Extended Warranty. If you buy a Mac, get AppleCare, which extends the warranty from one year to three.
Besides what came in the Macintosh box, you will need some other hardware.
Some places I buy equipment: Apple Online Store, Amazon.com, Other World Computing, physical Apple Store.
External hard disk for backup.
I use an Apple Time Capsule, which combines a 2TB hard drive and an AirPort Extreme for my home network.
(Depending on the disk, you may need a Thunderbolt to FireWire adapter to connect your disk to your computer.)
- A few USB Flash memory sticks. A 16GB stick is less than $10.
- Internet connection (from an Internet Service Provider (ISP)). Where we live, cable is a better deal than DSL.
Hardware firewall/router. (I use an Apple Time Capsule; I used to use a Linksys BEFSR41.)
If you use wired Ethernet, you may need an Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter ($29).
External display adapter if you want to hook your machine to a TV or second monitor, or connect your laptop to a projector.
A desktop UPS may keep non-laptop machines, cable modem, and backup drive running if the power should flicker. Mine is made by APC and has worked fine.
CD-ROM drives are less essential now.
USB sticks are cheap and a higher capacity alternative for file interchange.
Software installation and music purchase are mostly done from "the cloud."
Many Macs don't come with a CD/DVD drive any more.
If you want to read or burn CDs or DVDs, buy the Apple external drive (which connects via a USB port),
and a spindle of blank DVD-Rs (or DVD+R DL) for backup.
Use CD-Rs for file interchange and music. Note the minus-R.
You will also want a Laser lens cleaner to fight dust and dog hair.
If you have a laptop, you probably want a bag for it: I have liked bags by be.ez and STM.
Amazon has some basic laptop bags that are less expensive.
I use a cheap USB mouse with my laptop: my wife uses a wireless Bluetooth mouse with hers
(it needs new AA batteries every couple of weeks; we use rechargeable batteries and a charger).
There is a lot of free software available for the Mac.
Some of it is more trouble than it is worth.
Here are a few that I use.
Firefox or Chrome web browser.
Use one of these instead of Safari; bugs are usually fixed more quickly.
Firefox add-on: uBlock Origin. Maybe NoScript too.
Chrome has similar add-ons.
Adobe Flash Plugin to enable web browsers to display Flash content.
(Only if you must. Flash has many security problems and is used less and less.
FlashBlock prevents it from running unless you explicitly turn it on.)
- Google Earth for map exploration.
- Stellarium Planetarium.
- Audacity audio editor.
- Aquamacs text editor. A Mac-friendly Emacs.
- Dropbox helps share and back up files using the Internet.
Comes with the Mac
iTunes does a lot of stuff: manages music; imports and burns CDs; sells you music, videos, and podcasts; and manages iPhones.
Photos is a reasonable photo organizer and can do some picture correction.
iTunes, Mail, Contacts, and Calendar are essential to most users.
Additional applications included with OS X may be important to your specific needs.
These cost money.
SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner.
Use one of these to back up your entire hard disk to a backup disk.
Microsoft Office 2016 (about $150/computer, or $100/year subscription).
People mail you MS Word attachments often (of course a lot of these are jokes and chain letters).
You can try to use Libre Office for the Mac, which is free, and can read Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files,
but the formatting may be screwed up and not all Office features are supported.
Someone recently mailed me a .doc file that Word 2011 would not open: it said the file was "corrupt."
Turns out the file was written with LibreOffice, and had footnotes.
If you want to be able to create files that other people can read with Word, PowerPoint, or Excel, get the Microsoft product.
Adobe Photoshop if you want to do serious photo work.
(Adobe doesn't sell its products any more: they rent them for $20/mo/product.
If this is too expensive for you, Adobe Photoshop Elements is good for light work, costs $79, and is included with some cameras and scanners.)
Look into Affinity Photo as an alternative to Photoshop, about $50,
and Affinity Designer as an alternative to Illustrator, about $50.
Another Photoshop alternative is Pixelmator, about $30.
GIMP is also a free alternative to Photoshop.
Quicken or some equivalent if you want to manage your checkbook.
Quicken is also going subscription in 2018. I really hate this.
Turbo Tax or some equivalent if you want to do your taxes.
Essential Web sites
Here are some web sites I use often.
Some require signup or accounts.
You can add shortcuts to your favorites to your browser's bookmarks bar.
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© 2010-2019, Tom Van Vleck
updated 2019-05-01 13:18