Friday, July 28, 2023

Switching to a Mac After Decades on Windows

Anže Tomić:

The other reason I got the Mac mini is how quiet it is, which is very helpful when you record your voice for a living. […] The announcement of the M2 Pro Mac Mini with all those Thunderbolt ports at the back was the day I knew I was going to switch.


It turns out that on the Croatian keyboard layout, I can’t find the right key to press for this [Command-`] shortcut!


When Jason asked me to write about what surprised me about switching to the Mac, it never occurred to me that window management would be the main thing. But it is. I really believe this is the biggest difference between Windows and macOS nowadays. One is a desktop operating system that is worse on laptops and the other is a laptop operating system that is worse on desktops if you don’t buy a trackpad.

I frequently hear comments like this, but I don’t feel like I’m missing anything using my MacBook Pro as a desktop with a Magic Mouse. It seems much faster for me than a trackpad. And I think macOS shines as a desktop operating system, when there’s room to have a bunch of windows on screen at once.

A fair bit of the annoyance that prevents me from using the Mac the way it was intended stems from the fact that macOS does not support my language.


Those feelings extend to the apps, too. I finally got to play PCalc’s about screen! I bought Transmit, and it is the best app of its kind I have ever used. Ever. Audio Hijack is like a legal, no-side-effects performance-enhancing drug for a podcaster. There are very good Windows apps, but so far for me the Mac has some stuff that is unbeatable.


7 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Sébastien LeBlanc

I mean the Magic Mouse is more a trackpad than a mouse.
You can do gesture and almost everything the Magic Trackpad can do.
I think he was comparing to a "normal" mouse for people with normal hands.

@Sébastien I often see people say that the trackpad does a lot more than the Magic Mouse. But I didn’t always use a Magic Mouse. Most third-party mice have multiple buttons that can be programmed to do the same types of things, though it would be better if Apple supported this more at the system level.

Tangentially related to the command-tilde remark, is anyone else annoyed by the inconsistency between command-tab and command-tilde?

If you press command-tab repeatedly (releasing the command key each time), it will toggle between the two frontmost applications (only if you hold down the command key will it cycle all applications).

On the other hand, if you press command-tilde repeatedly (releasing the command key each time), it will cycle between all windows. But, if, after invoking command-tilde once, you click inside the newly raised window, then pressing command-tilde again will toggle to the previous window.

This frustrates me to no end. Surely others have noticed and reported this? The command-tab behavior strikes me as clearly correct, and command-tilde seems just bizarre.

As someone that actually needs at minimum seven buttons on my mouse (for reasons I won't go into now), I can say that macOS works *great* with a mouse. But you may need to install third party software to get the most out of it.

If all you have is a basic three button mouse, then the most you can do out of the box is assign the middle click to do something useful like opening Mission Control or something like that. I'm figuring you'd want to keep the right click working as normal. So of course you can do a lot more with a Magic Mouse or a trackpad out of the box.

But once you have a few more buttons which is pretty normal these days, and pair it with an app like BetterTouchTool, SteerMouse, or dare I even recommend my own mouse gestures app xGestures, then your mouse can do *a whole lot more* than a trackpad. And now you have the advantage of true precision. It's hard for the computer to misinterpret pressing a button compared to a touch gesture.

Granted Apple's gesture recognition on their trackpads is pretty much best in class, and in the rare instances I'm using my laptop's trackpad it works really damn well. But not 100% of the time. I'll still have situations where I'll try to swipe rightwards to go back a page in Safari, and it won't activate and instead try to scroll horizontally. Or I'll do a five finger expand gesture to try and show the desktop, and nothing will happen, or it'll trigger half way and then all the windows settle back to where they were before. It's rare, but it happens. This never, ever happens with my mouse!

macOS’s window management was one of the reasons I switched away from it. Between the full screen option blacking out the second display (I wanted both to share a workspace), the lack of opinions about how to combine all its window management options (use what works for you) and realising I had replaced large chunks with bespoke scripts (cascading windows, toggle layouts, changing lots of shortcuts to be more consistent, using a number of third party tooling), made me realise I’m better off using an OS that is more open to personalisation and also happens to be snappier. .

I think that there is a typo in

I frequently hear comments like

instead of

I frequently hear comments alike
I frequently hear comments like those

@MeX Fixed, thanks.

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