Posted by: WebHobbit | July 8, 2012

a PC user’s adventure into OSX

So I recently bought my first Mac (a 2012 MacBook Air). As a 17 year Windows ONLY geek the last several days have been quite an adventure. Here are my initial findings:

The first things you notice are the stark differences. Long held notions of what GUI should be like….and the very mechanics of HOW you do things. Not all of these differences are bad -some are good and some are just…DIFFERENT.

DELETE – is “backwards”….it travels to the left rather than the right. It also doubles as a backspace key – SOMETIMES. If you want to delete a file that’s COMMAND+DELETE

ENTER does NOT start a program or open a file/folder. It RENAMES files and folders. Open is COMMAND+DOWN ARROW. Not at all intuitive there.

All of the keyboard stuff is simply learned repetitive tasks that can of course be relearned. Not a big deal in the large scheme of thing. Once you get past the initial negative differences – the high cost of hardware and the “hands off” approach most of the differences I have to say so far seem VERY positive. But having said that before I go on and on extolling the virtues of Mac ownership let me get my initial complaints out of the way first:

1) Much like iOS (and I really don’t know if Mac OSX was this way BEFORE the iPhone) programs don’t really close when you leave them. They just sort of “hang out” in the background until you take an additional step to REALLY close it. In OSX when you hit the little red ball at the upper left of every app you would expect that to close the program -sadly it does NOT. Instead it kind of minimizes it to use Windows terminology. To REALLY close it you have to choose QUIT from the apps file menu at the top most menu bar that is always present even when only Finder (OSX’s Explorer) is running. Alternately one can use COMMAND+Q from the keyboard or right click on the dock icon and choose: QUIT. I expect I will get used to this pretty soon.

2) One would really and truly think that on the Mac platform great Graphics viewing apps would NOT be in short supply. After all this system is the DARLING of the photography and graphic art crowd. One would be- WRONG. Believe it or not out of the box a new Mac does NOT have any app that will quickly allow one to browse through a folder full of image files (while ignoring other file types) in full screen view OR windowed. It’s really INSANE. I couldn’t believe it! The default built in viewer called Preview will ALMOST do it….but not quite. I looked and looked and looked and I finally found one freeware app that does it pretty good. It’s called “Xee”. It’s nice and I did make it my default Image Viewer but it lacks any sort of thumbnail viewing or file/folder management ability so for now until I find something better for both I use it in combination with Adobe Bridge. It’s odd I always hated Adobe Bridge on the Windows platform but it’s fairly nice on the Mac. Weird. Anyway I am deeply astonished that the Windows camp have a TON (XnView, Acdsee, IrfanView, etc.) of capable apps for this while OSX has very few. Simply astonished. Any Mac guys reading this feel free to correct me just include LINKS.

That’s it really so far – two complaints (other than cost). Now on to the positives:

1) Plug and Play for reals – The closed hardware Eco-system of the Mac platform actually fulfills the old Microsoft premise of Plug & Play. Because the hardware drivers are all built in the OS and the hardware is pre-assembled from the same folks it really does Just Work. (I’ll admit to having to download/install one driver for my scanner but it IS an old scanner)

2) VASTLY SUPERIOR networking – Why in the hell is Networking so much harder in the Windows world? I was able to copy/move stuff between this MacBook Air and my HTPC (running Win7) and my Lenovo laptop (also Win7) in SECONDS. OSX allows you to “login as ____ ____” (insert name and password) and it remembers these credentials anytime you access those shares again from Finder. Why can’t you do that from Windows? CRAZY. This was an unexpected pleasure.

3) Beautifully consistent UI. This is something we’ve always heard about OSX but it’s REALLY true. Everything is clean and detailed…..uncluttered yet complete. It all matches too. I’ve yet to find some setting panel that still has trim from some previous build of the OS like you commonly do with Windows. It really is like what would happen if an actual artist designed an interface rather than a committee of programmers. (not that programmers can’t be artists but you know what I mean)

4) Installing/Uninstalling – these are terms you don’t really hear much of in OSX land. App installs are simple and wonderfully quick. All programs “live” in the Applications folder. They don’t crap all over the hard drive and there is no Registry. If you decide you don’t want something you previously installed you simply go in there and delete the folder – THAT’S IT. Wonderful.

5) Finder seems more capable and complete than Explorer. I NEVER liked details view on Windows…always seemed to waste space. But I LOVE it in Finder. It’s just presented so much nicer. (incidentally they don’t call it “details” – they call it “List” and it has selectable columns)

I could go on but it’s getting late (I have to get up at 3:15am). In a week or so I hope to put out another report on this but so far I am liking the change. Honestly #3 is probably the biggest thing. Everything is so beautiful I’m not sure I would ever want to return to Windows. Even the fairly gorgeous Windows 7 Aero setup looks almost crude and garish in comparison.

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