This article is the first in a two-part series. Please check out Part II: Ten Reasons Why I Love My MacBook Pro.
With the release of Apple’s Boot Camp I decided that now was the time to upgrade my laptop. My old machine was a very sturdy Dell Inspiron 5150 with a 3.06 Ghz processor that turns three years old in a couple months. While the old computer was still very capable, it was time for me to upgrade.
Now that I’ve had my MacBook Pro for a week, I have accumulated a healthy list of gripes presented here in no particular order. Please note that I refer to Windows XP several times in this list. This is not to say that one or the other is a superior OS. This list is simply ten reasons why I hate my very shiny, fancy, and sexy new MacBook Pro.
#10 Stripped Down Keyboard
The MacBook Pro has a 78 key keyboard. The Eject button is the only one that doesn’t appear on my laptop keyboard (CD eject is handled by a fn-key combo).
Compared to the Dell, it is missing the following keys: Delete (the delete key is backspace), insert, home, end, page up, page down, and pause.
Granted that the functionality of these keys can be emulated with key-combos from within OSX, but they require special handling if I am going to dual boot into any other OS (which is a main reason why I bought this laptop).
#9 Function Keys are not System Level
On a PC laptop, most of the function keys are system level. When I press the key combination to change screen brightness, toggle wireless, or turn on numlock, it just works no matter what OS I’m running or where I am at in the boot process.
For that matter, I sure do wish the backlit keyboard was system level as well, but I’ll cut them some slack on that one (even though, again, this is a main reason why I bought this laptop).
#8 Minimize vs Hide
When I click the yellow minimize button on any given window, it shrinks to the tray (with a fancy “genie” effect) just as I would expect. However, if I have minimized the last visible window for an app such as TextEdit, I also expect focus to leave that application and move to the next window in Command+Tab.
The problem of not moving to the next app upon minimize is compounded by the fact that when you Command+Tab back to the program, the windows are still hidden in the tray.
Hiding windows with Command+H accomplishes almost exactly what I’d like, but I’ve noticed that a few apps don’t behave like they should with this action. I’d probably be able to ignore this if they’d just make the minimize button perform this action and make the key combination hide windows away so they don’t return when you cycle back to the app.
#7 It Does Too Crash
Au contraire! I’m very familiar with Windows crashes, but I’ve been keeping track and this new laptop has crashed requiring a hard restart five out of seven days since I got it. My Dell laptop, whether running XP or FreeBSD would crash on a bi-weekly basis. Tops.
I’ll grant you that I am a power user and that I may do more demanding things with my computers, but I don’t feel that resuming a computer from sleep or losing network connectivity during various actions should warrant a full-on hang.
#6 The Title Bar Hates Me
In Windows, double-clicking the title bar toggles the window between maximized and a smaller state. In other window systems, this same action rolls the window up into the title bar. It is still under your mouse and able to be double-clicked again as soon as you realize what you did.
In OSX, double-clicking the title bar triggers the dreaded minimize feature where the only sure-fire way I’ve seen of bringing it back requires mousing down to the taskbar and fetching it. For a Windows user, it’s like shock therapy to perform the exact opposite of the expected action when a user double-clicks the title bar.
While I’m on the topic of the title bar, I sure do wish that I could define more visual distinction between the window in focus and all of the others. There are several subtle clues if you take time to look for them, but the average switcher is used to a complete shift in the title bar appearance for any out of focus window.
The close/minimize/resize buttons on each window aren’t visible in all circumstances, so I can’t reliably tell at a glance which window will respond if I start mashing my fingers on the keyboard.
#5 Backwards Compatibility
To be honest, I am ignorant about a lot of Mac software history. I haven’t had an Apple since my Apple IIc and a Mac Classic or two. All I know is that when I want to run an application I found on the Internet, I can’t always do it because it’s not Intel compatible.
It just doesn’t work.
Most of the software worth installing is written by developers who have revisited their apps and built a universal binary over the past few months, but there are some apps that I’ve found that don’t have any competitors and haven’t seen any updates in nearly a year.
One of Microsoft’s biggest boons and limitations is their backwards compatibility. I can make good arguments on both sides all day long, but the net for this topic is that non-backwards compatibility is a pain point for early adopters.
#4 No Reinventing the Wheel
My early impression of finding and installing Mac software is that not many people have taken to re-inventing the wheel yet. I realize this has a lot to do with the size of the userbase, but I’m disappointed by the lack of programs that try to beat what Apple ships by default.
For example, I can name a handful of different Windows SSH clients. Because OSX has a client built in, I believe developers are disinclined to write better versions.
#3 Installing Apps
Windows installers may have their flaws, but at least the typical install process is fairly simple:
• Download the .exe
• Execute it
• Answer a few questions
• Delete the installer
• You’re done!
When I entered the widget loving phase of the switch, I downloaded over two dozen of the little buggers. Some arrived in .dmg format, others arrived in some compressed form. A couple arrived as .dmg.tar.gz. The install process went like this:
• Download the .dmg.tar.gz
• Double-click the file to un-gzip it
• Double-click the new .dmg.tar file to un-tar it
• Double-click the new .dmg file to mount the image
• If the file inside the image is an app, drag it into your Applications menu
• If it is an installer, execute it and answer a few questions
• Drag all four of the files and mount points created into the trash.
• You’re done!
There are several advantages to the OSX way of installing apps, but you can see how an install can get out of hand pretty quickly.
#2 Only One Window Resize Region
In most window managers, any resizable window has eight regions to grab; each of the sides and corners. OSX only allows the lower-right corner to resize a window. If you have a small window in the lower-right area of your screen and you want to make it bigger, you must first drag it out of the corner. This obvious omission is quite surprising to me, coming from a company who so emphasizes ease of use and a smooth user experience.
#1 No Maximize
All of the Mac users I know will go on and on about screen real estate and how a properly designed app shouldn’t take up the whole screen. However, when I want an application to take up the whole screen, I shouldn’t be forced to drag the window to the top-left of the screen (see above) and then drag it to be full screen.
I choose full-screen because it blocks out all other applications and distractions. I choose it because if I wanted my apps to be smaller, I would have bought a smaller computer. I choose it because it makes me feel happy. Please don’t make me hunt for it.
I spent well over two grand to join the cult. Now that I’m in, I see that the punch is all diet and they don’t have any black Nikes in size 15.
All that aside, be check out Part II: Ten Reasons Why I Love My MacBook Pro.