10 things to know when buying a MacBook Pro with Retina Display

So you’re considering hitting that purchase button or you are waiting the 3-4 weeks for it to arrive. Instead of counting the dimples ina golf ball there is some things you can do to get ready and make room for this addition to you family.


A recent blog post I did explains;

  • It’s pretty but at a cost
  • Big but light
  • Display is amazing but under used
  • Supported apps shine
  • as well as how it’s replaced a few of my other devices’ functions.


Here’s what you can do to get ready for it.

1.  Start from Scratch

         OK, so one of my most cherished Apple memories is the process of getting my 13″ MBP and getting it ready with all my documents. I had a fresh Time Machine backup of my older 15″. I plugged it in, made one choice and BAM, had a new Mac. It was set up exactly like my old one. While this was a great experience it’s not what I did this time and it’s not what I’d recommend.

I’ll discuss how below, but for now here’s why…

  • It’s easier to find the needle when there isn’t much hay. This applies to a document of an app.
  • It’s gets you way ahead of the ball game for HDD space.
  • It gives you a new lease on life for how to organize you files.
  • It gives you a new perspective on file location.
  • Those extra programs do chip away at your RAM.

2.  Mirroring

If you want to display whats on your laptop to the TV you have two options, wired of wireless.

  • Wireless- Your new MBP comes ready to send off audio with 1080P video. All you need to do is buy an Apple TV. It’s just a tiny little black box that plugs in HDMI to your TV. It does its own thing (which is cool) but works seemlessly with you TV. Click one button on you MBP and you’re down. All thats left is to switch your input on your TV. (Someday maybe they will make TV that when they detect a new input automatically switch to it.) BTW if you buy an Apple TV and your older mac doesn’t support Airplay (as my 13″ doesn’t, just buy this $10 app, airparrot)
  • Wired- This is even easier now. Just connect an HDMI cord to your TV and you’re down. The Mac will autodetect the connection and send the signal to the TV. If you don’t have an extra HDMI cable laying around you can connect your minidisplay to the thunderbolt connection. (Ripley’s Beleive it or Not)

For either choice you will have some choices about how it displays. It’s worth going through “display” settings and looking at your choices. The options are self explainatory.

3.  Where did my hard drive go? 

It’s the early 14th century and you are a traveling merchant (think Bubunic Plague)

One reason why the thing is so stinken fast is because it uses a SSD. (solid state hard drive, think big USB thumbdrive). Because this technology’s use as the internal HDD is still relatively new the sizes are still small. You will have to reorient how you use you HDD.

  • Treat large files like the bubonic plague-

                  They are fine if they stay in viles, neatly organized and are shipped off as soon as you are done using them. What this means is if you shoot videos or pictures greater then 5MP you may need to add something to your life. My recommendation is Adobe’s Light Room, Apple’s Aperture, Google’s Picassa, or a service like Smugmug. If you know how to use iPhoto then you can use Aperture. It’s one extra click to edit pictures and one click from relocating off you harddrive.

                  With all these programs the idea is to download the media onto you HDD, process it, share it, then send it off. Aperture saves only the thumbnail on you HDD, the size of your choosing. while this does take storage space its much less then keeping the original. It gives you the option of still sorting ranknig and keywording the documents but not editing them. (it can still modify the metadata). You can also change the thumbnail size later. You will have to have your storage HDD connected, select a new thumbnail size, and delete you old thumbnails.

  • Managing small files-

                 These fit nicely in cloud services you are already probably using. If you don’t already have it sign up for Dropbox.

                 Work documents- iCloud has not been a smooth process for iWork (microsoft type) documents. I’ve been letting iCloud do its automatic thing but working off of my dropbox version. Apple just release updates to iWork that are supposed to fix this issue. This may take dropbox out of my workflow for these work documents.

                  Since iCloud doesn’t support non-work documents all our small random files go on dropbox. These files stay synced on all iOS, Mac OS and Windows devices. The only issue is the storage size. Since we don’t pay for an account we can’t put large files there. One other issue is because they back up to the harddrive its costing me about 2GB on my new MBP. (I’m going to investigate why this is and find out how to fix it.)

  • Not a family PC-

                 I bought this laptop with revenue in mind. I wanted to be able to post process the hundreds of shots I do on a shoot and get not have to stare at a rainbow ball. To that end I this laptop won’t be used to download some random program so i can get some random task done. I like that the default place for downloads is the download folder. It’s easy to manage and keep that clean.

  • Mail-you may notice this app is storage hungry

                  I don’t have any sage advice here. Watch the file size (see Broom and Mac Keeper below), delete emails you don’t want saved, archive off you machine those you might want a museum to have some day. I found my new mac downloading 4000 emails totally about 4GB. I went into my gmail account and played around until deleting them on my mac did not delete them from the gmail website.

  •  Find those large files and watch out

                 I made sure I had Broom (app Store, $3) loaded. This application will alert you when you get to a hard drive amount of your choosing. mine is set to 100GB. The more sueful feature is if you click on it it tells you how much free space you have. Its all about efficiency my friends.

                Route out and find files. Mac keeper or Broom can do this. On my old machine recently I found a 700MB keynote I was sure not using. Since it’s in Time Machines back up on the last couple annuals i wasn’t worried to just hit delete. MacKeeper can also find files that come with your programs that you don’t need. This saved me about 3 GB.

4.  Get credit card ready- You will have to buy applications you already own.

Apps will fall into 3 basic categories

  • Apps on the app store. You may cry for joy when you go to the AppStore, “purchsed” tab and click down all the apps you want downloaded. Just make sure you are very choosy.
  • Non-app Store apps that require a unique key. You will have to find a way to download these on the internet, or do a “find my mac” file share described below. You will also have to stop using them on your old mac. (This last point isn’t unique to how you restore the mac.)
  • Non-app Store apps that require a key but not unique. Apps you’ll have to find old key, certificates, etc.. for. For instance, since I don’t like the App Store’s version of  1Password because of their sandboxing limitations I downloaded the app myself. Fortunately 1Password saves it’s own software key in itself when you purchase it. (Kind of clever). So this was easy.
  • Non-app store apps that are not avaiable online anymore. I ended up having to buy Aperture even though I alrerady owned it because of this. (Not so clever)

5.  Apps to leave behind; It’s Spring cleaning time.

Go ahead and open the App Store and go to “purchases”. Then ask yourself the question, “I only have about 230GB of room for the lifetime of this computer, do I really need this app?” Go through you apps and decide which ones won’t make the cut. It was easy for me, I only choose the ones I mentioned below.

6.  Good apps you can get now;  

  • Broom (app Store, $3)
  • Caffeine (app Store, free) Cool little coffee cup. just like real coffee. Click it to keep you mac from going to sleep.
  • Drop Box (app Store, free) Explained above.
  • 1Password (app Store, $15) Explained above.
  • iWorks (app store) These apps are worth the growing pains and beside Office is not Retina supported.
  • Aperture (app store, $80) for video and picture relocating described above, Retina ready reasons

7.  Open communication;

Talk to your kids (and other computers) to get them ready. Bringing this new bundle of joy home may have other feel left out.

8.  Get used to the layout;

Leave the display setting as it is.

           It’s tempting to mess with the display setting thinking you have to mess with it when apps don’t support Retina. That wouldn’t be very magical would it. If you open the screen shot at the top of this post I can explain. 

           Zoom in all the way and look around. As I discussed in the last post some apps are fully Retina supported, some and not at all (twitter ap looks terrible) and some, like Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 are partially suported. Static text is Retina, moving text and the picture are not. Keep in mind you are not looking at this zoomed in image fairly on your normal monitor. You’d have to step back so that you had the same ratio, maybe 5ft, as I do when its about a foot and a half from my eyes.

9.  Work out the negatives

  • Get over it now. the magsafe cord is going to fall out alot.
  • The thing doesn’t have a CD-ROM. See my blog here. I don’t really miss it.

                     I did need one program that I only had on CD. Here’s what i did. I clicked on Air Drop on my Retine MBP. I put it in my 13″, opening the CD and dragged the 200MB file to Air Drop. The transfer rate was about 5MB/sec, so it didn’t take long at all. The MBP didn’t care that the file wasn’t on a CD anymore. It opened and installed just fine.

  • No ethernet jack. I haven’t needed that thing. Get the dongle and laugh at the dongle add.

10.  Just because you can doens’t mean you should

So this thing is a powerhouse and has lots of fun new connections, what now?

  • HDMI plug, sweet!
  • You can use the USB jack for USB 2.0 or 3.0.
  • Thunderbolt can connect to an external HDD at blazing speeds (Pegaus and Drobo make Raids also)
  • Thunderbolt can connect extra video cards (google Black Magic)
  • Thunderbolt can connect video input streaming devices
  • Thunderbolt can connect and stream video out (using various program)

I am into high end video and photo editing and I have no immediate use for any of those functions. The only thing I use is the USB 3.0 jack. Since firewire is only supported with a dongle I connect to my Ext HDD, my HDD toaster, via USB 3.0 for my aperture workflow described above.



  1. Have you tried Remote Disk yet? Not sure how the performance compares to the airdrop method you used. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5287


    1. No I haven’t. I hadn’t even googled it and now I know all about it, thanks.


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