I love my Mac, but it’s not perfect

macbook blackIn December and January our household made the move to Mac. It wasn’t any easy decision nor a cheap one. We moved to Mac because we wanted to… pure and simple.

I am a power user as I do nearly everything on a computer… video editing, web design, desktop publishing, podcasting, graphic design, small business accounting, and of course web browsing.

So when I switched I had to make a fast transition. My task list waits for no one! With the clock ticking in my head and meter running with stuff to complete I had to to figure everything out and figure it out fast.

Why? Because I’m not just a single user… I’m also one of those people whom everyone comes to with their tech problems.  Not only do I end up having to figure out my own computer dilemmas, I get 2-3 people a day asking me to fix their computer issues. (And cell phones, video cameras, projectors, sound systems, and about anything else that dings, beeps, or is portable.) So adding the OSX platform to my repertoire was a big deal!

Here’s my advice to people considering the change. If you are going to change EVERYTHING you do to Mac OSX and never have to interact with people outside of Mac OSX, go for it. You’ll love it. But if you have to live in a Windows world, do business with people who use Windows, or otherwise depend on your Mac OSX work to work seemlessly with users on Windows… don’t do it. I have found the “everything a PC can do a mac can do too” story to be a lie. It can’t and it doesn’t.

I’m a pretty smart cookie when it comes to computers and I’m finding it more frustrating than problem solving. I can generally find a work-around. But time is money and who has time to fiddle 5 extra steps?

Here are a few things I am still not thrilled about with our Mac transition.  

  • Our macs network wonderfully with one another, but really suck in networking with Windows machines. It very sporadically connects to our Windows Exchange server at the office. I can generally connect via Finder only. But I can almost never connect to the network through Photoshop or Office programs. And it took hours of fiddling around to get my Windows machines to connect to my Mac OSX machines. If you have XP Home… forget it. It doesn’t work. Mac blames PC and PC doesn’t care.
  • My macbook is horribly slow. There. I said it. If I have more than 2-3 applications open (and I do all the time) it lags forever in opening files. I still have the standard amount of RAM, 1 gb, and need to upgrade to 4 gb. But I have to be honest… my 3 year old Dell laptop with 512 MB of RAM is a lot faster than my snazzy new macbook. I almost always have Firefox, iTunes, PhotoShop, and an email client open… on PC this was no big deal. On Mac OSX this results in programs lagging forever or crashing. And that is annoying.
  • Most peripherals work great, but not the ones that I really need. Mac OSX handles printers like a champ. It is also fantastic when I plug in a random video camera or digital camera. But I can’t connect my phone (HTC Smartphone) to my laptop and that sucks. I loved that I could plug my phone into my old laptop and it synced my calender, email, contacts, music, etc. I miss this horribly.
  • I’ve lost, for now, all the benefits of an exchange server. Entourage connects to server… but it doesn’t seem to be able to accept tasks, calendar invites, or any other cool stuff from exchange. And that’s annoying!
  • I hate that I have to buy $30-$50 plug-ins for everything. Reality is that I have to interact with a Windows world. For my most important tasks, getting stuff prepared and ready for Sunday morning services, I need to transfer my work from my macbook to our PC-based presentation programs. So I bought Quicktime Pro because I read that it would allow me to convert stuff I made in iMovie into Windows formats. That was a total rip off! I can only export a 30 second clip in .wmv format without buying an additional $50 add-on from Windows. That was the only feature I needed to work… so Quicktime Pro was a total waste of money for me. Exporting to .avi is what all the mac-heads suggest. But those files are sickly massive. A 20 MB file in Quicktime will convert to 600 MB in .avi and often times I lose a ton of the quality in the conversion.
  • Mac doesn’t have nearly the freeware that PC does. For instance: I have a very cool, free program for Windows that converts video files to Flash video. (FLV) Without buying Adobe Flash I haven’t found a single program in Mac that will do this for me. In fact, I am often left taking my swanky Mac-produced video files and putting them on a PC to convert from .m4v or .mov to a usable Windows format or web-ready format. Mac OSX simply doesn’t have the programs I need. (Which I can generally find for free for Windows)

These are my honest and true frustrations. I am committed to this transition… I ponied up the money for an iMac and a Macbook… so I’m not just some naysayer. Yet I want to be honest, transitioning to Mac OSX has come with a lot of frustrations. If I had it to do over again I probably wouldn’t have done it. I would have saved myself half the money and just bought good XP Pro machines. Sure, I look cool at the coffee shop. I look cool when I go to conferences. I can do a lot of things better on Mac than I could on my XP machines… but it isn’t perfect. It isn’t as I expected. And no matter what people say a transition of operating systems is anything but seemless.

Thank God I have great friends who use Mac OSX. If I didn’t I would have given up!

At least I know how to use the keyboard now. 

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

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