Me and my Mac- What does it take to get out of the box?

This is Part 4 of my series on my transition from a Windows environment to a Mac. This week I talk about functionality out of the box.

Here are the first three installments in the series:

I spent a number of years in System Support before I moved into Project Management. In the old days, when a new system was delivered, we formatted it to bare metal and applied an image. Then we loaded anything that was specific to the user. On the home front, people bought PCs, often based on the "bundled" software. Obviously this was a different model than we see today.

Over time, PC manufacturers quit bundling software and began pre-loading all consumer PCs with OEM software. While that software included the OS, it also included an increasing amount of trialware that ran the gamut from Norton AV (30-day trial that would have to be followed by a yearly subscription) to Microsoft Office. We got good at using the recycle bin.

At Christmas 2006, the Significant One and I were looking at the coming of Vista and decided that we weren't ready to make the change. We made sure that his computer had what it needed. This was an easy task because his was only six months old. We replaced my keyless Dell, and we got together with siblings to buy a new laptop for his Mom. We felt reasonably confident that no one would have to make any new computer decisions for at least a year. And I set out to clean the various machines.

The OEM software that magically restores the crapware when you have to reload the system can be a time consumer. I don't like to leave it on the computer if I know that it does not add value to the end user. So I clean it all out. Games, Norton, even the Office trial are consigned to the byte bin. If I can't find a good reason to keep it, I chuck it out. Then I install my favorite registry cleaner and do a full clean-up. From there, a good anti virus solution, a software firewall, load printers and whatever software the user requires. The process can take anywhere from a couple of hours to the whole day.

When I brought home the Mac, I wasn't sure how long it would take to get the machine Internet ready. So I had my keyless Dell online and ready to run Google searches for information or software. I charged the battery on the Mac until it was full, took a deep breath, and turned her on for the first time. And then went on the hunt for crapware. I figured that there had to be just as much on the Mac as there is in the Windows OEM environment.

After much searching, I finally found something that I didn't want to investigate further. There was a trial for Office 2004. I sent it to the byte bin as I have a full install of the Office suite for Mac and didn't need a trial. I probably spent a good hour investigating every folder I could find to no avail. While there are a couple of trials included with the install, I wanted to look at both of them to see if they would add something to my life or not.

Beyond three trials, there were a number of tools sitting in the dock as well as a folder of Utilities that I find myself using quite a lot.

Native to the OS, you will find the Dashboard, a Mail client, a web browser called Safari, a Chat tool, an Address book, a shortcut to iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, a tool called Garage Band, iWeb, iCal, Quick Time Player, Photo Booth, and after the Leopard upgrade, Time Machine.

Once I got over prefacing everything with an "I," the first thing I noticed was that I would use all of it except iTunes. Christmas and a new Touch changed that thinking.

iPhoto is a digital photo gallery that will allow you to create photo albums and Smart albums from your digital pictures. Handy for when it's time to upload the online photo album from this year's 3-Day. And it allows me to tag photos to use in multiple albums. IMovie does something similar but with video. iDVD is, you guessed it, a DVD burner.

Garage Band is a way to create podcasts from your Mac. I can see where I will get a lot of use from this tool, especially as fund-raising season gets underway. I can post verbal messages to my team, record fund-raising letters, and more. What a fun tool!

iWeb is a web publishing tool that works with your own web server or with subscription based .mac. It includes plenty of templates so you really don't need to know html in order to create a beautiful page. And finally Photo Booth allows you to "take a picture" using the built in iSight camera. I previewed that feature but realized that the last thing I should be using, especially after I've been ironing, is a camera!

It was a real pleasure to turn on a machine for the first time and not have to resign myself to hours of cleaning. Even better, the tools that are included to enhance my productivity do exactly that. I have use for them all.

I still support Windows-based computers. Significant One and his Mom are still on XP and will likely continue to love their OS. So I will continue to support them for the foreseeable future. But I will continue to love my Mac too.

I'd love to hear what you're interested in learning about the Mac. I must admit, I am having a great time just chatting but would like to think that there is something about the platform that we can all learn together.