Some simple Mac questions

Started Jun 21, 2013 | Discussions thread
Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 13,558
Re: Some simple Mac questions

MikeFromMesa wrote:

1) Does the Mac need special formatting for external usb drives? Or can it read/write to those drives I have formatted for NTFS?

Out of the box, Mac OS X can read NTFS volumes, but cannot format volumes as NTFS, or write to NTFS volumes.  Out of the box, Windows cannot understand HFS+ (Mac filesystem) volumes at all.

Both can read and write to FAT32 volumes and to exFAT volumes.  Some versions of Windows are not able to format FAT32 volumes larger than 32 GB, although they can use larger volumes created by Mac OS X or by third-party Windows disk utility tools.

There are third-party NTFS drivers (for Mac OS X) and third-party HFS+ drivers (for Windows) that you can get to overcome the native limitations.

2) Can I download Mac versions of software to my PC now, stick them on a flash drive and then copy them to the Mac when it arrives? Or will the software need to be downloaded directly to the Mac? I suppose this is a variant of the first question.

It depends on where the software is being made available.  If you are talking about an application that is only available in the Mac App Store (the way Apple prefers to sell software these days), you will need a Mac for the initial download since the Mac App "storefront" is a Mac application.  For a package like iTunes (available on Apple's Web site), or Lightroom (available on Adobe's Web site), you could download the file to a PC and then transfer it to a Mac.

3) How would I copy stuff from dvds to the Mac since the iMac does not have a dvd reader? Can I create an iso file on the PC and put that on a flash drive? Is there some special software that I would need for the Mac to understand an iso file format from the PC if copied to a flash drive? Or is there some special Mac/Windows app that I would need to use? Or do I just need to copy the dvd contents, as folders and files, to some cloud storage and then download it?

a. Get an external DVD or DVD/BluRay drive.  I believe that the Apple USB SuperDrive (introduced to support the MacBook Air) is widely available (e.g. at Best Buy) and should work on your iMac.

b. Make a machine that has a DVD drive share its drive with the Mac, over your home network.  I forget if Apple advertised this as a Mac-to-Mac thing or if the Mac can also "borrow" use of a PC's DVD drive.

c. Do some workaround with transferring files by USB stick, hard disk, network, etc.

4) Is there any way to connect the PC and the Mac on my home network so that I could transfer files between them?

Yes.  Assuming that you already have broadband Internet service, a router with at least one unused local LAN port, and possibly also WiFi support, there are two ways you can go about it:

a. Wired Ethernet connection from the iMac's Gigabit Ethernet port to a free router LAN port.  This won't buy you faster Internet access speed (your broadband provider is the bottleneck there), but may provide faster file transfers within your home, if you don't mind the wiring.

b. WiFi connection to the WiFi access point / router.

You'll need to do the same sort of network configuration (or auto-configuration) as for a PC.  Then once you have basic connectivity going, you can turn on file sharing service on one or the other.

5) Thunderbolt is supposed to be twice as fast as usb 3.0. Is that a real differnece? Or are they actually so close in practice that I should just stick with usb 3.0? Thunderbolt drives are very expensive.

For single mechanical drives, stick with USB 3.0.  If the drive is the bottleneck, why pay extra for Thunderbolt controllers and for active cables?

Where Thunderbolt is most useful is for adding displays, attaching very-high-speed storage (SSDs, RAIDs), and for doing types of expansion that are hard or impossible with USB 3.0.  (The built-in dock on the Thunderbolt Display is an example of the latter.  That feature is possible because the data side of Thunderbolt is more like a "narrow" PCI-E expansion slot, than like a "fast" USB port.)

Thanks. I think this change-ver is going to take a lot of my time, but I also think it is going to be a lot of fun.

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