From the archives: The Seven Deadly Sins of Apple Ownership

Another old MacFormat one – this one predates not just Leopard, but Vista too – but I’m amused by the intro, which is a load of old bollocks. Fun bollocks, I hope.

Mac ownership is often described in religious terms, but the link between Macs and the heavens goes back further than you might think. In the Garden of Eden, Eve took an Apple from the Tree of Knowledge (pedants say it was an Apricot, but what do they know? They’d probably argue that the serpent was a Dragon 32) – and of course her partner was the proud owner of Adam’s Apple. The links continue to this very day: every time you buy a Mac an angel gets its wings – but whenever a Mac runs Windows, an angel is twanged into a tree.

Sinning is all too easy: we’ve taken the Lord’s name in vain when Apple upgraded everything the day after our new Mac was delivered; we’ve worshipped false idols such as Photoshop mock-ups of Tablet Macs; and while we haven’t coveted our neighbours’ oxen, we’ve certainly coveted their 17″ MacBook Pros. But these sins pale in significance when you look at the biggies: The Seven Deadly Sins.

“Deadly” is an understatement: the punishments for the Seven Deadly Sins are truly terrifying. The Lustful will be smothered in fire and brimstone; Gluttons will be force-fed rats, toads and snakes; the Greedy will be boiled in oil; the Slothful will be thrown into a snake pit; the Wrathful will be dismembered alive; the Envious will be submerged in freezing water – and Pride will be “broken on the wheel”, which is clearly a reference to OS X’s Spinning Beach Ball of Death.

And if that’s not scary enough, there’s yet another Mac connection, one that makes The Da Vinci Code look like small beer: Pope Gregory The Great defined the Seven Deadly Sins in his tract Moralia in Job. Add an “s” to the title, and what do you get? Exactly. Jobs! Steve Jobs! Aieeee!


Mac owners are justifiably proud of their purchases, but it’s important not to cross the line into cockiness. That way hubris lies: as soon as you say “Macs don’t crash”, the heavens will open, trumpets will sound, the seals will be broken and the two horsemen of the Macocalypse – the Spinning Beach Ball of Death and his terrifying superior, Kernel Panic – will come and give you the computing equivalent of a wedgie.

As Macs become more popular, the phrase “Macs don’t get viruses” could well become equally hubristic: for now Macs are virus-free, but there’s always the chance that some bright spark will come up with something devastating. We wouldn’t rush out and buy expensive security software just now, but we’d definitely make sure OS X’s firewall is configured properly and keep a beady eye on security news sites.


What could Mac owners possibly envy? Well, there’s the huge range of games available for PCs and PCs only, and when (if?) Vista finally comes out PC owners will be able to get their hands on the very latest, greatest gaming technology. But that doesn’t mean Macs don’t do games. There’s a great collection available from Aspyr (, and of course if you really want to play PC-only games there’s always Boot Camp. But if that’s not enough for you, you can still have your cake and eat it: stick with Mac OS X for computing, and get a Nintendo or PS3 for games. That way you can still get your fix of gaming goodness, but you can do it without giving Microsoft a penny.


It’s easy to stuff your system silly, especially if you’re using your Mac for video, giant Photoshop files, DVD burning and 250 unnecessary Dashboard widgets – and you can be sure that it’ll only become a problem at the exact second when you need stacks of space for a DVD project or video render and don’t have time to do disk housekeeping. It’s a good idea to get into a regular housekeeping routine: zapping unwanted applications and working documents, getting shot of unnecessary source data and so on. There are plenty of programs to help you identify the worst offenders, such as the free Disk Inventory X (

Of course, not all stuffed systems are due to gluttony: older Macs and notebook Macs often came with relatively small hard disks, and you don’t need to be mad about music or a prolific photographer before even a modest iTunes or iPhoto library takes up gigabytes you can ill afford. If you’re running out of space but can’t afford to sacrifice any applications or files, consider an external drive: you can get external hard disks for as little as £40, while even bigger drives such as a 200GB Seagate can be picked up for around £100. And of course, if you’ve got a SuperDrive in your Mac you can easily transfer files to DVD to free up disk space.


Every time Steve Jobs does a keynote speech, Apple owners around the world automatically reach for their credit cards: “Must… have… iPod… wallet!” they cry, shelling out £69 for something that’s spookily similar to the horrible cases that come with mobile phones. And don’t get us started on iPod Socks.

Of course, in many cases you’d be mad _not_ to lust after new Apple kit: after all, if your current Mac is brilliant (which it is), gorgeous (that too) and your best friend in the whole wide world (er… maybe that’s just us) then just how much more brilliant would it be to have a faster, newer, sexier, shinier MacBook Pro? But while there’s no doubt that new Apple kit is sexy, it’s important to remember three things: one, you were quite happy with your existing kit yesterday; two, if you buy a new Mac now you just know that there’ll be an even better model released 30 seconds after delivery; and three, if you have more iPods than you have heads, you’re getting carried away.


If you regularly find yourself banging your head against the keyboard, it means one of two things: either you haven’t quite got the hang of this typing lark, or you’re succumbing to the sin of Wrath. If everyday computing is sending you into frequent Hulk-style rages, don’t get mad: get even.

There are stacks of decent programs that can eliminate annoyances. Sick of spam? We’re big fans of SpamSieve ( Can’t keep track of serial numbers, passwords and other key codes? Invest $29 (about £18) in the excellent Yojimbo (, which can encrypt your registration details, passwords and other important data, and which also helps organise documents, emails and PDFs. Fed up with popups, Flash and other online irritants? Get Firefox ( and you can choose from a wide range of add-ons that can get rid of almost everything that annoys you online.


In sinning terms, greed isn’t just wanting stuff: it’s hoarding things and constantly desiring more power, usually for short-term gains. On a Mac that means stuffing your menu bar with lots of pointless doohickeys, running every dashboard widget imaginable and opening 362 tabs in Safari simultaneously. Such sins inevitably get punished rather quickly, usually in the form of the Spinning Beach Ball of Death.

The worst example of greed, though, is the desire to acquire programs without payment, usually accompanied by a whinge such as “I need Photoshop but it’s just too expensive”. In these days of Open Source software there’s no excuse for such moans: whether you’re looking for an image editor, email program, illustration package or an entire office suite, you can get top-notch software for nowt without keeping warez sites in business.


Most people associate Sloth with lazing around doing nothing, but the sin of Sloth is more serious: it’s about wasting time, and according to Wikipedia it’s “associated with goats and the colour light blue.” We have no idea why.
There’s no excuse for sloth when you’re running OS X, especially when Automator is within easy reach and the Web is packed with pre-defined Automator scripts that can automate routine tasks. There’s also a great collection of maintenance programs that will keep your system in tip-top shape on your behalf, and we’re particularly fond of the free OnyX application ( Using such programs isn’t laziness: by getting software to do the dull stuff and freeing up your time for more interesting and creative things, you’re just thinking different.

Seven steps to Heaven
The virtues that make angels sing


The Spinning Beach Ball of Death isn’t always fatal – no, not even when you’ve opened 203 tabs in Safari. Have faith, have a cup of tea and wait a few minutes. More often than not, the Beach Ball will have disappeared when you return.


If like us you believe that good will out, then you’ll join us in hoping that Apple’s market share continues to climb, that Windows users continue to switch and that Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive live forever.


Don’t leave your old Macs gathering dust: recycle them or give them away. Our old Mac Mini is doing a sterling job of serving up MP3s in our living room, and our old iBooks have introduced various relatives to the marvels of Macs.


With Mac applications there’s no such thing as impossible: the impossible just takes a bit longer, that’s all. So if your GarageBand track isn’t coming together, take a break, come back to it with fresh ears and you’ll make a masterpiece in no time.


In Virtue terms, Justice is the balance between selfishness and selfishness: in other words, do unto others as you’d like to be done by. That means biting your tongue when people say daft things on Mac forums, helping other Mac owners with problems, and steering clear of tedious Mac vs PC flamewars.


One of the great things about owning a Mac is the sheer range of software geniuses working on OS X applications. For every expensive, big-name application, you’ll find stacks of freeware, shareware and open source alternatives. Look for them and you’ll save a fortune.


Temperance is all about moderation, so if you really fancy a top of the range iPod, MacBook Pro and iPod Hi-Fi but you don’t need them… oh sod it, you only live once. Go on, we won’t tell.