This article was first published on 2007-07-20. Due to the age of this article, it is included here for archive purposes only.
One of the more interesting features available for purchase with a new Mac is a service called .mac or dotMac as it is often written. Touted as the center of your digital world by Apple, it is a yearly subscription service costing $99 that provides you with an email address, web hosting, and 1 gigabyte of online storage available on a virtual drive called iDisk.
The real beauty of dotMac is how integrated it is with the iLife suite of applications. iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, iDVD, iTunes and iWeb all have a button allowing you to publish material to your dotMac account. No technical knowledge is needed to do any of this, including setting up a website using iWeb.
Using Apple’s templates, you can have a beautiful looking website published in less than an hour, which can be a great way for a small business to get their website off the ground quickly. iWeb plus dotMac is also an excellent way to build personal websites for slideshows, movies and blogs, and the ease of use allows users to focus on produc-ing content and not worrying about HTML code.
DotMac is more than just a hosting service though; is also touted as a backup and online file sharing utility. You can store files, contacts and calendar information on your account and share this with fellow workers or family members. This drive can be accessed from any computer, giving you a great way of sharing and keeping files you might need within reach.
The online hard drive portion of the service is limited due to its size of only 1 gigabyte, but more is available for purchase at the cost of $50 for 2 more gigabytes or $100 for 4 more gigabytes of space. If you use a Mac for work, this alone can be worth the cost of the subscription. However dotMac is far from perfect.
The mail portion of dotMac is simply called Mail and is by far the weakest offering of the features touted by Apple. It is a slow email service that doesn’t handle large email files well. Overall, the Mail service in dotMac is easily beaten by free offerings in the web email world such as Yahoo mail or Gmail by Google. There is also the risk of using dotMac for your primary email due to the headache of changing email addresses should you discontinue the dotMac service.
Additionally, there are a bunch of smaller features that are nice to have, but don’t warrant the use of dotMac on their own. They include: syncing your data across several computers, forming online Groups to facilitate communication for a group such as a class or soccer team, sending email cards, as well as calendar and photo publishing. So now that you know what .mac can do, is it worth the cost?
It depends on what you are going to use it for. This is a service that is a jack of all trades, master of none in that there are far better options in every category that can be had for cheaper. However the true strength of dotMac is the ease of use that allows users with no technical knowledge to be sharing files, building websites and just generally doing things that less technical users have been unable to acheive. The iDisk is also beautifully integrated within OS X, providing online storage that works like another hard drive in your computer.
In the end, dotMac is an excellent service in the way it’s integrated with iLife and for its ease of use, but for the cost the size of the storage space along with the bandwidth allowed for the websites posted to dotMac accounts, it is not the most economically friendly option.
The bottom line is that if you want to make a small website, share some pictures, movies or mp3’s, or organize several calendars across multiple machines, dotMac is right for you. A quick and easy website alone can be worth your $99 if you haven’t learned to make a web site on your own. But if you just need high-speed hosting, lots of online disk space or excellent mail management, you may want to look elsewhere.
One last note: It is widely expected that dotMac will get an overhaul this fall when Leopard comes out, so if you use it, you might be looking at a free upgrade in the short term.
If you do decide to get .Mac, you can throw MFM a bone by clicking our .Mac link on our Support page before you subscribe and Apple will throw us a few dollars. Thanks!
Did this article answer your questions about getting .Mac? Let us know in the Comments section below!