Monday, November 16, 2009

Genealogists and Macs

I've gotten some emails recently from readers of my blog with specific questions so I'm going to use the next few blog posts to respond to those questions.

A few days ago, I received the following question on my previous post of New Family Search and Your Software.

I am moving from a PC to a Mac before the year is over. I like everything I have been introduced to the Mac by my son, grandson, and granddaughter. The Mac appears to be so much more reliable. The only hesitation I have is my obsession with family history - I have to stay on top of it. I will have windows running parallel just because of PAF. Any suggestions before I sign on the bottom line??


First, let me say welcome to the Apple side of the force. It sounds like you are going to be purchasing a Macintosh (or already have by the time I post this response). Whether it is new or refurbished, Apple will include the latest version of their operating system, which is Snow Leopard. With Snow Leopard (and the previous version of Leopard), you will also get a software program called BootCamp. This allows you two options for your genealogy work.

One option would be to use Parallels, as you mentioned. I used this option for a while. Keep in mind that you will need to have a legitimate, licensed version of Windows to run in Parallels. If you don't already have one, that will cost you, in addition to the cost of Parallels. Most of the time, Parallels worked fine, but even in Parallels, let's face it. It's still Windows. I had issues with Parallels freezing up on me occasionally and having to be closed. However, since all new Macs also come with a free backup program called Time Machine, I never lost any data so the freezing didn't cause me any major headaches. It was just annoying to have to shut down Parallels and re-open it, and then re-open PAF and all my open windows and find where I left off. The advantage to this option was that I could have Windows programs and Mac programs all open and running at the same time.

Your second option is to use BootCamp. BootCamp allows you to boot your Mac into Mac mode or Windows mode. Again, you'll still need a licensed version of Windows, but BootCamp is free with your new Mac so it won't cost quite as much as the first option. Secondly, Windows will run smoother and be more stable using BootCamp. However, this does have the drawback of requiring you to shut down and reboot your machine into Mac if you want to run any Mac programs. You will not be able to work on your genealogy and be working on something else requiring a Mac program.

I hope that all makes sense. Having said that, neither option is perfect, but I really do love working on a Mac. They are so much more stable, user-friendly, and come with a lot of free software that is actually useful. It is worth it to me to still have my Mac and just wait for some more genealogy-friendly options to come out as Mac spreads into the market more. Truly, when it comes to using a Mac, it hasn't at all inhibited my ability to sit around in my pajamas all hours of the night looking for my 3rd great grandfather's long-lost sister.

1 comment:

bhaines said...

I've been a Mac person since the Plus (now with an iMac and iPad), and am taking up my genealogy work after about fifteen years off (I last did my research online via BBS bulletin boards!). In many ways I'm starting over. Is it worth going the Boot Camp and PAF route, or should I just get re-started using Reunion 9 or something similar for Mac, do you think?