How to Switch Over from a PC to a Mac

How to Switch Over from a PC to a Mac

Anthony Nguyen
Feb 3, 2010

Purchased a new Mac lately? Oh, but you were once part of the PC camp? No worries, buddy -- we were once in that similar boat. Come, we'll show you how it's done the Unplggd way...a successful no-frills recipe for a perfect transition from PC to Mac.

What You Need

An external hard drive
A Post-It
Some patience


1. Prepare the backup. Format your external hard drive in NTFS (New Technology File System) since it's both readable via USB on both Mac and PC.

2. Make a checklist. Write down all the programs you use daily on your PC. You'll be surprised to find most of the programs have a standard equivalent on the Mac or usually a version already developed for the OS. Then, you need to back up all of the important associated files with those programs -- we're talking about hard-to-find skins, font collections, and Lightroom archives.

3. Double-check. And double-check again. Especially if your PC hard drive is going to the recycling bin, you'll really want to make sure all of your precious photos, movies, and music is backed up.

4. Set up your Mac. Get all of your settings and preferences in order before loading the ocean of media onto your hard drive. Not only will this transfer take a long time, it's probably the least of your worries when setting up a new computer.

5. Install the "just-in-case" software. What we mean is getting a backup system prepped on your Mac from the get-go. Get Time Machine set up. You can install programs like AppTrap to catch installation bundles to make sure it gets completely uninstalled in the future when you decide to remove it.

6. Now, transfer. But first, make sure your new hard drive is big enough to hold all of your stuff! Better yet, keep most of your media on your external and savor the free space on your laptop for something else. This process should take 30 minutes up to 2 hours, depending on how much stuff you have.

7. Knowing is half the battle. That means getting familiar with the OSX platform and all of its quirks that many of us have become adjusted to. Hey, it isn't all bad. They're just quirks. You know, like how you can't Cut and Paste files like you can in Windows - you need to drag and drop it via spring loaded folders. Or, how the Command (or Apple) key (located to the left of the spacebar) is your alternative to CTRL.

8. When stuck, just ask! Unplggd and Apartment Therapy is meant to be a resource for all of us. If you're stuck with a question, simply ask! If we don't answer in time, one of our fellow readers usually come to the rescue!

Additional Notes: Oh, and if you're not familiar with *.dmg files when downloading Mac programs, just think of them as mountable archives. Just double-click them and it will open the contents. To install programs, you can usually just drag-n-drop them into the Applications folder. To uninstall, just drag the program to the Trash!

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