OSX

After two week of working with OSX I am quite impressed with it.

Coming from windows it does take some time to get use to it, but it is a rather quick learning curve.  It has been a pleasure setting up and I loved how easy it was to work with the System Preferences and how easy it was to find and to change something.  I am not a Windows basher and I pretty much like working with Vista, but OSX just seems so much more stable and integrated.  Too often under windows you get the feel that things were grafted on and though they generally work they don’t always have the responsiveness you might desire.  It just works.

There are of course several things a Windows user will at first find frustrating.  You open a program and think at first there is no menu bar available – when in actuality OSX uses a common Menu bar at the top of the screen that is used by all OSX aware programs.  This is really a much better solution and frees the real estate of program windows.

The Mac’s Command key functions much like the PC Control key, but it placed at the normal Alt key location.  Thus command PC commands like Ctrl-C, Ctrl-X, Ctrl-P, Ctrl-A etc are now Command-C, X, P, etc.  Thus I have made plenty of mistakes copying/pasting.  I am looking for a good solution to remap the keys and have it work with Synergy, but haven’t found it yet.  Though I am much more accurate in remembering which key to use when I am in what environment.

The way the maximize button works is also quite different from how it works in Windows.  Though I now understand why the PC version of iTunes never included a button to minimize to the mini player.  Under OSX the maximize button can cause iTunes to switch to the mini player or back to the full player mode. You also have to get use to being able to resize from only one location on the window.  This is one area where Windows is more intuitive in the resizing of windows.

Installing programs in OSX is also much different, but really quite an improvement.  There is much better control over where programs are installed and you are much more likely to know where files are being placed.  Plus if you decide to later move a program from one area to another it is also much more likely to still work and not break any links to it.  I use to be quite a fan of IBM’s OS/2 which was really a pretty good operating system for its time and it also had this capability.  Though you must remember that some files can be placed in other folders such as in your library folder and you must remember that dragging an application program in the trashcan will not delete these files unless you use an application that enhances the trashcan.

I really like Spotlight and how well it is integrated into the system.  This provides really good searching capabilities throughout the system.  Vista has much improved search capability, but it is not as well integrated and is limited.  I have used Spotlight a lot as I got use to OSX to easily find apps and documents. I really like Spotlight comments that allow you to tag a file.  You can then do searches that can find info in these tags.  Vista has added tagging, but it is not available to all file types.  Back in my Dos days I use to use a command shell called 4DOS that allowed me to tag files with descriptions.  I always found this invaluable and think it is odd that this hasn’t been something incorporated into OSs from the beginning.  The Spotlight tag information is placed in a .DS_Store hidden file found in the same folder.  If you copy or move the file the tagged information is retained.

The Dock is quite intuitive and is much easier to access than the Windows start menu.  It is quite fun to use when you have turned magnification on in its preferences.  Though you have to aware that closing a window that returns to the Dock doesn’t actually close it and release system resources. You have to click on it in the Dock first and select Quit to actually do this.

Well I could go on and on about Windows and OSX differences, it is just that switchers and sliders need to be aware of them.  I can easily see why Apple fanboys so love the Mac and OSX.  They really are a pleasure to work with  and if I never had to work with Windows again I certainly would shed no tears.