I Swtiched from a PC to A Mac Under 4 hours: Here’s How

I finally made the move.

After years of waiting for that round wheel on Vista to finish so I could get back to work, my computer freezing – having to pull the plug so I can get it restarted, waiting for Outlook to rebuild after “not closing down properly”, losing work in progress, failed hard drives and all the rest, I finally made the move over to a Mac.

I have always heard that the downside of switching to a Mac is the switch itself and that it takes a few months to get use to.

Well last weekend I made the switch from my Dell XPS which has given me an endless amount of trouble, which I have blogged about (made sure you read the updates in the comments, to the new Apple 17″ MacBook Pro, the one with the non-removal battery.

The move took less than 4 hours and I was up and running with almost no switch over time.

So I thought I’d tell you how I did it, since some of the switch over, I was told by 3 Apple Geniuses in the Boca store could not be done.

Fortunately I had my own Apple Genius, Adam Matuzich in house.

You’re going to need a portable hard drive which supports both Windows and Mac. I used a Maxtor One Touch.

First thing you’re going to want to do is move all of your Outlook Mail, Contacts, and Calendar.

The easiest method I found was a program called Outlook2Mac. ($10)

Download this software to your PC, and run it.

The program exports all of Outlook’s contents. You have the choice to choose all or just certain kinds of files and emails you want saved. Three new files are created – one for mail, one for contacts, and one for calendar.

You then drag the files to your external hard drive, plug it in the Mac, and move them onto your new machine.

Open up Mail (the name of Apple’s standard email client), import all your messages and attachments. Open up your Address Book, import your contacts. Open up iCal (the calender program), import all your past and future appointments.

Mail is done, contacts moved, calendar imported.

Set up your mail accounts in Apple’s Mail and start using it.

Some people complain about the size of the font on MacMail.

Outlook allows you to make all your e-mail fonts larger, but Apple’s Mail does not. Luckily there is a back door fix to this. Open up Terminal (remember command prompt on your Windows machine?) and type “defaults write com.apple.mail MinimumHTMLFontSize 14”. Done – your Mail font now appears larger.

If you’re used to e-mail rules in outlook you can create these in Mac Mail, under Mail click preferences, scroll to the end of the choices and select, Rules

Next you’re going to want your office documents and your’re going to need to buy Microsoft Office for Apple

You can then move all your Excel and Word into your Documents folder on your Mac.

I used my external hard drive for but you can also use your iDisk, the  20GB of online storage included with Apple’s MobileMe subscription. This also gives you an email address yourname@me.com and keeps contacts, bookmarks, email accounts, pictures, all in sync across multiple computers, PDAs, or cell phones. Files can be uploaded from your PC to your iDisk through the me.com site and then retrieved by clicking the iDisk drive listed on your Mac with all your other devices.

Next for navigating the internet and making the switch as quick and painless as possible use FireFox as your browser on both your PC and Mac at least to start.

On your PC you’re going to need the Foxmarks add on for FireFox.  Foxmarks will store all your bookmarks and passwords on Firefox servers so you can then after installing Firefox and Foxmarks on the Apple just import all your bookmarks and passwords in one quick process.

You can then move over your itunes and pics over.

Here a few other features that are going to come in handy:

As a PC user you’re going to want a right click button. By default you can tap using two fingers on the new glass trackpad that uses multi-touch technology to serve as a right click button, but at least until you get use to it, you want a sure right click.

To activate,  click on the Apple on the left top of the screen, select preferences, click on “Trackpad” and check the box which is for “1 Finger Right hand click”

If you want to increase the size of text on any window, hit the command button and the “+” on the keyboard.  To reduce anything use command and the “-” button.

The F3 key will split all your opened “windows” to fit on one screen, hit it again and it will put the last “window” you were working on, or with the screen spilt you can click on any one of the open windows to work on it.

The F1 key reduces the brightness F2 increases it.

F4 puts up the calculator, local weather, calendar and clock.

F5 & F6 controls the contrast, F10 is your mute button, F11 is your loudness button and F12 puts your speakers on max.

That will get you a basic start.

What you get in return is a Ferrari instead of a Ford.

A lightning fast machine that works without, locking up, stalling and rebooting.  The speakers more like you would find on a desktop than a laptop.

The non-glossy screen is bright, clear and will save countless hours of eye strain.

The battery lasts over 5 1/2 hours, in real use using a Wifi connection.

All the excuses are over for not owning an Apple go get yourself one and reduce your stress level.


  1. Ed S says

    Mike, I switched to Mac in 2002 and there are 3 tips I always give to new Mac users (I use these functions hundreds of time each day):

    Hold Command + press Spacebar then type in what you’re looking for. Results come almost instantly.

    System Preferences > Expose
    Top Left = All Windows
    Top Right = Desktop
    Bottom Left = Dashboard
    Bottom Right = Application Windows
    Once this feature is turned on just move your mouse to the top left corner of your screen to show all open windows, top right to clear all windows and show the desktop, and so on. Use this feature for a few days and you will never be able to live without it. I guarantee it.

    3) ZOOM:
    System Preferences > Universal Access > Zoom > On
    Once this feature is turned on just hold Command + Option then press + to zoom and – to zoom out. You won’t understand how useful this feature is until you begin using it routinely.


  2. says


    If you still need to use some win apps on your mac, get parralels software, and you can run win xp/or i think Vista, At The Same Time as Mac os x.

    Or you can use Apple’s bootcamp, and boot up separately in windows.

  3. Jacob says

    I tried making the switch a few months ago. I hated it, and my Mac was more buggy than any PC I’ve ever hard.

  4. Johnny says

    One nice thing about a Mac is that most viruses are not written for Mac users :)

    Your domains are ultimately safer b/c of this.

  5. says

    Yes, parallel is an excellent program and it is free.

    do not use bootcamp, eats up the resources.

    I am a Mac collector and have a collection of the 1st Mac-apple2e, 512k–still in good condition–serial # is 0003, Made in USA!!

  6. says

    Nice write up, and welcome to the world of Mac domaining :) One of the biggest benefits of owning a Mac doesn’t hit you until you’ve been using it for a few months. You start to realize that using a Mac involves a lot less worry than using a PC. Some of its the security, but must of it is just well thought out programming.

    One point about your write up. It’s not necessary to purchase Office for Mac just to get access to your Windows docs. You can use Google docs, for free, or you can buy Apple Works. Works costs less than Office and you can open and save .doc .ppt and .xls files.

    Also, for creating killer web sites, check out RapidWeaver from realMacSoftware.com.

  7. says

    The most stable and trouble free OS of all is Linux. The most user friendly Linux distro is Ubuntu.


    I think the best solution is to have 3 machines min in your office, so you always have backup boxes, one running Windows, one Apple and one Linux.

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