Hopes for Apple’s next big cat

As a recent convert to Apple Macs, I’m mostly happy with my purchase. The transition from a long-time Windows XP user to a Mac user wasn’t terribly difficult, and there were many things I found that made it worth the change.

I love the integration of native Cocoa apps with other Mac technologies—from the native spellchecker (with hover + Ctrl + Cmd + D for the dictionary tooltip) to built-in Bluetooth for syncing to my mobile, or the fact that it has a remote so I can watch “just like a real TV.” Also, Automator has saved me a lot of time in managing my music collection’s (possibly obsessive) file-naming structure.

There are, sadly, a couple of things I miss from the Windows days. A few things I hope they will have improved upon with the release of Apple’s latest version of OS X: 10.5, also known as “Leopard.”

Finder

I miss cut. I miss being able to move an object without having to use the mouse. Being a previous laptop user, there was no mouse, and touchpads aren’t exactly brilliant for… well, much at all. I miss being able to cut, change directories and then paste. And if I accidentally cut the wrong one, and didn’t want to move it at all? It will still be there, safe and not lost forever in some digital void. These days, I have to open two Finder windows, navigate to the original directory, navigate the other window to the new directory, and drag-and-drop. Yes, it is very much so a drag.

I also miss paths. Let’s say I was in /Users/me/Sites/ming teo/html/, and I wanted another Finder window to navigate to that directory, and then from there into files/ (maybe so I could drag-and-drop something!) I would have to navigate my way there by double-clicking on every directory from scratch. In Windows Explorer, you could copy the path in the location bar, and paste that into another Explorer window, press Enter, and presto, you are in that spot. Time saving, no?

Also, does anybody find it rather stupid that to press Enter on an object doesn’t “enter” that object? It renames it?

Alright, I’m done complaining. About Finder, anyway.

Theming, consistency, other miscellaneous tidbits

I’ve been on the web, writing websites for a very long time. In that time, I’ve seen a lot of popular styles come and go. One of them is brushed metal. I haven’t used brushed metal in a long time, mostly because it looks pretty stupid (… unless, of course, your project was to design a site for a steelsmith company or something.) So why are only some native OS X apps using the brushed theme? Why Finder? Why iCal? More importantly, why not Help? Or Dictionary/Thesaurus? And why on earth does iTunes and iPhoto have different skins yet again? That’s not consistent at all. Please, do away with brushed and whatever you do end up choosing, make it the same for all the apps?

I actually never really liked having the Toolbar for the app you’re in be up the top, always. Yes, this is consistent, but the change from window to window is not noticeable enough. Colour difference between inactive and active windows is not very clear (the transition is a grey gradient in the Titlebar to a light-grey gradient.) So, often, I’ve seen many users wonder why their Toolbar doesn’t have the right menu items in it, only to realise they aren’t actively on the right app.

Another unclear thing is the functionality of that green plus button in the top left-hand corner. In iTunes it switches between mini-player mode and regular mode, in Finder it stretches the window really tall (but keeps it thin horizontally,) but in Dictionary it maximises the window to the entire available screen?

One last thing, since this post is getting quite long: while the Keyboard Shortcuts (under System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard Shortcuts) is quite robust (it works fairly well with every app,) there are some problems with requiring the “Menu Title,” which unfortunately is not always unique. A better selection process might be to somehow pick the exact menu item you want to shortcut. Or Keyboard Shortcuts could keep a note in which drop-down a Menu Title resides (as it increases the chances of entirely unique Menu Titles greatly, by keeping track of its parent item.)

Final Thoughts

There are many great things about OS X, and generally I am happy with my switch, but there are a couple of things that would help Windows users make the transition more smoothly—which, in the end, is the ultimate objective? To convince people it’s worth it to switch?

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