PC to Mac: Making the Switch

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

You've just bought a new Mac. You know what a powerful and versatile machine it is and you're ready to begin learning its various functions and software applications. But before diving into all of that, take a few moments to have a "meet & greet" with your new Mac.

One of the most common problems I've seen when working with new Mac users is the frustration that comes with not knowing how to find the right information or troubleshoot an issue. Remember that with technology, the more you know, the more you are able to find out. Take a look under the hood. Here are the first questions to ask yourself:

1. What kind of Mac do I have? 

iMac, MacBook Pro, AirBook, etc.

2. How much memory does my Mac have? 

Click on the Apple symbol (top left of your screen), then "About this Mac" - Memory (2GB or 4GB are standard).

3. What kind of processor does my Mac have? 

Also under the Apple symbol in the "About this Mac" window - for instance, "2.7 GHz Intel Core i7".

4. How large is my hard drive?

In the "About this Mac" window, click on "More Info" to open your System Profiler. Click on "Hardware", then "Serial ATA". Scroll until you see Macintosh HD and beneath it will be listed your Hard Drive's Capacity and the Available Space. For instance, Capacity: 250 GB and Available: 130GB. With some newer Macs including the AIR, once you have clicked on "More Info", select "Storage" and it will show your capacity there.

5. What is my Mac's Serial Number?

Find this in the same place that you found your hard drive capacity - under "Serial ATA" (Question 4). Your serial number may also be written in the "About this Mac" window OR on the back/bottom of the machine itself.

6. What operating system do I have?

Find this in the "About this Mac" window also - for instance, Mac OS X Version 10.6.8 (Lion).

Now you have a solid understanding of your basic hardware. Let's dig a little deeper. One of the reasons that Steve Jobs was such a visionary, both technologically and sociologically, is that he understood the importance of the customized experience. We all want our individual style. So how can you customize your Mac experience? Probably in more ways than you know. But here's a few basics to get you started...

Click on the Apple (upper left of the screen) and select "System Preferences". In the spirit of pushing buttons, as I encouraged in my last post, you can explore the options here in order to get to know more about what your computer does and can do. Let's start with the fun stuff...

Under "Personal", click on "Desktop & Screensaver" to choose your favorite background and screensaver and adjust their specific behaviors. Click on "Hot Corners" to assign special behaviors to your laptop when you drag your curser into the far corners of your screen. Click on "Show All" to get back to the main menu. Click on "Dock" to change the size of the icons at the bottom of the screen, or even move the entire dock to the side instead of the bottom. Again, click "Show All" to get back.

Under "Hardware", click on "Sound", then select "Sound Effects". Here you can set the little sound effect that your computer gives you as an alert - make it purr, pop or ping! You can also adjust the volume of the alert sound (or turn the volume off) as well as the general output volume for your computer. (This volume slider is also available for ease of access on the menu bar in the upper right hand of your screen).

If you have 10 minutes or so to play around in "System Preferences", you'll be well on your way to getting to know your Mac. Continuing with our PC-to-Mac theme, my next post will discuss how to transfer files from your PC to your MAC.

Did I mention that you probably won't have to worry about viruses anymore? Check it out!