Hi, I’m a Mac (continued)
In my previous blog entry, I mentioned that I am now the owner of an Apple computer. And you know what? I love it! I love almost everything about it. It’s pretty, it’s quiet and it just works. After an introduction like that, one could expect a post full of Apple praise, but I’m going to go in the other direction. In this post I will talk about what I don’t like about my Mac. Most of these things are not related to my Mac in specific, but to Apple computers and OSX in general. In some cases, I have been able to fix whatever was bugging me, but please remember that I got this thing only a few days ago, so if I’m wrong about anything or if you have info on how to fix or work around something, please let me know by posting a comment.
The white Apple keyboard that came with the computer is absolutely beautiful, but it is also borderline unusable. The keys are spungy and, in my opinion, elevated too high above the table. I often find myself hitting the wrong key or pressing a key only find it wasn’t registered. I’ve been using my trusty Logitech UltraX Media Keyboard for a year or two now and it’s the best keyboard I have ever used. I’m switching back and forth between the Apple keyboard and the Logitech trying to figure out if my opinion on the Apple keyboard is based solely on me being used to the Logitech. We’ll see.
Using a Windows keyboard in OSX works pretty well, but there are some differences and some annoyances. First off, I’m not a big fan of the extensive use of the command key in OSX. For example, copy and paste are command+c and command+v as opposed to ctrl+c and ctrl+v. I prefer the Windows way because it just suits my hand position better. In order to hold down the command key, I have to move my hand and fold in my thumb. It just doesn’t feel right. But I guess it’s just something I will get used to over time. Actually, the only use for the ctrl key I have found so far is ctrl+tab to switch between tabs in Firefox. I’m sure it’s used in some elaborate multi-key shortcuts as well, but I haven’t learned any of those yet. If anyone knows of a way to switch the ctrl and command keys in OSX, please let me know.
Another keyboard related problem is the way the home and end keys operate in OSX. In Windows, home and end move you to the beginning and the end of the current line. Hitting ctrl+home and ctrl+end moves you to the beginning and end of the document. In OSX, home and end does what ctrl+home and ctrl+end does in Windows. What this means is that there is no quick way to move the cursor to the beginning and the end of the current line. Most people probably never touch the home and end keys, but I use them constantly, so this is very annoying. I’m not sure which method is “correct”, but I definitely prefer the way it works in Windows. You can duplicate the behavior with command+left and command+right, but it’s a lot more cumbersome and if you do it in a textarea, Firefox thinks you want to navigate to the previous page. There’s some light at the end of the tunnel though. There’s a small app called KeyFixer that sets some custom key bindings in your Library folder. Only problem is it doesn’t work everywhere. Firefox for example, completely ignores it. As does Safari in it’s address and search bars.
Another keyboard action I do all the time in Windows is ctrl+left and ctrl+right. In OSX, the equivalent is option+left and option+right (the option key is the same as the alt key). Argh, more changes to get used to.
Tabbing through forms in Firefox is horribly broken. I haven’t tested this thoroughly, but it appears as if buttons and dropdowns are ignored when tabbing through forms. If a form consists of three text input fields followed by a button and you hit the tab key in the last text field, you would expect the focus to switch to the button. It doesn’t.
You delete files by hitting command+backspace. What’s up with that? Why not just delete? I’ve read that command+delete should work, but it doesn’t work for me.
I don’t like the way OSX does mouse acceleration. When I use the Mighty Mouse that came in the box, it’s not so bad, but when I use my Logitech G5, it’s horrible. As I searched for a solution to the problem, I encountered lots of other “switchers” with similar woes. One of them said moving the mouse around was like moving it “through mud”. That pretty much sums up the sensation. You get the feeling the pointer never quite settles on whether it should move with or without acceleration. Luckily, there’s a solution to this problem in the form of a $20 shareware app called SteerMouse. Hallelujah! After some tweaking, my mouse now feels pretty much the same way it felt in Windows. I was also able to re-assign middle-click so that it now allows me to middle-click-scroll. Something I do all the time when reading long documents.
Quicktime has decided that it wants to control playback in Firefox of pretty much every audio and video format out there. I’ve tried telling the QuickTime plugin that I don’t want it to, for example, play back mp3 files, but it appears to completely ignore the settings under “Advanced/MIME Settings”. When I click a link to an mp3 file, I want to have the option of saving it or opening it in my mp3 player.
I don’t use the dock at all so I would like to turn it off. I know I can hide it, but I would like to disable it completely. Anyone?
That’s all for now. After the weekend, I’m going to post something on some of the apps I have been testing out. In particular, OSX equivalents of the apps I used all the time in Windows.