How To Turn Your Mac Into a Geek Control Center

Geek!This is Billy Doyle’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

So you’re a geek. And you just got a Mac. Now what? I’m in that position too, and I’m going to share a few things I’ve been doing to turn my Mac into the prefect geek control center.

Use the apps it came with!

Your Mac came with a bunch of great apps like the iLife suite, iChat, Spaces, etc. So use them! For example: Even if you don’t use iChat as an instant messenger, it has lots of other uses too! Paired with notify.me, it can become a news ticker that can keep you up-to-minute on happenings on any site with an RSS feed! Or, use it with the ping.fm bot on Google Talk to update your status with two clicks!

iPhoto is another great one. Not only does it store and organize all your beautiful pictures, but you can use plugins to do all kinds of cool things. Download the Pixelpipe plugin, for example, and create an account if you don’t already have one. Then you can instantly push your photos up to all your photo sharing accounts!

Run Windows!

OK, now you’re thinking: Why would I want to run Windows on the computer I bought to stop running windows??? Well, I have a reason: Not everything runs on the Mac. Gasp! How could that be? Well, it’s true. And no geek would want to have to be in the position of not being able to run that killer app you just can’t possibly live without, right?

Now, here’s the disclaimer: This one’s optional. If you don’t have a copy of Windows lying around, it isn’t mandatory that you run out and get one right this second. But if you do, this is something to consider.

So, if you’ve decided that this might be a good idea, you’ve got two options: Boot Camp or a virtual machine. Both of these have advantages and disadvantages. Boot Camp allows you to run Windows in a partition by itself. This gives you the full power of the Mac’s hardware, but you have to reboot to switch operating systems. A virtual machine allows you to run Windows “in a box”, as a program inside of OS X. This has the advantage of letting you switch between systems instantaneously, but it also can slow down your Mac depending on how much of its resources you grant the VM.

If you go with a VM, or virtual machine, you have a few choices. The two big names in virtualization for the Mac are Parallels and VMware Fusion. They both retail for $80. If you don’t want to pay for your WM software and don’t mind a bit of a steeper learning curve, try VirtualBox. It’s from Sun, and it’s what I use right now. I wont go into depth on Boot Camp here, it has a simple setup wizard. Just click the Spotlight search icon on the menu bar, type “boot camp” and hit enter.

Accessorize!

Your Mac comes with everything you need to get started. Key phrase: get started. Sure, you could probably live without cool things to plug into your Mac, but why take the chance? Here are a few gadgets I recommend to enhance your Mac experience:

  • Griffin Simplifi – It’s an iPod dock with a built-in multi-card reader. Who could ask for more?
  • Chumby – Sure, it doesn’t actually plug in to you Mac, but it does provide you with an RSS ticker, weather gadget, screen licking dog, and much more, all packed into a cute little Wi-Fi enabled beanbag!
  • Timecapsule– Here’s one from Apple itself! Back up your machine wirelessly. Available in 500GB and 1TB flavors.
  • Bamboo Tablet – Here’s one for all the artists out there: A drawing tablet! You can always graduate to a normal Wacom tablet if you need a bigger one.

Never stop geekin’ out!

There are lots more tips that I didn’t cover here, and even more that I couldn’t possibly cover, because I don’t know they exist! So, the number one thing you can do to turn your new Mac into the ultimate geek control center is:

Don’t stop looking for more ways to make it awesome!

There are always more things you can do to your Mac to make it perfectly suit your level of geekosity. Add a touchscreen! Set up live log file readouts! The list is endless. So, I provide you with one more link, the ultimate resource for Mac geekiness. Now go, click the link, and begin your geeky Apple-related adventure! This is the link!

6 thoughts on “How To Turn Your Mac Into a Geek Control Center”

  1. great article, and i LOVE the link at the end. I actually laughed out loud! i look forward to more of your stuff.

  2. I agree with everything you said. Moreover, when you will get tired of using the applications that came with your Mac, get new ones ! There’s a lot of FREE apps out there that are absolutely amazing. Take the exemple of Camtwist, which Chris uses for his stream. When I switched to Mac I didn’t know that such applications existed and that were free.

    So that’s my two cents

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