You’re probably coming to grips with just how different the OS X operating system is to Windows.But don’t be disheartened by the changes – it may look unfamiliar, but almost all of the things you know from Windows can be found on a Mac, such as the system tray (top right), task bar (bottom dock), control panel (located in the Apple menu under ‘System Preferences’) and the file explorer (Finder, which is the left-most icon on the bottom dock).
There’s no Start menu in the Mac operating system, but you can use the dock at the bottom of the screen to find frequently used apps and the Spotlight feature (the magnifying glass in the top right corner) to look for any files or programs on your computer.The next step is installing software that turns your pretty new machine into a proper workhorse.
Here are the top 10 programs that deserve a spot on your new Mac.
1. Parallels Desktop 10
You may have switched to a Mac, but there’s a good chance there are still Windows apps you need to use on your new machine. Even if there are versions available for Mac, you’ll need to spring for new software licenses if they’re paid apps. Mac OS X comes with a built-in ‘Boot Camp’ feature that lets you install Windows, however to use it, you have to restart your computer every time you want to use a Windows program, and then restart it again to revert to Mac.Parallels Desktop 10 lets you run Windows software as discrete windows within Mac, with access to all of your files and resources (such as wireless networks and printers). Essentially, any Windows programs you run through Parallels Desktop will act like they’re native Mac apps.
Note: you will still need to buy a copy of Windows separately to use with Parallels Desktop 10.
2. Get Mac Apps
If you’re setting up a new Mac, the Get Mac Apps web app is perfect for installing a bunch of new programs in one hit. All of the platform staples are there, from Chrome, Dropbox and Evernote to Skype, Spotify and Cyberduck.Just tick the apps you want to install, click the ‘Install these’ button at the bottom of the screen, and copy the code that appears. Fire up Terminal (press command + space, type ‘Terminal’ and press Enter), paste the code in, and press Enter.
Terminal will then download and install all of the apps you ticked in the background.
One of the features you may miss from Windows is the ability to see (and click on) thumbnails of open windows when you hover over an app’s icon in the taskbar. This feature is a productivity boon if you regularly have multiple Word and browser windows open and want to be able to access a specific document or website in one click, and HyperDock brings this feature to Mac OS X.HyperDock offers a few other productivity tweaks for Mac users as well. If you hover over the calendar icon (and give it permission to see your contacts and calendar data), it will show you a preview of your upcoming appointments. Doing the same on iTunes will give you options to pause, replay, and skip the currently playing song.
It also resizes windows automatically when you drag them to the screen edges.
US RRP $9.95
4. Microsoft Office 365
With rumours that a new version of Office for Mac will be released soon, your best bet for using the ubiquitous suite on your new Mac is by springing for an Office 365 subscription. This is available as a monthly or yearly subscription, and it entitles you to access the latest version of Office for the length of your subscription.
Small Businesses subscriptions are available for as little as $5.60 per month, and can used by a maximum of 25 users.
From RRP $5.60 per month
If you weren’t using Evernote on your Windows computer already, you were missing out. Evernote is a powerful platform that makes it easy to organise your notes, ideas and research. You can create different notebooks for individual projects and clients, and each note supports a variety of different objects such as checklists, images, drawings, weblinks and audio clips. You can also share notebooks with colleagues.
One of the strongest features of Evernote is that all of your notes are fully searchable – even handwritten notes, images and documents/PDFs that you’ve attached to your notes. It’s also completely multi-platform, so any notes you add on your Mac can be read on Windows, Android, iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices (and vice versa). It’s completely free to use, but upgrading to a Premium subscription gives you perks like more storage, the ability to download notebooks for offline access, and stronger collaboration tools.
6. Google Chrome
One thing you won’t find on your new Mac is Internet Explorer, although we doubt you’ll lose much sleep over that loss. If you were already using Google Chrome on your Windows machine, then installing it on your Mac is a no-brainer. If you weren’t, there are plenty of reasons to use it over the default Safari web browser.
It loads pages quickly, supports plenty of extensions (essentially apps that live inside the browser), and lets you sync all of your bookmarks, history and open tabs to other devices using your Google account.Finding cool extensions to install has gotten a lot easier with the introduction of the Chrome Web Store, which looks and functions the same way as the Mac App Store or iTunes. You’ll be able to find extensions for many of the apps you’re using already, like Evernote, Dropbox and Spotify, which add additional features that you can access directly from Chrome. The Evernote Web Clipper, for instance, makes it easy to save and annotate webpages to your Evernote account.
7. USB Lock
USB Lock is a handy utility that lets you lock your Mac’s screen (preventing anyone from waking it up) with a USB drive. This works especially well if you have a USB drive that you can attach to your keyring – simply set it up with your USB drive, and no one will be able to wake your machine up without it.
You can also set a password to use in case you don’t have the USB drive handy.Anyone can still access your machine by rebooting it (assuming you don’t have a password set for logging in), but at the very least this will prevent nosey parkers in the office from snooping on documents you’re working on or web pages that you’re looking at.
You know how you needed to clean up all of the temporary files on your Windows computer from time to time to keep it running at maximum speed? The bad news is that you need to do the same thing with Mac computers. Apple has tried to simplify the uninstall process so that all you have to do is drag an app into the Trash bin, but system files inevitably get left behind that use up resources and storage space.AppCleaner works a treat for thoroughly uninstalling applications from your Mac computer.
Instead of dragging them into the Trash bin, you drag them onto the AppCleaner window, and it hunts down all of the related files. In case they’re files you actually need, it won’t delete those files automatically – you can pick and choose the files you want to get rid of from a list.
Much like the Windows operating system, Macs come with a simple email client called Mail that covers the base basics. But if you want more advanced features without the bloat of Microsoft Outlook, Airmail is a far better option, with support for all of the major web services and protocols such as Gmail, Microsoft Exchange, IMAP and POP3. It’s also packed with power user features like a unified inbox, support for syncing attachments with Cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive, and custom notifications.Airmail also integrates with a variety of built-in and third party apps such as Calendar, Reminders, Evernote and Omnifocus. If you’re like to format your emails in HTML or Markdown, there’s support for that, too.
Alfred is one of those apps that take a short while to get the hang of, but it pays off in spades when it comes to boosting your productivity. Launch it with a keyboard hotkey from within any app, and you can find anything on your computer (even emails and bookmarks), initiate a search across major online portals like Google, Wikipedia, IMDB and Twitter, and perform basic operations such as calculations, dictionary look-ups.The base Alfred app is free, but if you upgrade to the Powerpack for £17 (approximately $A 32), you gain the ability to create multi-action workflows, a powerful clipboard, and custom actions.