10 Gifts for the Mac Switcher

Ray Aguilera's picture

10 Gifts for the Mac Switcher

So you (or someone you know) just switched to a Mac. Awesome. We have no doubt that it’ll be the best computer you (or they) have ever owned. And while the Mac comes with tons of features and great software built-in, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. We put together this list of our favorite Mac accessories and add-ons for new Mac converts--feel free to print it out and stick in on the fridge if your family could use some help picking our holiday gifts.

 

Star Wars USB Drive

The USB flash-drive is probably the most useful tech invention since the mouse. Whether you’re sharing 2009 TPS reports with a coworker, or schlepping gobs of music from your iMac to a MacBook, barely a day will go by when you won’t find some use for a flash drive. And let’s face it. Since you’ve already ditched that ugly, barely-usable beast of a computer that you used to use for some slick Apple hardware, you might as well spring for an interesting thumb drive. Plus, what’s cooler than Star Wars? No, really--what’s cooler? Yeah, that’s what we thought. You can choose from 4, 8, or 16GB drives modeled after Yoda, Vader, a Storm Trooper or Boba Fett. We’re going with Yoda (because he’s awesome) but if you feel like you can trust your data to the dark side, may the Force be with you.

 

Apple MagSafe Power Adapter

If you just bought a new Mac laptop, then you’re basking in the glory of being able to read maclife.com from pretty much anywhere. It’s a great feeling, being able to finish off that thing for work while you’re on the couch with one eye on the latest episode of Mythbusters. And we’ll admit, the latest MacBooks have pretty great batteries. But once you’ve put a few miles on that battery, the capacity will take a hit. Rather than interrupting all your Facebook updating--er, we mean working--to recharge at your desk, we’d recommend buying an extra power adapter so that you can plug in wherever you do lots of work. We have a spare hidden behind the living room sofa that gets regular use, but anywhere you find yourself with MacBook in hand is a good candidate for stashing an extra adapter. Just be careful of that guy a few cubes over who wants to borrow your spare. Trust us, he’ll never bring it back. Tell him to go buy his own.

 

Toast Titanium Pro

Apple doesn’t really kowtow to anyone. Which makes it that much weirder that some super-basic features are off-limits in Finder. Despite the fact that copying audio CDs (for backup in case your six-year-old goes on a rampage, or making a spare copy for the car for example) is both legal and commonplace, doing so with the Mac requires an irritating bit of hoop-jumping involving ripping files into iTunes, creating a playlist, and then re-burning tracks to disc. Toast Titanium makes it easy to duplicate an audio CD, and can perform tons of other useful functions, including extracting video from DVDs, turning records and tapes into mp3 files, and streaming video files from your Mac to a TiVo DVR. If you consume lots of audio or video media, Toast in an indispensable tool.

 

Subscription to Mac|Life

If you’re new to the Mac, a subscription to Mac|Life is a must-have. And we’re not just saying that because we work here. Each issue is packed full of features, product reviews, and how-tos to help you get the most out of your Mac. Whether it’s the latest in Mac gaming, or in-depth articles on productivity software to help you get work done, Mac|Life is at your service. A monthly subscription means you’ll never miss an issue, and you won’t have to drive to the store to pick up a copy, only to be disappointed when someone else snagged the last one. Plus, with so much great content coming from Mac|Life every month, a portable version makes sense. You won’t have to drag your iMac everywhere to read content on the web, and it’ll give you something to look at when your iPhone can’t get a network connection.

 

be.ez laptop bag

Your new Mac is an awesome computer. But it also looks great too. So much so that shoving it in that ugly black computer bag really just seems kind of wrong. Lucky for you, there are plenty of options that offer protection for your MacBook in the style that it deserves. If you’re looking for something small and sleek, the LErush from be.ez is a great option. There are custom sizes to match 13- and 15-inch MacBooks, and be.ez offers several other styles, colors and sizes to fit every Mac laptop. Your computer isn’t boring anymore, and your bag shouldn’t be, either.

 

iWork

The first question we always hear from people considering a switch to Mac is "Will it work with all my Word documents?" The answer is yes, of course, but for some people, the idea of having to buy Microsoft Office again is off-putting (which is funny, because a lot of them never bought it the first time around, but that’s another story…). At 79 bucks, iWork is a great deal, but even at twice the price we’d recommend new Mac users look into iWork. It does everything you need it to, without a lot of the bloat and obscure legacy features that the big boys are forced to continue to support for compatibility’s sake. And since it was created by Apple, it takes full advantage of that Mac’s capabilities and design conventions, making iWork a great intro into a Mac state of mind. Whether it’s word processing, presentations, or spreadsheets that you need, iWork’s got you covered. And since it’s compatible with standard file formats, you won’t have any trouble sharing documents with colleagues still stuck using Windows.

 

 

1Password 3

OK, you’ve heard it a million times already. Secure passwords are the way to go. And yet, here you are. Yeah you. The guy whose bank account, email, and Twitter accounts are all “secured” by your cat’s name. Archibald T. Fuzzmeister might not tell anyone your secrets, but someone else could easily guess your password and wreak some serious havoc. But managing tons of unique passwords on your own can be a chore in and of itself. With 1Password installed on your Mac (and your iPhone) you can easily manage login credentials for all of your online accounts, including autofill information for web forms--think credit card numbers, shipping addresses and the like. And new in 1 Password 3 are tools for managing software licenses, and the ability to access your 1Password data from any browser when you’re away from your Mac. It’ll protect you from your own shoddy memory, and with easy-to-manage unique passwords for all your accounts, you won’t have to worry about all your information falling into the wrong hands if one of your accounts gets compromised.

 

32GB iPhone 3GS

On its own, the iPhone is a killer smartphone. But paired with a Mac, it becomes even better. Syncing other smartphones with a Mac is often a cumbersome affair, and even the best third-party syncing solutions can end up being frustration-inducing compromises. On the other hand, adding an iPhone into the mix with your Mac is like combining chocolate and peanut butter. It’s all good. Contacts, calendars, and email stay in step flawlessly… plus dude, it’s an iPhone! Buit-in GPS, killer media playback functionality, and a deep, deep catalog of Apps are available at your fingertips. And with the 3GS’s camera, you can easily capture still photos and videos, and sync them back to your Mac via iPhoto. And did we mention it also makes telephone calls?

 

Guitar Lessons (or some other time-consuming hobby)

Now that you’ve bought a Mac, you’re going to have some free time on your hands. A lot of free time. Remember all those hours you spent, staring at your Windows box, tearing your hair out about viruses and spyware, not to mention all that junk that came preinstalled that you have no idea what it does? Not to worry, friend. There will be no more of that. So instead of worrying about viruses, and wasting time reformatting and reinstalling Windows for the umpteenth time, you ought to take up a new hobby. Something to fill up all those extra hours you’ll have in your week. We’d suggest guitar lessons. Or maybe knitting. Whatever it is, find something you’ve always wanted to do… and go do it. In the meantime, your Mac will keep chugging along just fine, without you having to babysit it all the time. Enjoy!

 

My New Mac: Snow Leopard Edition

The Mac has a well-deserved reputation for being easy to use, right out of the box. Chances are, all you’ll need to do to get started is take it out of the box and plug it in. But if you’d like a bit more assistance, a good Mac book can help ease the transition to your new computer. My New Mac: Snow Leopard Edition is a thorough guide to your new best friend, with chapters designed as projects to help you learn your way around your new machine. Topics range from the simple (turning it on and off) to more advanced tutorials like setting up parental controls, setting up your Mac for foreign-language keyboards, and working with Time Machine backups. It’s a great guide for Mac noobs, but experienced users will find plenty of new tips and tricks for being more productive with their Mac.

 

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PJHow do I find out if my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 is RAW compatible for Aperture? If not is Photo Shop (which I have)a good second choice? My SMTP out going won't "take" in the Mail setup. Should I backup everything then reinstall 10.5. I have a new MBP and haven't upgraded to 10.6 (Snow Leopard). I am 70 y/o and new to computers. That might be one of the problems.
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SpaceTrucker

My #1 reccomendation would have been to say Nicoderm CQ, since you no longer have to stress over your computer crashing every time you get it set up just the way you like it, due to some virus or shoddy code in the operating system, you can now quit smoking.

Then there's this thing called an Airport Express or better still Time Capsule to house their backups.

Oh, since they just purchased a fancy new 21/27" iMac, let's not forget that they can save money now by watching all those fancy iTunes movies on it instead of investing in a $1500+ LED TV right away. Maybe by the time they'll actually have the money again, Apple will have released a gaming version of their Apple TV to hook to it, with better quality iTunes HD downloads to take advantage of it. Since they're saving all that money, they would be better off investing in the ~$200 Elgato 250+ HD instead.

Oh and just to make them all warm and fuzzy inside, (so they aren't too paranoid,) how about the Intego Virus barrier so that when their Windows friends sends them a nasty email, it doesn't infect other friends computers when they forward it to them.

Then I'd point them on over to Flip4Mac to get their software to at least playback all that Zune content they purchased, or better still to purchase the version that allows to convert it all over to iTunes formats. Then to Perian to get the codecs they'll need to playback all the other windows formats they've been collecting all these years. Then to Hulu to get some real content to play on their new computers.

Wish I could point them to a decent set of speakers for their fancy new computer, but alas, their best choice was that Harman Kardon Soundsticks that they passed on in the Apple Store when they purchased their computer.

The new Sanyo VPC-FH1ABK Dual Camera would also be a great value to them, since it will allow them to shoot video and pics of their other activities, (since they're no longer babysitting their computers and are out doing other things,) since it has the iFrame format that is designed to be used with iPhoto/iMovie that come with their computers. This way they can show all their Facebook buddies that they now have A Life.

These are just starter ideas... I'm sure there are many, many more out there... Like maybe that dirt bike you were putting off getting for having to dump so much money and time into your PC before...

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