First time for everything: Macs

I was out running errands and stumbled onto an Apple Store.

Oh dear.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. TNCath says:

    You won’t regret buying one, Father Z. [WHOA there, Trigger! No where near that decision yet!]

  2. ljc says:

    Don’t go to the dark side Father!

  3. I don’t know enough about Macs to know what is wrong with that picture. Can someone explain?

  4. ghlad says:


  5. Denis Crnkovic says:

    I use Macs at work, PCs at home. Last summer I took the Mac “air” overseas. It was the perfect machine to schlep around the Bodleian, not least because it is light and small. It also has the advantage of being the most incongruous thing you can imagine carrying into a 16th century reading-room and plugging into the wall of a sixteenth-century reading desk, next to the chained up books. You have to give it to Mac for coming up with a great electronic vade mecum.

  6. medievalist says:

    Hmmm…if priests replaced the “I’m a Mac: I’m a PC” guys on the ads I’m thinking rainbow stole/jeans for the former and saturno/cassock for the latter.

  7. Tominellay says:

    I’m about to take that step, too…moving to Europe soon, have a feeling Mac might be a better option overall.

  8. Fr. D says:

    Search your feelings Fr. Z. You know it to be true.

  9. Roland de Chanson says:

    Deus avertat! Vade retro, Satana! Deus meus, firmiter propono, adiuvante gratia Tua, de cetero me non peccaturum peccandique occasiones proximas fugiturum.

  10. m.w.scott says:

    Once you go Mac, you never go back. You have to do it Father. The only thing more important the switching from a PC to a Mac would be switching from Protestantism to Catholicism!

  11. I’m not a fan of Apple in any respect, but you can run Windows on a Mac – and well at that. The latest version of Boot Camp even supports Windows 7.

  12. r.j.sciurus says:

    Perhaps you should enroll in R.M.I.A. first and discern. Or is going to the store sort of like the Rite of Election? That brings us to the scrutinies… 1st – Intuitive easy of use. 2nd – Applications 3rd – Compatibility. This is an important step and as noted above, once you go Mac, you never go back……

  13. DarkKnight says:

    But wasn’t it an Apple that started the whole Original Sin “thing” as the parish shrink calls it?

  14. Umberto Eco wrote in 1994:

    The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach — if not the kingdom of Heaven — the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: The essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.

    DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can achieve salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: Far away from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.

    (Full link here)

  15. Marius2k4 says:

    No no no… Those things are evil. Their entire company runs on the premise that they can get a large number of lemmings to adopt their contrived worldview. A computer is not a statement, nor a reflection of one’s place in the universe. It is, in fact, a computer. Were it not for the marketing, I cannot fathom why anyone would choose them nowadays, as they no longer offer any sort of video/audio editing benefit, as they used to.

    Don’t join the cult!

    -JP, Software Developer, Houston, TX

  16. Marius2k4 says:

    Have I mentioned that their parts cost 4-5 times as much as normal PC parts? Seriously, go to and look at what a GB or two of DDR2 will cost you, and then price it with Mac. You’ll feel violated.

  17. I wonder which is more “traditional”. Hmmm….

  18. curtjester says:

    Welcome to the Dark Side.

    I use to be a Mac bigot and would say exactly the same things that are in the comment box here.

    As a Mac Switcher for the last 2 and a half years and a PC User since 1985 I am so glad I made the switch. The hardware is great and actually lasts – but what I really like is the development community for Mac that really makes some great software where the interface really matters. There is a beauty lacking in so many Windows apps – and I say this as a full time Windows developer.

    After switching the only time I run windows now (In a Virtual Machine) is to do work with Visual Studio. Otherwise there is no Windows program I can’t do without or that doesn’t have a better implementation in OSX.

    As for the hardware prices – My MacBook Pro still looks brand new and my Dell laptop at work looks like crap and the MBP is older. Mac users hold onto their machines much longer than most PC users since the machine is still usable years later. OSX gets faster with each release – can’t say that for Windows except partly with Windows 7 (faster than Vista, but slower than XP).

  19. Steve K. says:

    Yeah, the parts are more expensive. I have had my iMac for over 5 years and never once had a reason to buy parts for it. It just worked and worked and worked and still works over that time (though at long last I am soon to replace it with a new one, a 27″ model, can’t wait). Mac TCO < Windows TCO.

  20. James Locke says:

    ehhh macs are for those people who do nto know an never want to know about using a comupter.

  21. Steve K. says:

    That old canard.

    James Locke, I am a communications engineer and am now the PM for a military computer network. I know a few things about computers. In addition to myself, most of my senior engineers are all Mac users. Some of those guys have been using computers since before there was a Microsoft or Apple.

  22. After 20 years, I made the switch back to Macs last year. I have dual boot Windows/OSX on both and no regrets.

  23. patrick_f says:

    Once you journey down the dark side, forever will it dominate your destiny

    In FAIRNESS though… and I am a deligent PC person…I actually think a Mac is a better tool for you Father. Simply because they are more geared towards media.

    Also.. with the addition of Parralels or VMWARE fusion (or even WINE (not the drink)) you can run about 99 percent of windows programs.

    Yes I can totally see a mac benefiting you with Podcasts and such, a little webdesign here and there. Maybe in the future we can see Z videos… Sorta like the Papist and John Michael Talbot do :)

    you could call it “Z TV” , has a very nice sound to it.

  24. Will D. says:

    Oy, vey, not again! It’s a computer, a tool, not a blasted lifestyle choice.

  25. Doc Angelicus says:

    I have been using a Mac since the late 80s and MS-DOS machines since before that. There are two issues: The machine itself, and the operating system. I think the hardware is pretty good all around. I have a new iMac at home and a Dell at work. My kids have an HP laptop, and my college-bound daughter just bought a Compaq (by HP) laptop, good price too, cheaper than a Mac.

    My one concern about the Compaq is whether it will last her 4 years there without becoming obsolete. I let her buy it for two reasons: It was her own money, and the HP laptop seems pretty solid even after several years and 5 kids using it. My previous Mac was a Macbook we bought in 2003, which the new iMac replaces.

    With respect to operating system, there is no comparison. Seriously, I repeat that I have used both Mac and MS platforms, from the advent of Multifinder on the classic old Mac and from before Windows was a reflection of the Mac desktop in Bill Gate’s eyeglasses, until now. Windows has always been be a cheap imitation of the Mac OS, and is always playing catch-up.

    I work both kinds of machines, and they are machines. But for the Dell, one has to think like a machine. The Mac, truly, and I say this with experience, one can think like a human. I mean it seriously. Windows lets you think like human if you think like Bill Gates, and only after you learn to think like it.

    I also use a very machine-like database program at work. Too bad they didn’t make it like iTunes. I mean, Apple said, Hey when I was a kid I would take my vinyl records and organize them this way or that, and put the songs I liked on tape in the order I wanted them. I had whole collections of my own music. Can we do that same kind of process, which people do now, but with the computer? The result: iTunes. Now, the database program is designed not as a reflection of what people really do with data — it’s not a computerized version of someone’s filing cabinet and cross-referencing systems, it’s a machine-minded behemoth that sucks away my humanity every time I use it. It IS very powerful, it’s very popular in my business, and I’ve learned to use it with great success. I learned to think like IT, and am a bit of an expert at it now, at least in what I do with it. I still think it stinks and I resent having to think like it rather than having it facilitate the way I think naturally.

    So, yeah, actually, it IS a lifestyle choice.

    I often find myself cursing Bill Gates and praying for his soul. While I have no misconceptions about the piety of Apple and it’s administrators (someone referenced Adam and Eve, and I’ve long suspected that logo with the bitten apple), but the fact is, the Mac OS is and will remain lightyears ahead of Windows.

  26. ipadre says:

    When you visit, you’ll be baptized in Macs. That’s all I have in this rectory. There are at lease seven Macs, iPhones and iPods, 2 Airport Extremes, 3 Airport Express, 2 – 30″ Apple Displays and I know I’m probably forgetting something!

  27. peregrinPF says:

    Been strictly Mac at home for about 4 years now since I virus trashed a PC (I did keep the virus signatures up to date). I am iMac, iPhone, & iPod. May be going MacBook Pro later this year. One thing I am not interested in is the iPad.

  28. Bressani56 says:

    If you buy a Mac, you will never, ever go back to Windows. I’ve used both for years and years. Mac is 50 times better.

  29. I have been a Mac fan for a long time, and have been using them almost exclusively for the past 7 years. I’d never want to go back to Windows. What people say about them are true.

    Regarding Catholicity, UNIX and its variants are definitely more Catholic – or at least certainly Orthodox. Windows is Protestant at best, and is largely heretical. I would never recommend a UNIX system to someone who is not extremely docile to its methods, or is not committed to learning how to use the system, for it is rather Byzantine.

    Mac however, at its core, is also UNIX-based, so it is like a superbly celebrated Novus Ordo liturgy – although the Latin, Greek, and difficult but precise theology is still in the background.

  30. Oh, first be sure that your applications work on them.

    Today I boxed up a buddy’s new Mac for return to the store, because his one and only important application doesn’t work well on a Mac.

  31. Mike Morrow says:

    I learned computer hardware and software design nearly 40 years ago before there were personal computers of any sort (DEC PDP-8 doesn’t count…one needed $20,000 in 1970 in hardware/software to make those do anything useful). I’ve tracked personal computer technology from its earliest days, long before there was a PC or an Apple-anything.

    Here is my summary from four decades of observation and participation in the personal computing arena. Predominently, and admittedly as a generality:

    Scientists and engineers (i.e., human society’s highest mental output) use PCs. Liberal artsy, educator, journalist, lawyer, manager, politician, and sports-phys-ed types (i.e., human society’s lowest mental output) use Macs.

  32. Doc Angelicus says:

    Scientists and engineers represent society’s highest mental output? You must be joking. If true: a) society is in deep doo-doo considering the output coming from scientists and engineers these days; and b) there are still a lot of liberal dimwits using PCs (many of them scientists and engineers).

  33. Steve K. says:

    That must be the most unchristian thing I’ve read here, ever, Mike Morrow, besides being utterly ridiculous.

  34. Hans says:

    Scientists and engineers … use PCs.

    As a working physicist, I can tell you that the foregoing is nonsense. The budget people like PCs because they have lower front-end costs, and they really don’t care what happens to you after that. Those in my department (which is part of a Research I university) who don’t have to satisfy the budget wonks and can buy equipment based on their needs and on quality all have Macs. Others (the less-well funded) have frequently bought Macs out of pocket.

  35. Hans says:

    And my first programming job (that is, I got paid for it) was on a DEC LSI 11 in ’83.

    The Mac Quadra 800 I wrote my thesis on is retired to and still being used, last I heard, at what is now called the ASC Ruma Center, where a number of my grandfather’s cousins are also ‘retired’.

  36. moon1234 says:

    Let’s take a look at OS longevity shall we? Windows XP was released in 2002. It has gone thru THREE service packs, all of which have added new features/value to the OS. It is still the most widely used OS in the WORLD and is used on over 65% of the worlds computers. EVERY service pack has been FREE.

    8 years Apple released OS X in 2002 as well. Over the years Apple has charged for nearly EVERY update to it’s OS. IN OS upgrade costs alone Windows XP comes out the winner here.

    For as much as peopel here bash PCs and Windows, it just works for the vast majority of the worlds computer users.

    The current crop of Macs have their worshipers, just like they did 10 and 15 years ago. For most of the world, the PC is cheaper and does what business needs it to do. It is reliable and found virtually everywhere for a reasonable price. The MAC is expensive, has very low market share and continues to be a fashion/personal statement more than a sound business choice.

    If Apple really wanted their OS to make a splash in the market, they would sell it to any hardware manufacturer who wanted to buy it. They don’t do that because it is MORE work to support all of the hardware out there. With a PC you can plug in virtually any piece of hardware made over the last 20 years and use it. That can not be said for the MAC.

    The choice of a PC vs a Mac for an individual is a personal one. It does not necessarily have to make financial sense. We purchase what we feel we will like. For some, they don’t mind paying more for a Mac because it is a personal choice. For the rest of the world, it just has to make business sense and that, at least for now, means Windows will rule the world’s computers.

  37. markomalley says:

    Despite the iPhone, I always pictured Father Z as being more of a Linux type of guy.

    After all, Linux is far more supportive of the principles of the Common Good, Subsidiarity, Solidarity and Participation than either Windows or Mac.

    Didn’t Leo XIII explicitly condemn Macs in his encyclical letter, Quod Apostolici Muneris? As far as I am concerned, the denunciation of centralization given in Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno, paragraph 79, was a direct shot across the bow against Steve Jobs’ hegemony over his users.

    (/facetiousness off)

  38. Anthony OPL says:

    Hi Father,

    I bought my first Mac when I started medical school six years ago, because I was far from home and tired of having to fix Windows machines all the time (especially laptops). Back then, Macs couldn’t run Windows so every now and then I’d have to grumble my way to the shared machines in the (residential) college library. Perhaps once or twice a semester.

    In the past six years I have bought two Macs, and paid for two incremental upgrades (from Tiger to Leopard, then Snow Leopard). In six years a typical PC laptop user will go through three machines and spend the same amount of money on Windows (since the Windows per-unit price is double that of any Mac OS X release). That already puts both systems about even for cost, without mentioning the considerable amount of time spent on Windows maintenance. As soon as I put a dollar value to my hours spent updating virus definitions, running scans, defragmenting, formatting and restoring… you get the idea. The Mac either does it automagically, or doesn’t need to at all (re vira).

    Anyway, that’s just my experience. Unlike when I first switched, nowadays I am never in need of a Windows only programme. I think a few still exist, but only for markets and industries where an individual company has a stranglehold on its clients.

  39. jfk03 says:

    Father, I am a mac convert. No viruses, no frozen applications, little or no maintenance, easier to use, better for photography and graphic arts, generally more intuitive. The only downside is that a mac won’t run my favorite word processing program, Word Perfect, unless you run windows on it.

  40. Tina in Ashburn says:

    I have both a Mac desktop and a PC. The Mac is best for running Apple software and devices, and of course offers the safest and fastest net browsing. Its good for photos and artsy stuff like that. But today’s Mac is NOTHING like the Mac I had in the mid-90s. I loved that thing, but today’s Mac is a weak copy of what once was.

    As a corporate office tool the Mac is lousy. There is nothing more powerful and versatile as Outlook and the various Office programs.

    The reason the Mac is so fast and clean is because there is a ton of stuff it just doesn’t do.

  41. Anthony OPL says:

    Like vira, trojans, endless “cancel or allow” popups…

    Tons of stuff! =D

  42. Mary T says:

    Tina, I use ALL the office programs on my Mac and though it is one of the new intel-based Macs, do NOT use them through Windows. The Mac versions are perfectly compatible with the Windows version.

    I used PCs for 20 years and for 18 of those years I was proud of my ability to fix ANY disaster – and they come fast and furious with pcs. I was good – of the 15 or so times that tech support said that one of our computers had to have the OS wiped clean, I was able to fix 11. The other 4 times we had to reload the OS.

    Two of my PCs had to have EIGHT new motherboards between them (under warranty) and FIVE new video cards. I would be on the phone with tech support for hours. It never ended: power problems, virus problems, video problems, unknown problems, programs corrupting, files corrupting. The final straw came when my daughter’s computer began acting up during final projects for her architecture degree.

    Now everyone in the family including me has a Mac and we have had NO – yes, ZERO, NO, NONE, NADA – problems on 3 computers in as many years.

    Remember the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where after doing in a bunch of bad guys through amazing acrobatics, etc, the guy dressed all in black comes out in the desert with whips, and Indy just shoots him?

    That’s me. I just got tired of doing Microsoft’s work for them – no more gymnastics. Just shoot ’em dead. All these years and they STILL haven’t come close to Macs.

    I’m never going back.

  43. Rob F. says:

    It’s hard to find a more traditional operating system than Unix that is still being used today. Unix was the operating system on which the internet was born.

    That said, Macs were not always Unix boxes. In that they are more like recent converts who sometimes seem even “more Unix than the Unices”. I am a middle aged programmer who was turned into a Unix snob back in the 80’s. In those days, I refused to own a PC or a Mac, since they were not Unix, although I did type my Ph.D. thesis (Nuclear Physics) on an old university-owned Mac. I bought a PC with relish when Linux became advanced enough to run X-servers on standard hardware. But when OS X brought Unix to the Mac, I switched and have not really looked back.

    As far as I know, Macs are still the only machines that run both Unix and MS Office without a whole lot of geekery.

  44. bookworm says:

    I use Macs simply because they are far less susceptible to viruses, and don’t need constant “defragging” or the other maintenance tasks that PCs require.

  45. Craig says:

    My careers have been music production > Information Technology > Web Development (current).

    My computers were > Mac Classic > Windows 3.11 > Windows 95 > Windows 98 > Windows NT > Windows XP > Windows Vista > Then 8 months ago I made the leap to a Macbook Pro laptop. Haven’t enjoyed computing this much since the Mac Classic days about 15 years ago (although Vista was kinda neat for awhile).

    Have not regretted the additional expense, and like my papa always said “You get what you pay for”.

  46. Another reason to go Mac: Accordance bible software. Some prefer Bibleworks (designed for PC), but I switched Accordance when I went Mac and just love it. There’s also the Catholic Collection for Accordance, an additional package which includes the Catechism (Latin and English), the Code of Canon Law (L and E), the Council of Trent, Vatican I, Vatican II (the documents, not the “spirit” thereof), as well as the Clementine Vulgate and the Nova Vulgata. I’ve found it a wonderful resource.

  47. The Kernel says:

    I’m a Mac user myself, and though it does have limitations compatibility-wise, i still love it. However, I also recognise its rampant use as a status symbol in universities:

  48. pfhawkins says:

    I cannot say too much on the merits of either operating system, or on Apple hardware, as I run Linux on all of my computers. However, I am glad that I don’t pay any money over to Microsoft, as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is well-known for distributing condoms to Africa.

  49. I was pretty impressed by the design of the desktop… the economy of space, etc.

    And the price! I thought they were going to be far more expensive.

  50. Anthony OPL says:

    Oh yes, they have been very competitively priced for several years now Father. It’s an even simpler comparison because they can run Windows natively (with Boot Camp) or concurrently with Mac OS (using Parallels or Fusion).

  51. kolbe1019 says:

    Wow! Go Father! What size imac are you looking at? I recently bought the 3.06ghz 21″ imac with 500Gb Ata Hardrive with 8gb ram. It looks beautiful and works great! No clutter on my desktop! If you get a mac get the program “iWork 09”. It is a must! I make stunning documents and cinema quality presentations that have viewers drooling. I carry with me an old macbook to present from. God bless you and God love you!

  52. Doc Angelicus says:

    As far as cross-platform compatibility goes, I have found the problem to be mostly on the PC side… I would originate a Word document on a Windows machine at work, with substantial formatting and illustrations (using Word’s drawing features). I’d take it home one a memory stick, open in Word on my Mac at home, and everything would be fine, except maybe some page breaks. I’d work on it, save it, and bring it back to work to work on some more, and lots of things would be messed up when I opened in it in Windows — bullets ceased being dots and became sigmas, positions of text boxes and such would be altered — meaning, that Word in Windows doesn’t “understand” what Word in Mac does as well as Word in Mac understands what Word in Windows does. I haven’t tried it lately, but that had been my experience in the past.

    As far as OS upgrades go…. I had a Macbook running OS10.2.x. I was able to upgrade to 10.3.9 for free after 10.4 came out, and that got me through a lot until 10.5 came out. Then things like my older web browsers began not to support the new bells and whistles on the websites while the new versions that did weren’t compatible with the older OS anymore (OS10.4 or higher). The machine itself being 7 years old needed more umph in the operating speed and memory departments to handle the current OS and websites. The Macbook screen was also failing, and though still serviceable it was quite annoying. So we got the new iMac.

    One might get free service packs for Windows XP, but you had to pay if you wanted to go to Vista and then again to Windows 7. I am actually happy (and a bit surprised) that XP still works.

    Oh, and there is the question of aesthetics. Again, Mac is always the copied, never the copier. A tool can and ought to be beautiful as well as functional. A desk is more than a flat slab on legs, where something ugly but sturdy is just as nice as one that’s beautiful. Forks, knives, drinking glasses, dinner plates, cars — most of the stuff we use every day — is better if it’s beautiful in such a way that the aesthetic aspects have nothing to do with its function. If that’s not true, why can you choose a picture for your desktop (an innovation introduced by Mac by the way … Windows started out universally and unalterably blue but Mac always let people change things, even if it were only a pattern).

  53. MAJ Tony says:

    The whole reason I decided to buy my MacBook Pro was based on a discussion I had with our brigade network admin. He owns an MBP that he runs OS X, and on virtual machines, runs XP and 2 different versions of Linux, all simultaneously, with no noticeable degradation in performance. I personally have not taken the time to get my Fusion to work right, but it can be problematic with some machines. OS X is very stable (only gets shut down when I restart to install new software), or am gone more than a day, and produces much less heat than Vista on Bootcamp.

  54. markomalley says:

    One other nice thing about owning a MAC (I know this comment is a bit late, but…)

    You can help pay Al Gore a nice salary as a member of Apple’s board of directors.

    Seems like a worthwhile cause to me (/sarc)

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