Newer Mac’s may lack CD drives and network cable ports (both obsolete). If you need any of them, USB is your friend – purchase an external CD reader and / or network cable adapter. For multiple USB devices, you may consider purchasing a USB multiplier. Note that newer Apple models also support Thunderbolt network adapters.
Mac OS X
If you have a new Mac which doesn’t have the latest Mac OS X version, you might be eligible to download the latest OS upgrade for free. Check it out.
For backup purposes, get a nice large external disk and setup Apple Time Machine. If you would like to create bootable clones of your entire Mac Drive periodically, I recommend using Carbon Copy. This is the fastest way to recover from a catastrophic failure – even if you have to purchase a new Mac. I am using both Time Machine and Carbon Copy; can’t be too careful. For cloud purposes, I use DropBox and works fine so far.
If you don’t have Windows-only apps you need, don’t bother installing Windows on your Mac in any way and skip this section.
There are two ways of running Windows on a Mac:
- Via Bootcamp, where you boot your computer either with Windows or with Mac OS. Choose this option if you want to run play Windows games and need maximum performance. For all other purposes, I strongly recomment the next option.
- Via a virtual machine program, where you run Windows in a regular window within Mac OS when needed. For the user, Windows is started just like any other Mac app. Advantage is; you can access files of both OS’s simultaneously and image backup + recovery operations for Windows is extremely easy. Personally, I use VMWare Fusion to run Windows (rarely). Other popular VM alternatives are Parallels Desktop and VirtualBox (buggy).
Like it or not, you will need Microsoft Office for Mac at some point. Get it. I use IWork for personal purposes (because it is lighter and nicer) and Office for Mac at work. However, avoid Outlook like the plague – its the worst Mac app ever. Use the built-in Apple Mail instead; its light, simple and powerful.
For regular users, Safari Browser will be more than enough. Power users / SAP consultants might be interested in my Mac browser comparison.
To be able to fully uninstall apps, get AppZapper (paid) or AppCleaner (free).
For chat purposes; if GTalk + Facebook Chat + Apple IMessage is all you need, you can use the built-in Messages app. If you need MSN and more, get Trillian or Adium. Both can connect to all major Chat servers and have large fan pools.
To sync all your social media contacts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) with your address book, you can use CoBook. Note that it is still beta; but I have yet to see a glitch. If you are targeting Facebook only, Mac OS supports that natively.
Note that Blizzard games run on Mac OS just fine (Diablo, World of Warcraft, Starcraft)
Here are my preferred substitutions for popular Windows apps:
- Microsoft Project -> Merlin
- Microsoft Visio -> OmniGraffle Professional
- (any) FTP -> CyberDuck
- Microsoft OneNote -> EverNote
- Adobe Photoshop -> Adobe Photoshop (Elements)
- Microsoft Access -> FileMaker Pro
Other apps I use frequently are: Apple ILife, Apple Logic Pro, Cisco VPNClient, Eclipse, FreeMind, IKeyboard (to type on IPhone screen via Mac keyboard), Microsoft Remote Desktop, Netbeans, Oracle SQL Developer, SAPGui For Java, Sente (for academic references), SerialMailer, Skype, StuffIt Expander, TeamViewer, Ventrilo, XCode.
Remember that most apps can be purchased via the built-in App Store. Advantages are; you can re-download any time you want and apps are updated automatically.
Whatever you do, stay away from MacKeeper (and similar apps)! You will see their ads on every website, but there are countless complaints on many forums. Unlike Windows, Mac OS doesn’t need such maintenance apps at all, it runs well by itself.