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Switching to the Mac

Switching to the Mac: What programs do I need to buy?

This question is one of the most frequently asked by our friends and clients, and with good reason. Since the "dark ages" of the Macintosh, much of the hesitation of making the Switch is due to the uncertainty of compatibility.

Thankfully a lot has changed since the mid-90s, and I think you'll be surprised at how few applications you'll need to buy for the Mac. I'll outline the applications that most people end up purchasing in order to continue using the same files from the PC. I'll also list applications that come free on the Mac.

You might consider purchasing these:

  • Microsoft Office: Mac 2011 - These applications are almost identical to Office in Windows. Most of the keyboard shortcuts are even the same. If you're using it for home or schooling purposes, you can purchase the Home and Student version for $149, and you can install it on up to three Macs.
  • iWork '09 - If you're ready to take the full plunge into the Apple world, iWork serves as an excellent alternative to Office. It can also open and save to Office files, however for more advanced documents, the conversion can be spotty. Tip: if you purchase it through the App Store on your Mac, it's only $60.
  • Quicken or QuickBooks for Mac - Before making this purchase, there are some differences between the Mac and PC version. Depending on your needs, you might prefer switching to an alternative by Acclivity, or even running Windows on your Mac via Parallels and keeping your current software.

Now that list wasn't too bad, was it? For other tasks like email, Internet browsing and pictures, here's a list of Windows programs that have free alternatives on the Mac, and are what make the Mac "so easy to use".

  • Internet Explorer: Safari (or Firefox or Chrome)
  • Outlook: Mail, iCal, and Address Book. (These three applications will cover most features of Outlook.)
  • iTunes: iTunes :)
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements: iPhoto
  • Windows Movie Maker: iMovie
  • Solitaire: Sorry, no free alternative! You'll either have to purchase Solitair in the App Store, or use the free Chess game that comes with every Mac.

If you have specific needs that weren't outlined above, feel free to leave them in the comments. For some specific industries that require Windows-only software, you can always run a virtualization application like Parallels. Virtualization has come a long way since its inception, running Windows on your Mac is easier than ever.

What other applications did you need to purchase before making the Switch?

Switching to the Mac - Do I have to drink the Kool-Aid?

While people love Apple because of the simplicity and refinement they place into their products, it doesn't mean you have necessarily live and breath the Apple culture like those "Apple Kool-Aid drinkers" do 24/7. To give you an example, here are few of our opinions that might shock you, especially coming from a member of the Apple Consultants Network:

  • Microsoft Excel is the best software solution for building complex spreadsheets.
  • Sometimes Microsoft Office is the right choice for a business, instead of Apple's iWork.
  • Google Apps offers an amazing, low cost method of hosting your organizations email and calendars. Yes, even lower cost than a Mac mini Server.

We love Macs, iPads, and iPhones because they help us run our business more efficiently. We get to do our work, and not fuss with IT. However, Apple isn't the only good software maker out there, and we're happy to use tools that others have made. After all, there are (a couple) things Redmond has done well.

Workshops for Business Owners in October

We have several workshops scheduled in the next month that may interest business owners and IT managers in the Atlanta area. These workshops will cover some of the most popular questions we get from small businesses interested in integrating Apple's platform, and we're excited to be able to share some answers in a group setting with fellow business owners. All workshops will be held at Apple stores in the Atlanta area as follows:

  • Running Your (Residential) Real Estate Business on a Mac - Tuesday 10/26 - 3pm - 4:30pm - Apple Store Perimeter

Be sure to click the respective workshop link to sign up! We hope to see you there!