Simple & Smart Answers for Professional Independent Adjusters


Talking (s)Mac: Using a Mac to Adjust Claims?

March 6, 2015 | Adrian Eskew

tools & gearadjuster-developmentxactimate

I remember discretely holding the phone to my ear as though I was making a phone call — just to get that shot. It was the holy grail of ridiculousness. Lined up along the windows of the coffee shop, basking in pure hipster bliss, were at least five mac users. I remember snickering as I looked at the photo and saw all of those silly little glowing apples.

What was wrong with these people, I thought as I cheerfully pulled my Windows-based laptop from my bag and began scanning the room for an outlet. All these people had no clue how their attempts to ‘think different’ had made them all look the same. How dumb.

Fast-forward a few years, sitting once again in a cozy coffee shop, marveling at the sight of a guy franticly looking for an outlet as his Windows laptop sat dying in his arms. I quickly glanced at the menu bar of my Mac — phew, 87% battery left, and I’ve already been here two hours. As I snickered (once again), suddenly the realization of the irony of the moment hit me. I had officially become what I had made such fun of just a few short years earlier.

As I snickered (once again), suddenly the realization of the irony of the moment hit me. I had officially become what I had made such fun of just a few short years earlier.

So what changed? How did I go from a happy Windows user (by the way, I still am) to not being able to live without my Mac? And how did I figure out how to reliably work as an adjuster while using this machine? Read on to learn how you too can become a Mac Addict and leverage the power of this platform in your own adjusting career.

What happened to Windows?

Remember those hilarious Mac vs. PC Commercials? You know, the ones with the geeky, suit-wearing stiff next to the free and hip (and probably equally geeky) kid? Their now classic banter was the source of many workplace arguments back in the day where battle lines were officially drawn.

Little did we know, less than a year after those commercials first began to air, the Steve Jobs led Apple, would announce to the world this small rectangular gadget known as the iPhone. With it, Apple would begin their meteoric rise to become the most valuable and one of the most well respected companies in the world.

Little fish in a big pond

While we might be in the post-PC era, most managers know that businesses still run on Windows. The claims industry is no different. With a plethora of legacy systems, the necessity for Windows-based networks remains. And let’s not forget that our good friends over at Xactware have yet to produce a Mac version of Xactimate.

And let’s not forget that our good friends over at Xactware have yet to produce a Mac version of Xactimate.

But even with all of those businesses and people still stuck on Windows machines, there are a number of new companies and successful entrepreneurs that are bucking trends and making their Macs work for them in business. Having always been inclined toward the technological end of the claims world, I too found a way to make a Mac work for me.

Love at first sight — making the switch

So what changed? Remember, I was a happy PC user when this post opened, and here we are just over 500 words in and I am a Mac fanatic. Well, not only did I find myself searching for a sleek, ultra-portable and powerful notebook a few years ago, but somehow all of the designs I kept falling for were eerily Mac-esque. Once I did finally settle on a PC that I liked, with an all aluminum “case” and a glass trackpad (that stunk), I found myself longing more and more for the sleek design of the Macbook Pro.

That’s where it started, I fell in love with the design long before the interface. MacBooks start from a single block of aluminum that is then machined down precisely. I no longer had to worry about picking my computer up by the corner and feeling it flex. I felt like this computer could take serious abuse, but liked it so much that I didn’t want it to.

The Interface

In all fairness, many of the Windows-based computers today are very well built. In many of their efforts to mimic the popular Apple design, they actually created nice, durable machines.

But all that beauty in the design means next to nothing without a useful interface. While it may seem different from Windows, the Mac interface is incredibly simple. The biggest issue that most ex-Windows users have is their tendency to overcomplicate simple tasks. Generally, the same tasks from Windows can be accomplished on a Mac with a few less steps.

Fast and Virus-Free

Macs are fast. Seriously fast. The beauty of having the software designed by the same company that builds the hardware is a system that just feels right. Programs launch quickly and rarely crash. There are no blue screens and the best part, no viruses! Thats right, you can use your Mac without fear of losing all of your data to some virus that hitchhiked its way in on a mystery email.

Even Windows runs better on a Mac.

Now let me be clear, I am certainly not bashing Windows. Trust me, I could not live without Windows. I use it every single day. But what I have found is that Windows runs best on a Mac. As a matter of fact, I would say that my Macbook is the best Windows computer I have ever owned!

Adjusting to (and from) a Mac

So how do you make it work?

As adjusters, we rely on our tools and proficiency with them to get our jobs done. Without a doubt, the computer is one of the most important tools that we use for a number of purposes, including:

  • Writing estimates
  • Drafting reports
  • Archiving photos
  • Communicating with clients and insureds
  • Storing information
  • Navigation
  • And much more…

With all of that time spent at the computer, it has to be reliable and “just work”. Let’s take a look at how I made my Macbook work for my adjusting tasks.

The essentials

Going from a PC to a Mac was an interesting transition. I had engrained myself into the Windows culture and had all of my tricks setup the way that worked best for me. How was I going to emulate this setup on a Mac? First, I decided to make a list of the essential items that I would need to make adjusting claims from a Mac feasible:

  • Xactimate - without a doubt, this was and remains the biggest hurdle in working full-time from a Mac
  • Microsoft Office - most of my reports are written from Word and I still use Excel and Outlook every day
  • PDF Software - stacking, sorting and annotating PDFs are everyday tasks for an adjuster

What else? I needed to replace a few pieces of software but really felt that I could work from a Mac without forcing it. While it really depends on what you use your computer for, most people can easily put a Mac to use working claims.

Windows is a must

Here’s really good news for those of you who are heavily invested in Windows software. All of that can still be used on your Mac. But how (or why)? We already know there is no way to adjust claims from a Mac without having Windows installed. Luckily, Apple has baked the ability to run Windows from a Mac right into OS X (that is the default Mac operating system). However, to really make it work you will need to invest in quality virtual machine software.

A number of companies have made installing Windows and using it alongside Mac OS X completely seamless. These companies have done all of the hard work for you and have excellent support to get you through the process. VMWare Fusion, Parallels Desktop and VirtualBox are all popular options, and most offer a free trial of some sort.

The rest

Luckily, Microsoft has released a version of Office that is compatible with the Mac that works just like the Windows counterpart (you can even get most of the office apps on your iPad now). Not too shabby for a rival company. This means reports and spreadsheets can still be manipulated without issue.

Plus, one of my favorite features of OS X is the ability to create a PDF from almost any app. That’s right! If you need to create a PDF, no more “printers” or expensive software needed. Just click save as PDF and you’re done. You can even reorder, stack and append to PDFs without any additional software with your Mac.

Pulling it all together

The biggest question you may be asking at this point is why? Why would you want to use a Mac and endure the burden of learning a new system to adjust claims? This is a question each person will have to answer for themselves, but I’m happy to share why I made the decision…reliability.

As I already mentioned, Windows runs better on my Mac and I’m not kidding, it just seems faster and more reliable with no crashes or issues to date!

I’m no stranger when it comes to using a Mac or PC, but even I couldn’t avoid the pains and annoyances of constant viruses, crashes and hardware failures, which is the number one reason I made the switch (after falling in love with the design, of course). Today, I wonder if the crashes many Windows users face have anything to do with Windows at all. As I already mentioned, Windows runs better on my Mac and I’m not kidding, it just seems faster and more reliable with no crashes or issues to date!

Making it work for you

Up to this point, I’ve primarily focussed on why you would want to work claims from a Mac. I’d like to round out this article with how you can adjust claims from a Mac. First, let me take you on a tour of my own setup, starting with my Mac:

Hardware:

MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2012)

Processor 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5

Memory 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3

Hard Drive 128 GB SSD

Anyone familiar with computer hardware can tell you that this is not a maxed out machine. As a matter of fact, it is not very fast or powerful by Windows standards. But that’s the beauty of owning a Mac, I don’t need a maxed out machine to run my software, since its designed by the same folks that built the hardware they work together wonderfully!

But that’s the beauty of owning a Mac, I don’t need a maxed out machine to run my software, since its designed by the same folks that built the hardware they work together wonderfully!

Software

Here is the essential software that I purchased to get my Mac ready to handle claims. This list is certainly not exclusive as there are a number of companies producing similar software that will let you accomplish the same tasks:

Parallels Desktop - This is a virtual machine that can be used to run Windows and a number of other operating systems. The installation process is super simple with guided instructions for cloning your existing PC drive and setting it up as a new virtual machine on your Mac. By doing this, you don’t lose any of your programs, estimates or files. I chose Parallels Desktop over the rest for the awesome stability and great support.

Microsoft Office for Mac - Essential software for the professional in almost any field, Microsoft Office for Mac includes Word, Excel, Power Point and Outlook (through the Office365 Subscription). Yes, you can still use these programs through your Windows install, but I like having them available without having to start the virtual machine, which is useful when opening email attachments or making quick edits to reports or other documents.

Implementation

Okay, the last step is simple. Follow the instructions for your virtual machine of choice and get Windows setup on your Mac. Once you’ve got that installed, you can easily work through that operating system until you are more comfortable with the Mac OS. Trust me, it won’t take long and you’ll be the one sitting in the coffee shop, laughing at who you used to be and beaming from ear to ear over your choice. Why? Because it just works and will make you more productive out of the reliability alone. How do I know? Because I have thoroughly tested it and know it is true!


Regardless of which side of the Windows vs. Mac debate you stand on, I can nearly guarantee one thing — neither of these companies are going anywhere. That being said, if you are like me and want to become a well rounded adjuster/business professional, you owe it to yourself to know both.

So do you use a Mac to adjust claims? Have you considered making the switch? Let me know where you stand in the comments!


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