Becoming a Mac OS X Switcher

by Dion Almaer

So, after seeing everyone at recent conferences walking around with nice Macs, I decided to give it a try. I will get a new Powerbook tomorrow, and see if the hype lives up :) I have never owned a Mac in my life, so it will be interesting to see if it grabs me (I consider OS X to be TOTALLY different to its predecessors).

If you have any hints/tips/resources please pass them along!

  • Should I use Entourage for email?

  • What can I use to replace Trillian for IM?

  • I will use IntelliJ for real code, but is BBEdit still the Textpad replacement?

  • How best can I share resources between my Windows boxes and the new Mac laptop on my network?

  • If I get an airport, can I get a card for my laptop so we can share an 802.11g network?

I will blog more on my experiences with it :)


2003-07-16 08:32:40
Recent switcher here
For IM, I use Proteus. I would use iChat, but outside of the U.S. (that would include me) very few people use AIM.

For text, I messed around with a Cocoa-ized version of VIM, and emacs, before I got fed up and got on the BBEdit boat. I like it so far and it's not annoying like the previous two text editors were because of the fact they had one hand in Old UNIX land and one hand in the Cocoa world. It just resulted in a mess (with weird and unmemorizable keyboard bindings and all).

I consider myself to be a power user, previously enjoying Outlook in Windows and Evolution in Linux. But I've moved over to using Apple's as opposed to Entourage. One thing I love about OS X is that it leverages the good old UNIX paradigm of creating programs that excel at very focussed tasks and ensuring they can all talk with eachother, as opposed to the Windows-esque "this program does and has everything including the kitchen sink" mentality. So, while exceedingly simplistic, does the task well. It has its shortcomings but many are addressed with the Panther version I hear.

The biggest letdown with regards to OS X is its networking abilities IMHO. Using Windows and Linux Samba shares has been a bit hit and miss with me. It works, but if something goes wrong (i.e. you try to access the share after the windows server has powered down), you could hang your computer! Because of the poor Samba functionality, I switched over to sharing using NFS and having automount deal with these NFS shares. Now, everything works well and I seldom have problems. But sometimes Finder just wants to stall when you're using networked file systems and it just plain sucks - this is definitely something I want addressed in Panther.

I don't use Airport myself (I just purchased a cheap SMC 802.11b wireless router to do that task) so I can't help you there.

I hope you enjoy the switch as much as I have. Definitely pick up that OS X Missing Manual book. I don't have it myself but sometimes I wish I did. Mac OS X isn't dumbified. There are some really powerful features that are tucked away from advanced users capable of using them. That's another gripe of mine, but it makes finding these features all the more fun.

2003-07-16 08:50:52
Some thoughts
I personally use for all my mail, via IMAP, and have abandoned Entourage. My biggest problems with the Microsoft product were two-fold... one, I have 2 macs, so I often leave mail clients up on both of them at the same time, even though I'm only looking at the desktop or notebook, which causes Microsoft's licensing viper to come out and bite. Second, it seemed to perform very poorly on IMAP versus perhaps that's just my server.

If you're just using AIM, I think iChat blows everything away, however if you need to integrate lots together, I prefer Fire over others. Especially with GPG integration and my friend's keys in my chain.

For text editing, I use Hydra now for everything. It's clean, simple, gets out of my way, and supports tons of code types (like Python) that are important to me. Baring that, BBEdit is my second place finisher, since Alpha never made it to the MacOS X world intact. Also, unlike the other writer, I've had no problems with SMB-shared files at work, but at home, everything is NFS or Appleshare, depending.

Lastly, the Airport is just a 802.11g base-station, and PCs and others can use it. I regularly have friends use my 802.11b Airport for their PCs w/cards. It might not be as "slick," but it does work. In fact, the last company I worked for deployed 3 Apple Airports in the building, but 80% of the users were PCs.

2003-07-16 08:52:53
Trillian --> Proteus
Give it, and Fire, a try.

For my money, Proteus' Message Center is well worth the shareware fee. Message Center collects all of your IM windows into one window, allowing you *easily* read any unread messages w/ just a keystroke.

This is another example of technology working for you, not having to manage any number of open IM windows makes messaging just *that* much nicer.

Another nice feature.... you can have several accounts for the same IM service logged in and running at once. You might have an informal IM nick that you use for gaming, and one you use for business -- both running on AIM, for example.

Lastly.... if you wish, you can set up Proteus as a client-server app, letting you run the "server" on one Mac, while logging into it from another. I like to use my G4 tower as my server, and my Powerbook as the client -- when I logoff from the laptop to commute home, my buddies still see me as online, and can send messages to me that I'll receive when I next log in. When you add the fact that you can forward IMs as SMS messages to the mobile device of your choosing, you can easily stay connected and informed (you can even choose who's messages get forwarded on a person-by-person basis, so you don't get a ton of SMS messages on your phone).

Fire is decent also: I'm not sure if it still lacks the features I described above, but it's really a matter of preference.

2003-07-16 08:57:52
Thanks for the great response
Yet another reason to switch. 10 mins after posting, I have 3 smart people giving me information that I can really use. Thanks a lot guys. Do you have any good sites that you use to keep up to date with all of the "new" software, tips etc?
2003-07-16 09:13:32
more os x stuff
be sure and checkout ranchero software's netnewswire lite, and then cruise macnn, maccentral and other sites regularly to get the goods on updates etc. also, is really worthwhile too :)

I agree with a previous poster about proteus -- I think it's much better than Fire (and Trillian for that matter, which I use at work).

coding apps: lots of stuff to choose from. the pure-bloods swear by "bbedit", but I've never really seen what the big deal is. it's a great app ... but so is EMACS; be sure and spend time in Terminal (/Applications->Utilities). for other stuff (when I'm doing javascript or just css) I really like macromedia's dreamweaver (not the wysiwyg bit). code is nicely customizable, ftp is included etc. a bit pricey though.

good luck on your adventure, you won't be sorry!

2003-07-16 09:21:25
Be flexible is the best of the offerings for mail. The only major lacking it has for my usage patterns is grouping of message threads, and that is coming in Panther.

As far as plain vanilla text editors for day to day use, I can't find anything that replaces gVim []. Though I freely admit that if you haven't used it before, the learning curve can be daunting.

2003-07-16 09:23:02
Long-time Mac user suggestions
My suggestions:

* Mail: are you talking to an MS Exchange server? Do you need calendars? If either answer is no, you could just use the built-in Mail application (though it lacks an Export function, so going with Apple's Mail is a one-way trip)
* IM: Fire, all the way. Proteus' GUI is nicer, but when the IM providers have a spat, Fire gets updated much sooner.
* Text editing: I use X11'ed emacs for coding, but I do hit BBEdit when I want to drag-and-drop to the dock. The included TextEdit is OK, but traps you in RTF instead of plaintext.
* File-sharing: In System Preferences:Network, turn on Windows file sharing. Windows boxes can now get to your files in the form \\mac-name\user-name. In the other direction: in the Finder, do a "Connect" (apple-K), and either browse the network or enter a url of the form "smb://win-name/share-name". Can make a Windows server into a "Favorite" for expediency.

Get GraphicConverter if it's not already installed on your drive. Awesome, awesome shareware app, sometimes called the "poor man's Photoshop". Grab another browser to back up Safari, such as Camino, Mozilla, or OmniWeb (but not Opera, which has never been particularly popular or good on Mac OS X).

And do I even need to mention fink? All sorts of great stuff made easily-installable.


2003-07-16 09:23:38
Entourage, Fire, and more
As background, I am typing this on a Ti Powerbook :) I have a G4 to my left, a dual P4 WinXP box to the left of that, and to my right is a Red Hat 9 box and another WinXP box. I work on each platform every day, and am a software developer, so I'm biased towards those things.

I suggest Fire as your IM client if you need Jabber support (it also does AIM, Yahoo, IRC, etc.).

Next, Entourage. If you're used to Outlook or Evolution, Entourage is great. I used for a while, but I had some crashes and other problems, it's filters were weaker, and there were other issues I didn't like. Entourage handles multiple email accounts better, has some better features than Outlook (it's not just Outlook for MacOSX), and actually, I think is arguably the best email client I've used on any platform!

Other suggestions... IDEA works pretty well on OSX, not quite as smoothly as on Linux or Windows, but it's my choice for Java work. I use BBEdit for a bunch of things as well. It's my Perforce editor, it's what I fire up from the command line for anything other than a quick edit of say .zshrc . As someone else mentioned, Hydra is also good. I think it's not nearly as feature rich as BBEdit, but it has one killer feature: Rendezvous. We've used this to do collaborative note taking during meetings at work. It's really cool. It's the rage at conferences right now as well, for this same reason.

Another tip, get the O'Reilly book "MacOS X Hacks". You will learn a lot of neat tricks.

And, if you are still doing a lot of multi-platform work, consider using Firebird/Mozilla on all platforms. Safari is sweet (although I think it's tabbed browsing performance is not as good), but I wound up going with Firebird across the board, with a twist. I keep my bookmarks in CVS, and this allows me to sync bookmarks across all my machines quite easily. It's the first bookmark syncing solution I truly use. I run a CVS server on this TiPowerbook for the bookmarks, and for all my dot files (.zshrc/.bashrc/.cshrc and all the extra ones I have as part of my setup), etc.

Another good tool - iTerm, a Terminal replacement. It's basically just a tabbed version of Terminal. The screensavers are ported to OSX as well :) iTunes is hands down the best MP3 player and organizer on the planet.

Oh, and install Apple's X11 (also the SDK as you need some stuff in there for some Fink packages). Also install Fink so you can get lots of UNIX apps - the X11 ones even run great under Apple's X11 (which is superbly integrated). I use Ethereal all the time. Ok, I'll shut up now...

2003-07-16 09:32:36
Software Sources
I don't understand the reference by a user below to "perversiontracker" -- but if you want a serious suggestion for sources of software (freeware, shareware, commercial, and updates and demos and the like), try the following:

The last site is for Unix shell software and X-Windows (X11) software which can run on many Unix variants and Linux as well (including OS X), or in some cases software is developed also natively for Aqua under OS X.

2003-07-16 09:40:42
Thanks for the great response
I visit MacCentral, MacMinute, MacIntouch and MacSurfer routinely each morning, but start with the most important one which is VersionTracker for OS X.
2003-07-16 09:41:12
wait till tues.
there is a slim chance new models will be announced then.
2003-07-16 09:49:49
Software Sources
have you been to it's worth a visit once or twice a week. really.
2003-07-16 09:51:48
Thanks for the great response
This is the first time I've seen your weblog. So I'm not sure if you're a Java programmer or not (I'm just going by your personal description). If you download the developer tools for your laptop, watch out! Objective-C and Cocoa are like crack. You will never look at Java the same way again. Ditto for C++!
2003-07-16 10:18:42
Software Sources
perversion tracker is really sad. of all the things they could do on this earth, they choose to tear down and denegrate.
2003-07-16 10:25:41
Some Alternatives
- Mail: I can't comment on Entourage, but I recommend to take a look at BareBones' MailSmith - very powerful, offers flexible filters, integrates with SpamSieve, and does not render HTML. It doesn't do IMAP yet, though.

- IM: Since I use AIM only, I stick mostly with Adium which has a really clean user interface. Alternatively I use iChat AV for video/voice chat.

- News: MacSOUP - the OS-X version is beta, but very stable, and this program has the best thread-display I've ever seen.

- Wireless: the AirPorts are just 802.11b/g basestations, so any standard conforming wireless card for your laptop should just work. The AirPort management software comes with a menu-entry to display the numeric network key required by the non-Apple systems.

- Apple's Developer Tools (free, but need to be installed): A must, even if you're not a software developer. Many Unix applications can be compiled for OS-X with no or only few changes, giving you instant access to a whole universe of useful programs.

- Security: MacGPG is in my opinion the currently leading GPG package for OS-X; sshLogin implements the ssh-agent mechanism so that you don't have to type in your keyphrase all the time; Fugu is a free GUI FTP client and also simplifies the setup of ssh tunnels.

- Backup: While Dantz' "Retrospect" is probably the best known backup solution, ProSoft's "Data Backup" works quite well for smaller setups. And relately: for serious CD/DVD production Roxio's Toast is the program of choice; but you can go quite a ways with Finder/DiskCopy/iTunes alone.

Another book to check out is 'Mac OS X in a Nutshell' (O'Reilly) - I like it because of its concise reference style.

Oh, and be sure to catch Job's keynotes from the various expos - while a marketing vehicle, they are usually also quite entertaining.

-- Lars

2003-07-16 10:39:09
Software Sources
How do you want to avoid wasting your time with bad software if nobody points it out to you?

If perversiontracker gratuitously slammed good software, you might have a point; but as it is, the software they cover deserves it.

-- Lars (software developer himself)

2003-07-16 10:54:28
Some Alternatives
also for backing up, i use an external firewire drive and foldersyncronizer by makes it easy. and its easy to revover stuff.
2003-07-16 11:03:39
Thanks for the great response
For good mac new try

Just a plain and simple daily listing of all things mac related that day. it's been my homepage forever. Always has something interesting.

2003-07-16 11:04:09
Java IDE
If you want to develop in Java, and not to diss IDEA which is a fine product, but why not use Eclipse? It works just dandy on OSX, it's free, and as feature-rich as anything else I tried...
If you want to use emacs, get a good windowed build, the basic one only works in the terminal.
On other fronts:
NetNewsWire is indeed a killer app for keeping up with news.
If you deal with organizing ideas at all, and you can pay for it, also look at Tinderbox. It's a great reason to get a Mac.
Also look at VoodooPad, NoteTaker etc in that family.
Have fun.
2003-07-16 11:25:12
Must-have app: Launchbar
The one application that I always insist on is Objective Development's Launchbar.

LaunchBar is an inexpensive, little utility that indexes your harddisc looking for various files, directories, applications, etc. Once it's done that it is accessible through a global keystroke (command-space) that activates it. When it is activated, it pops up a small window right below the menubar with a list of choices that change according to the keystrokes you type. For example, on my machine when I type in "sa" i get a list that includes "Safari", "Sampler" & "SampleModel.html". A "ca" gets me "Camino", "iCal" and "Carbon Copy Cloner". When I hit return after making my selection(using the arrow keys if required) it will open/launch it. Furthermore, it knows how to parse certain file types such as your address book and your bookmarks. When I type: "david", LaunchBar will make Mail to open up a compose window addressed to my friend David.

This might sound odd and very un-mac like since you're not using the mouse, but once you use it, you can't imagine not having it. And for those of us with wrist problems it's a godsend to not have to use the mouse for every interaction with the OS/window system. The trick is to come up with a good set of indexed directories. For example, on my work machine, I have the Javadoc for JDK 1.4.1 and my source tree indexed. Since it remembers previous invocations and will prioritize previously opened items at the top of the list. Between these two indexes, I never search my filesystem looking for code or documentation.

2003-07-16 11:31:40
My Essentials
I switch back to the mac after leaving it in 1998. My short list: NetNewsWire, F10 Launch Studio, StickyBrain. Not-quite-as-short list: Watson, Now Up-To-Date. If you get the 17" powerbook, makes an excellent messenger-style bag. More details on all of these on my blog
2003-07-16 11:35:31
Entourage vs.
While I use for the bulk of my personal email I use Entourage for my business account, especially when I have to send lots of files. Entourage-encoded attachments seem to be able to be read by almost any client whereas attachments are more problematic, especially when read on Windows mail clients.

2003-07-16 12:01:45
Try Mail and iChat first
I recommend giving Apple's Mail and iChat a try before using other solutions. Try them for a week or two and if they don't meet your needs, then try Fire for IM. I've never been too happy with any of Microsoft's email clients but if you absolutely have to connect to an Exchange server you might be stuck using them. For simple text editing I've been using vim. iTerm is an excellent Terminal replacement with tabs.
2003-07-16 12:44:19
Entourage, Fire, and more
This response is in regards to Entourage...

I would try to use, but I'm to lazy to migrate (as you can see I'm too lazy to register also).

I use Entourage, but I'm not sure about how it works for other people, but it is SSSLLLOOWWW. I have an 800Mhz TiBook with 512 MB RAM and OS X 10.2.x. Entourage is much more feature rich than, but much less elegant.

If you're starting out fresh, you might want to try just to see if it is enough. Entourage is more powerful, but it is sometimes painfully slow. Must be the Carbon thing or something.

Apple really needs to spruce up the Addressbook a bit. It lacks quite a few categories of into that most people like to keep track of, like anniversaries, etc. Maybe it will be better in Panther.

Just a thought.

2003-07-16 13:50:22
IM app & BBEdit
I'm a big fan of Adium as my AOL IM application because it offers a tabbed interface to keep multiple conversations in one, tidy window.

Regarding BBEdit, it's a professional's tool. Give it a chance. It may surprise you...

Have fun with your new Mac!


2003-07-16 14:12:27
Fun Mac Reading
The recommended reading websites posted by others are all worthwhile, though I don't personally frequent them.

For fun reading, though, I can recommend, which takes an irreverent look at current events in the Apple community. Although they've been known to vanish for months on end without comment, most of the time they publish three pieces, plus an equally entertaining reader poll, every weekday. Be sure to read the disclaimer at the bottom of the page.

I'm not affiliated with their site, just a fan.

It's amazing what you can learn just by watching what other people find funny.

2003-07-16 14:15:08
Fun Mac Reading
Er, As The Apple Turns (
2003-07-16 15:54:10
Windows Boxes
Mac -> Windows is fine for the basics. However, if like me, your Mac is resident on a Windows domain, the use Dave ( Install while on the Win network and it picks up nearly everything for you, can makes it trivial to configuure user level shares etc.
If you're happy enough tinkering with smb.conf you can probably manage the same thing yourself ;-)

Also, if you're stuck trying to do something, look at first. You'll probably find an answer there.

Once you're totally sucked into the Mac world, check daily to see speculation on the next hardware releases... trust me, it will happen ;-)

2003-07-16 17:22:56
Coding, sharing resources, and airport
"* I will use IntelliJ for real code, but is BBEdit still the Textpad replacement?"

I am actually slowly becoming more and more impressed Project Builder. Since you're a developer, the first thing you should do is sign up for the Apple Developer Connection and download their free developer tools. That's where you get Project Builder and much more. Also, XCode is on it's way. If it lives up to hype, it will be an excellent IDE. But try Project Builder. BBEdit I can't live without, but I recognize the world is changing, and it's getting a little musty.

"* How best can I share resources between my Windows boxes and the new Mac laptop on my network?"
Your Mac will log on very nicely to any Windows box with sharing enabled. Unfortunately, the Windows machines are not as capable when it comes to speaking different protocols, so it's harder to connect to the Mac. An alternative is to set your Mac up as a CVS server, and share files/code/etc that way. CVS comes with the developer tools, and is ready to go.

"* If I get an airport, can I get a card for my laptop so we can share an 802.11g network?"
Yes. In fact, you don't even need an airport. Your Mac can be set up to "be" an Airport basestation. Of course, it's range will be less than other 802.11x solutions, but it's cheap. On that note, don't buy an Airport. Buy a d-link wireless router. The DL-624 is amazing. Great range, and works really well with Macs. It's just a teeny bit less elegant to configure (okay it's not elegant at all, but it's not hard).

2003-07-16 17:31:34
Coding, sharing resources, and airport
Thanks again to all for the great responses that are coming in. I am filling up my "Mac" bookmarks folder.

Now to digress to 802.11g. Are people biting the bullet yet, and getting the D-Link, or do we still need to wait it out?

2003-07-16 18:04:26
Proteus for Trillian
Proteus is a multi-service IM app. the latest 3.0 builds are fairly good, and look pretty too.
Support for AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Jabber, Gadu, and iChat Rendezvous.

There is also Fire, but I abandoned it for Proteus.

2003-07-17 05:58:16
Hi Dion!

A good place to start for some tips/refreshers is right here on the MacDevCenter.
Below are links to some articles that you'll most likely find useful. First, check out I've Switched from Windows, Now What? As far as
your questions go...

1) I've never liked Entourage, but then I've never liked Outlook either. I've
become quite used to Apple's Mail and will usually use that or mutt. It has a
very good, trainable spam filter and supports IMAP and POP3. Unless you're
going to use the scheduling features of Entourage, I recommend going with Mail.
And even if you are going to use the scheduling features, I recommend using iCal
for scheduling and Mail for email.

2) Well, for just AIM there's Apple's iChat, which is pretty good. There are some
features that I wish it had from Trillian (Trillian Pro, actually. Like the way
Trillian Pro keeps a log of your past conversations right in the current IM window.
Also, Trillian's multiple protocol support is nice. I really wish iChat supported
Yahoo). However, if you're looking for multiple protocol support (which you most
likely are), take a look at either Proteus or Fire
. I prefer Proteus, it has a more
Mac OS X feel to it, but is non-free (beer and cost). Fire is GPL, but I'm not as crazy about the

3) I personally think that BBEdit is too pricey for its featureset. Unless there
is a compelling feature in it for you, take a look at Hydra instead. Hydra is a no-nonsense
text editor that includes features like syntactical color coding and Rendezvous support. It's
lightweight and recently won the O'Reilly Mac OS X Innovators Contest.

4) Your best bet is over SMB. Windows doesn't really implement AFP or NFS well (if at all,
depending on your version of Windows) and SMB/CIFS is the most common solution. To connect to
your Windows machine from your Mac, check out this article
by Wei-Meng Lee and Brian Jepson.
To connect to your Mac from your Windows machine, check out this other article by me :)

5) There are many
cards out there. Also, any 802.11b card will work with an 802.11g base station. Your best bet is to
purchase an 802.11g base station and then find compatible cards. Any Mac that has Airport Extreme
uses 802.11g. If it just says Airport, it's 802.11b. 802.11g is 54Mbps, 802.11b 11Mbps.

2003-07-17 05:58:44
Hi Dion!
Hmm... it appears the comment system uses an interesting hybrid of HTML and plaintext heh. That was all HTML formatted, but for some reason it grabbed all of my line breaks...
2003-07-17 07:38:22
Long-time Mac user suggestions
>The included TextEdit is OK, but traps you in RTF instead
>of plaintext.

Um. No. You can switch between RTF and ASCII whenever you want. There's also a preference setting to choose the default format (RFT/Plain) for new documents.

And I agree with a previous poster: You absolutely want to try LaunchBar! :-)

bye. Andreas.

2003-07-17 08:21:13
Use Entourage.. until Panther comes out
Forget Apple Mail. It is clunky. Steve Jobs demonstrated a new OO version which will be out later this year. I use Entourage. It has many cool features you won't find in Apple Mail. The Contact manager is excellent.

That being said, there is a pattern I have found since switching 15 months ago. Every time I buy a third party software tool for my Mac, the geniuses at Apple come out with an innovative replacement that blows away anything else. I fully expect to dump Entourage when Apple's highly innovate iMail comes out later this year.

I would say Panther is going to be a "critical mass" moment for Apple utility software (such as mail, address book, syncing, web browsing, etc).

What do I mean by critical mass? This is when a suite of software (1) is full featured, (2) has innovative advantages, and (3) actually works. You can tell you've reached it when you begin "getting things done" (a Mac user phrase for when a computer gets out of the way and lets you be productive).

The digital hub apps hit "critical mass" when iLife came out earlier this year. I can use iTunes from iMovie without any manual music file import involved, for example.

The utility apps have kind of been in a beta mode this year. Safari, iSync, plus .Mac's Backup and anti-virus software have all started out weak, but are making strong progress. To hear a few weeks ago that a Mail utility is coming along tells me we should have a "critical mass" utility suite by the end of the year. That will be an amazing accomplishment for Apple.

I would guess the next suite to get the Apple treatment will be office productivity (i.e. Keynote vs. PowerPoint).

I hope you get the 17 inch PowerBook. It is "da bomb".. as they say. Much faster than the others. The only one with real speakers, and wide enough so you can rest your palms (but too wide for a coach seat?) These advantages have so far not convinced my wife to let loose $3300.

2003-07-17 11:48:44
Answers to the above
Use Entourage if you don't need the Mac OS X Address Book. If you're planning to sync to your mobile phone over Bluetooth, or plan to use it as your main address store because of the better integration with the OS, then consider using Mail.

Proteous ( is the best IM client on Mac IMHO. Fire is also good (find the URL yourself :) )

You most certainly can use Airport, as long as your clients adhere to 801.11b or g standard.

One last thing. Using the Dock as an application launcher is a nightmare. It gets too cramped too quickly, and doesn't have the organisation of the Windows Start menu. Get yourself a copy of LaunchBar ( and use that to open apps. Then wonder how you can ever live without it on Mac (or even Windows) again.

2003-07-17 15:57:36
Mail client
I guess which mail client you use is up to your style and preferences.

For example, I like modular apps. I use Mail to read and send email only. Entourage feels heavy to me, it is all bundled together, pretty much Windows style.

But I used Entourage for a while and I liked it, it has some neat features.

It is just my style. I feel separating things into component apps is a better and more powerful concept. I hate having my "contacts" or calendar tied up with my mail in a single application.

2003-07-19 23:34:38
food for thought
2003-07-21 14:34:34
Becoming a Mac OS X Switcher
Email? - E U D O R A

Amazing. No one mentioned it. No promotion here, just try it yourself (if you get time between trying out all of these other apps :-).

Text editor - BBEdit

Because I've already paid for it twice and don't want to think I've made a bad decision (misery loves company. Not that I'm miserable, mind you). It's got more features than a webmonkey like me will ever need and seems a bit too slow for a text editor.

IM - Fire

Can't say I've done much comparison shopping (it's free) but it works. Can't figure out how to make it do IRC though, help documents notwithstanding. For IRC, I use ChatZilla.


2003-07-26 06:11:34
Hope you enjoy it
And read MacDevCenter's own Switching to Mac OS Xpage.
2003-07-29 21:37:17
To the Mac Side!
My transition from Windows XP began with Linux (SuSE 8.2). I really like Linux, but it lacks good documentation for the hundreds (thousands?) of applications available for X11 and KDE, etc. I needed more compatibility with Windows and Office, so a Mac with Darwin (BSD based) Unix and a nice GUI seemed like the answer.

Well, the Mac hasn't let me down one bit. My G4/DP is the best constructed computer I've ever owned or built. OS X is a GREAT operating system. Multi-media in web browsers (try Safari is't very good), and throughout the entire system is awesome. I can easily "Connect to Server" and see Windows machines to share storage and printers, etc. It beats Linux with its SAMBA config file editing.

I actually use iMail for a couple of my junk mail accounts and Entourage for my primary mail client. It would be nice to have MAPI with Exchange, but POP3/SMTP works pretty well except for group scheduling. The iMail program is more like the Linux clients and has some really good features, so you don't have to pay criminal Microsoft for Entourage. However, for interoperability with Office on the Windows platform, you'll have to use MS Office for the Mac OS X.

I haven't used an Apple product since the 80's when somebody at my office had an Apple Lisa (remember that one), which made the DOS machines at the time look ridiculous. I am now a convert -- yes a Mac user from now on. I would never have switched to Mac OS 9, but OS X is a true business class workstation operating system. With sufficient memory, you can have dozens of applications running without impacting performance at all.

I used to like Windows XP, but now I'm a Mac OS X lover!

Tom Sweet
TechHealth, Inc.

2003-07-29 22:02:37
Mail clients
I'm also at the tail end of evaluating email applications.
I've been using ever since switching to OS X in Q3 2002 (had been using Outlook on a PC). Here are some "pros" of

+I adore's spam filters.
+ It has some emacs-style key bindings. (I was a UNIX user before Windose.)

+I like the fact that it displays the number of messages in my in box in the dock.

+ I've taken to recording the names of people using applescript and playing them with the "play sound" action in rules. (I'm sure you can do that with the others, but it was particularly obvious with

+ The mail folders in resize much better than in Entourage. And I like the drawers.

What I don't like about it:

- I can't navigate with keyboard in mail list. Mousing is hard on my wrists.

- I find that crashes a lot.

- The 'rebuild mailbox' doesn't seem to affect entire mail box.

- Several times, I've lost mail in Now that in itself is very serious. So why did I stick with it?Well, Outlook did that to me many times. And I was having hardware problems at the time. A sanity check feature would be useful.

- does not allow you to edit a message that you have received from someone else. (Mailsmith doesn't seem to allow you to fully edit one, Entourage does.) This is a real drag. Why can't these people give us more flexibility?

- There's No "advanced find" in (e.g., searching multiple folders, regexp, ands and ors). Entourage is better. Mailsmith is best for that. Will Panther fix this? This to me is a show stopper. I just can't continue with an application that won't facilitate my search.

- The HTML it generates is not very good. But Panther will deal with that, I assume.

- Quoting function is quirky and limited. My (non recipients tell me my mails aren't quoted. Entourage is better for that, and Mailsmith is best.

I seriously considered switching to Entourage. Indeed, I'm comparing it to Mailsmith at the moment (obviously, they're very different).

+ It's integrated with the Tasks list and Notes, which I do use. (I use and will continue to use AddressBook for my contacts. That application is just too slick for me to resist.)

You can flag messages for action, which is something I often want to do. I end up copying message headers from, creating a new task, and then dumping the mail subject header in the task subject header. A simple "flag" in Entourage would have done the trick. Life in the world of tradeoffs, eh?

+ I like the multiple functions.

- What seems to be a Microsoft show stopper is not being able to switch the key bindings to emacs style, or to change the key bindings for commands.

- Entourage seems to try to be too smart. E.g., it automatically color coded messages according to address book groups that matched my categories--if that's what it was trying to do, though, it didn't succeed.

Next up: MailSmith. Mailsmith has the advantages I listed above. Caveat here is that I've only been using the demo for a couple of days. (I have over 10K messages.)

+ Mailsmith allows you to use emacs style bindings and to configure each and every menu item's keyboard shortcut (but the uesr manual, from what I've read, doesn't specify a way for you to change text editing key bindings).

+ Filters in Mailsmith are more powerful. You can apply them to folders.

+ This article made me think that this can be very powerful:
After testing Mailsmith, I then played around with ENtourage (which I happen to own, so it's only for Mailsmith that I'd have to fork out money) and found I had already gotten accustomed to applying filters to folders. Can't seem to do that in Entourage.

+ MailSmith has regular expressions.

+ You can split a window. Nice.

+You can add notes to messages. Ah, that is nice. Can do that in Entourage too but not Mail.

+The way it lists enclosures is better than

+It allows you to associate labels and priorities to messages, doesn't (Entourage of course does).

Now the cons:

- You can only author "plain text" (not HTML). But well. You can always launch a browser to see HTML mail, and it does a good job of converting HTML to mail from what I've seen and read.

- It seems you have to pay for their spam feature (but this month's purchasers will get it free).

- MailSmith does not yet allow you to filter out people who are/are not in addressbook. But that will be there soon I believe.

- Mailsmith is a bit sluggish (not too bad so far as I can tell), and in some (not extensive) tests, I found it consumed way more memory and processing time than

- Doesn't incrementally show search results (as far as I could tell).

- filters can be named, but not renamed.

- I need to use Entourage and Mail anyway, so using Mailsmith adds an application. (See below for my rationale for this.)

The bottom line:Tomorrow, I expect to decide which client to use.
I think I will switch to MailSmith. But I will continue to use's spam filter. What I've been doing and would continue to do is to run both and MailSmith (and alas, Entourage for tasks). receives mails, plays sounds, and filters out spam and unknown mailers. then forwards on the filtered mail to my private email address/account, which is read only by MailSmith. (Barebones tells me their spam filter is up to the job, but I don't have time to spare to train it.) And I would use Entourage when I must author HTML messages. Such is (my) life.

I'll have a careful look at Panther And if it is up to the job, I'll consider migrating back to it.

Good luck in your choice!

2003-07-30 21:35:50
Mail clients
Well, after digging and searching, I came up with some good "news" for
I just noticed that supports a variant of editing a received message. The File menu has an "open as new message" item that I missed. However, the message becomes a new one. This does not allow you (easily) to pare down a message and save it (e.g., without attachments).

Also, there's a script that allows you to "go to a mailbox" by typing, which might inspire me to write a similar script to scroll through the list of mailboxes via the keyboard. But that script just works for IMA mailboxes:

2003-08-08 13:37:53
A good IM client for Mac, *NIX, and Win32 systems is milkbone, available at
2003-08-09 06:26:23
My Switch...
You seem to be asking the exact same questions I asked about a month ago, when I switched. I'd be glad to share my experience.

> Should I use Entourage for email?
Coming from Windows' Outlook Express (good), and then Outlook (bad), I wouldn't -- Microsoft was the reason for the switch in the first place 8) -- I tool a look at Entourage anyway, and it didn't change my mind. It is the same try-to-be-all Outlook deal, and I chose Apple's own Mail instead.

I couldn't find a way to import old mails from Windows Outlook, but then there seems to be no easy way to import Outlook into Entourage either. Mail's design is clean and very usable; its capabilities are good enough, and the only complaint I have is about its speed, which hopefully will be addressed in OS X 10.3 Panther.

> What can I use to replace Trillian for IM?
I used Trillian on Windows also. Now, I found Proteous. It does all four major IM services plus Jabber (which is not in Trillian) but no IRC. It even includes iChat Rendevous support! However, Apple's own iChat is so sweet that I use it to connect to the AIM service and just let Proteous do the rest.

> I will use IntelliJ for real code, but is BBEdit still the Textpad replacement?
Still evaluating myself...

> How best can I share resources between my Windows boxes and the new Mac laptop on my network?
Still evaluating myself... but the Mac's Windows [file sharing] service seems to be working perfectly with my Windows boxes. With Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection, I can operate the XP machine right on the Mac desktop, and have that XP access data files on the Mac just like local files...

> If I get an airport, can I get a card for my laptop so we can share an 802.11g network?
Not tried, but since the Airport Exterme Base Station is based on the 802.11g standard (software updates to the finalized standard), I don't see why not. However, I might look into other vendors' 802.11g access points since I read there are better ones out there...

2003-08-13 20:51:23
text editor
Everyone should check out jEdit
It's open source java editor so it will run on OS X, Windows, Linux. Dozens of plugins for just about any programming you would want to do, including opensource tools like ant, CVS, JUnit. Syntax highlighting for 80+ languages, macro support. It's in active development, with a very responsive and helpful user and developer community. If there isn't a plugin or a macro, you can write one yourself. And it's easy to use. It might not be a full IDE on install, but I think you can certainly come close with all the extensions. You make it what you want. And it's free, so it's at least worth the cost to check it out.
2003-08-14 20:09:56
Coding, sharing resources, and airport
I am considering to buy Powerbook... I hava also Sparc Solaris and Window 2000 in the environment. And I am considering to buy D-Link Wireless router. So, what's the cache to make D-Link and the Powerbook work seamlessly ?
thankx :-)
2003-12-04 04:46:48
Entourage, Fire, and more
you send me fire tetorials & more plugins adobe photoshop
2004-10-09 15:55:22
Adium X
I'd recommend Adium X for a multiclient IM app, unlike Proteues it's Open Source and supports tons of protocalls (the only one it doesn't support that I know of is IRC). Great Mac OS X app, I love it.