New Mac Set Up (by a Windows User)

A little history

Many moons ago I was a Mac user.  I used to be the system admin for a printing company in Japan, and all they used was Macs.  That was long before Mac OS X.  When I switched companies and was developing software, I used Linux (Debian) and Windows.  After I joined Adobe, I started using Windows everyday. I had to do a lot of travelling, and Windows Laptops were the lightest around (I couldn’t give up Emacs, though, so I used Meadow).

When I was recently looking for a new laptop, I took a look at the new MacBook Air.  The battery life, screen size, and weight seemed to hit the right spot, so I decided to give it a try.

Below are some of the apps I installed and some other settings I changed in order to make my new Mac feel more comfortable.

The apps

Here are the apps I installed on my new Mac:

  1. RightZoom
    RightZoom changes the maximize behavior of Mac windows. The normal MacOS behavior makes no sense to me. With the default behavior, I press the green button and it adjusts to some size based on no apparent logic.  Once RightZoom is installed, it works a lot better. It maximizes the window. Go figure.
  2. Aquamacs
    Emacs for MacOS
  3. Chrome
  4. Xmarks for Safari and Chrome
    Keeps my bookmarks synced across all my browsers and computers (I still have a Windows machine at home)
  5. Microsoft Office
    Outlook could be better. But all the basics work.
  6. Adium
    One IM client to work for all of my accounts!
  7. Quicksilver
    Allows setting keyboard shortcuts to launch applications.  A bit unstable, but usually works.
  8. Caffeine
    Allows you turn off energy saving settings with one click. This is great for screen sharing, keeping your screen alive when viewing a document, and watching movies. Also good if you’re doing something that might take overnight, like copying lots of files from another computer.

Other settings

  1. Dock
    I reduced the size of the doc as small as possible to keep it out of my way.  And turned on auto-hide to give me more screen real estate.
  2. Input
    I added Japanese input methods – how else can I write Japanese? I also changed the short-cut key to ctrl-command-space because command-space conflicts with Spotlight.
  3. Keyboard
    I changed the caps key to also be the control key.
  4. Set up a key command to mimic alt-ctrl-delete on Windows:
  5. Make hidden files visible
    Type the following in the command line and then restart the Finder (you can restart the finder by holding down the Option key, then clicking and holding  the Finder icon in the Dock. When the contextual menu appears, select Relaunch and the Finder will restart).
    defaults write AppleShowAllFiles YES


I like my new MacBook.  It’s light, the battery lasts, and it’s pretty stable.  It’s not perfect. For instance, the brightness buttons don’t always work. But all-in-all, I’m happy to be relearning the Mac.  And I like that I have a real command shell built-in.

What apps have you installed and what settings have you changed to make your Mac feel more like home? Leave a comment and let me know!


2 Responses to New Mac Set Up (by a Windows User)

  1. Dirk says:

    The first thing that I did, was moving the Dock to the side of the screen. Most Macs have a wide screen. Why is the Dock on the bottom of the screen? Just to waste more space?

    I tried using gEdit ( on Mac, because I used to work with it on Linux. It is quite powerful and light weighted, but the work is not as productive on Mac as on Linux 🙁

    • Marc says:

      Yeah, that’s why I hide the dock. I hardly use it anyway, that’s what the keyboard is for! 🙂

      I think Emacs is the ultimate editor. I realize there may be better editors for specific tasks, but if you want an editor that do everything you need with a standard interface, Emacs is your tool.