Goodbye to .Mac

by Chris Howard Jan 30, 2008

After some four years or so shelling out to Apple for a .Mac account, I’m finally making the commitment to ditch it. It has never been an overly good value, but changing primary email addresses is always a pain in the butt and takes a bit of effort…and will probably cause a few lost contacts.

In 2003 I got my first Mac, a PowerBook. Shortly after, I forked out AU$199, if I remember correctly, for my first subscription to .Mac. The justifications I can remember were the online services (such as backup to iDisk), the freebies, the iCal synchronization, and there was a bit of ego involved too, wanting a “” email address.

In the early days, Apple used to give freebies, such as software and Garageband Jam Pack samplers, but I reckon it’s been two years since the last decent freebie. So that was one tick against .Mac.

With the improving Aussie dollar, the price dropped and is now “only” AU$140. In the US it has remained at US$99 as it’s always been.

When others criticized its value, I leapt to its defense. I held out year after year, hoping Apple would add something to make it an unbeatable value, but it never came. I thought about quitting last year but persevered for another year, because I didn’t want the hassle and still had some hope. I’m sorry Apple, all hope is gone now and AU$140 is worth the hassle.

I won’t argue that for some people .Mac is the ants’ pants, and excellent value. But that crowd is shrinking.

From .Mac’s feature list on its website, here’s what Apple thinks makes .Mac still worth US$100 per year, and some comments about why it’s not good value to me.

Web Gallery
Don’t use, don’t need it, use Flickr for free. A Flickr Pro account would cost only US$25 per year and give me more features and much better exposure.

Website Hosting
Don’t use, don’t need, have a Bluehost package. Although it costs US$83.40/year which is almost the cost of .Mac, it has so many better features that comparisons are pointless.

I use Gmail now for my primary (and secondary) email account and it also supports IMAP. As do my Bluehost email accounts. Unlike .Mac, which charges for additional email accounts, Gmail is free every time, and Bluehost lets me have up to 2,500 for no extra cost.

Back to My Mac
It would be too slow on my broadband—I’d have to be desperate to use it. And it only works from Leopard Macs. Using Macs at school, this may occasionally be useful, but it’s only a 10 minute ride home. And as far as screen sharing goes, well I don’t have any use for that. If I needed a “Back to My Mac” like service, I’d want it to work from any computer, and I’m sure there are offerings out there that do.

Always used this and found it useful after System rebuilds. But there are many other ways of backing up—and Time Machine makes it easier. Sync was offsite though, I can backup offsite with other services. I used to use the iCal syncing between Macs but long ago stopped that.

Always found this way too slow to be useful. That’s not necessarily a reflection on iDisk, more likely the slow broadband we have in Oz. And other services offer online storage if I need it in the future.

Never had a use for this functionality. Again, if I did, I could find it elsewhere.

Although previously a fan of Apple’s Backup app, I have been using Super Duper! for a couple of years. And with Time Machine, the need to use Apple’s Backup application diminishes even more.

10GB Storage
I don’t need that much storage for mail, and don’t use iDisk. After 4 or 5 years of .Mac and being a notoriously poor housekeeper (of email), I’ve only used 2.1GB of that storage, of which 2GB is email. Admittedly Gmail is less, at 6GB, but that’s not going to be an issue. And if I really need online storage, several services offer free storage.

Already the process has had some pain, with Apple requiring me to create a new Apple ID, and I’ll be interested to see if iChat still works with .Mac address as the .Mac FAQs assure. Although, to Apple’s credit, it does make canceling very easy. All you do is turn off auto renew and then not renew. Too easy! Unlike other services which demand a written request 7 to 30 days beforehand.

If anyone has had experience of letting go of .Mac, we’d love to hear your tips to make the transition smoother.

At the moment, you can get by in OS X and iLife without the extra functionality .Mac brings. Hopefully Apple won’t make it any harder. If .Mac was under AU$50 I’d stay on. And although Apple could offer some cool new services, AU$140 per year is unlikely to ever be justifiable again, especially compared to the competition.

So, on February 23, it’s goodbye, Apple, hello, Google. And I hope I never have to say that again.



  • I have seen subscriptions to .mac for the price you are seeking on eBay.

    calvinsmac had this to say on Jan 30, 2008 Posts: 2
  • The problem is Google services are NOT free. You give up personal information and mindshare to look at ads in exchange for the service.  This may be a totally acceptable exchange for most people, but we mustn’t confuse it with free.  If it were free, then Google wouldn’t be the multi-billion dollar company they are today.

    Personally,  I find the exchange with Apple to be a more “honest” one - I give them cash, they give me service.  There’s no pretense there.

    morganew had this to say on Jan 30, 2008 Posts: 3
  • Very nice rationalization, Chris.  Not all that Apple offers is for everyone.  What else is new? 

    If you’re looking for permission, it is granted.

    brotherStefan had this to say on Jan 30, 2008 Posts: 3
  • Dumb article. Pointing out that you can find an equivalent of everything mac offers is pointless. It’s always been that way. At this point you really expect mac to offer something that no one else can? I’d love to know what that is.

    The promise of dot mac was that it offered everything under one roof, that it all worked together and seamlessly. Instead of having to go one place for email, one for pictures, one for backup, etc. Has mac done a good job of that? Maybe, maybe not. But examining success in this area would actually have merit.

    Lastly, superduper! is not compatible with leopard yet, so you can throw that comparison out for now. And the fact that you didn’t know that puts another black mark on an already crappy article.

    dennisp had this to say on Jan 30, 2008 Posts: 1
  • While you can certainly find comparable services for much of .Mac’s stuff, I like having it all from one site.  But, the key reason I keep .Mac is for the syncing among my multiple Macs.

    I routinely add a calendar item at work, and within the hour it’s on all my Macs, and vice versa.  Today, I added a Contact record on my iPhone, and when I next sync it, it will also populate the Address Book on all my Macs.  Syncing has been a MAJOR convenience for me, and is the primary reason I keep my .Mac account operational.  It alone is well worth the annual subscription fee to me (~$8/month).

    Additionally, I keep my .Mac iDisk mounted on each of my Macs, and it syncs in the background hourly, so key files/data saved there are available, again, on all my other Macs when I next use them, and since they’re also saved on an Apple server, they’re backed up off site automatically.  This is also an incredibly useful and valuable service.

    Time Machine is great for local use, but having the automatic backup of key files/documents to a professional server farm is quite a comfort to me.

    While I’ve also played around with the online blog capability, and occasionally with other portions of the .Mac package, the above are the compelling services for me.  Of course, the mutltimedia features are what Apple touts to entice new customers, but the above are the reasons I continue to use .Mac, and I would be quite distraught should Apple discontinue it.

    Dave Marsh had this to say on Jan 30, 2008 Posts: 44
  • SuperDuper! (when it’s available for Leopard) will provide a bootable backup of your drive, and can be easily scheduled to run on a daily schedule, so it’s a great solution for catastrophic failure, with quick (within minutes) recovery to your last backup state (in my case, nightly).

    Time Machine is a great solution for instant recovery of deleted files that are over an hour old, and backs up automatically in the background, also great for users who don’t want to be bothered with the mechanics of backing up.  You can also do a full, bootable restore to a replacement drive following a catastrophic failure, but that process will take many hours.

    These two products serve very different needs.

    I’ve never used Apple’s .Mac backup application.

    Dave Marsh had this to say on Jan 30, 2008 Posts: 44
  • Since sells .mac for 69 dollars I’ll certainly pay that annual cost. If Google has free stuff there’s nothing wrong with me using both right?

    hmurchison had this to say on Jan 30, 2008 Posts: 145
  • Dude, if you don’t find value in .Mac don’t pay for it but don’t dismiss it’s value. I did a google search for WebDAV storage and the first 3 sites were crazy expensive. I finally found Bingodisk that offers 10GB of storage for only $20/year

    Regarding backup and how it compares to superduper and time machine, there is no comparison. Time Machine is a full local backup solution but if something physical happens to your machine, you are done so having online backup of key files is very valuable.

    You mentioned Flickr pro at $25 (it is not worth debating the quality of each).

    So, last year I paid $60 for .mac. Or $15 more than flickr and bingo for all of the additional integration .mac provides. This is a no brainer value equation to someone who uses the services.

    Doug Petrosky had this to say on Jan 31, 2008 Posts: 26
  • Even if you wanted the integration, you can get most of the integration with gmail for free (and no, having to look at the ads- which most people ignore anyway - isn’t the same as shelling out real hard-earned dough).

    iCal syncs with Google calendars, and you can access your Google calendars from anywhere.  You can also use your Google storage for off-site backups, which I do all the time with scripts, images, documents and invoices.  You can either e-mail yourself an attachment or use third-party utilities.  And again, you can access them from anywhere.

    And of course, there’s Flickr (or any number of websites) for photo sharing and hosting.  Yes, the dot mac photo sharing has a nice interface, but it’s also HUGE and SLOW.  In fact, almost everything about dot mac is like molasses.  And have you ever output a website from iWeb?  Good lord, you’ll eat up that 10GB of storage in a hurry.

    I will say that the 10GB hosting was a nice bump, but it’s still not enough to make it worth the price unless you have money to burn.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 31, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • Let me re-iterate from my article: “I won’t argue that for some people .Mac is the ants’ pants, and excellent value.”

    So we agree! smile

    The problem with .Mac though is that you have to use all or most of the services to get that value.

    It’s a shame Apple doesn’t have different packages - or at least provide the email as an option on its own. I think they’d get a lot of takers if they did and therefore make a lot of money.

    dennisp, actually, I did know that SuperDuper! is not yet fully compatible with Leopard. So by your evaluation, your comment loses credibility because you didn’t know that.

    I considered mentioning that in the article but decided not to as the problem will be rectified soon enough, and that this article will be read long after SuperDuper! is fixed which would then make it misleading.

    When all’s done and dusted, this site is a blog, not a newspaper. An article like this might be dumb in a newspaper and probably wouldn’t even make it to print.

    But blogs are more personal and the articles are consequently more personal. Bloggers often write about what matters to them here and now. If a blog article is not relevant to you or you disagree, that doesn’t make it dumb.

    These are opinions and my opinion is .Mac is not good value for me or anyone who isn’t going to take advantage of all or most of its services.

    And maybe there are some folks out there reading this who will be prompted to either use it or lose it. Coz that was my reaction a couple of years back when reading similar articles.

    And after trying to use it, I’ve decided to lose it.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jan 31, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • Thanks for the tip about iCal, Beeb. I haven’t yet fully explored all the ancillary services Google offers besides the email. I think once I do I’ll probably be back here raving about it. From memory, don’t they also have some photo hosting too? Thru Picasa?

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jan 31, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • The amount of ancillary support and hacks for Google products is astonishing.  That’s what you get when you have an open system that everyone loves and uses. 

    Apple has chosen the route of closing their products up tighter than Tom Thumb’s ass because Jobs is an ego-maniacal control-freak who thinks he should decide for you what you want.  I guess that has a few advantages, but I think most people would rather opt on the side of huge selection of options and services, openness, and free.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 31, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • Beeblebrox:  Please stop with the “free” bit about Google.  Google services are NOT FREE, they have a cost, the question is about your willingness to pay that cost of time, privacy and mindshare vs. cash.

    Moreover, Google is not dedicated to “openness” any further than needed to serve their interests.  Please note that for all their ballyhooed support for “openness” they have not made their internal linux server changes public, nor is their key algorithm “mapReduce” open source.  And this is totally fine - they aren’t required to release the code, even under the latest GPL license.

    So google is neither “free” meaning without cost, nor totally free when it comes to “free” as from the hardcore “free software” people. 

    And this is TOTALLY FINE.  But let’s not imbue Google with some kind of holy characteristics which they do not have. They are a company whose ultimate goal is to maximise shareholder value.  I personally love google maps on my iPhone, but don’t think that my love for a product translates into some kind of beatific status for the company that created it.  Be it Apple, or Google.

    morganew had this to say on Jan 31, 2008 Posts: 3
  • If you want to view your iCal calendar from anywhere using your .Mac account, just publish it.

    Click on the calendar you want to publish in iCal, then go to the menu bar and select Calendar/Publish.  This will open a slip that will give the confirmation of its being published, then two viewing options.  One is:


    for giving to others to view in their iCal as a subscribed-to calendar (great for keeping up on family member calendar events) and the other for general viewing is:


    which can be viewed by anyone from a browser, so just email it to them if they don’t have access to iCal (e.g., Windows users).

    The great thing about the .Mac package is all the tight integration.  I don’t use anywhere near the total services available, and find its convenience quite worth the ~$8/month fee.  And my .Mac weblog is just as responsive as my old “free” weblog, and much easier to edit, so if you find .Mac services sluggish, I’d dig a bit deeper to find out why.

    Dave Marsh had this to say on Jan 31, 2008 Posts: 44
  • Google services are NOT FREE, they have a cost, the question is about your willingness to pay that cost of time, privacy and mindshare vs. cash.

    That is ridiculous spin.  When someone gets a “free” update for their iPod or iTunes, do you argue with them they still have to pay in time, mindshare and privacy?  How utterly stupid.

    With Apple, you give up time, mindshare, AND cash.

    Moreover, Google is not dedicated to “openness” any further than needed to serve their interests.

    That ends up being pretty darn open.  And it’s heaps and heaps more open than dot mac.  And let’s not forget the openness of Flickr either, which is owned by Yahoo.  Both have great third-party support and ancillary software that enhances what they offer more so than those companies can do alone.

    dot mac is a dinosaur of a service in comparison to all you get with these alternate free services.  And that does not include products you can get if you’re willing to pay a little money.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 31, 2008 Posts: 2220
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