Meet the Macintosh!
Computer of choice for professionals of all types and
creative individuals in general, the combination of first-rate hardware
and Apple's MacOS makes other platforms obsolete. No need to worry
about viruses or hackers - nothing gets installed without your
permission and password. And don't be afraid to customize your Mac to
your liking; explore System Preferences (under Apple menu, top-left
corner of menubar) and set things up to suit your needs. For example:
The first icon under System Prefs - named "General" - has an option to
always show scroll bars, which will ensure scroll bars are always
available. System Prefs is where you can set your desktop picture (aka
wallpaper), set a screen saver, and setup a Time Machine backup drive.
These settings are System-wide; in addition, each and every application
(program) has its own set of preference settings.
Whether you're new to the Mac or new to computers in
general, you're guaranteed to find plenty of additional info
in the links below. It's helpful to
learn basic terminology and a grasp of certain metaphors,
like the Desktop (where you might keep things you're working on until
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/files).
Icons play an important part in identifying files and file types, too.
There are application icons,
document icons, sound and image icons (to name a few), and there
also folder icons used to group/contain and organize them. We highly
recommend using Apple's "Mac 101" tutorial link below to become
basic operations, concepts and nomenclature.
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). 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 worry about
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
If you bought your Mac
at an Apple store, ask them about importing your PC files; they might
do it for you - but - they might put your data on iCloud, which may or
may not be okay with you. So pay attention and ask questions if you're
not sure what having your stuff on iCloud will mean down the road.
Don't be surprised if you have to replace
some of your older programs with Mac versions. Most apps are
cross-platform these days, but some oldies are not. Fear not, we'll
find a solution. Welcome aboard!
tried several times to install a driver for my [gizmo], why won't it
We see a lot of .exe files downloaded on
Macs, but these require Microsoft Windows in order to execute and are
useless on a Macintosh. Odds are you should have
downloaded the Mac version instead. If it's a device driver that came
with a printer, scanner, camera, etc., try connecting that gizmo and
see if it doesn't work without installing anything; it probably doesn't
need any special software. Try it! If you must install a driver for
some device, download it from manufacturer's web site and make sure to
select driver appropriate to your Operating System (version 10.x) and
machine's model identifier.
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,
which can result in multiple copies.
They check for previously installed software and may replace existing
files with new ones being installed.
They might skip over previously installed existing files, meaning a
corrupt file might not be replaced.
depends entirely on how the install program was written, and there's no
way to know what it's doing unless installer was designed to notify you.
of this, it is often wise to delete (or uninstall) previous copies of
drivers/apps/software before reinstalling same - unless, of course, the
installation is an update or upgrade to existing 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 CDs included with off-the-shelf devices may already be
outdated at time of purchase. Check manufacturer's web site for updates
and current drivers that may be newer than what came in the box.
Holding the mouse button
down during the startup process (from off) should eject all removable
media before your desktop appears onscreen. Mini-discs won't make it to
the slot, so you might want
to see if gravity can help by tipping machine up with drive slot
downward. If that doesn't work, there may be other issues and more
drastic measures might be required. Bring your machine to the shop and
we'll extract whatever may be stuck in it the hard way, if need be.
We've saved many an optical drive over the years.
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 awhile, maybe even a day or so, and try again. If you
have a notebook, take it to someplace where Wifi is available and try
it there. Or, you might try resetting modems and routers by removing
power to each for 30 seconds. Messing with network settings is usually
a bad idea - these settings must be
EXACT. Hopefully you've written them down...
I need an anti-virus program?
No. The vast majority of
Mac users today have never
encountered a real virus. Ever. Anti-virus software will only get in
the way, and bad ones can cause
trouble. You're free to download and install nasty stuff, but it won't
happen without your knowledge and participation. See our Security and
Protection page (left) for more.
course, if you're running Microsoft Windows on a Mac, all bets are off.
Windows on a Mac _does_ open the door to all that PC junk out there,
and you must run the same anti-virus, anti-spyware,
anti-adware utilities that are so critical to keeping Windows running
I need to run Software Update (AppStore)?
Updates are almost always
a good thing; upgrades
can be another matter. So, updates yes, upgrades not necessarily. Some
upgrades have proven to be quite
unpopular, so you might ask around before you take the plunge.
Always make a proper
backup prior to applying updates, upgrades, installations, or major
changes. Reverting to a backup may be your only
option for recovery if something goes wrong.
does "Disk is almost full" mean?
It means you're about to run out of
space on your hard drive. If this happens and you ignore the warnings,
you'll soon notice your machine running slowly. Applications may quit
unexpectedly without room to work, and your computer may eventually
refuse to startup.
A certain amount
of free space is required for efficient operation (minimum 10-15% of
a full hard disk can effectively prevent use of maintenance and
troubleshooting utilities, especially if FileVault is turned on. You
may need to replace your existing drive with a larger one - and if you
don't have a backup, now is the 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 thru 10.5 are long obsolete and will be left behind - These Systems
have not been supported since about 2006. If you have critical data
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 bring it up-to-speed.
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 by running Disk Utility/First Aid; 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 the
is operational, and that your old hard drive is fully functional. If
this is not the case, all bets are off until repairs are completed or
other arrangements are made. 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 might 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 may still be a few
situations where some key database or software
requires a version of Windows to operate. We can help with the
Mac side of your machine, and we can enlist additional assistance for
the PC side if necessary, but experience has shown that running Windows
on a Mac - while possible - can be costly in terms of time and trouble,
not to mention expense. We recommend picking up a cheap PC to run that
Windows app and using the Mac for everything else. That said...
Best way (at the moment) for running Windows apps on a Mac may be to create a "virtual
machine" solution using VMWare's Fusion
Desktop product. Apple's own Boot Camp
(free, included with the MacOS) creates a logical partition on your
hard drive that allows you to switch between platforms. 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 valid registration key. Add that
expense to virtual machine software and you'll be paying for a cheap PC.
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'll still have to
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.
apps (Windows and Mac)
may be able to read/write their own file types on a Mac and a PC, but
don't count on it. Most
apps have two versions - one for Windows, another for Mac - and whether
each can import
their own files from the other platform version is the question.
There's almost always a way, but finding the easiest may require some
research. And, 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. Best 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 (which is easier
than you may think), and leave
everything else behind. There are plenty of apps available for
Macintosh to replace whatever software you might currently use, many of
which are included with the MacOS.
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 critical Windows software. 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.