Mac essentials and advice?

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Acey, Jun 26, 2019.

  1. Acey

    Acey draw the line dividing laugh and scream

    I recently ordered a Mac, and I’m very excited! The thing is, it’s my first Mac after a lifetime of using Windows, so I have no clue how I’ll navigate it. I’d also love to know what apps/programs y’all would say are necessities!

    Also, since Sai is Windows-only, are there any drawing programs available for Mac that you would recommend? I’ve liked Krita from what I’ve used, but I don’t know if it’s available for Mac...
     
  2. hyrax

    hyrax we'll ride 'till the planets collide

    honestly after a lifetime of mac use, 90% of what i use are... Chrome, Discord, and Steam. iTunes for music, but that comes with it. Pages if i need to do any writing (and i'm not using google docs, which i mostly do these days), which also comes with it. really that's the overwhelming trend-- either they're the same programs you use on Windows, or they come with it and are adequate on their own. the biggest thing to get used to is that stuff is laid out a little differently. you click Go in the Finder menu on top of the screen to navigate instead of the Start menu on the bottom of the screen, stuff like that. and all the keyboard shortcuts are command-whatever instead of ctrl-whatever. but the programs themselves are pretty similar, and any Windows-only stuff usually will have an equivalent that at least does something similar in the Mac App Store (which is pretty decent and full of cheap or free apps.)

    i don't have any specific recs for art-- i use Pixelmator on the ipad, and i know there's a macOS version too but i've never used it. (i use a shitty $8 app called Paint [no relation] to do basic photo editing and memeing on my laptop.) so someone else will have to help you there!
     
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  3. Acey

    Acey draw the line dividing laugh and scream

    Thank you so much for the tips, friendo!! Although I might have more questions once it arrives, haha. We shall see though!
     
    • Like x 1
  4. hyrax

    hyrax we'll ride 'till the planets collide

    no problem! i used macs my whole life and i currently work at a mac store, so feel free to hmu any time you need :)
     
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  5. afarewelltokings

    afarewelltokings Searching for the lost Xanadu

    I used FireAlpaca a lot when I used Mac primarily

    If you like writing music, GarageBand is literally the coolest free music program to ever exist and it exists on the AppStore
     
    • Informative x 1
  6. hyrax

    hyrax we'll ride 'till the planets collide

    doesn't garageband still come with it? it always used to, i definitely never downloaded it on purpose but always had it... but yes i agree, garageband is great! i've even used it to make ringtones out of songs or audio files.
     
    • Informative x 1
  7. Acey

    Acey draw the line dividing laugh and scream

    I think it did come with GarageBand! I'll definitely keep that in mind.

    I also found out that an art program I've used and liked (Krita) is available for Mac so I'll use that for now, I think.
     
    • Winner x 2
  8. bushwah

    bushwah fandom drag monarch (they/them)

    A description of what I would do with a new Mac follows.

    Install Firefox and go through its settings, copy in my files, and go through System Preferences. These would sort of come in all at once because they're all my top priority. Highly recommend you do the same, possibly swapping Firefox for another browser if you have a taste in browsers which I am incapable of understanding.

    After dealing with the System Preferences entry relating to whether Spotlight can access the Internet (my verdict: fuck no), I'd feel free to use Spotlight whenever I felt like it.

    I'd install LibreOffice and VLC in order to access my files, remove the cruft in the dock at the bottom, set my desktop background to 1x1 0x000000 and stretch. Every device I've ever owned has eventually gone back to the plain black background. It's classic; it never gets old.

    I, personally, would install my copy of Radio Silence at this point. If you don't own it, however, "practically the first thing on your new computer" is probably not the right way to start your free trial.

    I'd then install the bulk of my programs, including the GIMP, Audacity, youtube-dl (using the Terminal), and BBEdit.

    At whatever point I remembered it, I would briefly open iTunes in order to do this menu trick: iTunes > Preferences > Devices > Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically.

    Firefox (web browser)
    Windows equivalent: Microsoft Edge/Internet Explorer.
    Why I recommend it: You need a browser, and Firefox is more customizable than Safari and less entangled with Google than Chrome.
    Licensing: Free and open-source.

    System Preferences (settings)
    Windows equivalent: Control Panel.
    Why I recommend it: You really want to get these locked down ASAP or you will trip over them one by one over the course of the next two years.
    Licensing: Preinstalled.

    Spotlight (offline search)
    Windows equivalent: Start Menu.
    Why I recommend it: It's so convenient. It searches inside files. It searches titles. It brings up programs. It learns what you use most. In my opinion the part where it defaults to also searching the Internet needs to be killed with fire, but if you don't mind the privacy implications, I'm sure that's convenient too. Access it through Command+Space.
    Licensing: Preinstalled.

    LibreOffice (document creation and editing)
    Windows equivalent: Microsoft Office.
    Why I recommend it: It's better than Microsoft Office in general because it's free for everyone, and it's better than Microsoft Office for Mac users because it's free for us.
    Licensing: Free and open-source.

    VLC (audio/video player)
    Windows equivalent: Windows Media Player.
    Why I recommend it: It just works. Feed it any kind of a/v and it'll show you what's there. It accepts streaming, DVDs, obscure formats. And it never does anything remotely obnoxious, except that it gets a Santa hat on its traffic-cone logo every winter.
    Licensing: Free and open-source.

    Radio Silence (firewall)
    Windows equivalent: Not Windows Firewall. Radio Silence is an "outbound" firewall and Windows Firewall is an "inbound" firewall. Totally different concepts.
    Why I recommend it: It's great for getting annoying programs that try to pull fresh information from the Internet to harass me with to shut up.
    Licensing: Commercial software with free trial. No credit card required; it just stops working when the trial ends. (Your IP might be banned from getting another trial after that. I'm not sure. I just paid.) Lifetime license costs $10.

    GIMP-2.10 (image editor)
    Windows equivalent: Microsoft Paint, except not really because the GIMP is incredibly confusing and has tons of features, and Paint is the opposite.
    Why I recommend it: It has all the features the typical user will ever need and then some, and then more after that. Unfortunately, its interface means you get slammed with all these features at once, meaning it has a famously steep learning curve. Double unfortunately, Macs have a pretty limited selection of image programs, and imo none of the other ones are worth giving the time of day, so here's your image editor rec.
    Licensing: Free and open-source.

    Audacity (audio editor)
    Windows equivalent: Windows Live Movie Maker, maybe, but this is just audio.
    Why I recommend it: It gives you real control over your audio files, which is a thing that everyone should have.
    Licensing: Free and open-source.

    youtube-dl (video downloader)
    Windows equivalent: ??
    Why I recommend it: Eventually, you will want to watch a video offline. Last I knew it was broken, but it gets fixed pretty fast, and you only need it to work for the span of a few days to take home more video than will fit on your hard drive.
    Licensing: Public domain. (Yes, really.)

    Terminal (command line interface)
    Windows equivalent: Command Prompt.
    Why I recommend it: Honestly, most users should only use the terminal according to tutorials written or vetted and recommended by programmers they trust. It's possible to do a lot of damage without a lot of fanfare. That said, you should definitely know where it is; there are things you can't do without it, and some of them are extremely useful.
    Licensing: Preinstalled.

    BBEdit (plain text editor)
    Windows equivalent: Notepad.
    Why I recommend it: If you can honestly say you never used Notepad, you probably won't need BBEdit. Otherwise, you'll need it eventually, and there's no real reason to wait.
    Licensing: Free; open-source status is complicated.

    iTunes (audio file organizer)
    Windows equivalent: That thing that happens when you put in a USB stick, but worse.
    Why I recommend it: If you don't shut it up it'll demand your attention every single time you plug an iDevice into your computer.
    Licensing: Preinstalled.
     
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  9. bushwah

    bushwah fandom drag monarch (they/them)

    Also: Getting a Mac changed my life primarily in that it weighed ~1/3 as much as my previous computer while being at least as powerful. If you don't carry your computer everywhere, that might not be a big deal to you, but it sure was to me.

    (I have never had my computer sneak-stolen because I am always touching and/or looking at it. I have never had my computer mugged from me because I have been lucky. Your risk tolerance is up to you.)
     
    • Like x 1
  10. Acey

    Acey draw the line dividing laugh and scream

    Thanks for the recs, @bushwah! I’ve already installed some of those, but I’ll have to check out the others. And thanks for the tip about Spotlight!!
     
  11. Wingyl

    Wingyl Allegedly Magic

    i've never used a mac, but a particular Mac quirk keeps coming up in the Stardew Valley discord's modding channel as "why x isn't working": when trying to merge 2 folders, you need to be holding the option key, and you must select Merge.

    If you do not hold the option key you get Replace. This deletes the contents of the overwritten folder and replaces it with the contents of the overwriting folder.

    So many instances of "you accidentally deleted your entire mods folder because Mac" or in the case of mods with any xnb component at all "you accidentally deleted your entire content folder because Mac". So, so many.
     
    • Useful x 1
  12. Acey

    Acey draw the line dividing laugh and scream

    Thank you so fucking much for telling me this! I wouldn't have figured that out on my own. x_x
     
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