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Six Months Into Using A Mac

July 26, 2010

Wow, it’s been six months since I started using a Mac and things have changed quite a bit. I find myself enjoying it a lot more than I did at the beginning. I found a lot about Mac usage to be frustrating at first, but I think it is starting to click. Of course, its not all rosy, but there is quite a bit I really like about this machine. I much prefer using this over the corporate Thinkpad. That said, if I need to get something out the door quickly, I will still go back to Windows since I am still more familiar with that toolset.

I looked over some of my original blog posts about the Mac and wanted to give an update. The things I loved about the machine are still amazing. Some of the things I did not like have grown on me. Not everything though.

First lets look at the hardware. The edges still cut into my wrists, the trackpad is not as efficient as the pointing stick, and the hard drive is still too small, but almost everything else is pure genius. It feels incredibly solid when holding it from the corner with one hand. The little lights that show the available power in the battery without turning on the laptop are so fantastic. How did they make it so you can’t feel the holes for the light to come through, yet they do? The backlit keyboard makes typing at night much more comfortable than the Thinkpad lamp allows for. And the unit stays cool to the touch (in most places) and yet there is no visible grill for air to blow from.

As I mentioned though, the lack of a pointing stick is really tough to get used to. I could do very precise retouching in Photoshop with that while it’s a lot tougher with the trackpad. I also miss the integrated fingerprint scanner on the Thinkpad as an alternative for logging in to the system. I know there are addons available, but it was just part of the laptop. But I guess the built in camera makes up for it. I don’t use it too much, but I am sure I will take advantage of it sometime.

Now to the software. The biggest problems I had with the OS was a lack of coherent keyboard shortcuts and the inability to resize a window from anywhere other than the lower right corner. I am getting used to the keyboard shortcuts. In fact, its getting a bit tough to keep them straight on Windows. I keep pressing Alt C to copy instead of Control C since the Alt key is where the Command key is on the Mac.  I am finding myself paging up and down, backspacing and deleting, and other performing other typing acrobatics with ease so thats no longer a problem either.

Zooom/2 solved my issues with resizing windows. In fact, once you start uncovering them, there is quite an active community of developers writing little addons for the OS to tweak it in any way you like. I love MiddleClick, InstantShot, SoundFlower, and Alfred, all of which help me get what I need done on the Mac so much easier.

Having access to Word, Powerpoint, Excel, and Entourage has certainly made the transition easier. And I look forward to a real Outlook client coming to the Mac in the next few months. Other big apps that I use include Final Cut Pro which works incredibly well (and has helped fill out my bookshelf with the required books to get me up to speed). I am also spending a bit of time in Xcode. Too early to say much about that, but I am loving the debugging tools in there.

So my state of the mac is very different today than it was just six months ago. I am not sure when things started to click but the fact that its starting to happen changes everything.  I wouldn’t consider myself to be a switcher just yet, but I am very glad I made the plunge.

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