iThings Considered

Prep Your Mac for OS X

Jake Sargent - 2001.03.09

March 24th marks what may be the biggest turning point for the Mac operating system since its introduction in 1984. If you haven't already installed the OS X Public Beta on your system, the transition may not be pretty. That's where this article comes into play. Follow these easy steps and you'll be playing with OS X, and enjoying the familiarities of previous versions in no time at all.

Step 01. Research, research, research

March 24th is still two weeks away, so you still have time to load up on all of the Mac OS X-related info that you can find. If you're a hard-core Mac junkie, you've probably been tracking every X-detail released since January of last year, so you can skip this step. If you're a bit hesitant about your OS X knowledge, there are a few basic things that you need to know, and some good starting points to find this information.

There are a number of Slashdot-style sites that offer information about Mac OS X in specific areas. It may be helpful to visit some of these to find out more about OS X, learn some hints and tricks before you upgrade, and become more familiar with the operating system. My suggestions are Mac OS X Apps, Mac OS X Hints, and OS X Talk.

Before upgrading to Mac OS X, it is extremely important that you are familiar with the programs that are currently available for it. Apple says that the majority of OS X compatible software will hit store shelves this summer, but remember that many important developers, like Adobe, haven't even committed to the next-generation operating system. Check out Apple's Mac OS X page for a list of applications that are currently compatible. If you think you can do the majority of what you need to do with these applications, than you're set to move on.

Step 02. Set up a new hard drive (or partition an existing one)

If you've installed OS X on your Mac and don't like it, it's not the point of no return. Sure, you can easily take a step back to Mac OS 9, but you're hard drive will get really messy - and it won't be a fun clean up. That's why it is smart to invest in an external hard drive, if you don't already have one. An extra hard drive can be useful for a number of purposes, mainly for installing a different operating system, using as back up, or taking advantage of the additional space. Install OS  X on the external hard drive, and keep OS 9 on your current one. This way, you can switch to different versions of the Mac OS for different purposes.

Step 03. Enhancements

One thing people love about the Mac operating system is its tolerance for customization. Mac OS X will not change this. Even though the final version of OS X has not been released, there are a number of sites which are devoted to providing Mac OS X icons and other system enhancements. The most popular resource is X Icons. This site does what its name suggests very well, and as part of the MacNN network, you know you can expect premium quality. Icon Factory is also making an effort to stay ahead of the gang by developing and clearly labeling Mac OS X icons. They have been well known for original and good-looking graphics, and they don't show any signs of changing when transitioning to OS X.

Step 04. Stay Connected

So you've got Mac OS X installed and think you're off the hook, right? Wrong. Since you have the honor of installing such a fabulous piece of software on your system, it's your job to maintain it. Subscribe to one of Apple's mailing lists or frequently check out the Mac OS X web site so you can see if Apple has introduced any free upgrades, which there are sure to be many of. Keep your software carbonated and up-to-date by visiting Version Tracker's Mac OS X page, and keep up with the latest Mac OS X news by visiting X Appeal and MacNN's OS X page. Also, it may be helpful to revisit some pages suggested in Step 1 of this article.

Now you've prepped your Mac to take full advantage of Mac OS X, and keep your operating system in good health.

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