My computer life couldn't be easier. After easily setting up my spiffy new Mac to run my old Windows programs as well, I've finally joined the long list of satisfied Mac owners.
I've got the promise of the Apple-Intel Thunderbolt port, whose ability to shoot out data at super-fast speeds could make USB a thing of the past (as soon as hard drives, monitors and other devices support it, likely beginning this summer). And I've got the comfort of Windows, for all the software I've amassed over the years.
Now years of home movies I've edited in Windows have music that I've created in GarageBand. Even if you aren't working on videos or creating music, here are I added these Mac tweaks that make life easier for us PC switchers and longtime Mac users alike.
I wish someone had told me these first things to do when you buy a new Mac.
Doing Windows 7: To run my old Windows XP software, I thought I needed to spring for the $299 Windows 7 Professional edition, which runs Windows XP virtually to keep my old programs running. Turns out that most of my old software was compatible with the $199 Windows 7 Home Premium. So, if you're wondering what edition of Windows 7 to get, start off with Home then install the latest drivers from the company that made your software. If your old programs crash or don't start at all, then consider popping for the $139.95 upgrade to Windows 7 Professional, which can be downloaded at microsoftstore.com. Hopefully, you won't need to.
The Mac can right-click too: Opening System Preferences > Mouse and clicking the box next to "Secondary click" makes my trackpad right-click like a PC mouse. Great when I'm in Windows and equally fab in Mac OS X (faster than pressing the option key, which does the same thing).
Get the most out of your video: •The QuickTime X video player replaced QuickTime 7, but the versatile warhorse didn't go away. QT 7 just moved from the Applications folder to the Utilities folder. Not there? Go to apple.com/downloads to get the latest, free version (that's QuickTime 7.6.9 as of now). I spent $29.99 to upgrade it to QuickTime 7 Pro to easily and quickly trim and combine videos.
•Installing Flip4Mac WMV (telestream.net ) helps QuickTime play wmv and wma video, but if you edit those videos, they'll be stamped with type telling viewers you used the free version of Flip4Mac. A $29 upgrade to Flip4Mac Pro will remove that watermark.
•Adding the Perian plug-in (perian.org ) will let you play just about every other kind of video file.
•Using Apple's iDVD to burn a movie you've made in iMovie? Better install the free MPEG Streamclip (squared5.com ), or you may not hear the audio. MPEG Streamclip also is a handy way to convert video files of different types.
Accessibility for everyone: In Mac OS X and Windows, screen magnifiers and voice-recognition software help computer users who have poor eyesight, but those helpers also are a boon to those of us with smallish laptop displays. To set up these tools, check out microsoft.com/enable or apple.com/accessibility (then click on "Mac OS X").
Have a question about your computer, cellphone, camera or any gadget? Let us know! E-mail Eric Gwinn at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you could be featured in an upcoming Gadget Q&A column.