It’s been just about 5 months now that I’ve been using the MacBook Pro as my work computer. It’s not my primary computer at home, but when I don’t feel like being tied to my desk or I am away from home, it is my computer. I am quite familiar with it, though not an Apple expert, by any means.
I have gotten used to everything as best I can and there are still a few things that annoy me – some related to Apple, some not. I’ll start with the stuff that’s related to Apple.
First, I should preface this with the fact that I use an external keyboard at work. It’s easier on the hands and I have the full number pad. I don’t like the command+c and command+v key combinations for copy/paste. It’s a much more cramped position than CTRL+C and CTRL+V in Windows, though I am glad there is a key combo for that, I use it all the time. The other issue I have is with deleting files. Everything goes to the trash can automatically, which is nice because I can recover stuff from network and removable drives without having it automatically delete and gone forever. However, I can’t delete a file using the “forward” delete key. I have to use the “backspace” delete key. That’s just weird and confusing.
This one is something I’ve complained about many times before and the comments left were “Expose rocks, it’s so much better than Alt-Tab”. Wrong… well, at least in my case. I Alt-Tab quite a bit. I use it to get between programs and windows. I still am not 100% used to Command-Tabbing to the program and then Command-Tilda-ing to the window. That’s not intuitive and not easy. Expose is cool and all, but I have to grab the mouse, drag it to the hot corner, and then drag it to the window I want, and if I’m not on the correct virtual desktop (yes I use Spaces), then I still need to Command-Tab. Perhaps I should stop using Spaces? I don’t think so.
The last thing that annoys me is the lack of a “Start Menu” (I know the Start Menu is something that Windows haters love to hate). The thing I like about the Start Menu is easy access to all my applications without having to open Finder, choose Applications and then go to the one I want. With the Start Menu, it’s all in a nice easy menu. Personally, I think Applications should be a sub-menu of the Apple menu. I like the Dock, it’s nice and easy to access all my more frequently used applications. I generally use Spotlight to find the applications I don’t use as frequently, but sometimes I like to look through the whole list of them. For some reason, I remember this being part of MacOS at some point (might have been pre-OS X).
Print Screen… Why the heck is there no Print Screen button on the keyboard? Instead, there are some crazy key combinations that do, admittedly, perform some nice functions (taking a snapshot of an active window or the menu bar or something like that, or taking a snippet of a window, or doing the whole damn screen). But when I want to quickly take a screenshot, I have to remember what those keys are (and I don’t, so I have Apple’s OS X keyboard shortcut page bookmarked).
Now onto the non-Apple stuff…
Entourage… The new version (2008) is better than the previous. It looks better and fits in better. That’s all fine and well, but it’s still not Outlook. I know it was never meant to be Outlook, but I don’t understand why. So if someone from Microsoft or who knows someone (or knows someone who knows someone who knows someone) at Microsoft, find out for me. It’s really annoying and really pointless. Just face the facts… not everyone is or has the option of using Windows, yet they are in an Exchange shop (like me). I do like everything else in the new Office 2008, but Entourage still annoys me. The biggest issue I have with it is that it will not sync my distribution lists on Exchange with Entourage, but it did grab all my other contacts from Exchange. I had to sit and re-build all the distribution lists I had because of that. The next version of Office for MacOS should have Outlook, not Entourage (which is really some crazy combination of Outlook and Outlook Express). Still somewhat on the topic of Entourage is My Day. I was originally under the impression that it was part of Entourage, yet it runs as it’s own application. That surprised me the first time I ran it. I do use it and refer to it often, but it should be part of Entourage, like the “To-Do” panel in Outlook 2007.
Firefox… I’m still on Firefox 2, mainly because I am not willing to play with beta software. I know Firefox 3 should fix some of my issues, but I doubt it’ll fix all of them. My biggest issue is the looks. It looks like a Windows app. That’s going to be fixed. That’s good. I don’t know why it wasn’t originally themed to look like an OS X app to begin with. I hate that it doesn’t use the Apple widgets. That should also be fixed. My next biggest issue is that I use Firefox in it’s own virtual Desktop to avoid clutter. When I Command-Tab to it or click on it’s Dock icon, it brings me to Firefox, but doesn’t give the window focus. That’s stupid and really annoying. Every other app I use works normally with that. I have gotten used to having to click on an app before I can click a link or something, but when I click on an app’s icon or Command-Tab to it, it should have focus, that’s why I did that to begin with. Finally, the Home and End keys do not work in web forms in Firefox (like the one I’m using to write this). Instead, I have to hit Command-Left or Right Arrow, and even that doesn’t work all the time depending on the page.
So those are all my issues so far… now here’s what I like. The keyboards (external and laptop) are really nice, though I wish the external one had extra plastic as I find myself leaning and accidentally pressing the Control key. They have nice feedback and have a great feel to them. I have finally gotten used to the ambient light sensor and I love it. The battery life is awesome. The wireless easily (more easily than Windows) connects to the enterprise Wi-Fi connection at work. Fast user switching is nice and slick (I like the box rotating and wish that’s how Spaces worked).
However, I still stand by my notion that this is neither better nor worse than Windows. They are both simply different tools to perform the same tasks. If I knew nothing about computers, maybe the Apple would be more intuitive, but I know plenty of people who switched from Windows and had a very hard time figuring out the Apple way (one with an iMac even said that she needed an external optical drive, not realizing it was a slot fed drive on the side of the thing).
Someday, I’ll switch my primary home PC to Ubuntu Linux and I’ll write a review on that. That will be a big project, though, and I am not sure when I’ll have the time for it (I need first backup Susan’s data onto my computer, reformat hers for XP Pro, then backup my computer to hers, and do the switch… hers needs to be done first so that she’s not without a computer).