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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

New to Mac and in need of suggestions


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TnB

 
Member Since: Aug 11, 2009
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I just got my first iMac a few weeks ago after being a Windows user for almost 20 years. I'm still keeping my HP laptop because it's in pretty good condition to use for travel and any program I just can't find a Mac equvilant for. My goal though is to use my iMac as my main computer, with the laptop only as a travel computer.

So I need some advice on programs! I'd like to know what you use and why you like it. The more ideas the better I'd also like to know about memory - looking at the list of programs I ask about, you can probably get an idea of how much I use on a typical day. I currently have 2gb of memory - should I upgrade to 4gb?

An HTML editor - On my PC I use Notepad. I don't like programs like Dreamweaver that do it all for you, I just want an extremely simple program that I can type up/ copy+paste html into myself. It needs to support foreign characters (in particular Japanese) so that when I save the file they don't turn into jibberish characters.

A free (or very inexpensive) Photoshop alternative - Unfortunately, I acquired a copy of Photoshop CS3 for my PC through work fairly recently, so I feel like it's a waste right now to go out and buy CS3 or Elements for my Mac. It's rare that I do heavy editing, so I'd like to get something that I can use temporarily to crop, resize, adjust lighting, sharpen, and add outlines (i.e. the stroke feature in PS) to photos/images.

A music player - I've heard lots of praise for using iTunes - any suggestions for your favorite ways to optimize it? If you don't use iTunes, what do you use instead? On my PC I was using Winamp, and I tend to be the type that just listens to random tracks on the fly rather than making elaborate playlists.

An FTP program - Believe it or not, I'm still using WS_FTP from 1995 on my PC. It's just so simple and easy, it works perfect for me! What's the most simple / basic / easy to use FTP for Mac?

Microsoft Office - Do you find this is worth getting? At home I only use Word, and the only problem I've noticed with Pages so far is that, for example, when I opened a resume I had made in Word, it couldn't read some of the fonts and the formatting was off. Do I simply need some plugin?

Directory Printing - There's a utility called TreePrint for Windows that I've never gotten to work properly, so I'm wondering if there's a better one for Mac. I'm looking for something that would provide me with an editable list fo what's in a certain directory - for example, a text document with a list of all the files I store on a particular data disc that I could print out and use as a detailed label so I don't have to put the disc in the computer just to see what exact files are on it.

In addition to the programs above, I also run video conversion programs fairly often on my mac (i.e. mpg to avi, resizing avi, etc.) if that helps with memory recommendations.

If you made it this far in my post, thank you for taking the time to read through all that!
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D3v1L80Y

 
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Plenty of good suggestions here: Software Suggestion Finder



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TnB

 
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I guess I was looking for some more back and forth dialogue with Mac users who had converted from PC, people who had used programs in a similar way I had and could give direct advice - rather than finding something interesting in an old thread and not wanting to bump it just to ask for more details on a specific aspect. I'm certainly not against doing work myself through google searches and the like - I've already done that and have had difficulty finding the specific details I'm concerned about with programs. There's tons of great suggestions out there, they're just all very general or focused on different points than the ones I'm most concerned about.

I've always thought that's what the purpose of forums were - more personal discussion. I apologize if I was going about finding that sort of thing in the wrong way. I honestly haven't had a very welcoming experience from Mac users around the internet, and I'd heard great things about how helpful people at this forum were.
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D3v1L80Y

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TnB View Post
I've always thought that's what the purpose of forums were - more personal discussion.
Of course they are.

However this question (as well as many others) gets asked at least 3-4 times each week in new threads.
You won't have to dig too deep to find the answers you seek.
And there is nothing wrong with bumping up or reviving a thread that's only a week or two old... even a month old would be okay.
When you start to enter the 3-4 month to a year or more... then maybe it's not such a good idea to breathe life back into a thread.

Point is, just because a thread is older doesn't mean that the information it contains is no good.
You don't even have to add to it at all if you find your answers.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TnB View Post
I'd heard great things about how helpful people at this forum were.
Helpful they are indeed... and their knowledge and assistance is contained within the thousands of threads here.

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mephron

 
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#1: yes, upgrade to 4GB. I got mine from Crucial and upgraded myself.

As far as software is concerned:

An HTML editor - I played with one called Acorn a bit; it's a bit closer to Dreamweaver than you indicate you may like, but it has the Old School Dreamwaver 'let me muck around with code by hand, please' options in it.

A free (or very inexpensive) Photoshop alternative - You'll want the GIMP. Most of the functionality of Photoshop, and totally free.

A music player - iTunes comes with your machine, has a lot of functionality, and works well. You do want to play with it a bit - it has shuffle functions that allow you to just shuffle EVERYTHING, or by album; it has a repeat; it has the Party Mix which is like the shuffle everything, but allows you to specify some parameters. Add in the simplicity of subscribing to podcasts (I don't know if you do that, but there's lots of stuff out there you may want to explore) and it's probably your best choice.

An FTP program - Transmission, hands down. Reminds me a lot of WSFTP, but with the frontendification you get with the Mac World.

Microsoft Office - If you can get a price break on it, do so. (I had a friend who worked for Microsoft who helped me get a copy of it.) Pages won't 100% convert over some of the Office stuff, due to Microsoft-specific formattings that aren't licensed over and not quite reverse-engineered.

Directory Printing - this I'm afraid I'm not aware of, sorry.

Hopefully this helps! I think D3v1lb0y's link was just that your question really is a frequently-asked, and he was trying to point you to more people's suggestions.
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zacharace

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mephron View Post
#1: yes, upgrade to 4GB. I got mine from Crucial and upgraded myself.

As far as software is concerned:

An HTML editor - I played with one called Acorn a bit; it's a bit closer to Dreamweaver than you indicate you may like, but it has the Old School Dreamwaver 'let me muck around with code by hand, please' options in it.

A free (or very inexpensive) Photoshop alternative - You'll want the GIMP. Most of the functionality of Photoshop, and totally free.

A music player - iTunes comes with your machine, has a lot of functionality, and works well. You do want to play with it a bit - it has shuffle functions that allow you to just shuffle EVERYTHING, or by album; it has a repeat; it has the Party Mix which is like the shuffle everything, but allows you to specify some parameters. Add in the simplicity of subscribing to podcasts (I don't know if you do that, but there's lots of stuff out there you may want to explore) and it's probably your best choice.

An FTP program - Transmission, hands down. Reminds me a lot of WSFTP, but with the frontendification you get with the Mac World.

Microsoft Office - If you can get a price break on it, do so. (I had a friend who worked for Microsoft who helped me get a copy of it.) Pages won't 100% convert over some of the Office stuff, due to Microsoft-specific formattings that aren't licensed over and not quite reverse-engineered.

Directory Printing - this I'm afraid I'm not aware of, sorry.

Hopefully this helps! I think D3v1lb0y's link was just that your question really is a frequently-asked, and he was trying to point you to more people's suggestions.
I can vouch for these suggestions. I'll just add that you'll want to get Office for Mac; Pages is good, but like you said, sometimes it's nice to have around, just in case.
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jonnyd

 
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I think my more learned collegues already have it covered, but a few alternatives and comments;

Quote:
Originally Posted by TnB View Post
I just got my first iMac a few weeks ago after being a Windows user for almost 20 years. I'm still keeping my HP laptop because it's in pretty good condition to use for travel and any program I just can't find a Mac equvilant for. My goal though is to use my iMac as my main computer, with the laptop only as a travel computer.

Exactly what I do. there's normally a Mac equivalent out there somewhere mind you.


So I need some advice on programs! I'd like to know what you use and why you like it. The more ideas the better I'd also like to know about memory - looking at the list of programs I ask about, you can probably get an idea of how much I use on a typical day. I currently have 2gb of memory - should I upgrade to 4gb? Yes.

An HTML editor - On my PC I use Notepad. I don't like programs like Dreamweaver that do it all for you, I just want an extremely simple program that I can type up/ copy+paste html into myself. It needs to support foreign characters (in particular Japanese) so that when I save the file they don't turn into jibberish characters.

Don't know about Japanese stuff, but textwrangler is free, seems to work fine. It's the little brother of bbedit. I'm a wimp, I use Dreamweaver.

A free (or very inexpensive) Photoshop alternative - Unfortunately, I acquired a copy of Photoshop CS3 for my PC through work fairly recently, so I feel like it's a waste right now to go out and buy CS3 or Elements for my Mac. It's rare that I do heavy editing, so I'd like to get something that I can use temporarily to crop, resize, adjust lighting, sharpen, and add outlines (i.e. the stroke feature in PS) to photos/images.

GIMP is maybe the only serious free alternative, but I can say having used Photoshop for 10+ years, and having been forced to use Gimp at work, it's very frustrating to use. It has all the features, but they're totally counterintuitive to a PS user.


A music player - I've heard lots of praise for using iTunes - any suggestions for your favorite ways to optimize it? If you don't use iTunes, what do you use instead? On my PC I was using Winamp, and I tend to be the type that just listens to random tracks on the fly rather than making elaborate playlists.

Itunes is fine. It's as simple as you want it to be. Optimising I'm not sure what you mean, but there's not really much work needed on it. You can spend weeks organising everything, or just hit play.

An FTP program - Believe it or not, I'm still using WS_FTP from 1995 on my PC. It's just so simple and easy, it works perfect for me! What's the most simple / basic / easy to use FTP for Mac?

Transmission is good, also you can try Cyberduck, which seems to have a few extras like sftp (maybe transmission has that now, haven't looked)

Microsoft Office - Do you find this is worth getting? At home I only use Word, and the only problem I've noticed with Pages so far is that, for example, when I opened a resume I had made in Word, it couldn't read some of the fonts and the formatting was off. Do I simply need some plugin?

Try openoffice if you don't want to shell out for office. It's free and seems to be pretty well compatible.

Directory Printing - There's a utility called TreePrint for Windows that I've never gotten to work properly, so I'm wondering if there's a better one for Mac. I'm looking for something that would provide me with an editable list fo what's in a certain directory - for example, a text document with a list of all the files I store on a particular data disc that I could print out and use as a detailed label so I don't have to put the disc in the computer just to see what exact files are on it.

Can't help with that. I'd hate to think what my directory tree looks like . . . I certainly don;t want to try and print it out. (ok, I know there are 100 valid reasons, I'm kidding)

In addition to the programs above, I also run video conversion programs fairly often on my mac (i.e. mpg to avi, resizing avi, etc.) if that helps with memory recommendations. Memory covered, but if you haven't already done so, look at Isquint and Handbrake for conversion - assuming they're still around. I have had them for years, they're easy and reliable.

If you made it this far in my post, thank you for taking the time to read through all that!
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margaret438

 
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TnB, i just got tired of trying to find equivalents (a long time pc'er myself), and just bought windows and created a vm. i had a ****ens of a time trying to find equivalents when i went from palm to blackberry. i like to get up and running as quickly as possible; patience is not my strong suite. lol
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Lizzy Borden

 
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For Notepad use Bean. I think it's free from Apple site.
For Photoshop use Gimp. Free open source, lots of support.
iTunes for music.
Fetch for file transfers.
Open Office for MS Office. Free open source, lots of support.
Transmission for bit torrent. Free.
For video conversion use VLC unless you want to burn to DVD to be played on a DVD player then use Toast Titanium. VLC is free, Toast isn't.

I use all of these and they work great.
For directory printing, can't answer that.
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nictan

 
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why cant one just use textedit? its included in the OS. any differences? i use it all the time. works just like notepad on windows
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DaSvenska

 
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In regards to your Office question, if you build/use spreadsheets that need/utilize Macros, then you will need "Office".

--The Swede--
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verdejt

 
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As far as MS office try ThinkFree. It works and looks like MS Office. You can also go to MacFormat they have a lot of freeware that works well.

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jhculbert

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nictan View Post
why cant one just use textedit? its included in the OS. any differences? i use it all the time. works just like notepad on windows
This program works something like WordPad on the PC, but the dude wants a program that works like NotePad on the PC. One major difference between the two is that NotePad only dispalys plain text, with no formatting, so is great for editing raw html. WordPad and TextEdit. app show some formatting. I have yet to figure out how to just edit plain text in TextEdit.app. Anyone have any ideas?
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Chris H.

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhculbert View Post
This program works something like WordPad on the PC, but the dude wants a program that works like NotePad on the PC. One major difference between the two is that NotePad only dispalys plain text, with no formatting, so is great for editing raw html. WordPad and TextEdit. app show some formatting. I have yet to figure out how to just edit plain text in TextEdit.app. Anyone have any ideas?
You can go into TextEdit's preferences and choose "plain text only" instead of "rich text only".

I did because I do a lot of song writing and the like, and don't like having a ton of editing options.

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Take a look at Songbird for your music playing needs.

It's free (and compatible with iTunes if you want to use both)..... once you've got it - download an 'add-on' for a now playing list (very weird this isn't built in...) and you'll be set :- the now playing list will be to the right of your albums and track list, so you can add/remove/move trakcs on the go as you listen without mucking about with saved playlists..... iTunes doesn't quite have this - there's a 'dj' feature but when i tried it, the list is not on the same windows/page as your music library, so navigating thru the library while playing and adding to the list is clunky (moving back/switching windows to get to your library to ad track's etc).

Defaults can be set so that double clicking on a track in your library will add it to your now playing list at the end, or play it now etc etc.

The YABS black skin is easy on the eyes too....


Have heard GIMP is very powerful - but does require some 'learning'.... always looked way too complicated for my very occasional needs.
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