Moving to Mac: Software Choices

Mac KeyboardWhen evaluating if a move to Mac was possible, I created a list of the software tools that I used on a day-to-day basis, and then looked for replacements on the Mac side of the fence. I knew that the hardware- and OS-specific differences between PC and Mac would be important, but it’s really the software that I use to do my work that determines my productivity.

Thankfully, in many instances, I found I was able to start with a direct Mac version of the Windows software I was already comfortable with and using productively. For browsing purposes I’ve been using Google Chrome on the PC for months, so I jumped on to the Mac version and got to business as usual. I’ve installed Firefox and have briefly tested Safari, but I’m quite happy with Chrome, even if it still retains its beta status on the Mac.

With the browser comes access to all of the web-based services I use that make up the bulk of my tools, including CRM, GmailGoogle CalendarGoogle Docs, as well as the help desk/ticketing systems that I use for my job. I use Thymer for task management, but Things and OmniFocus will probably get some evaluation time as I’ve always been quite curious about them.

There are also quite a few programs where it was just a matter of installing the Mac version of my existing tools. I use Jing for screen grabs for blogging, tech support, jokes and even short screencasts for training or support. Functionally and visually it’s identical on the Mac. I know that Skitch and LittleSnapper are popular alternatives but I’ve always been quite pleased with Jing.

Skype is a staple for IM and video chats for both work and personal use, so a switch to the Mac client was a requirement. Functionally it’s virtually identical but the interface is different enough that it required a bit of an adjustment period.

I’ve long been a fan of Dropbox for syncing all sorts of things between my computers as well as quick file transfers between friends and clients. Again, the availability of a Mac client was a requirement and I’ve found it to work equally as well. I do miss the ability to just double-click on the Dropbox icon in my status bar but rather now needing to explicitly choose to open the folder. Once I settle on a program launcher though that will cease to be an issue.

I spend a lot of time on Twitter and have been using TweetDeck for a long time to manage that service. I like the ability to create the custom searches I need to track as well as being able to post to Facebook as well as to some of the client accounts to which I contribute. I knew that the cross-platform nature of the Adobe AIR meant that a Mac version of TweetDeck was available. I briefly experimented with Tweetie as it’s one of those programs that Mac users have always raved about but quickly moved back to TweetDeck — if for no other reason than I was more comfortable with it.

The nature of what I do, along with my natural curiosity, means I’ll probably continue to look for alternatives and to explore the Mac-only options that exist in these categories. But the availability of Mac versions of my favorite tools meant I was able to get myself up and running quickly.

How much of what you use could be easily transferred to another platform?

Image by stock.xchng user mab_design

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