Friday, November 27, 2009

First time Mac user - Macbook Pro 13" with 4GB RAM

I just got the new Macbook Pro 13" with 4GB of RAM a day ago. Before I decided to buy the Macbook Pro, I did hours and hours of research on the internet to see if I would be comfortable with the Mac. The primary reason was the fact that I have never used a Mac before and have used Windows all my life. Hence, I was reasonably worried about how many of my day to day activities would be carried out with the Mac.

We live in a world where a laptop has become a necessity and is no more a luxury. I lived without a laptop for about two weeks and I felt handicapped. When I needed to create proposals or forecasts, I tried to do it with a pencil, paper and a calculator - But nowhere does it come close to Microsoft Excel or Word for giving us all of the functionality - to delete and correct to begin with. I even wonder how our previous generation did business with typewriters!

I decided to write this post and follow it up with a number of posts to help new adopters of the Mac understand how the Mac can complement their daily life and the hurdles they would initially face when they migrate to Mac OS from Windows.

One of the advantages (or disadvantages) that happened was that I got the Macbook Pro on Wednedsay -  a day before three of my final presentations/exams in school on Thursday. I went to school that evening and was forced to start working. No time to experiment.... no time to learn! I decided to take up the challenge and not install a parallel Windows OS or any Microsoft related software. This would ensure that I first give Mac the chance to prove itself to me.

To start with, I must tell you that I was absolutely AMAZED when I opened the box and powered up the computer. It took about 20 seconds to come to life - all ready to go! That was an eye-opener to me! My old Dell would take about 3 minutes to just boot up. And here was this computer coming right out of the box and all set to go in less than 30 seconds!

The track pad will take some time to get used to, but it is pretty intuitive. I'm comfortable now with the left click (click on trackpad with one finger) and right click (click on trackpad with two fingers). I however am still not comfortable with using three fingers on the trackpad (to Scroll left and right) and four fingers (To reveal the desktop or show you all the applications that you are running). I find it very difficult with the four fingers as I'm not used to any such gesture on the laptop. Other features of the trackpad are very similar to the iPhone (I've been using an iPhone 3G for the past ten months) like the pinch and twist features for pictures. The same gestures work on this trackpad too.

The first thing I did on the Macbook was to open Photo Booth and take some pictures. That was fun as we could use the Webcam to take many different kind of pictures guided by templates available in the application. The next thing I did was set up my business Mail on the native Mailbox application (The Stamp icon on the dock). I was determined to use all the capabilities before even considering Outlook. The setup process was very easy. Signatures work here unlike Thunderbird where it is difficult to insert a signature into your mails. I have still not been able to find an option to receive a "Read Receipt" from a mail (If anyone knows of this feature in the Mac Mail application, please do let me know). Other than that, it seems pretty easy to use and is fast. Calendar invites from Outlook are understood by this Mail app and it can be setup to automatically add any invites to iCal (the native Calendar application on the Mac)

Safari is super-fast! I was using Google Chrome earlier in my Windows Vista based system and would swear by the unbelievable speed of Chrome. But Safari still has an edge over Chrome and I must say that it is the fastest browser I have ever used.

The battery life is something you should experience. There's not enough I can thank Apple for giving us such a powerful battery! I needed to charge my Dell every hour before the battery gave up on me. The Macbook Pro stays full of life comfortably for about 5 hours at the very least (They guarantee 7 hours, but I haven't seen anything close to 7, but 5 hours is awesome enough for me).

I still haven't learnt all that needs to be learnt when it comes to the File structure (Windows Explorer) - called Finder in Mac. But that's probably because I have put away the transfer of data from my External hard drive to the Mac for the weekend when I will have more time to explore the Mac.

The iChat application is so easy to setup and responds very well (Google Chat and AIM can be added here).

Before I forget, the two finger scrolling (Use two fingers on the trackpad to scroll up and down) is really cool and helpful. Saves going to the scroll bar anymore.

I installed iWork (Mac's version of Office) on my system and had to start working on creating a Presentation on Keynote (Mac's version of Powerpoint). I have to admit that it did take me some time getting adjusted to the way things work there... But the templates and the transitions that are available are amazing! The presentation did take me like 4 hours to complete (Would have taken me two hours on my MS Office) but this is because this was the first time I was working on the Software and on a Mac. But the output was like ten times better than what I would have got from Office! So, I'm satisfied and am learning quickly. There are so many templates available on Keynote and this makes life simpler! People, take note that pptx format doesn't really open well as yet with Keynote for me (My friend told me that there is a software to fix this) but I still haven't installed anything! Also, I could share the Keynote presentation with other people saving it as a Presentation (Powerpoint recognizable) but it removed many of the design elements. I couldn't save as pdf initially. I however did run an update last night : Which is very easy to do. Go to the Apple logo on the top-right corner of the screen and just click on Software update. It lists all possible updates for the computer (Includes OS and applications). This feature is really cool. I ran a full update and now when I open Keynote, I see that I have the option to export the presentation into so many different formats. So that solves that problem.

You have to use (Command + C) here instead of Control C. That took me a little while to get used to but am not comfortable with that.

Well that's it for now! Just my second day with the new Macbook Pro. Am doing well so far and have still not installed a parallel windows. Will keep you all updated with how life goes with the Macbook. Keep following this blog or follow me on twitter at for updates.

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