About the Author

Chris Shiflett

Hi, I’m Chris: entrepreneur, community leader, husband, and father. I live and work in Boulder, CO.

Top X List of Mac OS X Annoyances

As far as desktop operating systems go, they all suck, and Mac OS X sucks the least. Although I use Linux as my primary desktop OS, that's because it has been the best choice for me - a software developer (primarily interested in server-side technologies) who wants a decent desktop.

Lately, I find myself considering an exclusive use of Mac OS X on the desktop. Now, I don't consider myself a power user. (That's a term for people who are proud of their desktop OS expertise. They can fix your printer.) I really only use four desktop apps with any frequency:

Of these, about 80% of my day is spent in a terminal. In other words, I think my needs are pretty basic, so it should be pretty easy for me to switch to a different OS, right? Well, I hope so, but there are still some things about Mac OS X that annoy me, and I've taken the time to come up with my Top X List of Mac OS X Annoyances:

  1. Separating Menu Bar from Window Is Stupid.

    Usability studies supposedly disagree, but I don't care - having the menu bar miles away from your focus is stupid. This should be common sense. It's annoying enough on a 12" screen. I'm sure it will seem much worse on a 23" screen. (Usability studies can be wrong by focusing on general ideas out of context. Location consistency is usually good.)

  2. Apps Don't Really Close When You Close Them.

    When I close the last window of something, why is it still running? I know the command-Q shortcut, but that's a dangerous habit. Using the shortcut instead of clicking close just means that I'm more likely to accidentally close another window of the same app, not realizing that I still have it open. Computers are supposed to keep up with this stuff for us. That's their job.

    (My Linux desktop has more than a hundred processes running, and they don't screw up my desktop experience, so you'll have a hard time convincing me that this is a feature.)

  3. Maximizing Is Broken.

    How hard can this be? Seriously. If you want to be different, that's cool, but not when it means being broken. When I maximize something, it should take up the whole screen. Get it? Leaving little gaps everywhere just means that I'll bring another app to the foreground when I accidentally click on it.

  4. Alt-Tab to a Minimized App, and It Stays Minimized.

    (Yes, I know it's really command-tab, but who says that?) There are lots of reasons why alt-tab on the Mac sucks, and this is one of them. Combine this with the fact that apps don't really close when you close them, and the result is alt-tab pollution. You switch apps, but nothing happens. Is the app closed? Is it minimized? It is just the damn Finder again?

  5. Too Many Option Keys.

    Function, control, alt, option, and command (which used to be called open apple and is sometimes referred to by its symbol). Which one do I use to right-click again? Which one makes the delete button delete? Surely we can get rid of one or two of these.

  6. No Dedicated Page Up, Page Down, Home, or End Keys.

    I didn't realize how much I used these until they were gone. Can't we get rid of some of those option keys to make room? Even if we can't, do we really need two command keys? And how about that extra enter key? Get rid of those, and at least give us home and end.

  7. Only One Desktop.

    Only one 12" desktop. Yes, Expose is cool, but it's no substitute. What's wrong with having both? Microsoft is finally adding tabs to IE - surely we can have a few desktops.

  8. The Clock Sucks.

    It really sucks. Sun 10:00 AM. I want to know the date - I know it's Sunday, for crying out loud. Maybe I can change the format. Let's go look. Nope, but I can add seconds or flashing separators. Who needs the date when you can make those colons flash?

    (My Linux clock not only shows me some useful information, but I can also get a quick glimpse of the calendar by clicking it. Sorry Mac, but the Linux clock kicks your clock's ass.)

  9. iPhoto Sucks.

    I know pictures are big, and I know it's tough to manage thousands of them, but damn, figure it out already.

  10. Safari Sucks.

    Safari was released three years ago. I still can't tab to a select list. But, to be fair, that's probably really hard to do. (Update: See Adam's comment below.)

I hope you enjoyed my list and had a few laughs. Feel free to point out ways to get around these annoyances, and of course, let me know if any are just a result of my own ignorance. :-)

Have a great week!

About this post

Top X List of Mac OS X Annoyances was posted on Sun, 12 Feb 2006. If you liked it, follow me on Twitter or share:


1.Gavin Foster said:

My comments a two year old convert from win to mac (IT developer):

Agree with V and VI

VIII: click on the clock for the date

As for I to IV, I find these behavious very intuitive. Especially II, I've seen my parents have problems so many times when they want to move from one program to another in Windows, they intuitively *close* the window, but this kills the program, then later they wonder where it went. Closing the window should *close the window* IMO.

I tried a Mac before Mac OS X and it did nothing for me. A few weeks of using Mac OS X (just to check web site CSS in Safari and other Mac browsers) and I'd switched from my Dell to working full-time on an iBook with a monitor, keyboard and mouse plugged in.

Now I work on a Power Mac G5, my wife on an iMac G5, and I'm surfing this site right now on my iBook.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 15:50:36 GMT Link

2.Helgi Þormar said:

Well did you try Safari 2 ? I haven't tried it but there's a good chance that it has already been fixed there.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 16:02:37 GMT Link

3.Maarten Manders said:

Here's some other annoyances:

- No Start-Run: Didn't know how much I used thatt until it was gone in OS X

- No Google Deskbar: Can't live without it anymore

- Additionally to VI: The whole text selecting works differently. Worse. Write some text in a one-line-field, put the cursor in the middle, press shift-down, then shift-up. It selects the whole text! Then move the cursor around with left/right (no shift) which does even funnier things. Can anyone explain OS X' behaviour in that case? I can't. Selecting files with the keyboard is awkward too.

- Firefox takes ages to start. At least here on my Mac mini. My Thinkpad has about the same CPU/RAM configuration and manages to start it in 1/3 of the time.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 16:16:27 GMT Link

4.Adam said:

I actively use desktops on Linux, OS X, and Windows almost daily so it surprised me when I read this post and had a momentary flash of the feeling mac zealots must get before they act all crazy. But you're right about some of them, so...

II. I consider this to be a useful feature because once you stop seeing the window as the "running program," it's really not such a bad thing. If I've closed all of my browser windows, I like having the option to leave the program running so a new window won't take forever to load.

III. I *HATE* that. That stupid little green button could just as well have a question mark on it or a taunting little face that warns you it'll never do what you think it'll do. In most cases it works sufficiently well, and on Safari- I have a javascript bookmarklet that resizes the window appropriately. E-mail me at gro.iotsira@hmada (strike that, reverse it) and I can give you the info on that.

IV. This does kind of suck. I use a program called Quicksilver to run apps rather than using Finder most of the time; when switching to an app using it, it *does* maximize a minimized window if there are no other active foreground windows.

V. Aww. Who's afraid of the meta key? ;-) Nowadays I think of the "windows key" as the command key's gimpy little cousin.

VII. http://desktopmanager.berlios.de/

VIII. The clock does suck. And I seem to be pointing you to lots of addons. http://www.objectpark.net/mcc.html

X. System Preferences -> Universal Access -> check Enable access for assistive devices. Lame, I know- but once you do that, Safari will recognize all form elements as tabbable.

I suppose it's true that OS X could incorporate a lot of the functions of these 3rd party apps. I've watched them do that with at least two addons in recent history... so I don't really hold it against them, except for the maximize thing, which really is just stupid. :-)

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 16:32:23 GMT Link

5.Chris Shiflett said:

Gavin, thanks for your comments. Can you give an example where the Mac's "close" behavior is better? If your parents close an app and go looking for it later, where do they look? :-) Regardless, surely closed apps could at least be removed from the alt-tab list, since that thing gets polluted enough (closed apps, minimized apps, the Finder, etc.).

Having to click the clock to see the date is almost as useless as having to click it to see the time. This is also why I added the fact that Linux lets me click the clock to get a glimpse of the calendar, something I have to launch iCal to do on the Mac.

I still think Apple has come the closest to getting the desktop OS right. I'm just a bit hesitant to switch completely.

Helgi, I have the latest Safari, and it's still broken. I would understand if it was something unusual, but I can't believe they've never tested with a form that has a select list.

Maarten, excellent point about the selecting behavior. I've observed that same behavior, and I don't see how that could ever be intuitive in any circumstance. I think it's just broken. :-)

Thanks again for the comments!

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 16:48:17 GMT Link

6.Chris Shiflett said:

Adam, you're the man. Safari sucks so much less now. :-)

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 16:55:31 GMT Link

7.James Stewart said:

Which version of iPhoto are you using? I'd pretty much given up on it, but found the version in iLife '05 a big step forward, and it sounds like '06 is even more of one.

Most of the above seem to be a matter of taste. Personally I like the maximise behaviour. I've never been comfortable in a desktop environment that expects me to have windows open to fill the screen.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 17:28:46 GMT Link

8.bdb said:

About II. Imagine you've been out running errands and when you return home, you park your car in the driveway rather than pulling into the garage. Would you like your car to automatically put itself in the garage as soon as you get out and close the door? Isn't it more convenient that it stays right where you left it, awaiting the next time you need it? By Safari (or any other program) staying open, even though there are no active windows for it, it stands ready-and-waiting for the next time you need it, without having to "get it out of the garage" every time. I constantly move back and forth amongst Mail, Safari, FileMaker Pro, NetNewsWire, and iTunes. Having all of those programs remain open, regardless of whether any of them have windows open, enhances my user experience by eliminating all but the first launch time.

Also, I think you'd be a happier user if you'd get in the habit of Hiding (Command-H) applications rather than minimizing them. And did you know you can Command-Q and Command-H applications while Command-Tabbing to "batch" quit or hide your currently running applications? I find that really handy.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 17:30:37 GMT Link

9.Chris Shiflett said:

James, I think I'm using iPhoto '05. I can probably buy enough memory to make this problem go away, so it's not a huge deal.

I admit that many of these things are likely a matter of taste (or just a matter of being different), but I don't understand how the maximize behavior can be described as anything but broken. I'm not talking about apps expecting to consume the entire screen. I hate that, too, but on a small 12" screen, being able to maximize would be nice. If it's too hard for Apple to get right, they could at least remove the button.

Bdb, thanks for the tips. :-) I understand the benefit of leaving processes running, so maybe the compromise would be for them to not pollute the alt-tab list. Personally, if I plan to be using my browser off and on all day, I just leave it open. When I close it, I want it to close.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 17:39:01 GMT Link

10.Charles H said:

I and II are connected, obviously, and a holdover from Windows. In Windows, the OS has to shut down the entire app when the last window is closed because the main app options are directly connected to the window. The app doesn't exist in any sort of separate UI space.

My biggest annoyance: The "Hide Others" and "Show All" menu options. If you leave a lot of stuff running, it's very easy to accidentally select these when trying to hide one app and it is extremely annoying. As far as I can tell, both of these options are completely useless.

And yes, Safari does suck, as does iPhoto.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 17:51:27 GMT Link

11.Daniel said:

I disagree with about every single point you mentioned - let me point it out:

1. (menu bar) Coming from Windows, i just hated that every single menu bar looked different from all the others. And its really no problem, since you can do most things with shortcuts (more on that later). Having the menu bar at the top together with some menu bar additions also saves some space. And you always see immediately which applicaiton has the focus.

2. (closing) This is pretty cool, Mail, iTunes and Vienna, my rss reader, and some other apps that do something in the background don't use up precious space in my Dock. I want my mail client to check for new mail all the time without having to look at the same old emails all the time. I can listen to music without looking at the window. This IS cool. I also don't understand what speaks against having an app running all the time like I do (20+ apps most of the time), especially when you only use the same 4 apps all the time?

3. (maximize) It's the programmer's fault when it doesnt work as intended, because they control this behaviour. Previously, I only surfed fullscreen Firefox with a 1680x1050 display just because it was a habit, not because it was necessary. I wrote about 200 characters in one line of code, because my display allowed it. Now on my 15" PB I convenently hab some Adium (IM) windows and Safari open the same time, seeing both. My code is indeed readable on smaller displays. And really, apps which sould use full screen do when you click on the green button.

4. (minimized) Try Witch. It offers you (at least) two different cmd-tab replacements I set to alt-tab (switching to programm windows) and ctrl-tab (same as alt-tab, but including minimized windows that get restored when selected) and some other useful stuff. Or Quicksilver, it also restores minimized windows when you select an app with no non-minimized windows.

5. (keys) Think about it - Cmd is for commands (the thing that deletes files etc), alt is a modifier key when two commands would use the same shortcut (or one is the opposite of the other). Ctrl is for right click and sometimes also a modifier key. This just does make much more sense and is much clearer than ctrl/alt/F-key shortcuts on other systems.

6. (keys) You want less cmd/alt keys? More pgup/pgdn keys? Come on, these are more versatile! Have you ever tried them all to see the effects while navigating text?

7. (desktops) You're right. Even you control:desktops is loaded with bugs when I tested it.

8. (date) Click the clock. Open Dashboard with calendar widget. Open up Quicksilver, type "ic" and press enter for iCal (everything works for me).

9. (iphoto) Never used it. Really. And there are alternatives ...

I have the impression you just played a bit with a Mac without getting deeper into it and spending some time thinking about why things are different that in linux/windows. Think about it ;)

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 17:54:28 GMT Link

12.Chris Shiflett said:

Hi Daniel,

I've been using my PowerBook for over three years, so these aren't entirely knee-jerk reactions. Most of the workarounds you mention are things I've tried, but I just hate that I have to work around anything. Why should I have to click the clock or open iCal to see the date? Why does every other OS get maximize right? My Linux desktop has plenty of apps running in the background, but like I said, they don't screw up my desktop experience.

I know I can get used to most of these things, and there might be a few that are fixable (like enabling accessibility options to make Safari less broken), but I still find them annoying. The Mac is so close to getting it right.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 18:02:37 GMT Link

13.Daniel said:

Sorry I got that wrong with your Mac experience, but those are the complaints I usually face from people that don't own a Mac.

The thing is - I don't think you need maximize in most applications. I would certainly like it in iTunes, but they used that green button for something else. And Safari's behaviour is certainly broken, with repositioning all the time. But I just tested every other application that is running, and all of them but Finder resized to full screen.

It's just that most applications really do not need a maximized window, when they don't maximize with the green button. Like I said before, surfing the web with wsxga+ was a bad experience, and I like the way Safari does it. Usually I also do not have to resize windows.

And one really good thing with the Mac is that extensions to its functionality (QS, Witch, Butler, ...) are easy to install and simple fit into the system.

It's difficult to provide a perfect out of the box behaviour for everybody. When you want features, I want simplicity (I don't, but there are people out there that do). And Mac OS is the best you can get imo.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 18:16:53 GMT Link

14.Chris Shiflett said:

"And Mac OS is the best you can get"

I agree with that. It almost has me convinced to ditch Linux on the desktop, and I've been using that as my primary OS for over a decade.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 18:21:26 GMT Link

15.Brandon Pierce said:

To the "only one desktop" remark: this is true, at least by default. I know several "power users" that don't see the need for multiple desktops, so I doubt it's something joe user would ever find necessary. Windows doesn't have it available by default either.

I, however, do like multiple desktops, and there is more than one piece of software for OS X that provides this functionality. I use a free one called Desktop Manager, which I like. To be fair to Windows, it can also have this kind of functionality, but it requires the installation of a power toy.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 20:12:54 GMT Link

16.Matt Simpson said:


Regarding point X: not being able to tab to a list:

Apple Menu->System Preferences->Keyboard pane->Keyboard Shortcuts tab:

Bottom of the window toggle "Full Keyboard Access" to "All Controls" and you will be able to tab to all controls in all applications.

This has the added benefit of allowing quick keyboard access to more than one button in most sheets (open, close, save, etc) too. The blue buttons are still activated by enter/return, ones with a blue highlight around their edge are activated by the space bar.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 20:13:30 GMT Link

17.Matt Simpson said:

Regarding points VI and VII.

Sounds like you're using a laptop. Learn to love the fn key. It does all kinds of fun stuff.

Also, OS X only includes one desktop, but can you imagine the support calls they'd get? I don't want to.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 20:16:48 GMT Link

18.Jon Bauer said:

Chris, as a Fedora user myself, I couldn't agree with you more. I don't miss anything by using Linux (except Photoshop), and I like building on Linux, to host on Linux.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 20:56:20 GMT Link

19.bdb said:

Just remembered a tip from MacAddict that might address VIII. In a Terminal window, type:

defaults write -g AppleICUTimeFormatStrings -dict-add 2 "MMMM d, y hh':'mm':'ss' 'a"

Press Return and then type:

killall SystemUIServer

Press Return again and the menu bar will disappear -- click anywhere on the desktop to reload it, if necessary.

You can actually have quite a bit of fun fiddling with the parameters. Enjoy!

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 21:43:26 GMT Link

20.wka said:

Adam pointed to MenuCalendarClock in a comment above, but subsequent comments by Chris seem to indicate he did not look at it. Let me describe how it solves Chris's clock annoyances:

1) It lets you specify a format string for the time. Want the month, day of the month displayed? No problem.

2) When you click on the clock in the menu bar, a small calendar display of the current month drops down. This is the main reason I turned off the system clock and installed MenuCalendarClock -- I like the clock w/calendar display on my Linux box, so I jumped at the chance to have something like it on my Mac.


There's a free version. For more functionality (putting iCal/Entourage calendar events onto the drop down calendar), there are paid versions.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 22:00:45 GMT Link

21.William Pramana said:

Hello Chris,

You can customize the clock on the menu bar from System Prefences -> International. Go to the Formats tab, and then click customize under time.

You can now customize your clock by type text or drag elements to customize a format. If you want to insert Month or Day, you can close the time customize window and go to the customize under dates.

Copy the date elements you need, close the window and go back to the customize times option and paste it next to the time formats. Continue copying and pasting until you're happy with your format.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 22:17:58 GMT Link

22.Ian said:

The little green maximise button was never intended to work like windows maximise button. For instance, windows don't have a maximise state.

The maximise button is actually a maximise/minimise button that (if implemented correctly by the programmer) stretches the window to the size of the content on screen. A further click will return it to it's previous state.

I use it constantly when browsing the web and have to scroll horizontally (well I did before I got my mighty mouse ;)

So, remember it's not really used to maximise but more to get a better perv at what you're using.

That said, many 'developer' applications such as Intellij IDEA, use it to maximise which is confusing in itself (changing the way a button works) but for obvious reasons is appropriate.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 22:31:13 GMT Link

23.Gavin Foster said:

Hey Chris,

In answer to your question: my parents look for the program in the task bar, but of course it has gone.

About II:

In Windows, the close button means one of two things, depending on how many windows are open. IMO this is unintuitive behaviour (you are given no expectation of this difference in behaviour by the interface) that you learn through experience. Show someone who has never seen an OS 5 open windows for a program, and the close button, and IMO the majority would not predict the Windows version of the behaviour.

In Mac OS X, the close window button means exactly that, all of the time. This seems to me to be more intuitive.

Its just not immediately intuitive to someone who has been taught the unintuitive behaviour...

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 22:49:51 GMT Link

24.daaku said:

I. The way I see it, the menu bar is where I keep an eye on my system (I don't use the dock). Get MenuMeters (System Stats), MacBiff, Metro (Weather). Now, the way I see it, the menu bar in the same space is saving me that much screen estate in the application window. Yeah, I love my screen estate!

II. I think this is one of those things that you need to get used to! I'd get LiteSwitch, then you can control hiding/closing apps directly from your alt-tab.

III. I agree, only glad the Terminal always maximizes to the full screen!

IV. LiteSwitch (and in options, enable 'Switching sends re-open event'

V. Again, the way I see it - would you rather be pressing 3-4 keys for a shortcut?

VI. I hate that too, not only that, they never seem to do what I want them to in the Terminal.

VII. I tried DesktopManager at one point, it was decent (didn't crash on me).

VIII. I agree, but its a one-time workaround that you need to apply - so its a easy fix.

IX. No idea.

X. Seems Safari 2.x fixed some of your woes - I'm a FF user myself, but that's mostly because I don't want to be remembering different keyboard shortcuts considering I use FF on BSD at work.

Some other things you might run into:

1. If you use Safari, it doesn't confirm you want to Quit when you hit Cmd-Q - even if you have 23 tabs open. Get Taboo. Try fiwt while you're at it too.

2. AdBlock = PithHelmet

3. DarwinPorts / Fink

4. Growl and now you have a simple networked notification service that can inform you when MySQL goes down on your Linux box.

5. QuickSilver - its difficult to give a analogy for this, the closest I can think of is - its bash for the GUI world. I don't know how accurate that is, but I know I *need* it on any Mac I use.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 23:03:01 GMT Link

25.Chris Shiflett said:

Thanks very much for all of the tips and tricks. The more of these annoyances I can eliminate (or learn to accept), the happier I'll be if I do decide to use Mac OS X exclusively.

(Currently, I use Linux as my desktop OS and have a PowerBook that I use almost as often.)

I'll try to sum up all of the tips and tricks that I have found particularly helpful in a separate post.

Thanks again.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 23:30:11 GMT Link

26.Jeff said:

about #4:

you're problem is simply that you misunderstand "minimizing" ...Windows has misguided you. :P

"Hiding" is really what you're trying to do. You hide an App, you minimize windows.

Looking at an application as if it's all contained within another window is something Windows has trained you to do, but i honestly dont think it's sensical, so much as a design flaw.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 23:35:06 GMT Link

27.David Rodger said:

I/II. Back in the days when we had 12-14" screens, having the application live inside a window (and therefore having its menu bar inside a window) meant there was a pretty good chance that you'd lose some of your menus. Having a menu bar as a separate item meant all your menus were available all the time. In a complex app like Pro Tools, that makes a big difference.

II. I'm working on a document. I finish; I close it. I move onto another one. I don't have to wait for the app to launch again (even if it is a big faster because of caching).

Why is it that, oftentimes in Windows and Linux, opening a doc from the desktop launches an entirely new instance of an app rather than switching to the existing instance and opening it there? You can't predict which will do which. On my Suse install, KDevelop does this, but Kate does not. What's with that?

Marten wrote:

>Firefox takes ages to start.

Putting MacOSX to sleep and waking it up is very quick. Starting it up (10.3.9 on an old G4/400) is very fast. Putting Linux to sleep and waking it up takes just as long as shutting down and starting up and both of those operations take much longer than OSX's shutdown and start up. There's almost no benefit putting Linux to sleep! (Well, Suse anyway.)

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 23:54:12 GMT Link

28.Chris Shiflett said:

Windows certainly hasn't trained me to do anything. Read more closely before making assumptions. :-)

Instead of minimizing, I use Expose, but that's only because I find the minimizing behavior annoying. I'd rather it be useful than annoying.

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 at 23:54:57 GMT Link

29.Chris Shiflett said:

Hi David,

I'm trying to embrace the separate menu bar, but it's hard. :-)

If you compare Mac to anything else, it's usually going to be better. I'm trying to compare the Mac to what would be a perfect desktop OS for me, and I realize that my ideas aren't the same as everyone else's. However, I am left wondering if others agree with some of my annoyances.

And yeah, Macs definitely get sleep right, and this is particularly nice for a laptop. I can close the lid, open it, and be right back where I was - even in the middle of a compile.

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 00:01:18 GMT Link

30.passh said:

The web suck on Macs. I do web pages and macs cannot open urls like


there are plug-ins that only work on windows, problems with end of lines and so on.

I have a dual boot CentOS/Windows to code php and surf the web the same way 87% of my visitors do.

Some times I start working on my boss's PowerBook and go back my PC when the web suck.

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 00:22:49 GMT Link

31.Ian said:


The web suck on Macs. I do web pages and macs cannot open urls like




Don't know why you'd be getting this issue because I've never come across it! that just isn't correct.

The only plugins that I come across is flash, ipix and quicktime of which all are compatible with the mac.

Oh and end of lines are *not* and issue with web-browsing on the mac.

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 01:13:48 GMT Link

32.Davey Shafik said:

My mac background is something of a tale, so be prepared for a long comment.

About 2 years ago, my roomie was a Mac Zealot. And a gamer. He cursed his mac every. single. day. But still, it was better than my (windows) PC.

So, for christmas, I decided to buy him a Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition for his Dual G4 ($400). Unfortunately, the PSU he has wasn't powerful enough and after a call to Apple ("Hi, I'd like a new Power Supply" "Oh, and which G5 would you like that with?") I said screw it, returned the card back to CompUSA and bought him an AthlonXP 3200+, 1GB RAM, 160GB HDD and an additional Radeon 9600 card all for just $650. $250 more than the graphics card on its own!

Then the bitching stopped, and he could play his games nicely. Since then, he has bought himself a new machine (Athlon64 X2 4800+, 2GB RAM, 2x250GB SATA drives) which cost about as much as a mac... and I pointed this out to him, but you know what, he didn't really care for the mac anymore :)

So anyhow, I inherited his mac (That was the deal when I spent the extra on a PC) and well, I liked it. I like the single toolbar, I like the "doesn't close when you close the window", I found the "assitive devices" setting (I'm a keyboard junkie), I found quicksilver and Adium and Colloquy, I installed ZDE and Textwrangler and in short had a fully functioning replacement desktop that I had grown used to within a week.

However, this Dual G4 had a weakness, it had been upgraded from 333Mhz processors to 1Ghz, and as such the system bus was much too slow, causing what should have been a reasonably fast machine to run like a dog. This fact alone led me to abandon the machine.

However, it was around this time that I stumbled upon Ubuntu Linux and found that just enough features of OSX were there to satisfy me (for example, the File > Open dialog allows you to drag common places to the left pane :)

I've been using Ubuntu for about 18 months now, and I use WinXP on my laptop (for the wife wants to use that also). I will buy an Intel Mac Mini when they come out :)

My dream is 3 mac minis, one running Ubuntu Linux, one running WinXP and one running OSX, one on top of the other connected via a KVM :)

- Davey

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 04:31:02 GMT Link

33.Kenrick Buchanan said:


If you spend a little time (some times more than expected) to find what you are looking for in terms of OSX, youll find many hacks and DIY resources out there. Having spent 80% of my php developing years in a Wintel environment, OSX is a godsend. Yeah, you have to look for somethings, but once youve found them you will be o so happy.

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 04:55:55 GMT Link

34.Poncho said:

Hi Chris,

I've been using both Windows and Mac for years and only recently abandoned Windows altogether. I don't think I'm a zealot, but I do prefer the Mac. My only experience of Linux has been Fedora Core 2 which I installed out of curiosity so I can't speak with any authority there.

I won't really comment on your annoyances, they are all good points but I don't have a problem with any of them.

Instead, I will just offer my recommendations for some applications that may make your stay/visit in Mac land more comfortable. I'm sure most of the things these applications provide can be achived through the CLI (I spend quite a bit of time there myself), but I type enough already :-)


TextMate (http://www.macromates.com)

THE programmer's text editor

Transmit (http://www.panic.com/)

excellent (s)ftp app

Quicksilver (http://quicksilver.blacktree.com/)

I can no longer live without this launcher

AdiumX (http://www.adiumx.com/)

sweet cross-protocol IM app

Eclipse (http://www.phpeclipse.de/)

I begrudge paying for Zend

XCode (http://developer.apple.com/)

Pretty awesome general purpose IDE



Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 06:03:09 GMT Link

35.Satane said:

I used to work under win and linux (about 50/50% of my time) and I bought myself a iMac G5 a year and a half ago.

It took my a couple of weeks to get used to all the shortcuts and some of the annoyances you mention, but after a bit of research i found some cool little apps (like the calendar, and quicksilver) and I just loved my mac. Plus they have the coolest text editor on earth (bbedit).

Unfortunatly, last summer I had to sell it to buy myself a new laptop and couldn't afford a mac at the time (now this is a real annoyance).

After a week under windows I really wanted to throw that new laptop away. I finally installed linux and calm down a bit, although i do think that gnome is far from advanced compared to macos, and even... windows (there, i said it, never ever imagined i would, but let's face it - linux is a great OS but there's a lot of improvement to be done desktop wise).

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 11:13:21 GMT Link

36.Luis said:

Perhaps you can improve your "mac experience" with some good open source applications:


Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 12:49:22 GMT Link

37.Rodney said:

The fact that the home and end keys act differently on the Mac and the PC drives me *batty*.

When I forget this, and am coding on a MAC and hit end, thinking I will get to the end of the line to make sure the tag is closed, but I am moved to the end of the document.... ughhh... so irritating. I HATE THAT!!

Also the maximize point, too, Chris, is annoying. When I maximize, I want full screen.... errrrr</rant>

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 13:55:11 GMT Link

38.Nate Klaiber said:


I think I shared some of these same frustrations when I first starting using a MAC. I guess over time I just got 'used' to them, even though I would consider some of them to be pretty annoying (especially the maximize window thing).

I, too, was frustrated with not being able to see the date/time in the menu bar. However, I found a trick (much better than the terminal trick listed above) that allows for both to be placed in the menu bar, in any format/order you would like. It's not a confusing task, but I don't want to take up any more comment space on here. If you are interested in how to get it set up I could email the instructions (nate [at] theklaibers [dot] com).

My weapon of choice is still OS X. It's is very simple, elegant, and has exactly what I need: Textmate, Transmit, built in web-server, easy network connections (we have all of our servers in house), VNC, and VPN.

I agree that you shouldn't have to make your computer WORK for you - but at the same time many of these are preference issues (some of which can be resolved). Hey, at least we dont have to deal with the crap in Windows (sorry, I had to throw that in there...).



Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 14:51:47 GMT Link

39.Jeff Moore said:


I: Try setting your mouse preferences so that your cursor moves faster.

IV: Windows get minimized, not applications. The command tab switcher switches between applications, not windows. Hit control-F3 to give focus to the dock, then you can select minimized windows.

V & VI: The laptop keyboard is a PITA. Do you have an external keyboard and mouse?

You may want to take a look at Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard Shortcuts if you haven't already.

Sorry if I'm repeating stuff thats already been said.



Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 17:15:04 GMT Link

40.Chris Shiflett said:

Hi Nate,

Please do post your trick. I'm sure others would like to know it.

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 17:59:29 GMT Link

41.Chris Shiflett said:

Thanks for the comments, Jeff.

Regarding mouse speed, I have mine configued to go as fast as possible. Of course, I'm using a PowerBook, so the mouse experience isn't going to be good without an external one, regardless of anything else.

My main complaint with the menu bar is that it's outside of the user's focal area. I've witnessed the frustration related to this feature from many different types of users, including those for whom the Mac is their first experience with a computer. The simple fact is that it's not intuitive, and almost everything else on the Mac is. I know it's up there, but that's only because I've been using a Mac for years.

You're right that I'm very loose with the term application. I tried to approach this topic from the perspective of a novice computer user who doesn't really distinguish between them. Things that are obvious and intuitive tend to be better for advanced users as well, but many Mac zealots are too afraid of change to see that. In fact, historically, Apple has had to force change in order to continue to innovate and improve, and Mac zealots eventually learn to embrace the new innovations and see the value in them, but not by choice.

On my Linux desktop, I can "close" Gaim, and it continues to run. However, it doesn't pollute my alt-tab list unless a window is open. Perhaps I just need to find the Mac way to quickly switch between windows instead of apps, since that's usually what I want. In fact, I've considered this one from every angle I can, and I don't see why this isn't the default command-tab behavior in the first place. Quickly switching to an app with no open windows seems at least slightly less common than quickly switching to an app that does have open windows. The Mac seems to be optimizing for the former rather than the latter.

Yes, I'm on a laptop without an external keyboard and mouse, but I'm considering using a Mac for my primary desktop, in which case I'll have both. So, some of these annoyances will be solved automatically. Others can likely be solved with some configuration that I'm unaware of. The rest I'll probably just have to deal with - my list of Linux annoyances is probably longer than this, and my Windows annoyances aren't worth counting. :-)

Thanks again.

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 18:17:05 GMT Link

42.Gavin Foster said:

Hi Chris,

Some great points in this thread.

You mention looking for the Mac way to switch between Windows instead of Apps, isnt that Expose?

I minimise windows that I am not currently working with, so that they dont appear in Expose.

I dont know if you have mouse button set up to do the Expose action, but once you do, dev becomes a very streamlined affair.

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 19:16:19 GMT Link

43.Nate Klaiber said:


I have sent you an email with some more information regarding the time in the menu bar. I hope this helps!



Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 20:20:16 GMT Link

44.Chris Shiflett said:

This is from Nate:


It shows how to fix the clock. Thanks, Nate! :-)

(By the way, my reply to you bounced.)

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 20:40:43 GMT Link

45.Nate Klaiber said:


No problem - we just upgraded one of our mail server filters and its not completely tweaked yet. I have had several messages I send get bounced as well - sorry for that.

Glad it helped!



Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 21:52:32 GMT Link

46.Josh G. said:

What Mac are you using? I have a 15" Powerbook G4 and a PowerMac G5 and they both have PageUp, PageDown, Home, and End keys. If you have an iBook, I would consider something more powerful for your needs.

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 22:10:07 GMT Link

47.Richard Davey said:

I switched to a G5 iMac just over a year ago and rarely turn my PC on now. It was a strange transition at first! It took me several months of anguish and shouting at the screen when things just didn't 'work' the same as Windows, but I soon got used to it and now the more I dig the more I love what it can do.

I think the issue with the 'maximise' button is that it isn't and never was called 'maximise' ever. That I'm afraid is your interpretation of it (taken from other OSes) that you assume it should maximise the window. But really ask yourself this - if Apple had meant it to do that, don't you think they would have called it 'maximise' ? I think it is called 'zoom' for a good reason. It isn't Apple trying to be 'hip', it's just what it does - zoom to the content size. Some programmers over-ride that to make it work like Windows/Linux, but in essence that is never what it was meant to do.

I'm yet to find a good "alt-tab" replacement that cycles through open Windows though, and Expose while pretty, is too slow for this task.

If you alt-tab to a minimised app, it doesn't stay minimised at all, because you can't minimise an app in the first place! It's either running, hidden or closed down. There is no 'minimised' state. You can only minimise a window from an application, and a window !== the app itself. I do agree that apps should perhaps have a preferences setting to re-open minimised windows if you cmd-tab to them, but heck there are lots of things I would like :)

I feel the home/end keys are utterly broken in their implementation and are the single biggest thing that drive me insane on OS X. Some applications code around it - for example in Adium or Dreamweaver home and end will do the 'right' thing. In most other apps it takes you to the start/end of the document, which is fucking useless! For the start/end of the line, which is all I ever wanted, I have to cmd-left/right arrow. Highly annoying.

As for the clock, I just use the sublime MenuCalendarClock which has been recommended here several times over already.

iPhoto I have no issues with. I've got 3000+ photos loaded into it, it's fast, smooth, easy to use. When scrolling I love the way it shows the shot date as you scroll for quick flicking through big sets of photos. I have the iLife 06 version on a G5 however.

Safari sucks far less than Firefox does on OS X. I use Safari 2.0.3 and it is a dream to browse with. Fast, sleek, random CSS issues yes, but then so does FF. It also tabs perfectly through form fields, even when the site isn't coded in such a helpful way. Firefox does not. Infact I hate Firefox on OS X, it is bugged to hell. Forms don't render properly / neatly, there is JavaScript out there that can total the browser locking out all text input at all, it's slow to start-up and eats RAM like it is going out of fashion. I won't touch FF on OS X unless a site requires it / I'm testing something. Safari + the beautiful Inquisitor plug-in are bliss to work with. If I ever need to run IE6 I boot-up Virtual PC and run it properly rather than turn on a PC.

I really like Interarchy, TextMate and Navicat. Adium is the best designed IM client I've ever had the pleasure of using, on any OS. iTunes 'just works', Motion is sublime, Cinema4D works really well, iPhoto. Heck the only thing I miss are the games really, but I've got a console for that!

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 at 23:05:06 GMT Link

48.Rory said:

The green + button is not 'maximise', it's 'zoom'. The fundamental difference being that its intended purpose is to enlarge the window so that its contents is fully displayed without the need for scrollbars. For applications where it's not possible to display everything without scrollbars or where developers have chosen not to proprely implement this feature it has the effect of making the window as large the screen, in effect maximising the window.

Tue, 14 Feb 2006 at 02:24:54 GMT Link

49.Chris Shiflett said:

Thanks for the detailed response, Richard. Expose is great, but like you, I find it slow for managing windows. Maybe there's an XML file I can edit to alter the behavior of command-tab. There have been some great tips and tricks mentioned here so far. :-)

Thanks Rory (and Richard) for correcting me about the green button. I still would like to have a way to make a window fill the screen. I don't want this for the same reasons most Windows users probably do, where they maximize every window for no good reason. On my Linux desktop, I never have a window that takes up more than half the screen. But, that's because I've got 1600 x 1200 resolution and four desktops. On my 12" PowerBook, I sometimes really want a window to take up the full screen.

This works both ways. When I'm presenting, I sometimes like to give live demos. This often involves Terminal or iTerm. So that the audience can see what I'm typing, I increase the font size to something ridiculous. Because the window grows larger as I increase the font size, quickly expanding beyond the borders of the screen, I must first manually resize the window as small as I can get it, then increase the font size, then manually make it fill the screen (which still doesn't work, because it seems to snap to a grid that doesn't line up exactly with the size of the desktop).

Yes, I'm being picky, which in itself is a testament to the Mac. If it weren't such a great desktop OS, I would have more substantial complaints. :-)

Tue, 14 Feb 2006 at 02:43:28 GMT Link

50.Al said:


Just happened to run across your blog, so here you go:

Clock yes its stupid and annoying, heres a solution:


Install it and turn off the default retardo clock.

Multiple Desktops

Google for Desktop Manager 0.5.3 by Rich Wareham - problem solved

Problem you did not complain about but I hate is getting to addressbook quickly - solution google for "TAPDEX"

You can remap the keys on the right side for Enter and Command to page up and down, check on version tracker.

Good Luck and Have fun, I don't even do PHP but figured may as well help out :) All this usability crap and they screw up the clock, go figure.


Tue, 14 Feb 2006 at 09:27:44 GMT Link

51.Chris Shiflett said:

Thanks, Al! :-)

Fri, 17 Feb 2006 at 02:36:28 GMT Link

52.matthew said:

"there are plug-ins that only work on windows, "

well DONT use them THEN!

Mon, 20 Feb 2006 at 20:25:34 GMT Link

53.Paul B said:

Having the menu in the same place for all apps is not only not stupid, it's brilliant.

Tue, 21 Feb 2006 at 04:26:36 GMT Link

54.matthew said:

FWIW, heres a stab at each, pointless, point

<i>Separating Menu Bar from Window Is Stupid.</i>

Says you

<i>Apps Don't Really Close When You Close Them.</i>

Its a window your closing

<i>Maximizing Is Broken.</i>

Its not maximising, your understanding is broken.

<i>Alt-Tab to a Minimized App, and It Stays Minimized.</i>

What are you going on about?

<i>Too Many Option Keys.</i>

Not enough brain cells

<i>No Dedicated Page Up, Page Down, Home, or End Keys.</i>

See <i>Too Many Option Keys.</i>

<i>Only One Desktop.</i>

Seriously, who the hell needs this? If you want it, get linux.

<i>The Clock Sucks.</i>

you suck

<i>iPhoto Sucks.</i>

See <i>The Clock Sucks.</i>

Safari Sucks.

See <i>The Clock Sucks</i> and <i>iPhoto Sucks.</i>

So basically, what your saying is that you bought a bike, and its great, only youd just like to have 4 wheels and a roof.

I cant believe youve used a Mac for as long as you claim, or even any computer for that matter

Tue, 21 Feb 2006 at 09:33:46 GMT Link

55.mokeyjoe said:

Pfft, that guy was helpful...

Anyway, with respect to Command-tabbing to hidden apps. If you command-tab to an app with no windows open you can usually press Command-1 and that will bring up a new instance of the window. 'Reopening' the application if you like. This works for most apps but not all (e.g. Firefox). It all depends on their menu short cuts.

The best way to think of this is, once you've tabbed to the (hidden) application you want is "what do I want to do". For example if you're just going to Mail to write a message then you don't really need to bring up your Inbox then click on new message, so you just type Command-N to bring up a new message window. Or Shift-Command-N to check for mail. You can interact with applications this way with no need to even open a window. Impossible with Windows as the menu bar is stuck to the application. ;)

If you aren't sure of the shortcuts then Contol-F2 will let you navigate the menus with the cursor keys or by typing letters.

As far as your presentations go if you want to make things bigger so the audience can see what you're doing you could always use the screen zoom function. Go to System Prefences > Universal Access and make sure its enabled. Then you can press Command-Option and the + and - keys to zoom in and out of the screen. It stays anti-aliased so it looks nice too.

Minimization is a bit pointless for applications - Command-H will hide the application and Command tabbing to it will bring it back up. It might be useful for hiding additional windows within applications (multiple documents for instance). Interestingly if you quit Mail (i.e. Command-Q) and then reload it, it will remember which windows you had minimized and put them back in the dock. Including any unfinished and unsaved emails.

You can cycle between open windows within an application by Command-` . If you need to get to any minimized windows you'll have to Control-F3 to the dock and select it, Control-F3 to the menu bar and select it from the Window menu, or click on it (of all things). Its handy for some apps (like iPhoto) that are one window only. In these cases the keyboard shortcuts/menu selections will bring the minimized window back to the desktop.

The reason for having an application switcher and a seperate window cycle, excluding minimized windows from the process etc is to make application switching quicker. If you have half a dozen emails open, some Finder windows, and a couple of Safari windows plus the downloader minimized the tabbing between all of them takes time. Most of the time you want to switch to an application and then maybe cycle to the appropriate window. This may take a while just cycling between open windows until you reach the right one but in can be done in perhaps one motion in OSX.

Personally though, I find using Exposé quicker than any of these. :D

The main thing to bear in mind is that OSX operates very differently to windows or even Linux. Its a whole different approach so sometimes parallels can not be drawn (eg, zoom and maximise).

I've only had my iBook 3 weeks now so if I've got anything wrong then that'll be why. I don't mind being corrected! It's a learning curve, after all.

Sun, 26 Feb 2006 at 02:30:24 GMT Link

56.mokeyjoe said:

Plus, some guy said he couldn't get to address book quickly. I don't find that at all with Spotlight as I just type in the conatct name and it finds it instantly. Same with emails (or text therein) Or even song lyrics! I don't see how it could get any quicker.

Sun, 26 Feb 2006 at 02:49:08 GMT Link

57.Greg Macoy said:

I found this site looking for a way to do a proper maximize on the Mac - I'm attempting to read an e-book, and finding that Preview won't maximise the window to let me read the document comfortably. I've got a fairly big screen - I wouldn't mind being able to use it to improve the clarity and readability of the document!

It would be great to give people the option of doing things how they want to, not forcing them in to the way of the OS.

It does seem like a basic thing to be able to do, and a very sensible one in a lot of cases.

Sometimes I feel that the screen can get quite cluttered - which is unfortunate. I also find that rather than being able to take constructive criticism a lot of Mac users take offence, which again is unfortunate because I think a lot more people would switch to Mac if they felt empowered.

I'm still getting to grips with my Mac, and enjoying most of it, I feel quite glad to move away from Windows, but I sometimes feel frustrated that my Mac doesn't let me do some things.

Fri, 03 Mar 2006 at 11:23:21 GMT Link

58.Luke Worth said:

Hi, about minimizing stuff... don't minimise stuff. (oops, which spelling should i use?)

Press command-H. it works better IMO.

Tue, 07 Mar 2006 at 12:54:02 GMT Link

59.John Dickinson said:

about IV...

I perfectly agree, I've been looking for a way to get programs to truely maximize.. This inability of OS X is most annoying when opening pdfs with preview (which starts up nice and fast). Sure with a big nice screen this might not be quite as impossibly annoying, but with a 12'' laptop it wrecks my nerves when I'm doing research looking at 100 pdfs a day...

There must be someone out there who can write a nice little add-on/plug-in/app for mac osx so that alittle keyboard shortcut or something can induce true maximization? I certainly can't

Fri, 17 Mar 2006 at 15:28:29 GMT Link

60.John Dickinosn said:

sorry, that was supposed to be III of course...

Fri, 17 Mar 2006 at 15:29:43 GMT Link

61.Dimo said:

When it comes to maximizing or zooming, some applications like iTunes have an alternative function on the zoom button if you are holding Alt/Option while pressing the zoom button.

It does what you expect it to do with iTunes. There may be other apps.

Sun, 26 Mar 2006 at 15:52:38 GMT Link

62.Chris Shiflett said:

Thanks for that tip, Dimo. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to maximize the window for me - it only maximizes the width.

One thing I think I forgot to mention is that even when I manually resize a window to fill the entire screen, it's sometimes not possible to get it to fit perfectly. The guides don't match up perfectly with the desktop size, leaving tiny gaps everywhere that are easy to click by accident.

Of course, this is only painful, because I'm on a 12" screen. If I begin using my Mac as my primary desktop, that will entail hooking it up to a much larger screen, and I'll probably never have a need to maximize anything. But, it's still nice to have the option...

Sun, 26 Mar 2006 at 19:37:20 GMT Link

63.Chris Mattingly said:

The perception that I get from your article is that (a) you have a built-in bias from prior experience with other operating systems, and (b) you don't seem to have thoroughly explored Mac OS' functionality. No offense...

One thing I of agree with you on off the bat is that there is no perfect OS. Computing at the consumer level is still relatively new, and I think that there are so many functionalities that have to be addressed that it'll probably never be possible to please everybody all the time. We've come a long way in 25 years, but we're still a long way from it being an almost completely intuitive experience. I think the Mac OS is the most intuitive work environment available, and they always are pushing those boundaries; having said that, I was kind of surprised that you weren't able to figure out most of your OS issues on your own.

It seems like most of the problems you're having with Mac OS come from not understanding the "mindset" of the operating system. For example, I've noticed a high tendency of PC users to expect to be able to do just about everything with right clicking and the Start Menu. As a graphic designer, I rely heavily on key commands. I can tell you from direct experience that I'll run circles around anyone who sticks to contextual menus (or properties) -- people complain that Macs are primitive since the mouse only has one button, but I'd argue that you actually have a 100+ button mouse; you just have to be willing to pick up your left hand and put it to use.

In response to your points:

I. I think of the menu bar as an easy interface for basic users, or a consistent way of finding a function within an app. Once you've memorized enough key commands and/or get an efficient workflow going, you won't go there too often.

II. Again, a different mentality than what you're probably used to. I would actually be alarmed if an app shut down without me it telling it to; besides, someone had previously mentioned not having to waste time reloading the app. Besides, w/ Mac's incredibly effective memory management, this is a non-issue.

III. Zoom in Mac OS is slightly different from Maximize in Windows; the concept within the OS is (sort of) that windows should all be free-floating, and not hog your entire screen. Note that if you keep your dock visible, Maximize will only expand to the height of the dock. Again, a different mindset than you're used to.

IV. I'll agree with you here, to an extent. Logic being that if you command-tab to another app, you intend to do something there so even if a file is in the dock, SOMETHING should be brought up to be ready for you to work with. However, if you hold down the command key when you tab, all your open apps appear right there in the middle of the screen in plain sight. You can also mouse over to any of these, or hit "q" to quit an app, "h" to hide one, etc.

V. Read my comments about key commands, put that left hand to good use, free your mind, and so forth...

Between Macs and PC's, the switch is fairly simple for keys. The command key does what the control key does on PC, the option key works in place of alt. The control key on the Mac is for your contextual (or properties) menus.

VI. Hopefully you have a full-sized keyboard; these are right next to the numeric keypad. For the record, I hate all those cheesy keyboards w/ all the tacky media keys. I like Apple keyboards: clean, simple, and functional.

VII. Don't really have anything to add here; I don't really see any advantages of having more than one desktop. I get plenty done w/ the one I have now. What do Expose & tabbed browsing in Explorer have to do with this?

VIII. I agree; all those little status menu icons make tidy use of the leftover space on the right, for all the space that the clock hogs, it does not. I get enough between that & a calendar Widget or two, but I'd like more "personal assistant" options right there (w/out going to a 3rd party app). The analog clock option is a nice little icon, but does anyone actually use that one to tell time?

IX. No opinion. I don't use it.

X. Safari blows the pantaloons off of Explorer, especially when you compare Mac to PC. Some Javascript funtionality still seems to be missing, but for functionality's sake, here are a couple of superior features: 1. better bookmark management - simpler to save; the bookmark window even includes its own "bookmark finder", and 2. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT: pop-up blocking. Try as you might, pop-up ads will find a way back in your browser on PC's Explorer (this has rendered my poor Dad's dial-up connection pretty much worthless), whereas on Safari, the answer is simple: menu>Safari>Block Pop-up Windows. Over and done. No more unwanted pop-up ads.

I know this has been a long-winded response, but if even a couple of things have been insightful, it was worth it!

Sat, 08 Apr 2006 at 13:59:58 GMT Link

64.Pat Johnson said:

Point VI drove me crazy when I first switched to a Mac Mini with OS X. I don't understand how such a well designed OS misses out on the efficiency of using the control key as the modifier with the arrow keys. Since the control key is right beside the arrow keys it's easy to just move the right hand over, press control with the thumb and then use the arrow keys to jump around by words.

After some searching I found a solution:


Here's my defaultkeybindings.dict file that has keys setup as they are in Windows and Linux:

/* ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict */


/* Home/End keys like normal */

"\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfLine:"; /* home */

"\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfLine:"; /* end */

"$\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfLineAndModifySelection:"; /* shift + home */

"$\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfLineAndModifySelection:"; /* shift + end */

"^\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfDocument:"; /* ctrl + home */

"^\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfDocument:"; /* ctrl + end */

/* Page up/down move the cursor, not just scroll */

"\UF72C" = "pageUp:";

"\UF72D" = "pageDown:";

/* ctrl + L/R for prev/next word, add shift to select as well */

"^\UF702" = "moveWordLeft:";

"^\UF703" = "moveWordRight:";

"^$\UF702" = "moveWordLeftAndModifySelection:";

"^$\UF703" = "moveWordRightAndModifySelection:";

Sun, 09 Apr 2006 at 18:05:39 GMT Link

65.Chris Mattingly said:

I'm not understanding where that keyboard setup would be advantageous, Pat Johnson. In text editing software?

If that's the case, then it's another example of simply switching to a different set of keys to get where you're going. For example: in TextEdit, use option+arrow left/right to skip between words, command+arrow left/right to jump to the beginning or end of a line. Shift+option+arrow selects words, shift+option+command selects a line. Option+arrow up/down jumps paragraphs; if you experiment around with these key sequences you'll find more capabilities. The home/end keys respond differently depending on the number of pages in a document, program you're in, etc. but if I want to jump to the beginning or end of a text file (in any program), then I just hit command+a, then left or right arrow.

Sun, 09 Apr 2006 at 20:36:41 GMT Link

66.Pat Johnson said:

The advantage is that using the Ctrl key is faster (in my opinion :) than using the Option key due to the placement of the Ctrl key. With the middle finger of the right hand over the up arrow, the thumb naturally sits on the Ctrl key. Also the placement of the shift key just above the Ctrl key makes it easy for one-handed cursor movement and selection of text. Windows and Linux use the Ctrl key for this reason.

Yes, text editors are where this has the most advantage, but it also works well anywhere that text is edited, such as input fields in a web browser.

Someone used to the Mac method would probably find switching to Ctrl instead of Option fairly easy, but for a Windows or Linux user switching to the Option key is enough to drive someone insane because it feels so cumbersome.

Mon, 10 Apr 2006 at 23:19:27 GMT Link

67.Chris Mattingly said:

I see what you're saying; I'm used to having my hand spread out a bit w/ pinky & thumb, but I can understand how most people might have a harder time making that adjustment.

On the opposite hand, I think Mac OS is inherently a lot easier on the wrists when it comes to keyboard commands. Most of them are accomplished with the command key, and since it's further into the keyboard you're able to keep your wrists turned slightly in w/ elbows slightly out. One example might be having to switch from shift+command+t on Mac to shift+control+t on PC with one hand... almost painful to do that combination on the latter.

Wed, 12 Apr 2006 at 05:53:43 GMT Link

68.Brian Shiro said:

Having using Mac OS X as my primary desktop OS since 2002, I agree with most of this annoyance list.

For me, however, the #1 annoyance is something not listed here. I think the biggest annoyance is the fact that you cannot resize windows from all 4 sides. You can only do it from the lower right hand corner. If anyone knows of a way to get around this problem, please let me know: brian.shiro@gmail.com. Thanks.

Sat, 15 Apr 2006 at 22:36:43 GMT Link

69.Ryan said:

Just came across this entry and thought I'd add a little bit of insight on the window closing / app quitting issue.

Here's the way you should think of things so that you dont go crazy.

If it makes any sense for an app to have more than 1 window then the red X button will only close the window not the app. The reason for this has been said before, speeds up loading times, etc.

Included in this section are apps like: Xcode, Safari, Textmate/TextEdit/pretty much any text editor and the Finder.

If an app really wont ever need more than 1 window the close button will quit the entire application since if there are no windows, you dont need the app anymore.

Included in this section are apps like: Calculator, iPhoto (which rules once you get to know it), most utility apps and games.

If it makes sense that you'd want an app running but not necessarily have any windows open then the close button also just closes the window and leaves the app running.

Included in this section are apps like: Mail (so that it can check for mail even though it's not open), iCal (so you dont have to relaunch it everytime you want to see what time your haircut is scheduled for) and iTunes (so youdont have to look at the window to listen to music, you can control it from the dashboard, with command shortcuts using an extension or from the context menu of the dock icon).

Pretty much the deal is that you should just leave common apps running and just close or hide their windows when you dont need them. W and H are your very best friends. M gets basically no usage on my system except in very odd circumstances.

The main problem you're having with this functionality is the exact same as people who aren't used to the mac have, which I find strange since you are obviously experienced with many platforms (like myself). Probably what's happening is that you use other platforms regularly as well and they have completely different ideas regarding this... I think this is the better solution by far. The TAB issue is interesting though, I quite honestly dont use it much since expose gives you live previews and can be a godsend... For example, envoke expose and then push tab, it will switch between all applications windows. Also, if you hide an application and use TAB it will unhide the application you select.

Tue, 23 May 2006 at 20:04:01 GMT Link

70.Chris Shiflett said:

Thanks for your comments, Ryan. I have never tried hitting tab while Expose is showing all of the windows - that's very nice. Perhaps that's the better "alt-tab" equivalent for Mac.

Tue, 23 May 2006 at 20:26:53 GMT Link

71.Bill said:

OS X is horrible. I write software for it, and hate it.

Separating the menu bar from the app is a decent idea, as far as I'm concerned. It's like tabbed browsing for the desktop.

Still, this is hardley new for the Mac as it's been that way forever!

The reason I dislike OS X are more development related.

1. You can't write plugins for Apple Mail. WTF is this about??? Are we expected to wait for Apple to write their own version of third-party products for us??

2. Safari sucks. While it was nifty when it first came out (yay, another alternative to IE), I'm sick and tired of having JavaScript not run properly on it. Funny how my web-apps all work in NS, Firefox, and IE, yet Safari still insists on displaying garbage.

3. Page-up and Page down are kind of REQUIREMENTS these days..

4. The Dock, while it looks cool, was poorley thought out. While that little arrow may be enough for some, the difference between a running application and a shortcut is too minor.

5. Network file sharing. Ahem. Face it, Apple, many offices and corporations use Windows file sharing. There are some SERIOUS outstanding issues with this (like some files not appearing, long filenames not supported, etc..).

6. No registry. Many at Apple see this as a strength, yet overlook the fact that they've simply replaced a registry with 1,000,000,000 ambigiously named files located in the UNIX style directories (hidden from Finder, I might add). Not only am I forced to reboot my Mac when I make certain changes, I'm also left feeling like I'm dealing with some sort of black-voodoo whenever I get my hands dirty in some of the darker recesses of the OS.

7. Apple has taken the 'blame it on open source' approach to tech support. They'll hand you off to some open-source website if you run in to a real problem with the OS, or some API. What this means is that a) you'll not find the answers your looking for, and b) Apple doesn't have to spend any time helping you.

One of the things that makes MS Windows so appealing to people is msdn.microsoft.com. A developer, newbie or experienced, can go there and quickly learn how to work with just about any part of the OS or any part of a MS product.

Mon, 29 May 2006 at 14:56:12 GMT Link

72.Nate Klaiber said:

RE: Bill

I am a Mac user, but defintely understand some of your above complaints - especially when dealing with networking in a primarily PC environment.

However, after having to deal with PC's for several years at my previous job, and having several crash and the only option left is re-formatting - I made the switch to Mac. I will NEVER go back to PC (personally). I would rather work on a crippled Mac than a PC - using the Mac is much simpler. Again, this is a personal preference and comes from years of using BOTH OS's. However, though I make this choice - that doesn't mean Ill spend my days bashing PCS - each have their strong/weak points. As a power user (I use computers everyday for work/personal) I will always choose a Mac.

If you don't mind me asking, what software have you developed on the mac?



Tue, 30 May 2006 at 14:52:15 GMT Link

73.Brian Norwood said:

Bill, you must be crazy if you hate OS X for development reasons. As a programmer myself (albeit not commercially), OS X is THE best thing to develop for I have ever used. Cocoa is odd at first, but it's frickin' incredible.

You definitely can make Mail plug-ins; they're just not included as a template. I've seen Mail plug-ins before. As for Safari, the only annoying thing about the JavaScript is that if its initial syntax check fails, it doesn't do anything.

And the Dock...while there are issues with the Dock, I don't really think that's one of them. I mean, there either is or isn't a black thing by any given icon. But this sounds like an issue of personal preference.

I don't understand what you're saying about the page up and page down keys. Are the two keys labeled "page up" and "page down" on my APPLE keyboard illusions? Here, I'll try pressing them...

Wouldn't ya know it? They work!

By the way, I don't know what you mean when you say you can't tab to a select list. I just tabbed to both styles (popup menu and listbox) of select menus, WITHOUT full keyboard access on. What, exactly, are you complaining about?

The menu bar being separate from the window is brilliant. Besides what others have said about not needing a window, it's SO much easier to access. Believe it, buddy. You say "oh, well I have to go all the way to the top of the screen, and if they were in the window, they'd be closer". The fact of the matter is, that doesn't mean anything! Think about it. On Windows and Linux, you have to (fairly slowly) move your mouse to a specific place height-wise. On a Mac, you shove your mouse forward and bam, you're at the menu bar.

And, uh, could you be a little less ambiguous regarding iPhoto?

Sun, 25 Jun 2006 at 01:23:25 GMT Link

74.Brian Norwood said:

(For the record, everything after "Wouldn't ya know it? They Work!" was directed at Chris, not Bill.)

Sun, 25 Jun 2006 at 01:25:01 GMT Link

75.Mike said:

As a longtime Unix/linux user who is also experimenting with a MacBook, I agree with almost all of your Annoyances.

However you are missing the most obvious one, that I am sure many people have pointed out before:

Only ONE mouse button.

Why? Why? Why?

I don't want to have to reach out for the ctrl-button when I can use my other finger!

With an external mouse, my laptop works fine - with all that lovely autoselect + middle-button=paste mouse action that made X11 so great - but with the one-button trackpad mouse it sucks!

(Sadly the great X11 select/paste behaviour seems to be depracated even on linux as apps like Firefox prefer CTRL-C; CTRL-V - no doubt for consistency with Windows ....)

Thu, 29 Jun 2006 at 13:08:27 GMT Link

76.craz said:


I'm looking through this page and I agree with some of your points. As for alt-tabbing solution, I think someone mentioned 'witch' http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/25871. It works much better than expose in this regard.

As for desktops, Virtuedesktop seems to be nice http://virtuedesktops.info

I would like to know your feedback on these apps. Cheers.

Tue, 01 Aug 2006 at 11:14:56 GMT Link

77.Rex Perry said:

VII - If you don't know what day it is, you're spending way too much time at your computer. Do you ever really not know what day it is?

Thu, 10 Aug 2006 at 02:17:49 GMT Link

78.Leo said:

I just want to chime in and wholeheartedly agree with you on III. I want a way to always be able to maximize any and every window.

Some people are saying "you don't understand, that isn't a maximize button, that's a zoom button, which acts differently in different applications." Yes it acts differently, which is pretty useless. If you thinks the random unpredictable behavior of a zoom button is worth keeping, fine, then we need to add a maximize button.

Some people are saying "most windows don't need to be maximized" Don't try to tell me what's good for me. I WANT the window maximized! Give me a button that does it.

Mon, 28 Aug 2006 at 02:35:07 GMT Link

79.Chris Shiflett said:

I'm with you, Leo. :-)

Mon, 28 Aug 2006 at 03:12:12 GMT Link

80.OS said:

Actually there are home, end, page up and page down keys on normal Apple keyboards. And the clock can display the date if you tell Mac OS to have your clock in a window, not the menu bar. It can be a digital clock or an analog one.

Fri, 01 Sep 2006 at 16:29:57 GMT Link

81.Nate said:

I posted something pretty similar on my blog a week or so ago, although only a few of my gripes were in line with yours. (if you read my blog, leave a comment) I'm also, a Linux user (on a macbook), running GNOME -- and unless Apple can fix a number of their problems, I'll remain a Linux user.

So, lack of MAC zeoletry being declared, I actually like the menu bar on the top, and contrary to the Dock, I think somebody may have done a useability study or two before putting it there. Take a look at the usability studies for two panels verus one in GNOME for similar debates. Despite Novell catering to ex-Windows users, the arguments for the menu in the upper left corner of the screen are stronger.

Also, the page-up/down, home, and end keys have nothing to do with OS X. Sony does the same thing, and from rumors I've heard, Sony and Apple collaborate on hardware design, so it would make sense. I've found it easier to find and use these dual-purpose arrow keys than the pseudo-randomly placed keys that are common across other laptop keyboards -- of course, that's just me.

I don't see why Safari sucking is really a downside of OS X. Use a different browser. To be completely fair, Linux probably comes with more browser options than any other operating system, and Safari is no where near as un-removable as IE in Windows.

I agree completely about the stupid "apps don't close" thing. The "document based versus application based" argument is a bunch of crap. Everybody using a modern computer works with applications that contain documents. We all do the same thing. I think it's a solution for slower launch times, and maybe along with the migration to Intel, it will become obsolete. Apple says you don't need to close apps, because swapping is very efficient. They also said PPC was superior, until they abandoned it. Believing Apple technical information is a little difficult now.

I have to disagree about the clock. It tells time. What do you want your clock to do? The GNOME clock looks pretty similar, although, the drop down calendar integrated with Evolution is nice feature missing from OS X.

"Only one desktop" So, interestingly, Apple is adding multiple desktops at the same time as Novell is removing the desktop switching applet from the GNOME panel. There have been legitimate usability studies that go both ways on this. This is one thing that us Linux users are comfortable with, and therefore we expect everywhere. I wouldn't say this is a reason OS X sucks. There are plenty, but I don't agree about this one.

Fri, 15 Sep 2006 at 16:59:34 GMT Link

82.Ronnie said:

With regards to II, if you wanna completely close an app, hit command-q

With regards to VI, command-right arrow key takes you to the very right of a line. Command-left arrow key takes you to the very left of a line.

Option-right arrow key takes you one word to the right. Option-left arrow key takes you one word to the left.

Also, learn how to use the fn key. In mac notebooks there are no page down, page up, home or end keys, because there is a fn key. In mac desktops however all these keys exist.

There are tons of websites with useful commands for Mac OS X. Remember, Google is your friend.

Sun, 01 Oct 2006 at 00:14:43 GMT Link

83.Manny said:

Here are some annoyances I have run into since I started using a Mac:


I cannot do file managment when opening or saving a document. For example, I go File>Open, then browse for my file, I see that I rather have the file in a different folder befor e I open it, but I can't move it. I have to make my changes in the Finder then go back. That's is annoying. Windows let's you manage files anytime.


I miss the "Send To: Mail Recipient" feature in Windows. I have to open my e-mail client, compose a new email and attach a file manually.


There is no Thumbnail View (when browsing files) on the Mac, as far as I can tell. This is especially helpful when looking for a photo or browsing through a large number of photos.

And iPhoto is a bitch. (just venting)

Does anyone have solutions for these problems?

Fri, 20 Oct 2006 at 21:11:31 GMT Link

84.James said:

Is it possible to resize a window other than by dragging lower RH corner? (In Excel if I've made a window quite big on my G5 at work and left it that way, and later open the file on my 12" powerbook at home, the lower RH corner is off the bottom of the screen and I can't get at tabs etc so I can't work on the file effectively). Nothing seems to fix it.

I'm just about ready for a straitjacket over this...

Thu, 26 Oct 2006 at 20:47:32 GMT Link

85.Chris Shiflett said:

James, try holding shift and pushing the "zoom" button. (It's the green one.) From my experience, that often resolves this problem by bringing the bottom edge up.

Hope that helps!

Thu, 26 Oct 2006 at 21:05:59 GMT Link

86.James said:

Thanks Chris, that did the trick. I am most grateful!

Thu, 26 Oct 2006 at 21:37:13 GMT Link

87.Pierre said:


I totally agreewith you on anything; especially on I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X... ,

One funny thing when you complain about macs to mac fans, like "I want to do this but I cant", their answer is usually "I don't see why you need this, I dont, so do this instead". Be a more open minded, guys. I know you diiiig your OS but have the honesty to admit that it's not perfect (unless you think it is, and then I assume you'll never upgrade it in the future, and in 10 years from now, you'll still be using OSX when OS XXII will be around). I use many different OSs, and in anyone I admit there are good and bad stuff.

To add about I, the point for me is to avoid using the mouse too much. For example, I want to use some app that is already opened, in the lower left corner of my screen; if it's not active, I need first to click on it, and then go all the way to the top of my screen to go in the menu... waste of time in my opinion

I agree with the point on resizing windows only on one corner, that's stupid, I don't see how you can defend this. Also the one click thing which makes me think that the mac developpers, so proud of having "invented" (or stolen.. but that's another story) the mouse dont want to reckon that other guys have had this great idea of adding buttons... Well we'll see on the next generation of macs.

But for me, the point where osx is really way behind windows (or any friendly distrib of linux) is the finder. So here's a list of things that (IMO) should be changed :

1- only three views? thumbnail is such a cool thing. For pictures of course but also with that cool windows feature which is the fact that if you place a file named folder.jpg in a folder it will be used as the folder icon, which I love to do for my music collection

2- if you have long filenames, the only usable view is the detailed one, otherwise you'll end up with a directory filled with (for ex.) "the Rolling St.... .mp3" which makes browsing a bit difficult. I don't see how mac developpers decided to launch an os that has so big difficulties to deal with long filenames

3- I dont know what you think but in a large folder I find really easier if subfolders are separated (like placed first in the list) from the other "normal" files, instead of sorting them alphabetically among the other files.

4- A simple "Go UP in the arborescence" button seems like something reasonnable to ask?

5- Show/hide hidden files????? Impossible to do without typing an obscure command line (at least for me) in the terminal, which is very annoying

6- I have a several directories (or files) somewhere and want to know how much size (for example) they take. If I select them and do "Get info", then the behaviour depends on the number of files. If there are more than 10 then it will show a single window where it sums the sizes. If there are less (like 9) then it will open 9 small infos windows!! how do I know the total size? Mac is assuming that I know how to sum 9 integers in my head?

7- another thing that I miss from windows is the fact that when I move a file with right click (instead of left) and when I release the button it automatically offers me the possiblity to choose between copy/move/create an alias.

Ok a last thing which is not about the finder

8- I know it's maybe a question of getting used to it, but I also like to be able to know which apps I have installed in the past or not. OSX offers me the possibility to install things outside the APPS directory right? so assume I do this for some apps, in different folders... how do I know 12 month after if I already have the app installed or not? I really don't see what is wrong with the windows system, where you have this list of installed apps, where you can directly do a proper uninstall. Deleting mac apps by putting them in the trash may be simple, but it does not delete preferences files and for example if you're doing this because one of these files is corrupted and you want to uninstall/reinstall, it gets really annoying.

Wed, 15 Nov 2006 at 14:59:27 GMT Link

88.C said:

try using the OS, in this case OS x in the way it is intended to be used...the way it is designed to be used. it is very easy. stop trying to use Windows tricks on an OS x system. they are different, for a reason. maby once you understand why things are the way they are you will learn to appreciate the OS. Im not saying that OS x is fantastic, but in terms of how its layed out and organised it is perfect.

Mon, 11 Dec 2006 at 14:51:39 GMT Link

89.Jaimie said:



Select a file in Finder, then go to menu Finder/Services/Mail/... No-one ever seems to look in the Services submenu.


View/Show View Options, tick "Show Icon Preview" works only in Icon view, oddly enough. You can change the icon size here too.


1: see above.

2: in column mode you can double-click on the next || column seperator, or alt-doubleclick on any. But it doesn't remember the sizes and there doesn't appear to be any way to change the default (I'd be very happy to be told I'm wrong!). I wish there was a Windows Explorer type two-pane, tree+details view available.

4: right-click on the finder window toolbar, choose "customise", add the Path tool.

5: Tinkertool is probably the easiest way to set "show hidden files."

7: New MacBook here, and I've just discovered that the two-finger right-click trick doesn't allow you to right-drag an object - aargh!

8: Stick the app name in Spotlight, that'll not only show the app but also usually show all the prefs, Library/Application Support folders etc.

A useful utility for laptop keyboard users:

DoubleCommand lets you redefine the largely useless "enter" key as another fn key to use with the arrow keys to get pageup/down etc easily. And does other keymapping too.

Wed, 13 Dec 2006 at 04:28:12 GMT Link

90.David Novosel said:

Hey, I just wanted to throw my 2 cents in.

I recently made the switch to OS X, after spending my entire life using DOS / Windows, and the last decade or so using some variant of Linux (I've tried just about everything). Overall I was pretty impressed with OS X, but I did notice a few key things.

1) Learn the keyboard shortcuts. Seriously this is the biggest asset, once you get these down everything becomes easier.

2) Grab the app Overflow (I think it's shareware, but I managed to nab a free copy off MacAppADay). This little program has changed my life. Basically I have it setup to use Cmd-` (tilde). It shows up in the middle of my screen. It displays 9 items (you can change this to whatever you want) in a bar. I have it setup so if I hit Cmd-down or Cmd-up I can switch to a second menu. The first 9 items include all my common apps, Safari, Mail, Vienna, MSN, iTunes, FireFox, Terminal, Calculator, and my home dir. The second set includes all my home dir folders, Movies, Music, Installers, Games, etc. Now here's where the beauty comes in. Say I want to google something. I hit Cmd-` (tilde), S (for safari). I then hit Cmd-T, Cmd-1 (I set it to google) and just type what I want. Using Cmd-H, and these shortcuts, I barely touch the mouse.

Anyway, sorry for the long winded story, but seriously, after a few days getting used to this, it saves me a lot of time and hassle.


Fri, 15 Dec 2006 at 10:03:56 GMT Link

91.Peter said:

I totally agree, I also agree with the other comments aswell. I am a non-aligned technology enthusiast, so I am not exclusive to Windows, Linux or Mac OS X, but the apple guys seem to be the least accomodating. One is met with the logic that you should do it their way, hardly the open and creative atmosphere they purport to expouse.

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 at 06:43:06 GMT Link

92.Liten Gul Volvo said:

III Maximize.

This must indeed be the biggest mistake in OS X. A button that gives a window a size that is "just right" is a great idea.

But what we got was a "random-resize" button, that always gives a size that is inconveniently wrong. Half the text is hidden. Lot's of empty space below a long-scrolling window.

It is no better than the windows "paperclip" which is also a good idea. Except that it just annoys. Just like the "random-resize" button.

Fri, 12 Jan 2007 at 19:44:54 GMT Link

93.Marc said:

I agree with most of the annoyances and I can second some of the software recommendations in the comments. The first things I'd install on a new Mac are:





Fink and/or MacPorts


The jury is still out for me on:



The above are very cool programs - I just haven't decided if they're <b>essential</b> for me yet.

Sat, 27 Jan 2007 at 19:49:27 GMT Link

94.Dave said:

I bought a Macbook for use in the music recording industry. I have always been a Windows guy and I still am. I can't understand what is so hard about closing an app. In windows, if i don't want to look at it, but want it open, I MINIMIZE it. If i want it to close, I CLOSE it. Very simple, and the menu bar is right with the window being used, this goes for Linux too. Keeping it open so it loads fast later is a non-issue in Windows. Most of my Windows apps load fast enough that i don't mind waiting. Sounds like another Apple brand Band-Aid. As of now, I am triple booting OS X, Ubuntu "Edgy" and Windows XP on a 2 gig Macbook. I use Windows for my most processor intensive app, DIgi Pro-Tools and it works far better than in OS X, on the exact same hardware. Go figure. I use some apps such as Apple Logic in OS X because i have to, and I like to play with different things in all three. I have gotten to the point where I can do whatever i want in any of these OS's but for some reason, I keep going back to Windows, although if there was more support for linux, i would love use it for more than a toy.

Thu, 01 Feb 2007 at 22:45:21 GMT Link

95.Joseph Crawford said:

# No Dedicated Page Up, Page Down, Home, or End Keys.


# I didn't realize how much I used these until they were

# gone. Can't we get rid of some of those option keys to

# make room? Even if we can't, do we really need two

# command keys? And how about that extra enter key? Get

# rid of those, and at least give us home and end.

Chris take a look here, this is one thing i missed also when coming from a windows environment


# Safari Sucks.


# Safari was released three years ago. I still can't tab to a

# select list. But, to be fair, that's probably really hard to do.

# (Update: See Adam's comment below.)

Adam's comment may work but i believe this is the better way to go

Go to System Preferences -> Keyboard & Mice -> Keyboard Shortcuts (tab) and change Full Keyboard Access to ALL CONTROLS.

Thu, 01 Feb 2007 at 23:20:38 GMT Link

96.Joseph Crawford said:

I should also note that i have no issues with maximizing. When i frist started Safari for the first time the maximize only did about 1/2 the screen but i resized the window and since then it maximizes to full screen.

Thu, 01 Feb 2007 at 23:25:13 GMT Link

97.Joseph Crawford said:

Also Butler beats QuickSilver or LaunchBar :D

Thu, 01 Feb 2007 at 23:26:28 GMT Link

98.Joel said:

Yeah, good article, it was fun to read. Nevertheless I disagree with most of your points :)

I've been a PC user all my life, up until a few weeks ago when I bought a Macbook Pro 15". Best...computer...ever.

Anyway, what you basically have to understand about Macs is that a lot of their features are different from PCs, but once you get used to them, they're in general more useful, if you ask me.

For example, I love how when you close windows you never close programs. It's so much easier to have Safari stay open all the time, and when you need a window again, you simply click on the icon in the dock.

Also what's simply great about Macs are all the key commands. I always use command-q and command-w to close windows and programs, it's so much easier than always moving the mouse over to find the little X like I used to in Windows. This is especially when you're using a trackpad on a laptop.

I and IV are sort of true. The menu thing is something to get used to. The main benefit I can see to it is that when you have five progrmas open at once, instead of having five menu bars taking up space, you only have one. Nevertheless, you're right about it being farther away.

For page up/down, home, etc., I can honestly say I never used any of those in Windows. On a Mac you can always use spacebar to page down and shift-spacebar to go up. Also delete and i think fn delete go back and forward.

Yeah, I definitely think Safari and iPhoto are actually very well-designed. There are some things in Safari that I absolutely love, with a few annoyances. Same thing for Firefox, and of course IE just blows. iPhoto is pretty nice if you ask me, although I don't manage photos that often, so I haven't used it much.

Wed, 07 Feb 2007 at 04:49:46 GMT Link

99.Dak said:

I just stumbled on this page, I know it's been up for a long time. There are reasonable debates. I'm a Mac user, I tolerated OS 9 but really like OS X (especially 10.3 and 10.4) but there are still plenty of things I gripe about, and, yes, there are things here and there Windows does better. However...

I can't believe no one mentioned this:

Command-Tab switches between Applications.

Command-` (tilde, left of the 1 key) switches between windows in an application.

It's genius.

Thu, 08 Feb 2007 at 04:23:35 GMT Link

100.Sam said:

In regard to your issue with the zoom button not maximising an app's window, you can just option+click the button, and the window will maximise like it would in Windows.

Mon, 19 Feb 2007 at 03:10:57 GMT Link

101.Jay Moore said:

I have to agree with most of these. Also a couple I would like to add.

First, why doesn't right-clicking work properly? half the time it brings up the expected Copy/Paste etc menu, and half the time it appears to do nothing, or does nothing the first few times, but then does something. Also, when you select text, then right click to copy it, the failed right click unselects the text so you have to go selecting it again and again until it works. I still haven;t found out if it is dodgy mouse design that's turing my right click into a left click (you can't see the mouse buttons so it's impossible to tell what you're clicking), or whether it's some unfathomable aspect of the software user interface that's either very slow or not working. And please don't tell me to learn keyboard shortcuts - I'm suure I will in a few years time, but why would I want to when the mouse is supposed to do this for me?

The other, which may only apply to the UK, I'm not sure, is that there is no # key on the keyboard! A unix keyboard without a # key?? What were these goons smoking? I eventually discovered that if you press Alt 3 you get a # symbol. What is that about? Clearly they didn't let the engineers who understannd the operating system anywhhere near the keyboard design. Just while I'm on about the keyboard, why does it keep repeating letters I type as in the words anywhhere and understannd above? I didn't press the key twice, so I thingk there is a debounce problem there. Wasn't debounce cracked in thhe 70s?

OK rant over. At least its a half-decent unix system which runs Microsoft Office. Pity about Explorer though.

Thu, 22 Feb 2007 at 11:48:16 GMT Link

102.Jay Moore said:

Oh yes, and I forgot to add, although I agree that Safari sucks, it does just enough that I can do without Explorer, but unfortunately I can't do without Microsoft Access. They nneed to get that running. Oh ARSE that keyboard bounce aggain@!

Thu, 22 Feb 2007 at 12:02:14 GMT Link

103.dave said:

woot, most of these features are in Linux as an option and maximize maximizes, close CLOSES, but preload is an option if you wish, which not only loads an instance of it, but it loads it at startup (granted this does increase bootup time but who cares :P) which increases the speed of the application startup the moment you can access your desktop. Expose is cool i have to admit, but Beryl already features their own version and I can also have a cube-like desktop. Sorry as far as usability Mac OSX is getting bashed here.


A: Mac's adopt the mouse properly.

B: put the close button on the right side of the window and make it close the window

C: (added after reading this article, didnt know about it) The maximize command fully maximizes.

I'm not running on a Mac, its just too inconvenient and has much less features than Linux IMO. But however, i will say that Windows is lacking in just about everywhere here ;)

Thu, 22 Feb 2007 at 14:18:38 GMT Link

104.dave said:

oh, and for the record, i hate the mac menubar, but it all depends on which you tried first windows or Linux honestly, they both offer the same amount of usability, but i hate Mac's and Windows Taskbar management, KDE's panels are so incredibly configurable and easy to manage, and Gnome is ok in performance and relatively consistant, but for a home user, Gnome sucks.

Thu, 22 Feb 2007 at 14:30:38 GMT Link

105.anonymous coward said:

I've had my 24" iMac for a couple months and I'm getting buyer's remorse now. I come from unix/linux/solaris and Windows backgrounds.

My #1 pet peeve right now is lack of configuration options. The system font and menubar are huge. I'd like to reduce the font sizes all around. Which suits my taste. I don't care about anyone else's taste or usability studies.

Most of the oh pretty interface has worn off now. I think even with 2GB of RAM OSX can get sluggish.

I hate iTunes. I hate Finder. I hate all of the alternatives. I hate Max for ripping CDs. I just keep finding things that piss me off.

I started to run fink but I am not able to download XCode ATM. I'm thinking about kicking out thhe whole Apple X11 server and running something like FluxBox or KDE.

I setup bootcamp and got WinXP going again. I like the fonts on it more. I can get more info into a small space, and I like explorer. And I like EAC+FLAC+Foobar2000+WinAmp. I'm starting to regret OSX. It's not that it's not prettier than all the alternatives. I just can't quite get comfortable in it, and I can't find 3rd party apps to deal with the problem.

I also found out there is a program called "refit" which will allow for triple booting OSX + XP + [k]ubuntu linux. That might be my next move. I'm pretty sad though. Inside XP, I can't make my iMac screen go to sleep. It's XP's fault. I don't know if linux can handle it. But I'm starting to wonder if I should sell my iMac on ebay and go get another PC with a seperate monitor so I can just hit the power button on the display and walk away.

It's just those little things, when I can't scratch that little itch, like the main system font size. It makes me insane and suicidal. I can't live with it. And still no virtual desktops. It's also making me insane. I need at least 2 virtual desktops. Oh and no Eterm package in fink? What?!!! Argh :)

My general impressions, I love the Apple hardware, and first glance/touch of OSX is really impressive. But it wears off. Afterwords, I'm still a PC nerd. But hey, I still have hope. I saw a screenshot of someone running ratpoison for their WM on their Mac.

Fri, 02 Mar 2007 at 05:25:48 GMT Link

106.adrunkbaboon said:

VIII) I agree the clock you see at first glance does suck, but if you press the F12 key then I believe you will find something more to your liking.

Tue, 06 Mar 2007 at 19:24:56 GMT Link

107.alan macmillan said:

I could not agree more about the comments originally made about separating the menus from the app window.

Having got a bit sick of windows, I borrowed my mates mac mini {G4} in the hope that it would give me the perfect environment, having decided most linux desktops were a bit shambolic and eclectic. {although now think kde/gnome ain't that bad due to their greater degree of user customisability compared to mac os x}

The original gui/wimp principles which were born out of extensive research when developing the STAR OS, at Palo Alto {PARC XEROX} that were originally adhered to by the original mac os's has been largely ignored by Micrsoft and the 'new' Apple.

I'm still undecided about MAC OS X and whether to switch, but I'm dissapointed by all the same things you listed and more.

Re: palo alto research

What happened to bridging the human-computer interaction chasms/gaps?

e.g. moving the menus away breaks this, as does putting recent documents under a menu in finder app, why not make it available on desktop?)

Where is the 'fewer clicks' principle?

(when you don't make enough stuff available to the user on the main menu at bottom and desktop, or hide stuff away like the control panel equivalent under umpteen directories)

Where is the user customisability?

There is pratically nothing useful you can configure on a mac desktop/environment apart from a couple of lame themes and the position of the dock?

I like the mac, but it's too gimmicky. All the fancy animations in the world when you do something is not true GUI/WIMP. warping menus, sliding stuff and rotating desktops: is just evidence of a programmer with a graphics API book on acid tabs. Where is the good design based on design principles and proven research?

Thu, 08 Mar 2007 at 08:59:59 GMT Link

108.kid pro quo said:

When running a mac notebook with multiple monitors the menu bar issue becomes a huge annoyance. I have a 17" notebook and a 22" monitor - it's a lot of real estate to cover everytime I need to go back.

Thu, 15 Mar 2007 at 19:40:50 GMT Link

109.Inspireolgy said:

I have to agree with this article. I have tried desperately to like Mac OSX and in some parts do but it does have its flaws too. Even if the fans refuse to acknowledge them. Having to move my mouse such a great distance to get to the menu bars can be a pain and working with the menus of multiple applications simultaneously is just unpleasant.

I find the arguement that a person could not find the menu bar just werid. A person not intelligent enough to find the menu bar of the application they are using, probably could not find the chair they are sitting on or the mouse they are holding. (I am exaggerating just for effect)

It would be great if apple offered us the option to use OSX as we liked to. Some customisability for different preferences would be great, because regardless of how many usability studies you quote, one size does not fit all. Some people love the way things are some people would just prefer it if things were a little bit different. Dare I say it, Microsoft gets some things right and Apple gets things right.

What confuses me is not being able to cut and paste files in Finder. It is just odd.

After hearing it explained I like the idea of the zoom button instead of maximise, but I wish window resizing was not soo fiddly (that little triangle in the corner is a pain to get to).

Mon, 23 Apr 2007 at 18:18:55 GMT Link

110.Glenn said:

Thanks for you even-handed approach to this Chris. Some great discussion happening here - and I think we all want the same thing - the best desktop experience possible!

I only had one tip to offer that hasn't been mentioned yet. To get the total file size of a small selected list of files (less than 10), use control-command-i instead of command-i.


Sat, 19 May 2007 at 18:18:20 GMT Link

111.Herval said:

We share the same pain, I guess. If I'd make a top 10 list for macOS, it would be EXACTLY the same as yours... :)

Tue, 19 Jun 2007 at 20:25:53 GMT Link

112.Fuad Kamal said:

I'm also a Win to Mac switcher, I've never once looked back (Windows actually runs FASTER on my Macbook pro than on my PC!), and honestly, most of the gripes listed seem to be context, or frame-of-reference based; they are annoyances because you are used to something else, not because the things you are used to necessarily are the most usable. Here are some things to look for, though:

IX. IPhoto sucks - so use Adobe Lightroom. If you have that many photos to manage, you will be hooked instantly.

V. To many option keys - get a mouse with more than one button. The Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 2.0 is really nice because it lets you zoom in and out of the screen - a built-in function in Mac OSX but much easier to use from this mouse than remembering the shortcut.

VI. No Dedicated Page Up, Page Down, Home, or End Keys - dude, get a different keyboard. I have all those keys on mine and they work fine. Try unplugging the board from you linux box and using it w/your mac...or better yet, get a kvm switch.

VIII. The clock sucks - ? - click on the clock and you see the date.

X. Safari sucks - well, yeah, it does. First thing I did when I got my first Mac was to install Firefox. The new version of Sarari has tabs, but Firefox is still much better. I think that's because of all the plugins that I use with it that I find invaluable - like Foxmarks.

Thu, 02 Aug 2007 at 07:13:57 GMT Link

113.Juanito said:

Hey you are so wrong. 1 of 10 you got right. And that is the clock.

The first 3 are the reasons why I love Mac OS so much more than any other desktop. And Mac OS was better on this than OSX still OSX is the best out there to today.

I just hate it when applications close when i close their window. Belive me i've tried to hack that behavior in iPhoto and other programs that close when you close the window. An applications should be given the command quit or exit for terminating it. But closings it's windows should keep it running.

Take MSIE and Outlook for an example. If i have 2 windows open in Outlook and i close the main window it terminates an closes the window number 2 that i had open. Why does not MSIE have the same behavior.

True I hate calling myself a power user for the same reasons as you do. But hey a power user would not like that the app terminates because you closed wrong window.

Thu, 02 Aug 2007 at 15:05:03 GMT Link

114.Gil Bates said:

i agree with absolutely every one of your points! i'm a recent convert from the windows world. vista and it's relentless security pop-ups pushed me over the edge.

i've been told by the MACies that i would need a period of adjustment, after which i would come to love - no obsess - over their operating system. well it's been over 3 months now and I HATE HAVING 527 INDEPENDENT WINDOWS FLOATING AROUND!

if an ap has 8 windows and i click on one. chances are i will want one of the other 7. but where are they? oh yea, there are myriad way to find them. but i have a better idea. when i click on that first one, how about they all show up? or at least give me the option to do that without installing yet another 3kb helper ap that does it.

rant over. keep up the good writing chris!

Thu, 23 Aug 2007 at 08:08:58 GMT Link

115.Andy said:

I would hate all the windows of an app moving to the top if I clicked on one of them. If you want to see all the windows click on the app's icon in the dock.

As for closing a window quitting the app that is just silly.

I close Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, Fetch, and other windows all day long. I do not want to wait for the apps to open each time I need to use them.

Thu, 30 Aug 2007 at 00:08:12 GMT Link

116.Leonard said:

I've used Mac OSX in the past but found the hardware a little lacking. I've recently purchased an iMac instead of opting for a new PC with Vista. I really did want to make OSX my primary desktop.

Unfortunately I agree with all your points, but I'd like to add one. Mouse acceleration. I find it nauseating to say the least. Fortunately I found a fix in Mousefix which alleviates it slightly.

Thu, 06 Sep 2007 at 15:43:36 GMT Link

117.Joppe said:

I like your Mac OS X annoyance list.

I. Yes it´s stupid. The menu bar belongs to the program window.

II. When clicking on 'X' the program should close, not minimize.

III. A Mac owner once sad to me: Why maximize? A good reason for maximizing windows is for focusing. You´ll don´t be disturbed by other program windows in the background.

V. Yes, there is to many option keys. It´s a hard work to remember all =).

X. I have Safari installed on my Windows Vista but only use it for checking when making homepages. And yes, it sucks!

Thu, 06 Sep 2007 at 20:33:50 GMT Link

118.paul said:

So many of these annoyances are simply preferences that haven't been set. The clock, font sizes, hiding other windows (I don't see why covering a screen with one window is better than just hiding all the others: did you not know you can do that?), all of these are adjustable preferences, including tabbing in windows/dialogs.

Hard to see how someone can come from linux and say that the Mac is too hard to understand/configure/customize. So much of your list is "xxx sucks" not "this is the behavior I expect, and instead I get that." Not particularly useful. But hey, no one is forcing you to use Safari or iPhoto. Firefox and Flickr are good options. And those missing keys? I would take myself to the Genius Bar and see if they can help me find them.

The whole "menu bar goes with the window" is just silly. Why would I want *two* or more menubars on a 12 inch screen? How much real estate do I want to give up for no benefit? The frontmost app gets the menubar and I can change it when I need to.

And if I am in an app and want to look at on one of the other open docs/windows, I either pull it up from when the Dock where I have in minimized or use the Window menu. or as some of them have, I just open the drawer (see Textwrangler, Preview, etc.) and choose what I want.

I dunno, I am trying to see this as a somewhat lighthearted list of annoyances, but I guess I expect someone who has a security/tech focus to engage more with their tools.

Do any of the other commenters ever visit places where they drive on the left? Do you all tell them how wrong they are?

Wed, 10 Oct 2007 at 04:02:24 GMT Link

119.Grahama said:


I have a new Inteel based Mac 24" with OS X aand the keyboard bounce iss awful, so much sso thaat I was thinking of reporting this as faulty, but it looks as though this is a bigger problem and one thaat ddoes not have a ssolution... woops bad mistaake for ssomeone that neeeds as much help as I caan get with spelling :-)

Anyone come up with any gems on how to minimise this problem or resolve totally.

Fri, 12 Oct 2007 at 19:06:23 GMT Link

120.Jay Moore said:

Grahama, I think you probably need to use a keyboard made by someone else. 10 months of fiddling and trying to type differently never solved this one for me. I've just moved on to a laptop running OSX 10.5. Despite the 'attractive' dock, and other user interface 'improvements', why does it still insist on annoying me every single day by not being able to resize a window, except at the bottom right hand corner? Style over substance seems to be the rule with these guys.

Fri, 23 Nov 2007 at 01:11:39 GMT Link

121.Michael Bishop said:

You contradict yourself in II. You say that closing a window should close the app but then you flaunt the fact that your Linux box can handle hundreds of open programs and none of them impact the operation. My experience is the same with OS X. Leave them running, they don't impact the rest of the system and they're available instantly when you need them again.

I use Linux all day long doing software development and OS X at home. OS X handles the extra open apps considerably better than Linux considering that you *must* have windows tied to those applications on Linux. On OS X you only have a window if you *choose* to have a window.

Tue, 08 Jan 2008 at 03:30:04 GMT Link

122.Bryan said:

This appears to be an old article, but it couldn't be more relevant!

Yes, OS X looks slick, and it draws us in. But there are some serious usability issues.

1. It's not uncommon to have three or four separate applications running. I may want them arranged a certain way. Perhaps one application is a small window far away from the top of the screen. And since we all are using increasingly larger screens, far away can mean really far away from the menubar. But here is the really insulting thing: If the mouse cursor is, say in the upper right, and I want to access the menu of the application in the lower left, I have to travel way down there and click, and then travel way up to the menubar to select my menu item and then travel way down again to get to the application. That is 44 inches of mouse travel, with three separate destinations along the way. Unforgivable! If I give up OS X, this will be the reason that I do so.

Note to Mac zealots: don't recite to me your usability studies. They suck! Instead, please explain how my extra mouse movements are making me a more relaxed and efficient person.

2. The 'Home' and 'End' keys don't behave properly.

Note to Mac zealots: don't recite to me your multiple key solutions. I don't want multiple key solutions. In fact, I don't want alternative solutions at all - my brain is wired to reach for Home and End to do what I want to do.

However, if you have a solution that will change the behavior of the Home and End keys so they behave the way I want to universally for all applications, feel free to share.

Sometimes, when people spend a great deal of money on a product, it is easier to rationalize the design of the product than to admit its shortcomings. Afterall, we do want to justify our purchase.

Sat, 05 Jul 2008 at 20:32:58 GMT Link

123.Davis Ford said:

I agree, although I have a list of many more annoyances. However, rather than complain about them, I just moved on to use Ubuntu everywhere now.

Switching from Windows to Mac was a revelation. I got used to many of the irritating things, and I really enjoyed the vast improvement.

However, I switched from Mac to Ubuntu, and it is a step even further in the right direction. I love Compiz -- you can dismiss it as eye candy, but if you learn to use it right, it saves lots of time. It is like vi switchblade for window navigation and it looks super freaking cool -- way cooler than Leopard. Add in gnome-do which is the Quicksilver clone and the fantastic package management, and the fact that everything just works also on Linux (didn't used to be that way) -- and it is free...and I will never buy/use another Mac again.

As soon as Lenovo releases a model of the X300 that has a wider screen that'll be my next piece of hardware.

I found your blog by trying to find a solution to the maximize problem. It is 100% annoying. In gnome, you can ALT + MouseLeft + MouseRight and resize a window instantly. ALT + MouseLeft and you can drag a window anywhere. Min/Max are provided in about 30 different ways -- choose your favorite. Window Switching, Desktops (Cube, anyone?), etc. So much better than Leopard.

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 at 00:32:09 GMT Link

124.Daniel S said:

Just recently I sold my 1.gen Macbook(core duo version). And to be honest, I don't miss it for one second. My next laptop will be a Lenovo Thinkpad T400(damn Intel for delaying cpus..).

I agree with everything you are pointing out Chris. My Macbook came with Tiger and I bought Leopard when it came out. It still havent changed as much as the hype claims it to be. What a waste of money.

For a long time I used Linux side by side, with Windows. The Windows disapeared with the Macbook, and I also hoped OS X would be a proper replacement for my Desktop computer as well, if I found it worthy.

Today I still use Linux (Gentoo on the Desktop) and I used Ubuntu on the Macbook, until I sold it and reinstalled Leopard on it. My next laptop will also run Ubuntu. :)

The only downside with Linux is little gaming options. But thats not exacøy an arguments that work for OS X either.. Which is why I mostly play gameconsoles.

Sun, 13 Jul 2008 at 00:07:20 GMT Link

125.SimonSharks said:

I don't have a problem understanding that the purpose of the zoom button is not to maximise but who wants a button that has a mind of its own? Some applications (including Apples own applications) maximise, some increase the size of the application window i.e. zoom, Safari only increases the height of the window and iTunes shrinks into a mini player! The lack of consistency is the problem not that it doesn't maximise.

Specifically on the maximise point, it would seam sensible for zoom to become a maximise button because the user cannot replicate this functionality themselves. Where as a user can easily increase the size of the window as desired and in fact they can do so more accurately than zoom.

The close button is also annoyingly inconstant. Ryan explained the concept of close in an earlier comment, which was very insightful. I had never realised this was how close worked and as such highlights why inconstancies in behaviour (from the point of view of the user who doesn't have the technical insight of us techies) creates poor UI usability.

I like the behaviour of close not closing the application but closing the window but this behaviour only applies to certain applications. Why? If it's a good idea to keep the application running so I can use it again without re-launching it, why not do this all the time? Plus, who is to say that iCal, which is a one window app, should stay running when clicking the close button but calculator should close. Whether an application should stay running or not is not a decision for the developer it is a decision for the user! Only the user should be able to quit an application by using the dock icon, menu bar or keyboard shortcut - close should never quit the application.

The result of this inconstant behaviour is that I have to learn the behaviour for each application. This is crazy. Plus, I have to rely on the hide keyboard short cut to make up for closes deficiencies.

Tue, 05 Aug 2008 at 15:21:54 GMT Link

126.Sean Stromberg said:

I am surprised that no one mentioned these two:

1. When I get a pop-up window there are different types of highlights: a solid blue and a blue outline. You can tab to move the outline highlight around, but when you hit enter what are you getting? I think it chooses the solid. Why have two highlights. Why not just highlight every button? I don't like to take my hands off the keyboard if I don't have to.

2. If I have multiple application windows open but in different spaces Command-` switches between the open application windows only in that space. I like to separate projects into different spaces and need reference browsers for each one. Then I want to switch to the other one. If they just put every window into the Command-tab this wouldn't be a problem.

Tue, 14 Oct 2008 at 19:50:19 GMT Link

127.John Gorn said:

Obviously this is an old thread but people still find it. I want to come to the rescue of those looking for a solution to the "true maximize" problem.

I will preface by saying that people are looking for solutions, not lectures. I've read a hundred lectures from Mac nuts on why the Mac approach is "better". I don't care. The fact is, in many cases I want to maximize and having to do it manually is an incredible annoyance (many cases have been identified by others, such as when the content of the window is variable in size so a full screen view will provide access to more content, or such as when the screen size is small, or such as when one wants to focus without clutter; but, the reasons don't matter, only the fact that many, many people want this feature matters). This would be easy to fix simply by having the green button be a tri-toggle rather than a toggle, switching between "standard", "custom", and "maximize" views. Another approach would be to allow the user to double-click in the window header in order to maximize it. For the Mac purists out there, this could be an option, defaulted to disabled, in system preferences. But why Apple and its fans would prefer to lecture rather than provide a simple solution is beyond me. (And, BTW, I'm a big fan of Apple and Mac, having used and programmed Macs for over 20 years now, longer than many Mac nuts have breathed air.)

Okay, Apple isn't going to get off its soapbox on this issue just because I want it, or even if it would remove one of the major stumbling blocks to converting PC people to Mac. So be it.

The good news is there is a solution.

The applescript code to make this happen follows. Sorry if the formatting gets lost, but it's simple enough.


tell application "System Events"

set app_name to name of the first process whose frontmost is true

end tell

tell application "System Events" to tell process app_name

tell front window

set position to {57, 0}

set size to {1223, 783}

end tell


click menu item "Zoom To Fit" of menu 1 of menu bar item "View" of menu bar 1

end try

end tell


I chose to set position to {57, 0} because this places the start of the window right against my dock which is attached to the left side. If yours is at the bottom, then use {0,0}.

As for the set size value of {1223, 783}, this is the maximum screen real estate for my 1280 x 800 Mac Book, once the doc and menu bar are subtracted. For screens of different sizes, adjust accordingly.

Launch this script from a hot key and you're all set. I use Keyboard Maestro for that, but I'm sure there are many other solutions.

Disclosure: I did not invent this script. I picked it up elsewhere and I don't remember where, and just tweaked the settings for my display size.

Wed, 21 Jan 2009 at 07:39:06 GMT Link

128.Alan Char said:

I've been a preferred Unix user all my life, to the point where even the non-Unixy Linux behaviors sometime annoy me. However, I pretty much resigned myself to using Windows for browsing and multimedia apps, since I find all of the Unix desktops either hugely bloated and/or a pain to setup and configure.

About a year ago, I bit the bullet and I'm using a MacBook now for browsing and multimedia. I'm never going back to windows, but I agree with most of the annoyances in this list, and I would like to point out a couple of things about the most common points of contention.

For most non-technical users, the window IS the application. Not closing the app is just a workaround for slow load times. None of the arguments presented here in favor of keeping the app open would make sense if apps launched instantly (or, as in the case of many non technical users, they don't care).

The single menu bar defeats itself in an obvious way for me. More often than I would care to admit, I completely miss the menu bar. Then, I've clicked on some other app (typically the desktop), and I have to go back and click on my original app, and then try the menu bar again.

These two things combine for added annoyance when I try to use command-Q to close apps. The problem with using command-Q is that it *may not close the application I'm looking at*. I have to divert focus away from my window to look at the menu bar to make sure I'm closing the right application. This is non-intuitive UI.

And as for the maximize button, it's not a button I use often, but when I do, I want to maximize, not zoom. Typically, it's for presentations, and a lot of presentation software has a "full screen" alternative, so I've not really been bothered by that.

Sun, 21 Jun 2009 at 23:38:19 GMT Link

129.Alan Char said:

By the way, I find that keeping an app open sometimes locks up resources (especially files and devices) that prevent other apps from doing certain things to them. This happens less now that Mac OS is unix-based and apps are written better, but it still comes up. Which is why so many install/uninstall programs tell you to "close all open applications". I find myself constantly closing applications in the dock that I didn't realize were still open. I probably don't need to close these apps, but it makes me feel safer.

Sun, 21 Jun 2009 at 23:41:59 GMT Link

130.wizarddrummer said:

I have not used OX X.

I have used NeXTSTEP (I have heard that part of OX X is derived from that) and I have used UNIX, HP-UX, Sun Solaris and many others.

As I can remember, regarding II and multiple process I can remember having many windows open on the NeXT platform and never having a problem.

It could be a "feature" or it could be a bug that needs fixing.

I will agree with you that ALL OS's suck though.

Maybe by the year 2929 they'll finally get it right.

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 at 00:23:11 GMT Link

131.Morris Mojo Jones said:

I'm a Mac noob too, an Ubuntu and Windows power user, and in this five-year-old post it's amazing how many things are still annoying. Yes I understand how they work, yes I know the workarounds, but it doesn't make them any less annoying or stupid.

I found a nice app to serve the purpose of Compiz's Grid plugin called ShiftIt.

I think what I miss most right now is the ability to Alt-key to drive the menu. Windows/Gnome have intuitive menu shortcuts that you don't have to memorize.

Usable, yes. Better usability, no. Intuitive ... not until you memorize all the little hidden features.

When I mention these things to friends, they always want to educate me on the workarounds or how to deal with things. I've already figured those things out. It doesn't make them any less annoying! :)

Thanks for the great post.

Fri, 14 Oct 2011 at 18:23:52 GMT Link

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