An Apple Fanboy in a Microsoft World

This is my account of trying to configure my mac to use at work. If you don’t want to read it. I do offer a no frill explanation below this wall of text.


I don’t consider myself a fanboy. Nor do I believe I have a problem. I just like apple products. My relationship with Apple began during the start of the iPhone craze, you remember, the late 2000s. Since then I’ve owned only iPhones, except for a 9 month stint where I owned a Galaxy Note, those were dark times indeed. Sure, I wanted to own a Mac but I’ve always viewed them as expensive machines people in Starbucks pretend to work on.

I went living on with life. Using a wonderful T530 that had more guts then my current Mac, but even with the awesome specs, I didn’t feel complete. I always found myself looking at refurbished Macs. Finally, in the cold month of January, I bought a used Macbook Pro, and can sum up my feelings for it with one word, love. Once I unboxed, wiped, reinstalled OS X and finally added the applications I always wanted to use, I made a solemn vow to use this MacBook as much as possible. This would mean I brought my digitized soul mate to work.

I arrived at work. My backpack felt oddly light, I wasn’t use to having a lightweight laptop. I arrived in my office. When my coworkers began to talk, I slowly and suductively pulled my MacBook out of my backpack. There was much sniggering and jeers from my coworkers. I placed it promptly upon my desk, and I heard my friend ask what was the point of using it at work. I know it was redundant. My desk had two laptops on it now, and the Mac wasn’t too terribly useful. It was filling the void my iPad left, basically to only run Omnifocus.

I didn’t want my $600 purchase to just act like an iPad, damnit. This thing is going to replace my work laptop as my dedicated device, come hell or high water. Of course, I can’t really replace my work laptop. As a network admin/tech (doing mostly tech work), I have software from manufactures who no longer exist, and their programs can only run in the sophisticated environment of Windows XP. I left my first day with a slight lump in my throat. The way things were going, my Mac would just become a desk-laptop. You know, the laptop that we all owned that just sat in one spot for it’s entire existence.

But my Mac wasn’t going to live this type of quiet life. No, it was going to be on the front lines with me. Handling switch configurations, battling Cisco Call Manager admin task. This computer was to be my partner, my noble steed. While my kids slept and my wife casted curious gazes at my frantic typing, I came up with three golden rules:

  1. Thou shalt use the Mac for as many work task as possible.
  2. Thou shalt remote into the work laptop only for applications that cannot run on the Mac.
  3. Thou shalt use email from the work Mac through the glory of Exchange /sarc.

With my rules in hand. I began.

This Is What I’ve Did…

Logically speaking, the second rule was the key of this system to work, and the easiest. I went to teamviewer’s website and downloaded their client on my work and Mac. I auto adjusted my work laptop’s resolution to fit my outdated Mac 1280x800 resolution. I tested the connection from the slow guest network and, to my delight, its was responsive and useful. I also setup RDP which provides a better connection when I am able to use it. After completing this task, I sacrificed a small dove to Steve Job’s picture and continued. I then added my useful extensions from Chrome to Safari. I read what browsers my most visited sites supported, and again to my delight, Safari would continue to be my primary browser.

Feeling confident and hipsterish I tackled my email. I chuckled at my coworkers dealing with outlook. I simply went to my Internet account settings and added exchange.

Then shit just broke…

It was like the river styx came pouring out, but instead of lost souls and ghoulish water, it was emails. Solarwinds alerts, recording alerts, Shoretel notifications, Call manager notifications, emergency responder and ISI messages. Oh sweet Jesus, Office 365 added a “clutter” folder which held 70,000 emails, and my MacBook decided to download it locally. The comfortable speeds I enjoyed on the guest network crapped out. I am no system admin guy, let alone have any working knowledge of Exchange. I frantically searched Google for an answer, and alas, just like any sort of troubleshooting done with Google, answers varied. Let me digress, I hate when someone post a problem on a forum then the next post say they solved the issue without explaining what they did. There is a special place in hell for those people. I couldn’t find out how to sync specific folders, and according to my research, Exchange doesn’t give you an option.

I noticed that Mail got stuck on some sort of loop. It would try to download messages and never be able to do so.

I cut my losses and deleted my exchange account. I wanted to just use outlook instead, but damnit, I want to use two finger swipe to delete messages!

So after much googling, I recreated my account using IMAP instead of exchange. You can do this by clicking other accounts and selecting “Mail Account”. I went to my Office 365 account to get the IMAP settings, which can be found if you click on the cog/gear icon by your picture, then options, then click on IMAP/POP and get your information.

To my delight, it started to sync. It sync’d a ton of items, but IMAP allows me to delete (some) folders without any issues. I used it the remainder of the day with little quirks but much more usable than Exchange.

Closing Time

I finally used my Mac 100% today. Whenever I had to go on site, it came with me. Emails I received, were processed and sorted using the Mail app and sent to either Omnifocus or Evernote. For all IE related task, I RDP’d (for faster connection) or used TeamViewer if I wanted to use my Mac’s full resolution. My friends chuckled as I sipped my over priced coffee. I bought this cup of mocha delight to commemorate the day I used a Mac for work in a Window’s environment.

How I Did it, no fluff included.

I promised I would give a nice account how I configured a Mac to work in a Windows environment. Here’s one thing to keep in mind when doing this. You want to make sure your job is alright with personal devices at work. You don’t need to have your mac on the network (if you can, disregard majority of this post). My company is alright with personal devices as long as they stay on the guest network. With this said here are the steps I took to get my Mac ready to be my primary device.

  1. Take inventory of all programs I use on a daily basis that requires Windows to function. We still have a legacy digital phone system at work, which only has a retro Windows 2000 program that can easily manage it. This means I’ll have to remote to use.
  2. Take inventory of all websites, intranet sites that absolutely require you to be on the network to access. Since my mac won’t be a company device, I cannot access these pages unless I use a VPN (which is only offered to work laptops). These are the programs that will need to by removing into my laptop.
  3. For files and other documents, be prepared to use email, TeamViewer, Evernote or some other cloud drive to sync them with your Mac. Obviously, don’t store or take off your work device organization sensitive documents. Try to keep all new notes and files on the Mac or in Evernote if possible.
  4. If you work for a decent sized company, you’re on Exchange. If you’re lucky to use Google Apps, then configuring Mail shouldn’t be too hard. From what I read online, Exchange is a hit and miss when using Mail. It was a miss for me. If Exchange doesn’t work, go straight to the IMAP configuration as I mentioned above.
  5. When removing, optimize your settings for speed instead of quality.