Why Change to a Mac From Windows?

I spend a lot of time on my computer, so I want it to be as fast as possible. To improve productivity, I meddle a lot with the OS, oftentimes tweaking it to make it run the way I want. Macs are built pretty solid, have a gorgeous screen, and have a pretty solid OS, so I made the switch to a Mac from Windows in Sep 2009 (Find out why I switched to a Mac).

One thing I noticed about OSX is that everything is centered around the ⌘ key. I’d say about every keyboard shortcut that I do requires the ⌘ key…so much so that I’m pretty sure my ⌘ key will get worn out pretty soon. Anyway, onwards with my observations about the Mac.

Firefox was a basic, essential software that I couldn’t live with, and was installed first. Then I realised my old keyboard shortcuts in Firefox didn’t work anymore, but I did a search and found my answers:

  • Address bar (or location bar, which explains the shortcut): ⌘+L
  • Search bar: ⌘+K (Don’t know why it’s K…beside L I guess?)
  • Go backwards a page: ⌘+Left
  • Go forwards a page: ⌘+Right
  • Cycle tabs backwards: Option + ⌘ + Left
  • Cycle tabs forwards: Option + ⌘ + Right

Interestingly, the trackpad allowed you to do a 3-finger swipe left/right to go backwards or forwards, which was immensely useful, but I was going to use an external keyboard, so I couldn’t rely on that all the time.

Next, Finder – Explorer’s equivalent…somewhat. It’s fun to use, but has several major differences in usage. For instance, I appreciated that the Enter key no longer runs or opens the application. The Enter key in fact is a shortcut for renaming the file/folder, so that’s a bit different, but in a good way. To execute a file in Mac, you just have to hit Command+Down. Takes a little bit of getting used to, but an appreciated difference. Here are other differences in Mac when you’re coming from Windows:

⌘ + Q = Quit
⌘ + W = Close window
⌘ + O = Open a file in your application
⌘ + P = Print
⌘ + A = Select All
⌘ + X = Cut (Only seems to work with text, not files/folders)
⌘ + C = Copy
⌘ + V = Paste
⌘ + S = Save
⌘ + Z = Undo
⌘ + Shift+ Z = Redo
⌘ + Y or Space = Quicklook
⌘ + Tab = Cycle forward through windows
⌘ + Shift + Tab = Cycle backwards through windows
⌘ + H = Hide application
⌘ + Option + H = Hide other applications
⌘ + Option + 3 = Screen-shot whole screen
⌘ + Option + 4 = Screen-shot region

I quickly came across a quirk though: There wasn’t a way to quickly create a new file wherever I was. So, if I was at /Some/Directory/Deep/Deep/Down, most probably working on my files inside, and I wanted to create a file there, I couldn’t. I had to open the application that I wanted, create my file, and save it to the location that I wanted. Slow. So I searched again, and found NuFile – http://growlichat.com/NuFile.php! Problem solved =)

Next difference I came across – files could not be moved (or cut and pasted). So that took a bit of researching, but I found out that moving files can be easily done with Quicksilver! It’s a fantastic application. I use Launchy a lot while in Windows, but Quicksilver brings it to a whole new level. File indexing is super fast, and I can search for a file almost instantly because it would have already been in the Quicksilver file catalogue, whereas Launchy has a lagtime. Speed of searching is super-quick as well!

In the process of learning about Quicksilver, I also found out that you can do very fast screen captures with it (screen or region), scale those images, and even save them into a different format, all with Quicksilver and a few keystrokes! iCal is another application that I want to explore, because of it’s useful calendaring features and the great thing is that Quicksilver has a iCal module. So I can type something like “Lunch with Bob, 3pm, Craig Street” and have that entry appear in iCal!

The other productivity boosts were to do with the Mac’s incredibly fast sleep/hibernate feature, and wake-up time. It completely beats any Windows machine. In addition, connecting to your wireless network is almost instantaneous – I can open the lid of my mac, see the screen blink on instantly, and viola, I’d be connected to the Internet already. There was no way I could achieve that with Windows.

One thing that I was looking for, though, was the ability to turn off the monitor on my Macbook. In Windows, I just wasn’t able to do so with my Thinkpad. Well, in Mac, it’s possible – just hit Control+Shift+Eject, and your screen will be turned off. Neat 😀

In Windows, one of the keys I hit alot is the Windows key. In the past, I didn’t buy Toshiba notebooks because they had a funny keyboard configuration that put the Windows key at the top right (they’ve since changed it I think). In the Macbook, there’s no “Mac key”, but there’s F11 (or Fn+F11, depending on your settings). Hit that, and all windows will hide, and you’ll be brought to your desktop. Alternatively, if you’re using the new Macbook Pro’s, you can do a 4-finger swipe upwards.

There’s going to be a whole host of features that I’m sure I’ll discover in OSX, but so far it looks like a pretty solid OS. The only complaint that I have with it is its cumbersome Finder app. Explorer is much more flexible IMHO. This isn’t an isolated case too – the presence of a popular Finder-alternative called Path Finder is only testament that Finder’s features are lacking. I want to try using Path Finder, but it doesn’t integrate fully and replace Finder, so I might hold off that for a bit.

That’s it for this post, but look out for more posts on Mac and OSX!

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The contents on this blog are not intended as professional advice. The author disclaims any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals who directly or indirectly act on the information contained on this blog.