Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How the Apple iMac Works

        Tech | Mac Computers

Apple iMac Software
iPhoto empowers users to design custom photo albums, and even integrates a printing service to bring those albums to life as hard-cover keepsakes.
iPhoto empowers users to design custom photo albums, and even integrates a printing service to bring those albums to life as hard-cover keepsakes.
Image courtesy of Apple, Inc.

So what do you do with an iMac? Like almost any other computer, iMacs comes with a number of preloaded software packages, and you can buy many more separately.

iLife takes your ho-hum family photos and movies and jazzes them up into something your friends and family might actually want to watch. Create chic photo albums, or make Hollywood-style movie trailers from family movies. GarageBand, which is included with iLife, teaches you how to play piano or guitar, and if you record your wonderful singing voice, compensates for any unfortunate deficiencies in natural talent.

FaceTime, another preloaded application, lets you connect to your friends and family in high-def and larger-than-life using that fancy HD camera on the iMac. However, they'd better have another Apple device like an iPad, iPhone or even iPod Touch, or else this software won't cut it. No worries -- Skype or most other free Internet call software will still let you talk to your PC friends.

Most office drones around the world know Microsoft Office's family of productivity tools. While you can get this for the iMac too, Apple has its own set of tools called iWork. This set includes word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software, but no database creation tools. If you're the type to avoid paying for office suites when you don't have to, then consider OpenOffice, which offers a free Mac version of database creation tools compatible with OS X [source: OpenOffice].

So where do you get applications that don't come with your iMac? Why, the Mac App Store of course. Mac App Store is actually an application that serves as an Apple purchasing portal. After you download and install Mac App Store, you can buy things like iWork and other tools, toys and games for your iMac. Apple's big on controlling your experience, so Mac App Store looks and works a lot like the App Store for its mobile devices. Only approved software is available here.

Don't fret -- there's nothing stopping you from getting software elsewhere. Other free goodies you should load your iMac with include DropBox for sharing files in the cloud, Adium for consolidating all your IMs, and Skype for keeping in touch with your friends and family.

Now, let's trick out our iMac with some of the cool accessories you can get for it.