Moving to the Mac

At one point, all of us were new to the Mac. We all opened up that box and pulled out the new machine, and wondered if we’d be able to figure it out. If you’re reading this, chances are, you did or are about to.

A huge percentage of the people who buy new Macs every year have never used one before. Which means lots of people are still having that first Mac experience

How to buy your first Mac

You’ve thought long and hard about it and have decided to make the switch from your Windows PC to a Mac. The hard part’s over, right? You just head to an electronics store, slap down your credit card and you’re a Mac owner.

Not exactly. Some questions remain to be answered. Where are Macs sold? Should you skip retail stores altogether and purchase your Mac online? Is it possible to buy an older model for less money? And are post-purchase protection plans worth the money?

Where to buy a Mac

Macs aren’t sold everywhere. Apple maintains tight control over who can sell its products.

  • The source. There are 5 Apple retail stores in Vic – Highpoint, Chadstone, Southland & Fountain Gate.You can also shop for your Mac at Apple’s online store.
  • Third-party retailers. Apple isn’t your only choice. You can buy a Mac in person at Bendigo Apple resellers such as JBHifi & Dick Smith
  • Educational discounts. Apple offers discounts for educators and students, Professors and teachers of primary and secondary schools and higher education institutions receive discounts for both Macs and Apple software. To see if you are eligible, visit the Apple In Education page.

 Buying Directly from Apple

Like any smart retailer, Apple wants the lion’s share of the profit when selling a Mac, and so it provides itself with perks that it doesn’t share with other retailers. To begin with, when you order online, you can custom-configure your Mac – add more memory or storage, for example, or upgrade the processor. Many 3rd Party resellers are unable to change the configuration at point of sale.

Apple also sells refurbished models for a discount which is something other retailers can’t do.

For the price-conscious, you could purchase a second-hand or refurbished Mac (a good option for those looking to buy their first Mac).

Refurbished from Apple

Because all returned Macs eventually make their way to Apple, the company has the ability to repair and restore returned units. These weren’t necessarily broken computers – Macs are returned for a variety of reasons. Regardless of the state the Mac was originally in, Apple brings it up to like-new condition, equips it with the same warranty as a new Mac, and prices it, on average, a few hundred dollars less. You can find Apple’s refurbs on the Apple site.

 All about Applecare

With the purchase of an Apple product, the company offers a one-year limited warranty and 90 days of free telephone support. AppleCare is an add-on service and support plan that extends the coverage on your Apple product.


Apple makes great stuff that’s fun and easy to use. It’s hard not to be enthusiastic about moving to a new mac. If you’re switching from a PC to a Mac, one of the first things you’ll want to do is to move all your data to your new computer. The process is normally straightforward but as you know things often don’t work the way they were intended. You can go down any of several paths depending on your setup and your needs.

  • Consider what’s in the cloud and download to ne Mac
  • Take the easy way out – use an expert 
  • Use a virtual assistant – eg Migration Assistant
  • Move data manually


Any USB or Bluetooth keyboard will work with a Mac. Some keys work differently on the Mac, however, and a Windows keyboard won’t include the special- function keys you’ll find on Mac-specific keyboards.


As with keyboards, any USB or Bluetooth mouse will work with the Mac; you’ll be able to click and right-click just as you did under Windows, and if your mouse has a scrollwheel, that will work, too.

Hard Drives

A Mac can read from and write to a hard drive formatted for Windows as FAT32 (but not as NTFS), assuming that you can connect the drive to your Mac. This includes any external hard drive that attaches through USB, FireWire or Thunderbolt.


OS X ships with drivers for most popular printers – you should be able to plug in your USB printer or connect your Wi-Fi or Ethernet printer to your network, and print immediately.


Pretty much any computer speakers (or other audio systems) will work with a Mac. USB speakers also work with the Mac. Connect your speaker’s USB-audio cable to the Mac’s USB port, and OS X should route audio to the speaker system.

Security basics of the Mac

When it comes to security, the latest versions of Windows and OS X are comparable, but you still have a few key differences and settings to become familiar with.

OS X is very secure overall. It includes many of the same inherent protections as Windows 8 does. Anti- exploitation technologies, firewalls, sandboxing and other tools are built in, with mostly sensible default settings. Apple also includes interesting security features that take advantage of the Mac App Store to further reduce your security risk.

The core principles for safe internet computing remain the same, whether you use a Windows PC or a Mac. Although you have many ways to fiddle with your Mac’s security preferences, we’re going to focus on the most important ones and highlight key differences from Windows.

  • Software Update. To stay safe, we recommend keeping your application software and system software up-to-date through software updates at Mac App Store. Your Mac prompts you with a system notification when new updates are ready.
  • Firewall. It works similarly to the Windows Firewall by default, blocking incoming connections on a per-application basis.
  • Antivirus support. Your Mac includes a (very) basic antivirus feature that operates in the background to keep you from running into trouble while you’re browsing the web.
  • Safari, Apple’s built-in web browser, offers several great security options, such as the ability to allow Java – an oft-hacked technology available as a plug-in – only on specific sites. By default, Java isn’t even installed on your Mac, so you can avoid using it altogether if you prefer.

Built in Security

OS X includes two powerful security features that aren’t available on consumer versions of Windows.

  • FileVault  Full hard-drive encryption. Encrypt your entire hard drive (and external hard drives) with FileVault.
  • Gatekeeper. The Gatekeeper feature restricts what kind of software you can install on your Mac.

By default, you can download and launch software only from the Mac App Store and from websites of registered third-party developers. You can change these settings to open up your Mac to software from any location.

 To Antivirus or Not?

When moving to the mac, the biggest security question we get from people who first switch to a Mac is: “Should I install antivirus?” The answer, for most users, is no – but with a few caveats.

If you use Gatekeeper, leave Java disabled, and use an email service – such as Gmail or iCloud – that filters out known malware, the odds of your Mac ever becoming infected with malware are minuscule. Using Google Chrome may further reduce those odds.

Overall, your Mac’s security requires much less active effort on your part to maintain than a Windows system does.