11 common myths that keep people from switching to Macs

Although Apple’s Mac computers are selling in record numbers, there is still a ton of misinformation being spread about them. You have to believe Mac sales would skyrocket even more if the average person figured out those myths aren’t so true after all.

As Mac users, it’s frustrating to listen to mistruths and unfair prejudices about our computers of choice. Unfortunately, attempting to set the record straight only gives people more reason to call us crazy. At some point we’ve all fought the myths and been accused of being blind cultish followers of Steve Jobs, right? No matter how much we try to debunk outdated anti-Mac talking points, some just never go away.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “Oh, Macs are nice but I could never get one.” Naturally, when I’ve asked why that is, the same set of excuses come up. The realization I’ve come to over time is that the general public is simply uneducated about the benefits and limitations of Apple’s computers. They develop assumptions based on what they’ve heard in casual conversation from friends & family, mainstream publications, and the super-geek down the street who builds his own gaming rigs. Gathering information from a variety of sources is good, but figuring out who is uninformed or biased is just as important.

Before we get into debunking the common myths surrounding Macs, let me just clarify this article is targeted to the Average Joe who buys a Windows computer for home, school, and casual business use from Dell, HP, or Acer every 3-7 years. Technology enthusiasts and folks who like to tinker with their machines – especially Linux users – are never going to find the plug-and-play nature of Macs appealing. For just about everyone else, though, Macs are a viable and attractive option for their next computer.

Myth #1: Macs aren’t compatible with Microsoft Office

People who work from home or have kids in school need Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It’s a sad truth, but still a truth nonetheless. Another truth is that Macs can indeed run these programs. Microsoft makes a Mac version of Office that is fully compatible with its Windows counterpart. It doesn’t matter what kind of computer they’re created on, Office files will open on both Macs and Windows-based PCs.

Myth #2: There isn’t a lot of software for Macs

When I first switched to a Mac I was amazed at how much software was available for it. First, all Macs come pre-loaded with way more quality applications than any Windows computer. Programs like Mail, Address Book, iCal, Safari, iChat, iTunes, QuickTime, Preview, TextEdit, Time Machine, the entire iLife suite, and many more are usable right out of the box. The amount of software available from third party developers isn’t lacking either. A good portion of it is actually free, and most of the paid ones are reasonably priced. Bottom line: If a consumer application exists for Windows, there is either a Mac version or a comparable Mac alternative.

Myth #3: Macs won’t play nice with my network & other Windows PCs

Not only are Macs compatible with nearly any type of network out there, it’s extremely easy to connect them too. The internet will work just fine, as will file sharing between the Mac and Windows computers. That’s right, the Mac can see shared files on a Windows machine and a Windows machine can see shared files on a Mac. What else is there to say?

Myth #4: Macs are more expensive because you’re just paying for the brand name

The high starting price of Apple’s computers scares the pants off the average consumer who sees an eMachine at Walmart for $399. Heck, even the $699 Compaq at Best Buy seems like nothing compared to the $999 entry level MacBook or $1199 MacBook Pro. The problem with merely comparing sticker prices, though, is that the true value of each machine is not considered. In other words, you get what you pay for. Macs are built out of more durable materials, they’re more energy efficient, they tend to have higher quality components, and the software is far and away better than what Windows offers. Mac OS X is the reason to buy a Mac. The hardware is great too, but it’s the software that offers the real value. Lower long-term maintenance costs don’t hurt either. For more information about Mac pricing and why the “Apple tax” doesn’t exist, check out “Are Macs really worth it? Selling points for choosing Mac vs. PC

Myth #5: Macs are only more secure because they don’t have any market share

Zero viruses (that is, self-replicating and spreading viruses) have affected Mac OS X in the wild since its introduction a decade ago. This is hard for naysayers to grasp, but it is a fact – not a single virus. Windows, on the other hand, has been hit with hundreds of thousands of viruses. Many believe this is because Mac OS X doesn’t run on 90% of the world’s computers like Windows. If that is the case, how do viruses exist for versions of Linux which have even smaller market share than Macs? How were viruses introduced specifically for Windows 7 when it was still in limited beta testing? Nobody can claim Macs are 100% immune to all security threats, but “security via obscurity” is – for lack of a better term – hogwash. The Mac operating system was built on a more stable and reliable core, which gave it more security from the start. In the end, less popular platforms have been compromised in the past while Mac OS X is still virus-free.

Myth #6: Macs are just for graphics and animation professionals

It’s true that graphic designers and other creative people prefer to use Macs, but it’s not because Macs have some magical ability that makes it possible to do that kind of work. After all, Adobe’s Creative Suite is available for Windows too. The reason designers like Macs so much is because they “make sense.” They’re quality machines and Mac OS X is organized in a way that makes it easy and even pleasurable to use. In that kind of environment, users can fully immerse themselves in the work to be done rather than worry about the computer itself. When you think about it, that’s something everybody should want.

Myth #7: Macs don’t right-click because they only have one mouse button

Back in the day, the one-button mouse was indeed a limitation of Macs. Today, however, this is no longer true. Both the Mighty Mouse and the brand new Magic Mouse have touch-sensitive shells that can be configured to click on the left and right sides, among other things. The same thing can be done for Apple’s MacBook trackpads. This approach actually gives users a level of customization that traditional two-button mice cannot offer.

Myth #8: Macs aren’t expandable or upgradable

When you buy a laptop from Dell or HP, just about the only things you can upgrade are the RAM and hard drive. The same components can be upgraded on Apple’s line of MacBooks and iMacs as well. And, no, you do not have to buy special Apple memory or drives – standard brands will work. In most cases, this is as far as the average user would go anyway. People talk a lot about upgradability, but when 3-5 years pass it’s usually a better idea to go for a whole new computer rather than pump a lot of money into an older one. The great thing about Macs is they have excellent resell value to help pay for the new one.

Myth #9: Macs can’t run Windows applications

As long as you have a legal copy of Windows (which can be taken from the PC that your Mac replaced), you can run any Windows program on your Mac. You can use Mac OS X’s free Boot Camp to natively run Windows or use a virtualization program like Parallels ($79), Fusion ($79), or Virtualbox (free) to run Windows within OS X. Consider this: Apple’s computers can run both Mac and Windows software flawlessly, while other PCs are limited to only run Windows software.

Myth #10: A lot of websites don’t work on a Mac

A few years ago, it was common to come across websites that only worked in Internet Explorer. Of course, this was before Firefox, Safari, and other browsers took away significant market share from Microsoft’s offering. As a result, this isn’t much of an issue anymore – either Safari or Firefox will get the job done. If not, Internet Explorer is still available when you run Windows on your Mac.

Myth #11: Macs are different and will be hard to learn

The beauty of Mac OS X is that it’s so much easier to learn and understand than Windows. The main reason is because it’s more intuitive. For people who have never used a computer before, it works just the way they would expect it to. For Windows switchers, it’s going to seem weird at first. It will require unlearning old Windows habits. Constantly saying “That’s not how I’m used to doing this…” is going to sour the exciting Mac experience. The best advice to give anybody who is thinking about switching to a Mac is simply “have an open mind.” In the end, it will all work out.

What are some of the other Mac myths you’ve heard over the years? How do you tell people the truth about Macs to clear up the confusion?  Leave a comment.

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