Some things I don’t like about my Mac

It's more than one month and half now, that I am using a MacBook Pro at home - mostly for fun than for work - so I think that I can say something about my first experience coming from Linux recently, and Windows in the past.
I don't want to offend anyone, so don't see this list as a bad judgment on OSX: I think OSX is fantastic for certain uses, but at the moment I am a little bit skeptical about his fitness on programming tasks, especially compared to Linux.
Naturally OSX has advantages and weakness over competitors, and it's full of people out there talking about all the good things Mac brings to you. So, let me complain a little bit about things that are annoying me; of course not for Apple's fault, but just because I am a guy difficult to please, and because I think that the ancient habits are not a good pretext to keep the bad stuff.

Shortcuts

  • The Terminal.app ... I had to remap some keys, because the defaults are totally insane. You find yourself trying cmd-alt-shift-fn combination to jump to the start/end of the line, move word by word, or just doing pageup/pagedown to scroll a man page. I had to trick a little bit with configuration to reassign key bindings to some meaningful behavior, but still I've not succeeded to have a satisfactory setting for the terminal: home and end do not work, so if you use less or man there's no way to move to top/bottom, while you have to use CTRL+A/CTRL+E to move at beginning/end of the command line (on Linux HOME/END work everywhere man/less included, and CTRL+A/E work as well). I'll try iTerm and see if this relieves me from this pain, but I am still keeping to teach myself those keys.
  • In Finder.app - as in many programs - if you are in the list view and you have many files, you press fn+down to do a Page Down, the vertical scrollbar goes down by one page but... the selected file is still the one in the previous page, so if you press Up or Down arrows the scrollbar goes back to the original position... Fortunately some programs are not so insane to keep this behavior as the default.
  • In Finder.app to jump to a file from another, you just type the letter corresponding to the name of the files, like in Windows Explorer o Linux Thunar/Nautilus. But, when you switch to column view, this functionality stops working, and typing the keys does just nothing.
  • Always in finder to see the file size, you press space. Or, Command-I. But to see the filesize of the selected files (if many), don't know how to do. This information is always displayed on the status bar of Explorer in Windows or Thunar/Nautilus on Linux.
    A colleague that also recently switched to a MacBook, suggested me to try PathFinder, and maybe I'll try that, to see if I can get rid of the numerous defects of the Finder.app.
  • The default action for the "Enter" key on icons is Rename, instead of opening the icon. To open a file the key combination is Command-O. Now, I would like to know why should I rename so much stuff, as enter key is so commonly used as confirmation key. All other file managers I've ever seen, since the dosshell, are doing exactly what you expect when you press enter on an item.
  • The confirmation windows displaying "Are you sure?" with usual Yes/No buttons, are not responding to Y and N key. To use the keyboard to click on that buttons you should navigate using tab, then Enter (that in this case, it doesn't rename the button).
  • And last, but not least... you cannot lock the computer using a key combination (CTRL+L on Linux, Win-L on Windows). You have to move the mouse on a screen corner (if you've configured it). I always lock my laptop when I get away; having this shortcut missing, and having to use the mouse, for me, it's disappointing.

System behavior

  • The Maximize button does not maximize... it usually adapts to the window size to the content of the window. Fortunately some programs redefined this misbehavior. For example, Firefox and Eclipse it works properly.
  • Windows resizing can only be done on the bottom right corner... so if you have a window on the bottom right edge, you first need to drag it on top left corner then resize it.
  • The "Cut" command in Finder doesn't work, so you can't "Cut-and-paste" files and folders; you have to drag and drop with the mouse. You can run the command "defaults write com.apple.finder AllowCutForItems 1" to enable this; see here.
  • Tooltips... they have 2 seconds delay... and now way to have it shorter.
    For example, on windows/linux eclipse tooltips are immediate: you have a compilation error, you move your mouse over the red cross or over the red underlined word and you get the compilation error in the tooltip immediately. On OSX tooltips on eclipse takes two seconds.
  • Selecting items in lists: in finder selecting files, you can use SHIFT up and down to select files: so if you have a list of items like:
    - A
    - B
    - C
    - D
    - E
    If you select B using shift, the press down 2 times, you'll have B C and D selected; but then, if you press the up button, instead of deselecting D... A gets selected. I've not found yet a way to workaround this. That's one of the most painful OSX behavior. See this.
  • If a window doesn't have the focus, when you click on it (for example on a link in a browser), your action doesn't involve in triggering the widget, but only to focus that window. In Windows/Linux, when you click on a button or a link, it just happens what you expect: the link is followed or the button is pressed, even if the target window is not focused. On mac, you click on the button or the link, and the window gets focused; then you have to click again to trigger the action of the widget under the mouse pointer.
  • The tab key to jump from a form widget to the next in a window, by default goes only on Text Boxes and List. Ok, this can be configured to work properly. So I quit here complaining about this point.
  • Some applications can be installed just dragging an icon into the applications folder. I love it! But, some other applications require you to click on a .pkg file, and go through a Windows-like installation wizard. For example I recently installed the Mono framework, and this had no uninstall instructions (that actually I could forget after some time); and to know how to uninstall it you just dig inside the pkg file and find a shell script to be ran. In windows you have an applications that manages adding and removing apps, in Linux you have apt/synaptic or other similar stuff. On mac, nothing, you are alone (with Google).
  • The Lock and the other attributes on files (see `man SetFile`). Sometime you can't empty the recycle bin, it happened to me, and I had to google to find the trick to keep ALT pressed while emptying the recycle bin. I don't -yet- understand the meaning of those properties, but at least a hint or a confirmation might pop up when some locked file are being removed from the bin, instead of blocking the user without help.
  • The unix security model: on Mac you can just type 'touch /foo' as normal user, without doing `sudo`... As a Unix habit, this is the first time I see a thing like that, and it doesn't seems to me a smart thing. It already happened to me to install applications on the root folder instead of in the "/Application" just because I wrongly dragged and drop an icon... I cannot imagine what a normal user (a non programmer) could do.
  • The fonts smoothing: the text looks blurry. I don't know if this is a problem of the led technology of  the display, but I don't appreciate very much how fonts are rendered on the screen. If this problem is due to the led display or the glossy screen (but it may be just a software issue), this is the only regret about the excellent and stylish hardware I bought.
  • In Finder.app, there are files hidden (for instance if you browse the root you only see few files), and no way to see them all. I've not understood how the filtering works, and how to eventually disable it. Hiding things could be a good idea, but you have always to offer a "see all" feature. I've not found it yet (that means that also the feature, if it's available, is hidden; and hiding features is always bad)
  • And, at last, the shared menu bar, I don't like at all. Actuators changing behavior, are generally known as a non good thing from the usability perspective. Question of habit? Maybe. Maybe not.

Hope to not having hurt anyone's sensibility. I am still quite happy with the buy, nevertheless I tried Ubuntu Jaunty Jakalope last nights, and unfortunately it has very bad limitations on the MacBook hardware: the mousepad in particular, cannot right click and works very bad in general. I'll consider Linux on Mac when those problems will be fixed, unless I get fully accustomed with OSX before that: after all, it looks so nice. But all of the above points are relevant usability issues from any point of view, if we put faith away.


2 Responses to “Some things I don’t like about my Mac”  

  1. 1 Daniel

    At first i was amazed by the looks and feel of mac os.. first time seeing or using it.. but the more i use it the more i notice all this things you are wwriting about.. maximizing sucks. finding open programs are akward. sometimes mainstreem is right! when it comes to user interface sometimes/most often mainstreem is the ONLY way to go.
    MAC os feels like a bad windows version that wanna be linux. but i guess you get used to everything.

  2. 2 Luigi

    I installed Linux on it… :)

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