Two months with OS X: A Windows user’s tale
I recently landed a great job at a local web development company, Niche Studio, and I’m loving it. What I’m not loving so much are the PCs. They’re Apple Macs, and other than occasionally using one when visiting someone, I haven’t had any serious contact with the Mac OS.
So when starting my new position, it seemed a great opportunity to document my progress with this alien operating system. Being an experienced Windows user (if I do say so myself) may have prepared me a little.
This post was first filled with many things a long-time Windows user took for granted. It didn’t get posted in it’s original form for various reasons, and I’m glad it was postponed. There were many gripes about how Macs handled certain tasks, but now that I’ve had two months to become accustomed to this OS, many of those initial problems have been overcome through learning.
But there are still some issues. Some of them I’ve seen veteran Mac users encounter. And they are certainly annoying.
First off, menu item separators. Why does clicking them make the whole menu close? This is still present in the newest OS X release, Lion. Neither of the other two major operating systems do this (Windows or Linux). In what situation would a user want (or even more importantly, expect) the whole menu tree to close upon clicking a separator between menu items? None.
Resizing windows from any side. I realise this has been addressed in Lion, but really? Why did it take this long? By the way I’ve still got to deal with it because my machine is running Snow Leopard.
The mouse cursor’s hotspot. It’s almost three pixels from the tip of the cursor itself. Many times I have attempted to scroll horizontally with the scrollbar, only to click on the window under it.
Keyboard navigation. A confirmation dialog pops up. I’d like to press the arrow keys to highlight “Yes”, then press enter to confirm. I don’t mind being forced to use tab to select the controls. But then the Enter key still does the default option (“No”), not the one I highlighted. The spacebar is used to confirm your selection on Mac. Still catches me out.
Another with keyboard navigation. Command-tab (equivalent of alt-tab on Windows) doesn’t open minimised application windows.
Viewing file properties. I want to check how much space these thirty files are taking up. Highlight them, select “Get Info”. Thirty windows open up, one for each file. Oops, looks like I forgot to hold the control key. This is not what a user wants. Ever.
Keyboard shortcuts, or rather, long-cuts. Go to start of line: Command-Left. End of line: Command-Right. Why do I have to press two keys to do the equivalent of the Home and End keys in Windows and Linux? Also print-screen takes a three or four-button combination, compared to one or two on Windows.
Maximising windows. That little green plus isn’t very consistent. Sometimes the window will fully expand, sometimes only vertically and yet other times it takes me to a “mini” version of the application.
Searching for files. There’s no wildcard searching. Very odd.
No ability to type a filesystem path straight into Finder. I gotta click and scroll my way through.
A nice-to-have would be the right-click context menu appearing at the end of a drag operation. On Windows you can drag files with the right mouse button, and at the end of the drag you are presented with options such as “Move here”, or “Copy here”. I miss that.
Well, that’s all I came across (worth mentioning) during my first two months.