Five aspects of OS X and the MacBook in need of improvement

I’ve gotten through my first week of work on a MacBook Pro after switching from Windows and before I go further let me say that overall it’s been a very positive experience, see my previous post on why I switched from Windows to the Mac. After a week there are still 5 things that I feel were poorly executed on the Mac and they are:

  1. Window maximize is inconsistent… I’d like my window to take up the whole screen when I hit the plus/maximize button, not some arbitrary width that varies from application to application.
  2. Home and end deceive… I’m editing a line of text and want to jump to the beginning of the line… you hit Apple – Left error…. OK… then you want to page up, by the same logic do you hit Apple – Up Arrow? No… you hit Fn – Up Arrow. I still have to stop and think every time I want to page up/down or home/end as to whether I should be hitting Apple or Fn. Like all of my PC laptops to date, the Mac really needs dedicated keys for home/end/page-up/page-down that work consistently across applications.
  3. Right click… if they can do the wheel on the iPod they can certainly design a single button that detects if I’m right clicking or left clicking. I know you have control click and trackpad corners that can give you right click but it’s all a hack. Obviously it’s a needed feature, otherwise they wouldn’t have put it in the mightymouse.
  4. Having the application menu separate from the window works fine with one display but when I have my laptop hooked up to my flat panel running both displays it’s quite strange to have Firefox on my flat panel and then have to move the mouse pointer back to the laptop display to select a bookmark from the application menu.
  5. I can’t reproduce this at the moment but I’ve encountered dialog boxes that don’t seem to respond to any keyboard input. Tabs, enter, etc… don’t work and I end up having to revert to the mouse.

Related reading: Changing key bindings for home/end, Mac OS X key bindings, Apple’s Mighty Mouse, am I missing something?, and Crazy Mac OS X Text Navigation Keys Revealed.

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13 Responses to Five aspects of OS X and the MacBook in need of improvement

  1. Greg says:

    Check versiontracker.com for a program called ‘desktop manager’. I will cure #4 for you and give you multiple desktops like linux does.

  2. Robert says:

    Is #1 the fault of OSX or the applications programmer(s)?

  3. Chris says:

    Robert: It’s the way OSX works; it maximises the window as much as required, but tries not to take up all the screen real-estate.

  4. Jens says:

    #2 Not sure about the Mac Book Pro, but on my Powerbook you simply press Apple+Arrow-Up to get to the top of the page.

    Might again be application dependent.

  5. Todd Huss says:

    Jens, that’s the problem! Apple + Arrow-Up takes you to the beginning of a document, not just to the previous page as (I believe) it should.

    Robert, the maximize behaviour in OS X is a disaster because it’s completely unpredictable. I believe application developers have control over this as witnessed by applications that do maximize as much as possible. I still lay blame with Apple though because this is not a problem that Windows, Gnome Desktop, or KDE have. In fact this problem seems to be specific to Apple so perhaps they are not communicating well to their deveoper community… I’m not sure… all I know is that now that I’m using a Mac it’s my problem too.

    In summary though I feel Apple simply hasn’t done a good job of ensuring applications running on Mac OS exhibit consistent behaviour whether it’s keyboard related or maximize. This blog entry I put in the related reading section outlines the text navigation inconsistencies well in my opinion:

    http://sean.typepad.com/ditto/2003/12/crazy_mac_os_x_.html

  6. Andre says:

    I think your issue is specific to the laptop keyboard. The arrow keys double as page up/down and home/end. In the regular desktop keyboard, they are separate, and there is no confusion.

    As I understand, Mac OS X has a different behavior than Windows on the Home key. The home key will take you to the first line of the document, the beginning of the document. Instead, Windows will take you to the beginning of the line, and not of the document. If you want to do that in Mac OS X, you need Apple+left arrow.

    So, in the laptop, I feel it is pretty logic: fn+left arrow is the Home key, and will take you to the top of the document. fn+up arrow is the Page up key, and takes you one page up on the document. If you want to go to the beginning of the line, the shortcut is Apple+left arrow, in any Mac, either laptop or desktop.

  7. Zack says:

    1. It toggles between your altered size and the applications default preferred size. This is not maximized, nor intended to be. You’re just used to something different and punishing an orange for being an apple.

    2. You argue that hitting Command (that’s what we call it) + Left Arrow takes you to the BEGINNING of the line, and Command + Up arrow takes you to the BEGINNING of the text area is inconsistent, and that This is simply not true. As for dedicated keys, there isn’t a real need for them. People are perfectly capable of learning a few keyboard shortcuts, and those that are probably lean on the mouse heavily anyways. Apple is obviously shooting for a slimmer look than their competitors. We have Print Screen buttons from terminals, they don’t have much of a place today. Similarly, Home and End are not what I’d call extremely necessary buttons. The’re there if you want, not if you don’t.

    3. I agree it would be nice (for me) if they did a mighty mouse trackpad, but it’s really not a big deal for the most part. Most people don’t (and shouldn’t) need it. Fortunately, it’s a Mac, so you can get all sorts of software to tailor it to your needs. May I recommend iScroll?
    http://www-users.kawo2.rwth-aachen.de/~razzfazz/iscroll2/

    4. I don’t have any experience with multiple display, but I’d be surprised if you couldn’t get an Application Menu across both.

    5. There are some inconsistencies in some dialog boxes. I too wish this would be sorted out once and for all. OS9 was great with this.

  8. Chris says:

    dude, you need to get Akismet ;)

  9. Todd Huss says:

    Chris, I had disabled it before upgrading wordpress and forgot to re-enable it before taking off for a long weekend trip. I came back to find hundreds of comment spam. It’s good to know Akismet works well though ;-)

  10. Chris says:

    Yea, it’s brilliant.

  11. on #3, I was able to get right click by configuring the trackpad to count two fingers as a right click under System Preferences. I wish PCs had that feature!

  12. Angad says:

    #4 in system prefrences, when configuring displays, simply drag the menu bar from the primary display onto your flat panel. i dont know if thats the problem you are facing, but i hope it helps. cheers

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