finally joining the dark side... I mean, considering buying a mac :-)

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Hardware & Accessories

So, I am finding in my job, knowledge of the Mac is becoming more valuable, and while I have access to one at the office, I do not have time in my day to really learn it. That said, I am considering buying one. So my questions are these:

1. Which mac will give me the most bang for my buck?
2. Are there any modelsl I should avoid?
3. What are the best resources for a mac user who knows some basics but definitely benefits from written instructions rather than audio or podcasts and/or videos to learn the new device?

I appreciate any input you can offer.

And BTW, hope nobody is offended by the "dark side" comment. I put the smiley face and am definitely kidding. To be fair, when referring to phones, I call Android the dark side. I however know all systems are decent options and it really is preference. I simply enjoy a sense of humor and sarcasm.

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Comments

Submitted by Pepper Fox on Wednesday, May 6, 2020

If you simply want to learn your way around Mac OS and Voiceover, then I suggest you buy a used machine. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that switching operating systems is tricky. Voiceover for Mac is also quite buggy. Some people can get past that, but others cannot. It depends on your workflow. Moving from Windows takes a big shift in the approach to the UI and file structure. If you're a proficient computer user, Voiceover should be dead simple to learn, especially with the built-in tutorial. If you want to buy new, then the newest MacBooks all, thankfully, have functional keyboards. The cheapest new Mac you can buy is the Mac Mini, but it's not a very good value for money. If you despise the T2 chip, then the iMac will be your best friend. Alternatively, you could try and get training through your work by telling your boss you need it in order to do your job, or just ask for some time to learn it yourself.

Submitted by gamer2004 on Wednesday, May 6, 2020

actually if you want a newer machine you can buy 13 inch new 2020 macbook air, whitch costs 999 dollars, and for students it has discount by 100 dollar. Base model comes with duel core i3 10th gen cpu, 256 gb ssd, new magic keyboard, t2 security chip, intel iris plus graphycs

Submitted by mority on Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Hi.

Wel if you are talking about a good bang to buck relationship, apple is not the best company to go. With windows devices you're getting your moneys worth for most devices. Sure yes there are the ocasional hickups in the notebook market, especially CPU throttling, loud fans and what not.

but regarding apple, if you just want to learn how the thing works and do some lightwaight tasks, you should be good with the newest Macbook Air or the basic pro models. Don't bother with older devices, the problems with the butterfly keyboard are still there and if you want a reliable keyboard I would go for the newer devices that again have the scissor switches again.
Problem with the MacBook air is though that the CPU is generally not bad for such a small device, but the fan unit really doesn't work well with the CPU and the thing almost instandly can't use it's full power, that's why the I7 configuration of the MBA is basically useless.

At least in Germany, for about 250 dollars more you get a basic MacBook Pro with a better fan control and CPU, the new MacBook Pro 13 inch has just been released two days ago, so possibly look at that one.

Greetings Moritz.

Submitted by Alan on Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Hi there.
Please, don't take it as I am saying: don't buy a mac. It's only my opinion, my experience and according what I've seen, I am not alone.
If you have access to a mac, familiarize yourself with the computer befohre buying one. At least 4 friends of mine decided to buy a mac, all them are blind, thinking: ok, I love my iphone, a mac can only be even better. Then backto the reality, 3 of them sold their new macbooks some months later, and the other one installed windows through bootcamp and almost never used macos before.
My own experience is simmilar. I use my mac only for developing purposes and sometimes to test new things, but the full migration of my dreams never happened.
AS I stated, I am not saying that a mac is a bad computer, but deffinitely it's not for everyone.
I could explain my reasons, and others could argue why I'm totally wrong, so let me add just what I and others have learned the hard -and expensive- way: play with a mac in the more realistic scenario for your needs before "buying one if possible.
And take a look on some topics here about how to install windows and almost make macos desapear from their macs before taking a decision.
Good luck and excuse my english.

Submitted by ericwhittencool on Wednesday, May 6, 2020

I think that the mac book air is a good machine. All-though, I don't have one myself, I think the newest macbook air is the way to go, if you want small and compact. As far as voice over, the getting starting guide will definatly help you learn voice over. I used the getting started guide back in 2008, when it was in its infentsy. So, let us know how it goes.

Submitted by mendi on Wednesday, May 6, 2020

First and foremost, I forgot to be clear about something. I am not looking to switch entirely to a Mac. I have already purchased a PC and will keep it. I however want to expand my knowledge, as more Mac users are coming for training, and I really can't learn something I don't have hands on experience with.

This is exactly why I posted here. I too thought Mac Air, especially for the price, but then I heard about the overheating issues. It seems like you all are confirming this is the case. Perhaps I'll let the newest Macbook Pro line get out and tested and hear the reviews on it before I make a decision.

Thank you all for your tips and tricks so far.

Submitted by Pepper Fox on Wednesday, May 6, 2020

In reply to by mendi

In that case, buying used is definitely a good option. Old Macs hold their value annoyingly well, but it's still cheaper than new. The new 13 inch MacBook Pro is an excellent choice if all you want is a machine for training. If portability isn't a requirement then the iMac paired with a Magic Trackpad is a good option too and won't suffer from all of the overheating problems that the laptops have. It's also partially upgradeable if you don't mind popping the screen off.

I agree with ericwhittencool. My time on the Mac hasn't been the most enjoyable of experiences. Apple seems to focus far more on the iPhone and iPad nowadays, but if your job uses Mac OS then getting a Mac for training becomes a more straightforward choice.

Submitted by Carlos Taylor on Wednesday, May 6, 2020

In reply to by mendi

I had your exact thoughts 6 or 7 years ago. My first Mac purchase was one of the first released Mac minis. It came with OS 10.4 about 15 years ago. It was ok, but I was so unfamiliar with things that I didn't really use it much. I had access to a Mac at work which we used to beta test Tiger before it was released. Those were definitely some early days for VoiceOver. Anyway, I continued doing most of my work on Windows computers but found that I was often being asked to assist students in my formal job who used Macs. Therefore, I decided to ask my company for a MacBook Air. I was delighted to learn that they granted my request and decided that the only way I was going to truly learn how to use it would be to use it as my main computer for as many tasks as possible. Soon after, I decided to purchase an iMac for home use. I've had my iMac for 6 years now and don't regret my decision at all. In fact, I recently switched jobs which meant I had to return my MacBook Air, so I just purchased a 16 inch MacBook Pro. I still use Windows as I was issued an HP laptop as my new work computer.

Everyone's experiences are different, but my experiences have been positive. Are there bugs in VoiceOver? Sure there are some but nothing prevents me from accomplishing things I want to do. Are there bugs in Windows and with Windows screen readers? Certainly. There's no way to avoid bugs when it comes to using a computer. However, I certainly don't find VoiceOver to be so buggy that it's unusable as some say it is. Again, this is my personal experience.

As far as what I'd recommend, it all depends on what you want to do. if you simply want a Mac to learn how to use it, you don't need a powerhouse computer. A MacBook Air or a Mac mini will due just fine. However, if you think there's a chance that you might do more than simple tasks with it someday, I'd probably invest in a mid-range model. I personally lean towards having more ram than the base units come with.

As far as finding tutorials to help learn the Mac, I think you've come to the best place. In the getting started with your first Mac section of this site, there are some great tutorials both in written form and as podcasts. I honestly can't think of anywhere better that has such a compilation of guides to help get you started. Of course, if you have questions and can't find answers, these forums are a great place to ask and receive answers.

The reason I like my Macs so much is the integration with services on my iPhone. Just the other day, I came across a link or something on my iPhone, I don't remember specifically what it was right now, but I wanted to get that information to my Mac. I remembered that if I copied the contents of what it was on my iPhone, I could then open my Mac and press control+v to paste. It worked like a charm.

Another instance of these shared services occurred today. Earlier, I needed to join a conference call by phone. my iPhone was in another room of the house. I was able to access my calendar on my Mac, and dial into the conference call by selecting Join from my Mac's calendar. FaceTime came up and I was connected to the phone conference, all without accessing my iPhone.

Of course, there are several other things that I do with my Mac, but those are just a couple of examples of why I find a Mac to be beneficial to me personally. Good luck with your decision and let us know what you decide to purchase. My last word of advice is to approach the learning of VoiceOver and the Mac differently than you've learned your Windows screen readers. The Mac and VoiceOver function quite differently than Windows. If you try to treat the Mac like Windows, I think you'll have a harder time learning. There are definite similarities, but VoiceOver functions quite differently than Windows screen readers. Let us know if we can be of assistance in your journey to learn the Mac.

Submitted by Jim D on Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Over the years, National Braille Press has published some great books which help individuals who are blind learn the Mac. Most of these are written by Janet Ingber, who does a fantastic job of explaining screen layouts and control functions. She also does a reasonable job of keeping these updated as new versions of Mac OS are released. NBP is currently selling a title from Janet called Mac Basics for the Beginning User, it costs around $12 for the electronic version. I would highly recommend this book if you are venturing into Mac land.
You can read more about the book, including the table of contents, at:
https://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/MAC-BASICS.html

Hope this is helpful.
Jim

Submitted by mority on Thursday, May 7, 2020

Hi.

At Carlos your experiences sound quite good, so I do have a question. What do you do on your mac regarding word processing and working with tables? I wouldn't have a problem working with pages if that's easier, problem is I mostly work with dox files and as far as I know Office 365 isn't that reliable when it comes to accessibility.
So, some experiences of Pages, Numbers and there office 365 counterparts would be good to have.

Greetings Moritz.

Chiming in here about Office. The more popular apps in the suite are quite good on Mac OS, but unsurprisingly, they're all better on Windows. I'm not a fan of the way tables are handled in Word for Mac. They're located above the document, even though visually they are within it and can be accessed procedurally when navigating the document with Voiceover. If you need to move around a lot, then this makes it confusing, as when you try to move past the table you end up at the top of the document. On the other end, Word for Mac handles page headers and footers much better. Instead of having to remember a keystroke combo, or having to dive through the ribbon, you simply set them up once in the document and they will be represented by interactable elements flanking each page. If all you care about are Word, Outlook, and maybe Excel, and you don't have keystrokes engrained in your memory, then it's mostly up to personal preference. Oh yeah, the Touchbar is actually a handy extra when working in Word. It puts a lot of handy shortcuts to the ribbon at your fingertips.

Submitted by mendi on Thursday, May 7, 2020

Or, it will when it gets here. I got the latest Macbook Pro model, 13 inch edition, (I don't need all of that screen), and I went with the 16 GB, because 8 or 16 were the only options. Thank goodness for good credit and Best Buy financing! I think they said it will ship on or around the 15th. I thought about the mac air but was afraid if I did start to use it a lot I'd run into the overheating issues.

I am somewhere between excited to learn this and admittedly dreading it, as unfortunately my forays into mac land have not been the best. But, to be fair, I was usually trying to force myself to get things done, only to have a deadline and have to ditch the mac in favor of the windows machine I knew to get it done quickly. I'm thinking if I have time to really sit down and play with it, it will go a lot better.

I doubt I'll give up windows entirely, but I'm happy to have knowledge of another OS. It can only serve to help me.

As for resources, I will begin looking at those when my mac gets closer to actually being here.

I appreciate everyone's input, and I doubt I'll be a stranger as I dive into this. After all, I learned windows and/or JAWS by trial and error, a little formal training, and a lot of talking with other users to get tips and tricks. And here I am training it now. :-) Anything is possible.

Submitted by gamer2004 on Thursday, May 7, 2020

congratulations brother, that's pritty good.
eh i wanted to buy macbook air but overheeting issue? i don't know if it will heet when: bootcamp, skyping, some little audiogames, and browsing. Can you someone give me suggestion should i buy mba?

Submitted by MelodicFate on Thursday, May 7, 2020

For word processing, I use Pages. I never work with tables, so I don't know about that. But I've written four novels in Pages so far. Exporting to a Word document is easy, working with track changes isn't hard either. It just depends what you're used to, I suppose.

Submitted by Larry on Thursday, May 7, 2020

Congratulations to your new Mac :) Ever since I started using a screen reader I have mostly worked with a Mac. I got through university without much issues using iWorks-apps.

Recently I had to work with Windows and Jaws for a bit, did not like it and the whole experience just felt terrible, lol. I spent a lot of time trying to learn Jaws, but I just find many things easier and faster to do with VO.So yes, just as there are Jaws users that will never touch a Mac, there are Mac users who would be happy never touching Windows :p

I don't have a need to create tables often, but when I do I tend to gravitate towards Pages. It's possible with TextEdit and Microsoft Word, but I just found it worked better for me in Pages.

Submitted by mority on Friday, May 8, 2020

Hi.

So, to clear up abit, here is what I need when it comes to word processing.

for Word, I need a way to for example quickly set headings for certain parts of the text, including different heading levels. I sometimes need tables in the document or read those tables as well.
Also, changing things like chaning text style and possibly colors, paragraph layouts and what not.

Regarding tables in Excel or numbers, I mostly need simple formulas for calculations, things like adding, subtracting, division and muliplication are mostly needed.
What I'm missing is an up to date guide on how well Pages and numbers work in comparison to Word and Excel on windows and Mac OS.

Greetings Moritz.

I can only speak about Pages and Numbers. The things you describe are easy to do. You can, for example, set up easy shortcuts for different text styles using the F-keys. In Pages I have F1 as Heading 1, F2 as Heading 2, F4 as Paragraph style etc.

I have only worked a bit with formulas in Numbers, but I have never encountered a situation Numbers could not solve.

Submitted by Daniel Angus M… on Monday, May 11, 2020

Club AppleVis Member

hello,

to the person who mentioned overheating with the higher soeck MacBookAirs,,, my mac is an early 2015 MacBookPro, with an intel corI 7 processer, 3.1ghz and 16gb RAM. in windows via bootcamp, as high-end my mac is, it overheats. why is that? I recamend to someone getting a mac to either get an older MacBookPro or an iMac if bootcamp is what you want to do. will my processer every burn out if I'm in windows too much?
regards,
Daniel

Submitted by mority on Monday, May 11, 2020

Hi.

When it comes to the MBA, overheating does happen while running Mac OS as well. The problem is that the cooling unit and the CPU don't work very well together due to the MBA's design, that's the reason why for example an I7 CPU doesn't make any sence in such a device.

Regarding bootcamp, this is something that the windows drivers provided by apple are at fault, if the drivers are not able to manage the fan system efficiently, overheating does happen when you do more intense tasks. I suppose your CPU won't die tdue to overheating, but I wouldn't challenge it though.

Greetings Moritz.

Submitted by Justin Harris on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

So, I was going to buy the macbook air but when I added in taxes and all, I just couldn't stomach the price. I opted instead for a used 2015 macbook pro with a 2.7 ghz i7 if memory serves me right, with 16 gb ram and 512 ssd. I totally don't regret my choice. Here are my observations.
1. I love the port selection on this. From 2016 on, people have been having to buy dongles for everything. Not a problem for me. I love magsafe too.
2. I have noticed the fan turning on sometimes while even doing simple things, like stuff in Safari. But it has never been terrible. I've never had my computer come to a crawl. I have Windows installed through Bootcamp, and honestly the fan kicks in less in Windows than in Mac os. But my work in Windows is very very lite. I may use it to connect to a mumble server to do a remote radio broadcast. Mumble seems to be a good way to get audio back to my online station and sound half way decent. Also, I'm using Windows to control my studio pc with the nvda remote add-on, so not much over heating there, as my station pc does all the heavy lifting. On the mac side of things, I mostly do web browsing, email, messages, FaceTime. The hardest thing I've ever hit it with so far is editing a radio program in Amadeus pro. Also, I've tried to run my Windows bootcamp install in VMware. It was able to handle all of this pretty well.
3. I don't know why people say VoiceOver is so buggy on the mac. It works very differently from Windows screen readers, but I find it to be pretty stable.
I have owned three MacBooks so far. My first was a 2009 macbook pro. I absolutely loved that machine. It was only sold because I was in really bad financial shape, and desperately needed the money. Next, I had a 2012 specked out macbook pro. Sadly, it met an untimely death.
4. With audio editing in Amadeus Pro, I feel like it might take me longer to do certain things than on Windows using Goldwave. Perhaps it is because I am still getting used to it again. However, having said that, I feel like my edits are more precise, and effects sound better in Amadeus than in Goldwave.
Congrats on your new purchase. If I were you, I would have gone used, but at least you are future proofed. I seriously wish Apple would release another macbook pro with all the classic ports. Macbook Pro SE, like they do with the iPhone, reusing that older classic design. I would find a device like that to be very compelling, though most certainly out of my price range. I was only able to get the one I have now because of the stimulus, and at $720 it was quite a steal. But I think if they ever released a macbook pro SE, people would jump all over it.
I used Pages back in my college days and made it through pretty well. Some of my papers may not have looked great, as formatting wasn't so easy back then, but professors were very understanding. It has only gotten better since then. I love the fact that Pages is available for my mac, iPad and phone. I have been able to type up a sermon outline in Pages, and pull it up on my phone, paired to a focus 14, and was able to preach just fine. Granted, I had to put my phone in to airplane mode or do not disturb, so a random notification wouldn't pop up and throw me off, but it worked well. Sadly there are some dots that are sticking on my focus 14 now, so probably won't be doing that again for a while, as I don't have the money to get it fixed. But I say all this because it was cool having my sermon that way, and not having to use the Perkins.
I hope you are able to learn the mac. Another site I recommend is maccessibility.net

Submitted by Daniel Angus M… on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Club AppleVis Member

this site is now for new podcasts. the tutorials are out of date and have not been updated in a very long time. it is not an informational site any more, unless you want comentarie on current apple happenings. there is the hashtag, #volive but that will only get you short podcast commands as the presenters squew twardes spasific topics.
Daniel

Submitted by mendi on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

I hear what others are saying, and I almost went with the older model to save some money. But, when I figured out there was an external hard drive that would work with the Mac, (it comes with the necessary cable), I went ahead and went for it. Now, I am thinking I might have to buy one thunderbolt donble for flash drives, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. I have to learn how to use the machine first! I also figured by buying new, like someone said above, I would be future proofed, and hopefully my machine will last quite a while.

For the record, it is not here yet. I think it is supposed to ship Friday.

Yup. I'm rocking the new 16-inch MBP and it runs uncomfortably hot in Windows. My understanding is that it has to do with the fact that Apple uses custom power profiles in Mac OS to keep the CPU's heat output in check. Those profiles aren't present outside of Mac OS, so the CPU manages its own thermals the way Intel programmed it. The result is the world's best lap warmer and occasional jet engine with terrible battery life.

Submitted by Justin on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

I second that. I will never run windows on a mac due to that issue right there. Apple designs their macbooks to run cooler, and the newer CPUs will run a lot cooler by default, running windows is a resource hog, no wonder your machine is getting warm. People say that it runs fine... It probably does, I'm sure, but do yourself a favor, and keep your win machine around if you need windows, and use your Mac for apple stuff. If ya don't like MacOS, then don't use it. It's that simple. I've used it for a decade and truly do not miss windows. I've kept up with what is happening in respect to WIN 10 and narrator, but haven't used it myself. Will end up getting the new 16 inch machine when I decide on upgrading.

Submitted by Justin Harris on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

I guess my Windows use case is rare, because unless I'm running in VMware, it tends to heat up less on my 2015 macbook pro than even on the mac side. I can never completely get away from Windows as I have a few programs I use for my online radio station that are Windows specific, but I spend most of the time on my machine in Mac OS.

Submitted by mority on Thursday, May 14, 2020

Hi.

Well there is sadly no way that you can test a MacBook for long, then I actually could decide if I still need Windows full time. I certainly need it for video gaming, but the rest, well, I'll just need to see if I can possibly pick up a mac and check it out for a few weeks.

Greetings Moritz.

Submitted by gamer2004 on Thursday, May 14, 2020

Well i actually need windows in some things, so i don't know. If i can get mac, i will test how windows works on it, and if it works bad, maiby i will reuturn that device if possible, if not, i won't risk and i buy windows laptop

Submitted by mendi on Thursday, May 14, 2020

I have no plans to put windows on my mac. I have a windows machine that is actually pretty new. So I plan to keep windows on it and use the mac just as a mac. So if the overheating issues come in with windows, I'm safe.

Submitted by Becca on Thursday, May 21, 2020

Hello. I have a Windows machine and a Mac. I would purchase a used model since you might be able to get a bit of bang for your buck.

Submitted by mority on Friday, May 22, 2020

Hi.

so I managed to slap together a mac VM and actually use it, you never know with those things do you.

So, generally the thing works quite great and stuf that I need also work, accept excel sheets, I often have the focus randomly leave the table and I have to get it back to the table again, I used the official apps from the app store for this.

I'm running high sierra here, so if anything changed in Catalina, tips would be helpfull.

Greetings Moritz.

Submitted by mendi on Friday, May 22, 2020

Well, it has arrived! I was proud of myself that I somehow managed to get it up and running, online, and signed into iCloud, complete with messenger and facetime. I haven't put too many apps on it yet, but I've only had it since Tuesday, and I have had to work, leaving me only evenings to play with it. Mind you, I work an IT job. So sometimes come evening I don't even want to see a computer, let alone try to learn a new one. But, we hhave a long weekend on deck. So I should get some time to mess with it more in depth.

So far, my only real hang up was this; I was trying to compose a new message. I was trying to send it to someone, but this person has multiple phone numbers and/or there are multiple people with this first name. I could not for the life of me figure out how to get to where you can select which option in the search results presented to pick the right contact and at one point accidentally sent the message to a land line. Any thoughts?

Otherwise, my new mac adventure seems to be going well.

Submitted by Pepper Fox on Friday, May 22, 2020

In reply to by mendi

A handy command (when an app supports it) that I like using is VO+j. It'll move the cursor to items linked to the current focused item. It's handy in messages to jump between the edit field and the conversation area, and it can help when searching for contacts. It also makes navigating a Finder window a bit easier.

Submitted by Carlos Taylor on Saturday, May 23, 2020

In reply to by mendi

When a single contact has multiple phone numbers to choose from, I found it easier to press command+n for a new message, then use the Add Recipient button. You'll then have a search box which you can use to type all or part of a contact's name. There is a table which shows the search results. Once you find the contact with multiple phone numbers, interact with that person's name, then you'll find another table to interact with that has each phone number for that contact. Find the one you want and press VO+space to select that number. Hope this helps.

Submitted by mendi on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Thanks, this does help. I will give it a try next time I am sending a message to someone I have not spoken to recently. I can very easily interact with the table of existing conversations, but such was not the case with this particular person, or more like set of people, the other night.