About a month ago, I decided to buy my first Mac, a MacBook Pro. Why? Well, a couple of the presentations I attended during the 2010 ATA conference convinced me that it was the right move for my business and from then on it was just a question of when really. I also thought it was time to learn and try something different from the PCs I’ve been using all these years. After all, technology doesn’t wait for you, you have to constantly keep up with and explore new software and hardware! Plus, the MacBook is soooo slick!
So, here I was, with a rather old laptop running Windows Vista and MS Office 2003 and a brand new MacBook Pro. Given that I use my computer mainly for work, I was now facing the task of migrating from the PC to Mac in order to get the most out of my new high-tech “gadget”. Most importantly, I had to find a way for my translation applications to run on my Mac.
Trados on Mac?
Well, it wasn’t an easy process: Simply put, Trados (Translation Memory software) doesn’t run on Mac. This was something I first heard about 3 years ago, but I thought a patch or something would have been made available by now. After all, most of our fellow translators on the other side of the pond use Mac, so there had to be a way around it, right?
Well, there certainly are ways but they’re not easy. You can overcome this issue in two -problematic- ways:
The first one is to use Mac’s built-in feature called Bootcamp. Bootcamp creates a partition in your hard drive, where you can install another operating system (in my case, Windows 7). That way, you can choose to reboot the Mac on Mac OS or Windows. The good thing about that solution is that in essence you have two operating systems in one computer. The bad thing is that you have to reboot your system every time you want to switch between OS.
The second solution is to buy a program that creates a Virtual Machine (VM) in your Mac (in my case, Parallels Desktop for Mac). That way, you can install Windows on the VM and run it from within Mac OS. So Windows will be just another application in your Mac desktop. While this solution eliminates the need for constant rebooting each time you want to change OS, it doesn’t use the full potential of your RAM, so Windows will be slow.
A way around it
What about combining the two solutions? What if you use Bootcamp to make a new Windows partition and then Parallels to have a VM in your Mac for lighter Windows applications? After I spent a weekend reading about potential solutions on the Internet, I decided to give it a try.
I used Bootcamp to create a new Windows partition. I installed my brand new copy of Windows 7 and Office 2010 on that partition, plus Trados Studio and Trados 2007 after returning my previous licenses to SDL first. I was now having a PC on my Mac. “Sweet” I thought. Parallels was up next. The installation was smooth and, before I knew it, I had a new VM on my Mac. “Not bad” I whispered, not wanting to jinx my good luck thus far!
But wait! A notification appears every time I open Windows on Parallels that I must register my copy of Windows 7 and Office 2010. I am sure I registered both when I created the Bootcamp partition! Hmm…
After another day of googling, I found out what was wrong: Microsoft somehow cannot accept that I am using the same copy of Windows 7 or Office 2010 on my Bootcamp partition and the VM! I, on the other hand, didn’t think that I was violating the License Agreement by running Windows via two different ways on the same computer.
A dead end
I had to choose to keep either the Bootcamp partition or the VM or buy a second license from Microsoft to use on the VM. Sorry dear Microsoft, but no way. I uninstalled the VM and kept the Bootcamp partition. This way I’m at least able to use Trados on Windows, although it’s a pity really that SDL is not working on a Mac version of Studio. Since my clients are not using any other TM software, I am stuck with the Bootcamp partition for now. Hopefully there will be a solution to this dilemma some time soon!
Now that my biggest problem has been solved, it was time to familiarize myself with the Mac. And let me tell you, that presented it’s own set of challenges!
Stay tuned for part 2 and my PC to Mac journey. In the meantime, tell us about your first experience with a Mac. Did you adapt easily or did it take time?
Why did you decide for the Bootcamp solution? I used it before virtualization was possible. I prefer to do all Internet stuff on the Mac and I use Windows only when and if I need. I think the VM is better, but it’s a matter of choice. If you are worried that Windows is slow, you can add RAM. I have 8GB both on the iMac and the MBP and it has improved a lot the running of Windows. Oh, Trados is installed, but I used it only under gunpoint.
I’d prefer both Bootcamp & VM but I got stuck with the licensing thing from Microsoft. So I thought it would be better to use Bootcamp only as a temporary solution, just for Trados, until I find a way around it (translating ttx files on MBP). I do all other stuff on the Mac, just like you, and loving it!
Hi. You missed the first turn on your journey. 🙂 The whole point of using Macs is their simplicity, ease of use and reliability. Trying to run software designed only for Windows defeats the whole purpose, IMO.
Instead of using Trados in its various costly (and sometimes troublesome) iterations, I’ve used OmegaT as my CAT tool very successfully for three years. I use Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac to generate .docx and .xlsx files that OmegaT can translate (there are other formats to use, as well.) I recognize that you will have to buy Office again if you want to run a pure Mac environment only.
Oh no, you might say, there’s no way a freelance translator could flourish, or even survive, without being able to use Trados and the like. Clients and agencies insist on it, and then there’s all those TMs that would be unusable. Well, the supposed “requirement” is a myth. I get jobs all the time from people who initially specify Trados. And your TMs can be imported into OmegaT quite easily as TMX files. You can find out more about this aspect at http://www.omegat.org/en/howtos/compatibility.html. You might also wish to learn about OmegaT generally at http://www.omegat.org/ (There are versions of the linked material in multiple languages.)
I’ve been a Mac user since 1984. I’ve used PCs only when compelled by an employer. And for the last three years, my “employer” and I seem to have identical thoughts on this and all other subjects. 😉
I am a new mac/CAT tool user. I just downloaded OmegaT a few weeks ago and have been trying to get it up and running. Do you have any suggestions how I can use the tmx/fuzzy match feature with texts that I align on YouAlign?
I have done several translations for a client without any CAT tools, so I aligned them on YouAlign, downloaded the tmx files, saved them to my tm folder in the Omega T project. Now for some reason I am still not prompted with fuzzy matches, despite knowing that some sections of a new document are taken directly from an old document.
Any suggestions where I could figure this out?
On behalf of Charles:
For help with this question, I suggest that the author posts it on the OmegaT Yahoo Group at http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/OmegaT/?yguid=448816240. It’s sure to get an expert answer quite quickly. The asker will need to join the group to post a message.
A good read on the travails of a fellow freelancer. I tried Parallels 3 and 4 years ago on an iMac. It worked fine, but with 3 GB of RAM, running Windows programs in any serious fashion was impaired. So, I agree with fellow posters that your MacBook has to have plenty of RAM to run a virtualization box for Windows.
I decided to use BootCamp instead to have the 8 GB of RAM fully available to my Windows 7 64-bit Pro OS in my MacBook Pro. Mind you, I haven’t used Windows 7 (or even Trados) as often as I would have liked, but it answers the original goal of having a strong backup system in case my HP laptop gives up the ghost (which it hasn’t after more than a year of heavy use!)
I do use my Mac for Photoshop and InDesign, though, when required and for personal reasons. Charles Elk is right: the Trados requirement is a myth. I often use Deja Vu instead and return Trados files (TMX for TMs, for example). Other clients don’t even care if I use a CAT or TEnT tool, so I use one at my discretion.
Thanks for sharing your experiences! That Trados requirement is worth exploring in a different post I guess…
Many thanks for your comment. I’ve heard excellent reviews on OmegaT, so I’ll definitely give it a try.
I do agree on the simplicity and reliability of the Mac and that’s my goal: move away from Windows for good.
I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised from part II of my post to be published next week. The destination is in sight in spite of missing the first turn!
Welcome to the club! The other advantage of Macs is that they last a lot longer. I used my previous iMac as my main computer on a daily basis for seven years, and it’s still going strong as a backup machine. I’m sure your new MacBook will give you equally good service.
I don’t use a CAT tool, but when I first bought my current iMac I installed Windows 7 under Parallels in order to run Word 2007 (Word 2008 for Mac was notoriously bad). As soon as Word 2011 for Mac became available, I happily kissed goodbye to Windows and its constant software updates that slowed the system down every time I launched the virtual machine.
So, if you want to persist with your Bootcamp + VM approach and need an extra copy of Windows 7, I have one going spare. Seriously.
To quote my wife, a more recent Mac convert than I: “Once you go Mac, you never go back!”
Many thanks for the wishes! Alison is right, so I guess that extra copy of Windows won’t be necessary…
Once I find a working solution for a CAT tool on the Mac, it’s bye-bye Windows for me too.
See you soon
Really appreciate your article, sound interesting and helpful. I am planning the same migration since Mac is well known for its stability compared with the same with PC. What I concern most is the compatibility with third-party applications (especially CAT tools in our case). After all, most applications are PC based. BTW, I have shared your article on my group named Native Chinese Translators In China. You are kindly invited to join the group, waiting for your Part 2. Have a great day.
Most CAT tools are PC-based but you can find a way around for Mac. It really depends on your clients: if they are flexible, you can use the Mac for translation without problems!
Have a great weekend!
I’ve never used a PC, switched straight from Atari to Mac in 1993. 🙂 I agree with Charles – I’ve been a translator for nearly 12 years now and there was never a shortage of work solely because I didn’t use Trados. Either the client makes it possible somehow (there are agencies that do all the aligning afterwards for me just because they really want me to do the job) or it is an assignment I can live without because of those pesky discount schemes that you seem to be obliged to consent to once you invested in a costly CAT tool.
I’ve been using Wordfast occasionally (back when it still was a freeware Word template and also the new standalone version in demo mode) and I’ve been becoming friends with OmegaT only recently. There are also several other CAT tools for Mac, like Swordfish (which I am still planning to give a try some day soon). You might want to check http://mac4translators.blogspot.com/ for more advice.
Many thanks for your input. I guess I made a mistake back in the ’80s: switched from Amstrad to PC…
You are right about the possibilities of using Wordfast, OmegaT, Swordfish and the likes for Mac, it’s just a question of finding the best solution that works for you.
It will be a busy weekend for me trying out all those tools…
Hi Christos, there’s another option you didn’t try: you can use Parallels (of VMWare Fusion) to create a new VM, yes, but you can also tell them to use the Boot Camp partition, so when you need to boot into Windows to, say, play a game or any other program that doesn’t work just fin in Parallels, you can just reboot your Mac into your Boot Camp partition. But most of the time, you can just load up your Windows installation inside Boot Camp from Parallels. This has the advantage of installing PC software just once: whatever you installed there, will be available both when using Windows within Parallels, or booting your Mac into Windows.
Also, the Mac version of Office is quite nice; after all, the purpose of getting a Mac is using Mac OS X, not Windows. I have never used Trados, but I do own a license of Wordfast that works just fine on the Mac (aside from the fact that it is a Java app and the interface is somewhat ugly). So, although I do have a Boot Camp partition with Windows 7, I barely use it, and do all of my work (translation-related or not) in Mac OS X.
Let me know if you need some technical help with the first part of my comment.
Thank you for sharing your views. My goal is to do all my work in Mac OS X; so far, translation is the only thing missing. But as you probably know, you can do that. I just have to educate my clients a bit on Trados alternatives.
Bootcamp and Parallels will be soon obsolete in my case (fingers crossed)!
Way to go! Luckily, we have standards like TTX and TMX files that can be exchanged between Trados and other tools like Wordfast. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but do their Windows counterparts work perfectly anyway? Also, there are even Mac-based CAT tools that are not available for Windows.
My best wishes with your new Mac, I see more and more colleagues make the switch.
Thanks for the wishes Angel,
The good thing about the colleagues that make the switch is that they never miss Windows. That says a lot on Mac’s reliability and ease of use.
I have always used Macs, because I came from the advertising industry, where they are dominant. Since the advent of Parallels Desktop, I have never had a problem with Windows running slowly. In fact, Windows 7 is quite fast on my MacBook Air, even running Trados and other CAT tools. The trick is to get as much RAM as you can possibly afford.
If you install Windows in a Bootcamp partition, you are basically using the Mac as a PC, which defeats the purpose of having a Mac, because you can’t use a lot of the advantages unique to the Mac when you are working in Windows.
Primary among the advantages for me is the Spaces feature that allows you to organize your applications into any number of separate virtual “spaces”, so that your interface isn’t cluttered. A keyboard command lets you toggle among these spaces. So I’ve got Windows in space #1, and I can toggle to space #2, where my browsers are open, and #3 where my office suites open up, and these applications are only visible in their respective spaces.
The languages I work in require a lot of diacritics, and I can’t memorize the keyboard layouts of three or four languages. Diacritics are a complicated pain to type in Windows (requiring hex codes to be memorized, etc.), but they are easy in the Mac. So I can switch to a Mac application, type the text with the diacritics, and then paste it into the Windows application. It sounds harder, but it’s easier.
Also, with Parallels Desktop you don’t have to deal with the common problem of Windows constantly launching unneeded applications in the background and slowing down your computer.
Many thanks for your comments. I do agree with you that Bootcamp in essence defeats the purpose of having a Mac. On the other hand, I’d love to see the large software companies investing some money in creating Mac versions of their products (especially in the translation sector).
There are many advantages on the Mac side of life, I’ll mention some of my favorites in the second part of my post next week.
Hi all, hi James Kirchner,
thank you for the insight. I’ve been a Mac user for 5 years when I literally turned my back on PCs and had been praising Steve Jobs ever since:-) Still, a week ago I decided to install Parallels on my MacBook Pro in order to work with Windows-based Trados. Truth is everything’s running smooth and I didn’t experience any kind of problem. I keep working with my Mac OS and switch to Windows only for Trados.
James, your post really helped me because I can better organize my “Spaces” and still enjoy the perfection and simplicity of the Mac environment! So, I guess I can now concentrate on learning Trados and on better organizing my projects. Next Thursday I’m attending my first Proz.com Trados webinar, and I’m really
excited:-))) Apart from Steve Jobs, I’m also very grateful for all those freelance translators who are so helpful and so willing to share their valuable experience with other colleagues. Congrats on this excellent blog, it surely made my translating life less complicated!
Hi Christos – Thanks for your post. I am a Mac user starting out as a translator, so I come from a different path but encounter the same problems and found your article very helpful.
Thanks also for all the excellent comments. I was just wondering if anybody has any experience with the Heartsome Translation Studio, which works with Macs and Windows (and Linux!) and uses XML and TMX-files. I’m looking forward to the second part of your post!
Glad to hear that you liked my post! I haven’t used Heartsome myself, so I have no opinion on it (yet). All the best for your translation career!
Thank you very much for sharing your experience. I was interested in finding out about Bootcamp on Mac as I am considering to install it in order to use some CAT tools on my Mac. Your first article has been very useful and the second one as well.