I use .Mac, do you?

I use .Mac, do you?

Summary: .Mac began in 2000 as a service called iTools that offered iReviews, iCards, KidSafe, Mac.com Web/POP email, iDisk and HomePage. People flocked to the service because it was useful and it was free.


dotmac_logo_2.jpg.Mac began in 2000 as a service called iTools that offered iReviews, iCards, KidSafe, Mac.com Web/POP email, iDisk and HomePage. People flocked to the service because it was useful and it was free.

At Macworld Expo New York 2002 Apple announced .Mac, the upgraded version of iTools that provided email, Web sites, storage of digital photo albums, calendars and even a backup function - for US$99 per year. The price was a bit of a shock to iTools users and many elected not to buck up. In 2005 Apple increased storage capacity to 1GB of combined email and iDisk space, added Backup 3 and .Mac groups, but still had problems adding new users.

I have used iTools and .Mac since their inception and still find them incredibly useful - but not for the reason that most people do. I barely use my .Mac email account but I use several other features of .Mac all of the time.

1. iCal - I have been hooked on Apple's calendar application since it came out and use .Mac to sync several personal and family calendars. With iSync these calendars also easily sync to my Treo. This alone is an indispensible service of .Mac that is almost worth the price of admission alone.

2. Photo/Web publishing - I used to use iPhoto exclusively for photos but have since upgraded to Aperture. Both allow you to publish beautiful photo galleries to .Mac with a single click. When working on a Web site recently for a local community group I was have trouble uploading files via SFTP to my server, but with one click I posted the site to .Mac.

3. iDisk is an easy way to store and share files online. We use iDisk to pass around versions of the PowerPage Podcast during editing.

4. iCards - Although there are plenty of free services available, I really like the look and feel of Apple's online greeting cards. The interface is simple and the designs are stunning.

Photocasting is a promising new feature of .Mac that allows your to share photos with friends and family automatically. In iPhoto you simply select a photo album, then choose Photocast from the Share menu, click Publish then Announce. An email is sent to anyone you wish allowing them to view the pictures in their iPhoto or any RSS reader. Whenever you update that iPhoto album, subscribers automatically receive updates.

This year I plan to use .Mac's Groups more. Groups are private, ad-free online communities that allow users to "communicate, coordinate and share digital media." Group members can send emails to the entire group and post files, pictures and movies with a common group iDisk and share a common iCal calendar. I've started a group called PowerPagers as an experiment that you are welcome to join if you'd like to test it out.

I know that .Mac is expensive and that some free alternatives exist (this guy thinks .Mac should be free) but discounts are available. The service also needs some spiffy new Web 2.0 features, but I enjoy the simplicity and ease of use of .Mac and will be keeping it - at least for another year.

Where do you stand on .Mac?

Topic: Apple

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  • No interest

    I just can't see paying for another e-mail address. I've already got one through work, and can have as many free GMail or Yahoo accounts as I want, not to mention the 9 mailboxes my home ISP provides.

    The one thing .Mac offers that I'd use would be synching my laptop and my desktop. But no big loss really, one can save out one's address book as a backup and copy that over. Really, with a firewire cable and the knowledge of what to copy, it's not that big of a deal.

    As far as photosharing, there are lots of free sites that let you do this as well, Shutterfly for one, and doesn't iPhoto output things as a web page? I know the default is to go to .Mac but I'm pretty sure you can set it to just save it as an html file to put up on your own.
    tic swayback
    • Agree about email accounts.

      - they've now bee commoditized thanks to Google, Yahoo, etc.

      But that's really the point of the article, I prefer to use .Mac for the calendar syncing and easy photo galleries.

      I used to use the iSync features too (PB <-> Desktop) but now that I only use one machine I don't use that anymore.

      The calendar syncing to my Treo is _indispensible_ for me though.

      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady
      • Can't you synch directly to your Treo

        Don't programs like "the missing Synch" allow you to directly synch up your desktop to your Treo?

        And that sums it up--basically, anything you can get from .Mac you can do for free if you're willing to put in a little extra effort. And given that I very rarely do any of those things, it's not worth the $ to subscribe.
        tic swayback
        • You don't get that out of the box?

          I just set up a Treo 650 on a Windows box, but noticed a disk saying 'for the Mac'.
          Conduits for Outlook do just about everything needed with no fuss; is there not the same thing for the Mac?
          • Out of the box for Palm devices

            I have a Zire 71 and it ran fine out of the box when synced to the
            Palm desktop. When you try to sync to the apps on the Mac like
            iCal or Address Book you have to use different Conduits. If you
            want to use the Palm desktop there is no problem, but if you
            want to pick and choose which app you prefer for each task, like
            calendar, contacts, to do list and memos you have to move the
            Palm conduit for that task into the disabled conduit folder and
            place the Apple conduit for iSync into the conduit folder instead.
            It takes a little time to find the correct files to move to the
            disabled conduits folder for the Palm device to sync with the
            apps you choose. The instructions on how to change the
            conduits around have gotten better but are still confusing to

            I have seen a Mac with a couple of Applescripts that would allow
            the user to change from Palm desktop conduits to Mac conduits
            and back. What Apple and Palm need to do is get together and
            set up a little app that will give the user a simple interface to
            choose which app will sync with their device and also give them
            a way to switch when the user wants to.
    • No kidding

      I see it as a complete waste of money, as I'm in the same camp as
  • Yeah - it's worth it to me

    Backup was horrible when it first came out on .Mac.
    Backup 3 now does everything I would like in a backup program.
    iCal publishing to the web - web publishing tools in general have always impressed me.
    Benton Rich
    • Wow ...

      Can you imagine the uproar, if MS tried to charge folk $8.00 per month to backup their stuff ...?
      • I think you misunderstand

        Apple isn't charging you just to backup your stuff--you can do that for free with a wide variety of programs. What Apple is doing here is giving you online storage space, and a simple solution for backup that stores your data in another location.

        I believe MS is indeed going into this market as well, and I guarantee you, they won't be providing this service for free.
        tic swayback
    • I don't really use Apple's backup

      I prefer Synchronize Pro X to a local FireWire drive. Although I'm pretty sure that Apple would love to have a copy of my email database on their servers <g>.

      Time to read the .Mac privacy policy, I guess.

      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady
  • Decent value at $8.25 / mth

    People always complain ... main reason - was free, now isn't.
    However, the value is decent. Email, Server disk, Backup, Sync,
    Web server ... all for $8.25 / mth. And everything is managed
    for me and integrated into the systems I use. (no you don't have
    to use them ... but the integration saves time and energy)

    Sure there are free services -- welcome to ad central. You have
    email service from search companies - supported on ad
    revenues, You have e-card sites with crappy websites pushing
    ads or service upgrades rather than simple access to the

    Then you have server disk space - which is incredibly handy for
    backups, sync, file sharing etc. I have not found a similar
    offering for less-than $10 / mth without a huge about of self-

    Then you have web-site publishing (and other offerings like blog
    support, photo galleries, and more) ... I must say, I also pay
    more than $15 / month for a full ISP with DB and scripting
    access ... however use the dotMac for photo galleries since it
    saves me time (sometimes lots of time) in publishing.

    All this ... one place. To me it is worth the $8.25 per month.
    • Goes down to $6.66 a month...

      ... when you purchase .Mac from one of the discounters that I linked to in the story for US$80.

      Agreed, it's a decent value proposition for most, but a very good one for a new user that needs a little hand holding.

      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady
    • spam

      i used to have a .Mac email account. when Apple announced they were going to to start charging for their services i noticed a few weeks later that i was beginning to get spammed. at first a trickle, then a torrent, to the point ihad to search for real emails.
      i dumped it. didnt think i would be getting any sort of value due to the spammers
  • .Mac

    With an upgrade can I simply fill in code supplied by package or do I have to install DVD?
    • Just enter your Activation Key

      To upgrade simply enter your Activation Key in the .Mac system preference or here:


      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady
  • .mac slowwww

    Good assessment of .mac. The speeds of transfers are just too
    slow. Probably due to the upload speeds provided by our internet
    providers. Feel like you that it should be free, but don't see Apple
    giving the cow away now that they have paying customers.
    Joe Gudac
    • Tough for Apple to give it away... Agreed

      If Apple has 1 million .Mac customers, then it contributes (roughly) $100M to the bottom line each year. Sure they'd get more users if it was free, but costs would go up as well.

      Rather than give it away 100% free I think that it's more likely that Apple may bundle it with iLife '07 to get people to upgrade. New Mac buyers would get it for free.

      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady
  • *Which* online greeting card service?

    Several people have mentioned that there are free, ad-supported equivalents to .Mac components. Granted.

    Buy what eCard service do you use for free greeting cards these days? All the ones I've seen are pretty ugly.

    - Jason
    Jason D. O'Grady
    • How about none?

      ---*Which* online greeting card service?---

      Why not just use e-mail? Heck if you want to send a pretty picture, use an attachment or html in your message.

      I personally am furious whenever some idiot sends me one of those e-cards because it inevitably means that I've been added to someone else's mailing list that they're selling to spammers.
      tic swayback