Now I realize if you’re reading this, you may not exactly be the “PC type,” but it seems that there are some common myths that seem to perpetuate in even the most diehard Mac circles. Most of you may chuckle as you read through this list, but hopefully it will prove to be somewhat enlightening for a select few, and if you have a friend contemplating making the switch, think of this as a handy manual:
Complaint #1: Apple’s mice only have one button; how am I supposed to get those fun contextual menus??
A: Ah, yes, the Apple mouse of yesteryear only had one physical button. But, when you hold down the Control key while you click, that kicky menu conveniently pops right up. However, many customers have demanded a more fully-featured mouse with scroll wheel to keep up with the times (you know, that whole internet thing). So in response, after years of this simple design, Apple innovation kicked in once again, and they responded with the Mighty Mouse. As per usual, Apple’s product designers trumped the traditional two-button mouse with scroll wheel, and unveiled a mouse with multiple programmable buttons and a scroll “button”—yes, this one not only scrolls vertically, but also horizontally (perfect if you have yet to own a large screen). Just use the Keyboard & Mouse pane in System Preferences to customize your mouse.
Complaint #2: Why can’t I use Internet Explorer anymore? It rocks!
A: Well, though I may beg to differ on that one, there are many alternatives that will get you to the same place, and with [arguably] fewer glitches. Although Internet Explorer was a mainstay of previous Mac operating systems, it has since gone the way of the Dodo. Never fear: OS X accommodates several other browsers, among them Safari (Apple’s premier browser, now on Windows as well, in case one may want to sample before he/she buys a Mac), FireFox, Netscape Navigator, Opera (all also available cross-platform), and Camino (Mac only), just to name a few. The point? There are several great choices, so the odds are pretty darn good that you’ll find one you like to get you around that World Wide Web.
Complaint #3: If I’m on a Mac, will any of my PC friends be able to communicate with me?
A: I can’t speak to your communication skills, but computer-wise, compatibility is getting better all the time… if you’re looking for Microsoft Office, there’s a native Mac version available, which works the same way it does on either OS 9 or Windows (thus eliminating the learning curve). And because it’s the same program, it produces the same file extensions across the board (”.doc” for Word, ”.xls” for Excel, etc.), and your PC friends will be none the wiser. If you’re looking for some Instant Messaging conversation (and possibly VIdeo), there are multiple ways to make that happen: anyone can sign up for a free AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) Account, and then plug that into the IM program of your choice. iChat comes on every Mac, and handles .mac, AIM and Jabber accounts. Adium (available as a free download) is a great program that handles several different account types, including .mac, AIM, GoogleTalk, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Jabber, and many others. Skype is another nice alternative (and a great way to sidestep those pesky long distance phone call fees, by the way).
Complaint #4: There are only a limited number of software programs available for the Mac. You know how I love my Solitaire!
A: This is pretty broad statement, friend, but I also understand your love of Solitaire—it’s a classic. At any rate, possibly the single biggest advancement in software availability in recent history has been the introduction of the Intel Processors (like it or not). They debuted to mixed reviews (particularly in the old school Mac camps), but one can’t say that the switch hasn’t made more options available to the everyday user. The caveat is that to use PC-only software, you have to install Windows, and essentially run your Mac like it’s a PC (that means using virus protection and everything). For most of us, though, that’s still a last resort, and it’s nice to know that there is an increasing number of programs made for the Mac. As Apple’s market share grows, developers are responding in kind to the overwhelming numbers of switchers. Whether you decide to install Windows to increase your options, or choose to keep your Mac pure, the current Mac is more versatile than ever. (Oh, and there are some pretty sweet versions of Solitaire that are native for the Mac, too.)
Complaint #5: Macs are expensive, and they must only be for designers.
A: Good stuff doesn’t come cheap(ly). No wait, it does: there have been countless comparisons between Macs and PCs with similar specifications, and the Mac counterpart has won the price war. Amazingly, many of those comparisons only took hardware into account, and not the bundled software that comes with every Mac. And, I bet if you have an older Mac, you paid more for it then than you would now. Technology is getting more and more affordable, all while getting faster, more powerful, and at least as far as Mac stuff goes, simpler. The key is to find the delicate balance between what you need now, and what you may need in the future. Sure, you could go out and buy a $500 PC, but it may not be able to handle what you want to do a year from now. As far as that “designer” nonsense goes, we can all agree that designers love their Macs, but the Mac’s simplicity and ease of use works well for everyone. At the risk of being redundant, all of the software options available for the Mac allow it to branch out beyond what just designers need. Plus, the included software may make even the most hopeless non-designer feel like a true artiste. (Shameless plug: Check out Pages, people. As one half of the iWork suite, it is well worth the $79.99 price, with its variety of templates and MS Office compatibility.)
By no means is this an all-inclusive list, but maybe you’ve either heard or asked these questions before. If that’s the case, I hope you enjoyed this installment. [And for all the other geeks out there who know how awesome their Macs are, sorry to bore you.] I’m always curious about any other Mac myths that are floating around out there, so let me know any you’ve heard, and of course, feel free to email me with burning questions, comments or suggestions.