktops. It was nice to know that there is a difference that is important to me. Much like you, when I buy a desktop Mac, I will want to be able to work on the hardware if I want or need to. Thank you for pointing out such an important difference!

The one problem I do have with Apple computers is that I'm now so far removed from Windows that I can't fix my grandmother's computer anymore without having to spend a lot of time online trying to troubleshoot a foreign environment!

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on October 12, 2017:

Maree - The version of Word on the iPad is called Pages and the Excel equivalent is Numbers. Since I always keep my devices up to date, I noticed that they are included free now on my iPad and iPhone. I never use them on my iPad, so I don't know how compatible they are.

I do all my Excel work and article writing on my Mac desktop, so I wanted the original Microsoft version of both Excel and Word.

Therefore, I bought "Office for the iMac WPX" that contains Microsoft versions of Excel, Word and Powerpoint.

I've been happy with all of these programs since 2012 when I switched from being a PC user to being totally in the Apple ecosystem. I can tell you that these programs are the exact duplicates of what you have on a PC.

Maree on October 12, 2017:

Thanks for the article. I am in the process of deciding whether to go with a mac for my next notebook being a longtime pc user. The last 2 laptops I have had have been atrocious & I just LOVE my iPad. I am concerned about the functionality of word & excel, which I use regularly. I have both of these on my iPad via a subscription, but they either don't have the same functionality or perhaps I haven't worked out how to use them properly. This is especially the case with excel. I believe you are saying that the functionality should be there with a mac, so could it be that this is just an issue with the iPad?

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 02, 2017:

Shinylane - Thanks for noting those additional features. I also discovered many additional features of iOS since I wrote this article. AirDrop was one of those things I use frequently ever since discovering that I can use it to quickly send large videos and tons of pictures from my iPhone to my Mac in one quick click. I use it to share video I take with friends too, but can only AirDrop to those who have iPhones. It's nice being in the Apple ecosystem.

Shinylane on September 01, 2017:

I had a similar experience 5 years ago after moving to the bay and getting a job where OSX/Apple was what all the developers used. I feel like you described something very similar to my experience, however I would add one of the major joys with using OSX is the availability of bash and a large subset of the GNU tools. Now there are ways to get this on Windows of course but it's right out of the box for you in OSX, and I also really enjoy airdrop with other macs. The other point I would make is Windows 10 does come with Email and Calendar apps at least, and they are not bad at all IME. Thanks for the great article!

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on August 09, 2017:

Frank, Wrong! The kernel used in Mac OS X is XNU, developed by Apple. Although similar, it's not Linux.

frank on August 09, 2017:

Like you, I get a MacMini to talk many Apple products around the house (iphone, ipad :)). My work environment is Linux-only and I feel more comfortable with Mac OS X as it has Linux kernel.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on August 02, 2017:

Dennis McDowell, I'm glad my article was helpful for you transitioning from a PC to the Mac. There are a bunch of useful user guides for your MacBook in PDF format available online. You can find them by searching for "MacBook User’s Guide" on Google.

DENNIS MCDOWELL on August 02, 2017:

Thanks Glenn for this very informative article. My wife and I are a retired couple transitioning from our Windows 10 computers to a MacBook Pro and a Mac Pro, both 2011 models. Your insight has been greatly appreciated and valuable in helping us understand a Mac and all the terminology associated with the Apple community. You've also provided excellent hints on how to get more out of our Macs.

Thanks again

Brandi Labadia on May 26, 2017:

Thank you! I just received my MacBook Pro and I am looking forward to learning it and getting everything working on it. Thank you again for your advise.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 23, 2017:

Brandi, What you need is Microsoft Office for Mac. It includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and more. All are completely compatible with the versions on Windows.

The Apple drive format is different from Microsoft. Mac can read backup drives formatted by Windows, but cannot write to them. Windows cannot read backup drives formatted for the Mac.

If you want back-and-forth compatibility, you need to format the backup drive as Fat or ExFAT. These formats can be read and written by both Apple and Windows. However, these formats have a limit to file size. This limit may not affect you unless you are working with very large files such as video or large datasets.

See the section (I think you missed) in this article under the subtitle: "Copying Files From PC to Mac"

I highly recommend Apple’s Time Machine for backing up your data, but this cannot be read by Windows computers. So you need a separate external drive for copying between you and your business partner. Remember, format that one as ExFAT.

Brandi Labadia on May 23, 2017:

Hi Glenn. Thank you for responding so quickly. The majority of my work is done in Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook and on Adobe Acrobat X Standard. I also back up everything to external hard drives. I think I read that I will need to reformat the hard drives before using them on the Mac. Is this correct?

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 23, 2017:

Brandi, File compatibility all depends on which programs you both are using. If you are talking about Word documents, Microsoft has a version of Word that runs on the Mac. Same is true for Excel. Text files, photos and all image files are directly compatible with no problem. Videos have various file formats and may need the proper application to play on either device. If you give me specifics I can give you a more direct answer.

Brandi on May 22, 2017:

I am thinking of switching to a Mac from a PC. My concern is that since it is mainly used for work, if I create a file on my Mac and send it to my business partner who is using a PC, will it still open for them no problem, and vice versa? I would really love to switch, but I am concerned about that.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on February 17, 2017:

BarbRad - I never used Carbinite. I back up to a remote hard drive using Apple's Time Machine. It sounds like your backup was corrupted and that's affecting everything you mentioned.

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on February 17, 2017:

When I switched to iMac a few years ago, I loved it. I used it in one location and had a Windows PC at the other. Then I had a hard drive crash after almost three years. Although I had Carbonite, My ISP could not provide enough speed to download the files.

The Apple store techs had tried to restore the hard drive as best they could to move data to the replacement, but the new computer never worked properly. My mail was disrupted and that program doesn't work as it should. Tech people told me everything would work if I just updated the operation system.

I now have El Capitan and my favorite programs are still broken -- iMovie doesn't work like it used to, iPhoto no longer imports as of last week, and I can't ever find files I need. I'm even locked out of some of my folders. I know how to change the permissions, but it's still a pain to have to do it. I have no idea who locked me out of them, but probably some tech moving files.

About all that's good in this computer is the files it's storing that date back to 2014 and before. I'd love to move them to the PC, which works better for me now. I'm just not sure how. I've been moving a few at a time with a thumb drive.

I keep the iMac next to my PC now, and it's handy as a second computer for internet use and referencing when I want to see information in one screen while I'm writing in another. I'm not a techie, and I'm tired of trying to locate photos I took in 2010 that weren't tagged. I have thousands of photos and only tagged the subjects of each download in iPhoto as I got them from my camera. I tagged the files as I edited them. Between iPhoto and photos I can usually eventually find the photo I want by remembering an approximate date of the event, finding the event in iPhoto, and then checking the dates in Photos. In Windows I can go right to the folder I put the edited photos in and find any edited photo easily. I find unedited ones by date and import title.

No tech has been able to fix my mouse problem, either. I ditched the Magic Mouse which stopped working properly even with new batteries. I now have a Logitech wireless mouse. Sometimes when I try to left-click, it randomly gives me a right click menu instead of opening or closing a file, tab, or following a link. The online tech support didn't have an answer for that, either. If I get my files moved, I'm ready to sell my iMac to someone with more tech knowledge than I have.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 02, 2016:

Don - Your review of your experience with using your Mac adds a great deal of useful information here. Thank you for taking the time to share that.

You and I came from about the same time period. You worked on the first PC introduced my IBM and I built my own home computer a few years earlier than that, and wrote software for it. I wrote a few articles published in the trade journals of that time, which got my name out to the clone manufactures. Then DRI contracted with me to include my hard disk backup program, known as BackRest, in Concurent PC-DOS in the mid 1980s. Remember that one?

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 02, 2016:

cclitgirl - Thanks for sharing how you are using your Mac. I also like the way my calendar and reminders sync up between my Mac and my iPad. Whatever I put in one is automatically in the other.

As for your comment about watching Amazon Prime and Netflix movies, you might want to look at the Roku. I use it to watch all that on my living room tv. It comments to the tv via HDMI the same way as you are doing now with your MacBook. It even lets you stream YouTube video from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac to your TV as long as it all on your own home WiFi network.

Don on September 02, 2016:

Glenn - I changed over myself at about the same time. And, it was a hard decision because I am "Old School" PC user. In fact, I was one of the Engineers selected at the GE site where I worked to review the first "PC brought out by IBM.

I won't mention how long ago that was. But you can imagine how hard it was for me to move on.

What ran me away from the PC was the constant early life deaths of the PC's I would purchase, but the constant dealing with their upgrades and the crappy Packages they used (APP wasn't popular phrase at first back then).

But, I purchased a Mac Pro and I haven't had to look back. The machine is reliable, all of my critical information is synced with my iPhone, and I haven't had the first "attack" on my Mac.

One thing I did do, was take the time to consolidate ALL of my data and information (decades worth) and clean it up with reality checks. Once done, I transferred this into a structured "folder" that I placed onto my Mac. It was kind of large, but over time I was able to go back and forth for my information.

Of course this was made easier because I bought the Office pack for the Mac and I was able to use my WORD and EXCEL documents as I got better at using PAGES and NUMBERS and SAFARI. Although I write all of my first draft stuff with Pages and then paste it into HubPages, I do my final Book development before submissions with WORD.

So, overall I am glad I made my transition and honestly, even though I looked longingly at those "Surface" and other such machines, are tempting, the annual obsolescence and my memories of the problems with Windows, keeps my happily using my Mac.

Thanks for the article,


Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on September 02, 2016:

I had used PCs for a long time. But what I love about my Mac is that it's three years old and going strong. I have a Macbook Air and iPad and iPhone and they keep me in line. Haha. No, really, using iCloud, I can take notes on my Macbook or Phone and then they're all right there on my work iMac. My calendar syncs on all my devices as well as podcasts, photos and the like. Plus the antivirus stuff that you don't have to deal with on a Mac is nice.

Loved this article! Thanks for the write up and I learned some things, too - for the next computer, I might get an Apple mini with a bigger screen like you did: I like watching Amazon Prime and Netflix movies from time to time. Right now, I hook my Macbook to my TV (via HDMI cable and an adapter) and it's not bad, but...I dunno, there are other ways...I guess it's just how much you want to spend for convenience. Haha.

In any case, thanks for all this!

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on August 23, 2016:

norlawrence - If you no longer use your PC after buying the Mac and still have your Windows XP installation CD you can install it on your new Mac. Then you can run both Mac OS and Windows at the same time. You just need to get VMWare to do it. That's what I've done since I have a couple of Windows programs I wanted to be able to keep using.

norlawrence on August 23, 2016:

My old XP is about ready to die. Maybe I should think about a Mac. Thanks for the great article. It was full of good information.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 06, 2015:

BarbRad - This is true. One has to be an educated shopper, as the saying goes. It took me six months of study and analyzing before I made my choice. Most software can be downloaded these days. But I bought an external DVD drive just for those cases when I buy software on DVD. You can find a cheap external DVD drive on Amazon for around $25. The Mac automatically recognizes it.

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on September 06, 2015:

I wish I never had bought the computer with Maverick installed. I had no idea how different it would be. I was able to learn how to access choices I was used to (such as "save as") when I called tech support. I didn't realize until I went to reinstall VMware Fusion that the new iMac did not have a DVD drive, and I didn't want to have to go buy one just for that. That's what happens when you don't have adequate shopping time in which to make a decision.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 06, 2015:

BarbRad - That's unfortunate that you ran into so many problems. I also need to keep Windows to run some old PC software, and I also issue VMWare Fusion to run Windows on my Mac. I love it and I never had trouble. I even run Windows alongside other Mac utilities. I like that Windows can run while Mac OS is alive, simultaneously. The trick to avoid using up resources is to let Windows access the Mac hard drive directories rather than the virtual hard drive that VMWare creates. That virtual hard drive never can be reduced even if you delete files. So you need to avoid using that. By using the actual Mac hard drive I can access the same files in real time from either Mac OS or Windows. So no need to copy back and forth.

As for email, I use Mozilla Thunderbird. They are the same company that makes Firefox and they have a Mac version. I love this for my email. It even handles multiple email accounts and IMAP so it syncs with my iPad.

I never upgraded to Maverick because I have no problems. I know that if I upgrade the OS then VMWare needs to be upgraded too, and so many other things become incompatible. So why take chances.

I chose a Solid State Drive instead of a hard drive. With no moving parts, file access is tremendously faster and I needed that because I also do image and video editing. And there is nothing that can wear out with an SSD, so I never can have a hard disk crash. Nevertheless, I do use time machine to keep it backed up just in case.

What it all boils down to, is simply setting things up right and then nothing goes wrong.

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on September 05, 2015:

I bought my first iMAC in 2010 and once I got used to a new way of finding my way around, I loved it. I was running some essential Windows programs on VMWare Fusion, but found that I used a lot of resources doing that and had to reboot more often. My hard drive died last October and although the techs tried to recover and move all my data back, the mail program has been almost dysfunctional since the crash. Organized folders and preferences became scattered and it's just easier to check the email online now on a Windows PC. I bought a new PC at almost the same time as I replaced my iMac, since I wanted one at my other location. I was tired of running Windows on my iMac and I was tired of using a laptop in my second location. I now like my PC better than my MAC unless I'm working with photos. My new iMac had an upgrade to Maverick, and I haven't been able to get iMovie to function since then. I can't seem to do much with Movie Maker on my PC, either. This is very disappointing, since I love making videos.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on August 19, 2015:

Victoria Lynn - Personally I never found a problem with the difference between a PC and a Mac. As I discussed in this hub, there are settings to make them function in similar ways. The more information to be armed with, the better. You're absolutely right about that. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on August 19, 2015:

Interesting hub. I like the lure of the Mac because of lack of virus issues. But I'm with Sherry in that everything I do for work/teaching is on a PC, so it would be hard to change. Thanks for sharing your experience. I've wondered about Macs. It's good to be armed with information.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on August 19, 2015:

peachpurple - Yes, the hardware is more expensive but the software is much lower priced. And Apple includes many common apps with the OS, and many free to download. Unlike Microsoft, who charges extra for apps that are necessary for a minimal system.

In addition to that, installing and removing apps is streamlined on the Apple. Microsoft always leaves files behind when you delete unused apps, filling up disk space. The time saved maintaining the system is also part of the cost that is saved with Apple. I used to spend hours cleaning up my PC when it started running slow. Time is money too.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on August 19, 2015:

I heard that mac is more expensive than windows

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on July 28, 2015:

Sherry Hewins - I can understand the need to have a PC if you're using a PC at work so that you have more compatibility. I was glad to discover, however, that there are a lot of options that can be selected on a Mac to make it work more like a PC, as I discussed in this article. Thanks for sharing your personal experience.

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on July 28, 2015:

Thanks for sharing your research. I learned on a Mac in school, but once I entered the workforce everyone had a PC. I bought one for my home computer because it was cheaper, and it was compatible with my work PC.

Thanks to your excellent info, when I'm ready for a new computer, perhaps I will consider going back to Mac.

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