I have made the switch to Mac. What do I need to know?

Well, I haven’t switched completely; we’ve still got a couple of PCs around the house. But my wife and I bought one of these bad boys yesterday, and so far we love it. I’ve used Macs at work for years, but never at home.

A few questions:

[ul][li]Is it true Macs don’t get viruses or spyware? And if not, why not? (Please dumb your answers waaaaaay down for me.)[/li][li]Is there a good download site with Mac freeware utilities, e.g., an FTP program?[/li][li]In a related vein, how do I uninstall an FTP program that turns out not to work very well?[/li][li]What other sites do I need to know about?[/li][li]What’s with all this “.Mac” stuff that they keep trying to sell me?[/li][li]What questions do I neeed to be asking that I haven’t even thought of yet?[/li][/ul]


There are, as of now, no viruses in the wild that affect Macs. The reasons are many, from a slightly more robust default security model than Windows XP to the Mac’s relatively small installed base, which makes it harder for malware to propagate.

VersionTracker and MacUpdate. RBrowser is a good freeware FTP utility.

Drag the sucker to the Trash.

To keep up on the day-to-day Mac news, MacMinute is the way to go. For a good online Mac community, the Macintosh Achaia segment of Ars Technica is probably the best. If rumors are your thing, Think Secret; for a good laugh, As the Apple Turns. If things ever go south, the aforementioned Ars Technica site is a great resource, as is the Apple support forums.

Apple’s suite of online services (storage, a .mac email address, etc.). Completely optional.

“Where’s the second mouse button?” :wink: Don’t worry about that. Have fun and welcome to the best computing experience out there.

I think I can answer some of your questions.

Norton does make an anti-virus program for Mac, so it is possible, but Mac viruses are much less common. Basically, virus writers don’t bother with the Mac platform because there are so many fewer Macs out there. It’s possible that the system is inherently more secure, as well.

Usually, uninstalling is as easy as dragging the unwanted application to the trash.

.Mac is a service offering web-based e-mail, a small amount of space for a personal web page/site, some online storage (iDisk) that can be used as a kind of pseudo-FTP site or for backups, the ability to share iCal calendars, and a few other handy but not essential services. If you use a few of the services, it might be worth the $99/year.

That’s all I can think of for now, I’m sure someone more knowledgeable will be along soon.

Thanks for the suggestions, both of you.

Really? I don’t have to do any kind of “Remove Software” like in the PC’s control panel? There’s no application registry I have to worry about?

Oh, one other question: When I download a legal, paid-for mp3 from a site other than iTunes (I’m not going to provide links, but I’m a paid member of one site that has a deep catalog of several indie labels), will iTunes still manage the mp3 for me? I.e., copy it into my iTunes music folder, etc.?

Nope. A few programs will install things outside of their own directory (MS Office does, IIRC), but they just come with an uninstall program that you can run. Most programs can just be canned.

Yep. Just add it to iTunes and iTunes will do its thing. If you have it set to copy new songs to your music folder, it’ll do that.

I’ll disagree with the “slightly more robust” bit; being built on a BSD Unix foundation, MacOS X is far more secure than anything from Redmond. The comments in this Slashdot thread covers most of the bases, IMO.

I recommend MacSurfer for one-stop Mac news; it’s the first or second site I check every morning, and I never miss an event. And I’d recommend MacFixIt for resolving any hot-off-the-wire problems you may have.

Unfortunately, As the Apple Turns is on extended hiatus or something, but reading the archives should give you a taste of the humor involved.

Nope. :slight_smile: First rule of using a Mac: if you don’t know how to do something, guess at the most obvious and intuitive solution – it’s usually the right one.

And note that iTunes works best if you keep your MP3 tags properly updated for your songs. It’s a bit of a hassle if you’ve got a big library of music that isn’t already tagged, but it’s well worth the trouble to clean 'em up, IMO.

There is a trojan horse that masquerades as an MP3 file. I’ve never seen it or heard of anyone who’s had it. But there ya go. One virus.

I believe windows currently has just over 80,000 known viruses.

For the most part, the few people that put antivirus apps on Macs do it so they don’t inadvertently relay viruses from their Windows-using people to other Windows-using people.

if you are running MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, be sure to open the preferences (File->Preferences) and choose “Warn before opening a file that contains macros” under the security option.

There are known macro viruses that can be a bother.

Some will leave debris behind though, with no uninstaller to clean it up. After trashing an application, you might also look in your personal ‘Documents’ folder (Microsoft puts support files there, even though they shouldn’t), your ‘Library/Application Support’ folder, and your ‘Library/Preferences’ folder.

The amount of application debris is usually small, and won’t affect anything significantly. You might be keen on tidiness though.

In addition to Bytegeist’s suggestion, you can trash files left behind by searching the drive or partition using the application’s name in the search. For instance, trashing only the Safari application would leave Safari folders in your home library folder and in the Metadata folder inside the Caches folder, both of which also are inside your Home library folder. Doing a search for Safari would reveal them all.

Don’t be confused by the other Library folders you come across. One is for the Mac hard drive and is a “pool” folder containing files needed by all users. The next Library is in your Home folder, and is off-limits to everyone but you. The third library belongs to the System and can’t be changed by anyone without written permission from Og.

When I bought my Macs, I got a free subsription to Macworld when I registered online with Apple.
Got a year for buying my G4 PowerMac and 6 months for my iBook.
I also subscribe to MacAddict. But their website’s not as good.

[QUOTE=h.sapiensUsually, uninstalling is as easy as dragging the unwanted application to the trash.

Man, I’m glad I am Mac-less. That jsut seems too simple to me, I would never trust it to actually uninstall. I would have this nagging feeling that all I did was delete the shortcut to the progrma, or at beast, it’s EXE file. I prefer the uninstall feature in WIndows because I KNOW that sucker is gone (yes yes, I know many programs still leave things in the registry, but a good uninstaller won’t, and there’s always registry cleaners.) Of course, I’m also aware that mac programs are different. For instance, I heard there are only a few fiels associated with a program? :confused: How can that be! You need all those little files to do their own little thing!

The point is that that’s all you need to do for most Mac programs. Sure, there might be a .preferences file left around somewhere, but who cares? It’s a hidden 4K file in some directory. Nothing’s ever going to use it. The operating system doesn’t know or care about it. And, if you decide to reinstall the program later, your preferences are still there!

In Windows, you’re basically trusting that the uninstall program actually removes all the little bits that the install put all over. In Mac, you’re trusting that the application developer didn’t bother to put little bits of stuff all over the place. It ends up being the same thing, except for two things:

  1. Seriously reduced shared library issues on Mac.
  2. A simpler, more intuitive install and uninstall process.

If you really want to get into how Mac OS X handles shared libraries, you can browse their developer site. Basically, Mac “applications” are actually bundles that contain an executable as well as the libraries and UI resources the program needs to run. Thus, when you drag the program icon to the trash, you’re actually dragging all the support files along with it. A curious user can open the bundle (or package) and look over the contents, but otherwise it’s transparent: click the icon and the program launches.

On a Mac, most applications only consist of one “file”. There is absolutely no cleanup to be done: everything the application needs to run is contained in that one file. There’s no ambiguity about whether you’re deleting the right thing, because there’s only one thing to delete.

In reality, that file is actually a folder containing the real application files, but Mac OS won’t show you that unless you ask it to.

And really, that’s got to be the worst anti-Mac argument I’ve ever heard. “It’s too easy to use, I want the OS to be a pain-in-the-ass so I know it’s working!” :rolleyes:

No need to fear anything. As in Windows, Mac shortcuts (or “aliases” as they’re actually known over here) have a little arrow mark on their icons so that you can distinguish them from regular files. Moreover, if you “Get Info” on the file, you can also tell whether it’s an alias that way. Moreover again, if you set a folder (such as your Trash folder) to display file types, you can see something’s an alias that way too.

The situation is the similar on the Mac. “Good” programs either provide an uninstaller, or in most cases they don’t need one because the application icon is all there is. But of course you can’t force all developers to play nice with the file system, so some of them don’t. (Microsoft doesn’t play nice, entirely.)

In any case, the “application debris” is usually small like I said above, and in any case, it’s put in pretty consistent places.

On MacOS X, a “single file” application (as many of them are) is really an application bundle. It’s a folder containing a tree of files and other folders, all of which are normally hidden from view. The whole bundle moves around as a unit, just like a regular file. You can explore a bundle’s contents if you’re curious, but as a user you normally wouldn’t care about what’s in it.

VersionTracker is the best Mac download site out there. You can also find some good stuff on Apple’s home site, under the “Downloads” section.

For an FTP client, I’d recommend Transmit at panic.com. It’s not freeware, but it’s got a trial version and IMO is by far the best FTP client for the Mac.

I’ll second the recommendation for MacWorld as well. I have the RSS feed for the MacGems Weblog bookmarked in Safari.

Not exactly. The mp3’s will show up as part of your iTunes library and it’ll be aware of the file, but the actual file won’t be moved.

If you want everything in your iTunes music folder, then after you’ve added all the songs to your library, you need to open iTunes, go to the “Advanced” menu, and choose “Consolidate Library…” It will ask for confirmation and then move (i.e., delete the originals) all the mp3s into your iTunes music folder. By default, that folder is ~/Music/iTunes

(The tilde ~ denotes your home folder).

Trojan, anyway. And to be fair, nobody can completely protect a computer system from malicious trojans, since they work by tricking users into thinking they’re something harmless when they aren’t.

“Oh, cool! Someone sent me this free program to optimize my hard disk! Let’s run it!”…

The trojan was a marketing ploy, as this Wired story explains.