Ministry with a Mac
Can a Windows person, who has integrated a PC into his recipe for ministry, substitute such a primary ingredient and go Mac without compromises? I’ve been trying to do that for the last three months and I want to share how it’s going.
A long time ago I shared a secret: I want a Mac! Yep! I, an avowed Windows guy, had Mac envy. When I finally made the jump to a MacBook Air when Apple released their refreshed version in November of last year, I got my secret wish. For years I used iPods. Two and half years before I got my heart’s desire, I switched from a Windows Phone to an iPhone. The journey took a big step forward when I bought an iPad and then started covering Apple, among other tech subjects, for Notebooks.com.
Over the last three months I have attempted to find ways to do my daily ministry tasks with my shiny new MacBook Air. And for about 85 percent of the tools I use there have been perfectly acceptable and sometimes better options on OS X. For example.
I spend a lot of time writing in Microsoft Word. There’s a Mac App for that – Microsoft Word. I do expense reports in Excel; there’s a Mac version of Excel too. On the rare occasions that I use PowerPoint, although I avoid it as much as possible, I can use the Mac version of PowerPoint. Alternatively, I tried out the iWork applications – Pages for word processing, Numbers for spreadsheets, Keynote for presentations. All are perfectly acceptable for my simple needs and in the case of Keynote, I believe it is much better than PowerPoint. Pages is simpler to use than Word. And I don’t need much for spreadsheets, so Numbers does the job.
I spend a lot of time online. My favorite browser is Chrome and it has a Mac version and for email I just go online. Occasionally I use the Mail app in OS X too. I don’t use Outlook, but it is pretty good on a Mac. Essentially most of the tools I use are available on a Mac or have substitutes. For blogging I miss Windows Live Writer. But I found MarsEdit, which has some really nice features and has become a good alternative.
For creativity work, I use three applications in ministry. I have not yet received my crossgrade version of Photoshop for the Mac, but it is on the way. If you are sure you plan to switch, just call Adobe and ask them to depricate your Windows license in favor of an OS X license. They will send it along. But be careful as the Windows version will no longer work. And they won’t let you just download the trial and enter a key. You have to wait for the license to come in the mail. Until it does, my OS X Photoshop Elements has been working fine. It comes in the box when you buy the Windows version of Elements 9.
For video editing, iMovie is much simpler than Sony Vegas. I miss some of the power of Sony’s app sometimes, but not enough to worry. My picture library is over 100GB because I was shooting in RAW format – a very large picture format that mostly serious photographers use. iPhoto is no better or worse than the Windows Live Photo Gallery, which I never used either. But I needed more both in Windows and now on a Mac. Organizing my monster library is hard. On the Windows side I used Adobe Lightroom which does the job well and has great editing features. And Adobe gives you both a Windows and Mac license when you buy it. However, this is where I have struggled a little. The Mac version is not as stable as the Windows version. It crashes when I import photos sometimes. But other than that it has worked.
As you know, I write a lot about Bible software. This is where I have struggled some. I use a lot of Bible software applications as I test and review them. I even have beta tested a number of versions of major applications. But I spend most of my time in Bibleworks, of which there is no Mac version, Logos, and WORDSearch. Logos has a Mac version but it is slightly behind the Windows version in its included capabilities and is much slower. The sentence diagramming feature is only in the beta version of Logos for Mac and has some issues. Initially the WORDSearch for Mac version was awful, but they have taken huge steps forward in the last few months getting their version with WINE (an emulator for Mac and Linux) to run acceptably. Now, it is pretty good, even though it does not run natively in OS X. I am now testing Accordance, a native Mac OS X Bible study application, and early results are hopeful. So I am getting my Bible study done without too much of a compromise.
There are a few smaller tools that I miss. My sheetfed Visioneer scanner is not really great on a Mac. But my EPSON Artisan 800 does a good job in its place. My CD/DVD labeling software doesn’t have a Mac version. But I am reviewing a few Mac counterparts and they seem to be great alternatives and in the case of one of them, it is more powerful.
I don’t run worship presentation software on a Mac. Our church has a Windows PC for that. So I will have to defer comment about that. I may try out the Mac version of MediaShout to see how well it works as an alternative. But we will have to see on that.
All of this is to say, that yes doing ministry on a Mac is very doable. It is hard to change the way you do things after years of habit. But this adventure has been a joy. So much so that I just replaced my Lenovo desktop with an iMac at home. And I have setup my MacBook Air to be easily dockable at my office so that I can always use a Mac except in the one thing that I have not found a good Mac alternative – Stamps.com‘s postage printing software.