24 Jul 2023
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 drive or SSD drive for backup.
I use an Apple Time Capsule, which combines a 2TB hard disk drive and an AirPort Extreme for my home network.
(But this is no longer supported, so I need a new solution.)
(Depending on the drive, 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.
I got mine from Amazon Basics and it has worked fine.
Macs don't come with a CD/DVD drive any more.
These drives are useful for backing up your disk or SSD to CD-ROM or DVD-ROM discs.
These discs are write-once and should last for a long time.
Buy the Apple external Superdrive (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.
(Wireless mice need new AA batteries every couple of weeks; you can 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.
- 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
Music does a lot of stuff: manages music; imports and burns CDs; sells you music.
(Used to be called iTunes, and also handled podcasts, Videos, and iPhone management; these functions are now in other apps.)
Photos is a reasonable photo organizer and can do some picture correction.
(Used to be called iPhoto.)
Music, Mail, Contacts, Finder, 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 main storage to a backup volume.
Microsoft Office 2019 (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 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 went subscription in 2018. I switched to Banktivity.
It went subscription in 2021.
Now I am looking at GNU Cash.
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.
Home | FAQ
© 2010-2023, Tom Van Vleck
updated 2023-07-24 09:40