Crappy Window Management on a Mac

I’m getting used to the Mac OS X interface on my new computer. I swear I am. But there is one thing that Windows handles much better than Mac and that is window (small “w”) management — that is, how windows are displayed on screen.

My main beef is with the Mac method of “maximizing” the window in which you’re currently working. On Windows XP, if you click the maximize button, the window fills the entire screen and you can easily focus on your current project. In Mac OS X, however, the maximize button is, by design, a “zoom to a bigger window but don’t fill the entire screen” button.

Let’s say I want to do some Web design work in Dreamweaver. In OS X, my screen looks like this (click to enlarge):

Mac-Cacophony-761579
Huh? Where’s the Web page I want to work on. I guess it’s the upper-most window, but with all that clutter, who can be sure? Oh wait, I just accidentally clicked somewhere outside one of the Dreamweaver windows. Now I’m in a different application! How do I get back to Dreamweaver?

In contrast, in Windows XP I can simply click one button and have Dreamweaver fill the entire screen — allowing me to focus my attention where it should be.

I am not alone in the recognition that Mac OS X’s “maximize” is crap. See also:

http://shiflett.org/blog/2006/feb/mac-os-x-annoyances-and-resolutions
http://forevergeek.com/apple/mac_vs_windows_its_all_about_the_maximize_button.php
http://acurrie.wordpress.com/2007/01/31/windows-osx-shortcomings/

Crappy Bluetooth

I’ve got this MacBook, right? And it’s got Bluetooth built in, don’t you know? But I don’t got no Bluetooth devices.

So, while I was out in Phoenix recently, I impulsively bought a Bluetooth mouse at Fry’s: the Macally model BT53 BTmouse.

What a piece of crap.

First, it’s frustrating as hell because it puts itself to sleep at a moment’s notice and you have to remember to click a button to wake it (just moving the mouse doesn’t do it). Problem is, sometimes it takes more than one click to wake it up. You’re stuck, clicking away, hoping it might come to.

Second, it comes with rechargeable batteries and a recharging stand. But, just two weeks after I bought it, they won’t hold a charge any more.

What a piece of crap.

And I’m now 1,500 miles from where I bought it so I can’t return to Fry’s and dump it.

Grumble, grumble.

I still like the idea of a BT mouse, however, and so I bought an overpriced Apple-brand one at the Apple store in Birmingham. Works like a charm. I don’t like the scrolly ball on the top as much as a regular roller thingy, but otherwise I’m liking it.

Wish it cost about half as much as it did, however.

Are Macs Crap?

I’m certainly not the first person to ask the question, “Are Macs crap?” Many, many, many articles have been written comparing Macs to other operating systems. And compare/contrast articles proliferate each time a new version of Windows comes out–as has happened recently with Windows Vista.

So, I don’t know that I’ve got anything unique to add to the debate. However, on 19 April 2007 I bought a MacBook after being a hardcore, “power” Windows user for years. So, I have, in a limited capacity, made the “switch” (despite the annoying, cloying Mac “switch” ads, which almost caused me not to buy a Mac). I say “limited” because my two main computers remain Windows XP machines; this MacBook is more of an auxiliary machine–for portable use and traveling. And I do a lot of work on Linux servers, too.

Thus, I am not a OS chauvinist. And I have worked on Macs in the past and I bought my very first computer from Apple–the amazing little Apple 2e. What a sweet machine! Talk about no crashes? That was the last computer I used that never crashed.

Why did I buy a Mac this time?

  1. One of my computer’s hard drives just died (after only two years of use! crummy HP desktop computer!) and I was in the market for a new one and I rilly don’t want to go to Windows Vista. (Reasons not to use Vista: number 1.)
  2. I’m interested in some lightweight video editing using Final Cut Pro. I teach in a department that teaches video editing and Macs are what my colleagues use. I want to be able to draw on their expertise, although I have had good luck with Adobe Premiere and Adobe Premiere Elements.

I plan to use the Crappy Software Blog to chronicle the joys and sorrows of learning a new operating system. We’ll see how much detail I feel like writing. If an item has already been well covered elsewhere, I may just list it here–unless its craposity warrants further comment.

This post will be updated/edited as I discover more things about Mac OS (X Tiger).

Joys

  1. The display is well-defined and very bright. I suspect it’s something about the Mac gamma setting. In any event, photos and videos look great.
  2. Web pages appear to render more quickly in Firefox than in the same software on Windows. (No, I won’t be using the sucky, Mac-provided Safari. What a substandard Web browser!)
  3. When you first create an account, it uses the built-in camera to snap your picture to use as an avatar. Cute!
  4. If you put two fingers on the touch pad, you can scroll with them (instead of just moving the cursor). Handy!
  5. Adjusting monitor settings is more intelligent on OS X than Windows XP. If you’re running two monitors (e.g., my MacBook and an external monitor) and you call up the “Displays” settings, it shows a window for each directly on the individual monitor screens–unlike Windows which only shows you the settings for one or the other and makes you guess which is which.
  6. Also, the Mac seems to be smarter about handling dual monitors. I had a window open in one monitor when I unplugged it. The Mac shifted the window over to the still connected monitor. In Windows, if you try that, then the “open” window still displays on the phantom monitor and you can’t see it. It becomes very difficult, then, to move that window back onto the visible monitor space.

Sorrows

  1. The Delete key is a backspace key.
  2. Similarly, when viewing files in the Finder, you cannot delete a file with the Delete key alone. Instead, you must Move to Trash with a combination of Command-Delete.
  3. And “regular” deleting is a two-button process: fn-delete (fn = “function” key).
  4. The touchpad–like the mouse–has just one button. (Is this due to Apple stubbornness?!) But, thankfully, two-button mice work with it. (An $8 Logitech, wireless, two-button mouse works just fine with the MacBook.)
  5. Page Down/Up requires pressing two keys instead of just one: fn-down/up arrow.
  6. Maybe I’m just missing something, but selecting does not work as I expect with the and Home and End keys. That is, when holding down the shift key and End you should be able to select everything from that point to the end–in, say, a text box. But no…
  7. Adding a conventional, non-Mac keyboard results in unpredictable key assignments. E.g., which key will work as the Open-Apple key? (However, some Microsoft keyboards will let you assign keys and, by default, will match the cmd-opt-ctrl keys’ layout to their position on a Mac keyboard.)
  8. Windows can only be resized by click-dragging the lower-right corner (as opposed to click-dragging any edge of a window).
  9. A special connector is required to connect to an external monitor. Windows laptops come with this as a standard feature. Apple charges $17 for a video adapter. Ain’t that chintzy for a $1,200 computer?
  10. An update from Apple momentarily killed my built-in camera–less than a week after I bought it (so it “just works,” does it?). After dutifully going to Software Update and doing all the updates that were suggested, the camera stopped working. Went into Photo Booth and got nothing but a green screen. A Mac-using friend dug up this article, which explains, “Be sure that you shut your computer down completely (not just restart) after installing the update.” Shutting down is different that restarting? That sounds like a Windows thing! I thought Macs were smarter than that.Now I’m back in business and, using Photo Booth, I can create images such as the one below.Photo-26-708242
  11. The keyboard shortcut for closing a windows (cmd-w) is right next to the shortcut for closing an entire application (cmd-q), which makes it super-easy to shut down an entire app when you were just intending to close one window within that app. Yes, I’ve already made this mistake.
  12. Cmd-tab switches applications (just like, on Windows, alt-tab does), but it does not include app windows that are minimized to the dock.
  13. iDVD is an excellent coaster maker. Initially, it seemed like iDVD was a great little program. It certainly makes the process of building a DVD dead simple. But it’s not so great at burning several disks in succession. Three times now, it’s locked up at the burn stage and created useless DVD coasters. Each time, it was after I’d successfully burned one disk and then told it to burn another. And each time, I had to force-quit iDVD after it hanged at this screen:
    iDVDcrash-736719
    So, I’d have to say that Adobe Premiere Elements is the superior DVD authoring/burning software.

Neither a Joy Nor a Sorrow (tips/hints/tweaks I’d like to remember)

  1. The Control key often acts like the right mouse button, giving one an options menu. (Odd that the Option key does not do that.) In MacSpeak, this is the control-click.
  2. CMD-home/end take you to the start/end of a line.
  3. Option-cursor takes to to the next word (like CTRL-cursor on Windows).

Handy resources for switchers

  1. Switch 101: On Windows, I used to…

Comments may be made below, but anything vaguely smelling of an OS religious war will be deleted.