macOS Sierra includes Siri, auto-unlock, Apple Pay and better integration with iOS devices.
macOS Sierra promises to be Apple's most intelligent, convenient, and accessible desktop operating system yet. — iMore
The Internet is the best source for help with your challenges other than Mac user groups.
- Apple — the place to start for Mac products and information.
- Mactopia — Microsoft products for the Mac.
Switching to a Mac
The Mac provides a stable platform for those that dislike the direction Microsoft has taken with Windows 10 or those that need to run both Windows and Mac on the same machine.
The switch from Windows to OS X has really paid off for me from a reliability standpoint. Sure, the Mac ecosystem is far from perfect, and there are still plenty of annoyances to contend with, but I'm wasting a lot less time hand-holding systems these days. — ZDNet.com
The integration with iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad make it even more attractive if you run those devices. You can even run Windows on a Mac by using Boot Camp or on a virtual suite like Parallels.
Should you switch? Have a look at When replacing your Windows 7 PC: Should you switch to Windows 10 -- or a Mac?
High end Windows-based ultrabooks are priced near (or even above) similarly equipped MacBooks and MacBook Pro machines. — ZDNet
There are online resources and books to help you in the transition.
- Switching PC Habits from Apple.
- Move your data from a Windows PC to a Mac from Apple.
- Use your Apple Keyboard in Windows with Boot Camp from Apple.
- How to move from PC to Mac from Macworld.
- How to switch from PC/Windows to a Mac as painlessly as possible.
- 7 Advantages you probably don't know about switching to Mac from PC.
- Amazon has several books about switching from a PC to a Mac.
You need to be running security (antivirus) software on your Mac.
The use of security software for Mac OS X should not fail due to false vanity. — AV-TEST
Once of the reasons people love Macs is because of the relative lack of security vulnerabilities compared to Windows.
However, reports are increasingly appearing about malware and viruses infecting Apple computers (as well as the ever-more-ubiquitous hand-held devices).
New Security Threats
With the increased popularity of Macs has come a new set of security threats (see sidebar).
- Mac OS X isn't safe anymore: the crapware / malware epidemic has begun.
- Mac internet security threats show malware aimed at Mac is rapidly increasing.
- Mac OS X in the crosshairs — 18 malware scanners put to the test.
- Mac vs. PC security: Which is better?
- A data-stealing Trojan aimed at Mac users.
Don't Be Part of the Problem
Do not click on links sent via email and be wary of websites or sudden warnings that “you're infected.” Know how your security software provides protection and alerts so you can identify fake warnings.
Be aware of what you're sharing on social media sites and how it could affect your security and privacy.
Install Security Software
I strongly recommended that you install security protection onto your Mac.
- Macintosh OS X Security: Understanding the platform and usage (second lesson and third lesson).
- Apple security updates direct from Apple.
- Tips and tools to help Mac users protect their data and communications.
You'll find a listing of Mac security software in the software section.
These news sources will keep you informed about what is new and upcoming regarding the Mac.
MacTracker provides detailed information on every Apple Macintosh computer ever made, including items such as processor speed, memory, optical drives, graphic cards, supported Mac OS versions, and expansion options.
Tips & Tricks
- Lifewire's Mac How-Tos.
- 62 OS X El Capitan tips and tricks.
- 70 Mavericks tips and tricks.
- Switch to Mac: How to find your favorite Windows features in OS X.
Information About Older Macs
These are sites don't appear to be maintained but still contain useful information:
- FAQs.org — Macintosh — various FAQs for the Mac (last updated 1995).
- apple-history.com provides information on Apple computers and products by date, family and processor type. (Last updated August 2012.)
- Info-Mac HyperArchive (last updated 2007).
Feeling nostalgic or curious about early Macs?
- Making the Macintosh: Technology and culture in Silicon Valley - an online project documenting the history of the Macintosh computer.
- apple-history.com has information on Apple products listed by date which provides an excellent historical reference.
Macs are very reliable, but sometimes things go wrong.
- MacIssues — how to use, troubleshoot, and repair your Mac.
- MacIssues on Twitter (@mac_fix_it) has news and troubleshooting for Macs, OS X, iPods, iPhones, & more.
- Mac Apps Support — Apples support for the apps that come with your Mac.
- If you cant send or receive email on your Mac.
- Isolating issues in Mac OS X provides a methodical approach to determining the source of software (and hardware) issues.
- Office Mac Help is a resource for Microsoft Office on the Mac.
Apple has a Force Quit option for programs that don't respond to a normal shutdown request. This should be your last resort option.
- Mac OS X: How to quit an unresponsive application using Force Quit — Apples guidelines.
- 6 ways to Force Quit Mac applications.
Traditionally, the only option for a hard drive was a spinning magnetic platter. Today, SSDs have changed that but you need to be aware of the risks and benefits of each choice.
- SSD vs hard drives: which is the best storage to have in a Mac.
- Heres how to recover data if your hard drive or SSD crashes.
Backing Up Your Mac
If your hard drive fails, you'll lose all your data and perhaps the information necessary to recover your computer. Backing up your Mac stores that information so that you can recover. You might want to read a bit about backups to fully understand the main concepts and risks.
- Are you backing up your Mac? You should be! Here are some options.
- Alternatives to Time Machine, bootable backup solutions for Mac.
Backing Up Your Email
- Back-up your Mac OS mail folder.
- How to manually restore emails from Time Machine backup.
- How to back up and restore mail in Lion.
- How to back up or copy your Mac OS X mail address book.
- The Entourage Help Page.
Basic Mac Software
The Mac App Store provides a more secure source for software. If given the choice, look there for apps.
You need to be running security (antivirus) software on your Mac. The effectiveness of security programs varies. See this not all products as effective.
Many Mac OS X security products adversely affect system performance. These reviews may help you decide:
- Strong Protection for MacOS Sierra: 12 Packages Put to the Test (December 2016) by AV-Test, the folks that test security software.
- Best antivirus software and apps 2016 from Toms Guide.
The recommendation is mainly based upon comparing the reviews and personal experience. I'm unlikely to recommend a product that causes your system to slow down considerably or which provides poor protection, but it is a balancing act.
- Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac has less impact on system performance than most others and provides for more customization. On-demand detection is excellent.
- Sophos Antivirus for Mac rated “best free Mac antivirus” by Tom's Guide in 2016. Near perfect detection with minimal system impact.
- ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac provides enhanced protection with little system impact.
- Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac features strong e-commerce protection and additional features with reduced impact on system resources, but didn't perform quite as well in on-access malware tests as some others.
These alternatives may be good, but often suffer from poorer system performance. If price is your main consideration, value protection over performance.
- Avira Free Antivirus for Mac is a good free virus scanner for Mac OS X but system performance is impacted more than earlier versions.
- Avast Free Mac Security has excellent malware detection but significantly impacted system performance.
OS X's built-in firewall provides only inbound protection. There is no outbound protection and provides no additional protection if you're behind a router.
- Little Snitch provides both incoming and outgoing firewall protection and includes a network monitor.
Photo & Graphic Design
Affinity products are extremely powerful and very reasonably priced.
- Affinity Photo ($57.99, no subscription) is professional photo editing software for the Mac. In the works for 5 years, it has an incredibly intuitive interface. System requirements.
- Affinity Designer ($57.99, no subscription) is professional graphic design software for the Mac. Affinity Designer won the 2015 Apple Design Award, “honoring outstanding design and innovation.” System requirements.
- Safari Browser is the Mac OS X default web browser and supports the latest standards and features.
- Firefox Browser is available for Mac OS X 10.2.x and later.
- iCab Browser. This alternative browser for the Mac is highly customizable and includes image filtering, which eliminates banner ads.
- iCloud includes email, calendar and more. Available for OS Lion 10.7.2 or iOS 5 or better.
- Mozilla Thunderbird is available for Mac OS X 10.2.x and later. Not recommended for large amounts of mail. Installing Thunderbird on Mac works fine in spite of the older images.
- Postbox (US$9.95) may provide a Thunderbird alternative to those looking for something similar but with more features. Review.
- Macworlds favorite Mac mail clients.
- Interarchy ($49.99 USD) is a good Mac FTP program that requires Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later.
- FileZilla is a free cross-platform graphical FTP, FTPS and SFTP client with many features.
Manager is free accounting software that runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.
- It includes modules such as cashbook, invoicing, receivables, payables, taxes and comprehensive financial reports.
- The Desktop edition doesn't support multi-user capabilities. If you require multi-user access, you will need to sign up for Cloud edition and your data will be stored in the “cloud” rather than on your computer.
- VLC media player is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols.
Office Suites & Text Editors
LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice: Free Office Alternatives
LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice provide the core features of Microsoft Office and both are free to download, use, and distribute. More on the differences and history here.
System Requirements for Mac OS X
- Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) or higher.
- Intel processor.
- 512 MB RAM.
- Up to 800 MB available hard disk space.
- 1024x768 graphic device with 256 colors (higher resolution recommended).
- OS X 10.7 (Lion) or higher.
- Intel Processor.
- Free memory of 512 MB RAM.
- 400 MB available disk space.
- 1024 x 768 or higher resolution with 16.7 Million colours.
About the Java Requirements
Both LibreOffice and OpenOffice will run without Java for most users but certain features depend upon Java, particularly the database program.
Java is mainly required for the HSQLDB database engine (used by our database product Base) and to make use of accessibility and assistive technologies. — Apache OpenOffice
HTML and Text Editors
- BBEdit ($49.99 USD) is an excellent HTML text editor.
Notes, the Mac OS X built-in editor, was improved greatly in El Capitan, but you might find one of these products better for your needs.
- TextWrangler is now free, and considered the replacement for BBEdit Lite. There is a TextWrangler FAQ that should answer questions about the intended market for this product and the advantages of moving to the full-featured BBEdit.
- BBEdit Lite is discontinued. There is still a download available here, which you'll need if you are not running OS 10.
Your Mac has utilities built in that do much of what is done by these third-party utilities, but sometimes they simplify the process.
When deleting files, be careful to avoid system files and files related to programs as they may not run properly (or at all) if you do). Duplicate files on the system may be named the same but used for different purposes.
- CCleaner for Mac protects your privacy and makes your Mac faster and more secure.
- CleanMyDrive 2 is great for copying files to thumb drives including removing hidden junk files from external drives.
- AVG Cleaner tracks down forgotten duplicate files.
- AppCleaner can help uninstall apps that distribute many files throughout your System.
- StuffIt Expander opens compressed RAR and ZIP files.