So, this week I did the unthinkable. I switched my main office machine, the one I use day to day for all Photoshop, Illustrator and all web design related tasks, from Windows to Mac OS X. (Thanks to John from UK-CNS who loaned the hardware!)
It has been an interesting week.
The last time I used a Mac, it was ugh, 2000ish, Mac OS 9 was the hot stuff back then and Mac’s came in different colours. At first glance, the Mac environment looks nice. No, it looks really nice. The hardware is shiny, the screens are amazing and they make different noises to the PC world that I have become so accustomed to.
Setting up a user profile was easy enough – and once logged on, the first thing I noticed was the luscious screen – ‘Photoshop is gonna look good on this’ I thought to myself. I hit my first hurdle when I tried to install an app. Or an application, as they are called in Windows-land. Some apps on the Mac have built in installers, much like their Windows counterparts. You download (or run the installer from a DVD) and you’re presented with a screen which steps you through the process of installing the application – installing Microsoft Office or Adobe CS is done like this.
Other apps are installed simply by dragging them into the Apps folder – where they run as self-contained applications. One week ago, this did not make sense to my brain. To uninstall the app – all one needs to do is simply delete the .app file from the App directory. Weird.
That brings me on to the second thing I instantly found strange. The keyboard – or more particularly, the keyboard layout. It’s a United States layout. Now, that’s fine if you happen to live and work in the Good Ole U-ESS-OF-A but I live and work in Scotland in the U-K! Again, my brain does not compute with having the @ symbol above the 2 key and there not being any # key… I mean, we live in the era of the hashtag right – why you not have a hash key Apple?! I know, I know, all I need to do is press Alt-3 to insert a hash – but it just feels odd, that’s all.
Within Design33, it’s fairly widely known that I have a fondness for all things keyboard shortcut related. I have them enabled in just about every facet of my day to day working life. In particular, I am really familiar with the shortcuts in Photoshop and Illustrator. I’ve found them to be just different enough on the Mac to make them clunky for me to use. It will take a bit of training my brain not to hold Alt-Z and scroll the mouse to zoom out for example. On Windows, Shift-Ctrl-Alt-S opens the ‘Save for Web and Devices’ dialog box in Photoshop, something I use on numerous occasions, on a daily basis. My left hand now has the correct muscle memory to form a sort of ‘claw’ which then presses the correct key combo every time with out fail. This week it has felt more awkward for sure as on the Mac, the key press is Shift-Alt-Command-S. Most of the time I’ve found myself having to use two hands (shock) to press this correctly.
Pasting. Ok, I get that pasting passwords can sometimes be a security issue and that we should all be using some kind of password manager, but sometimes it is necessary for me to paste in a (usually) very long password to open an encrypted document or to login to a website. Parts of Mac OS X do not let you paste passwords. Period. This is a nuisance. So much so that I have had to install the app Force Paste to handle this for me. Force Paste does exactly that, it allows you to force paste all fields, anywhere in Mac OS X, but it does involve an extra step, which is a nuisance when I just want to open a file quickly to check a detail or whatever.
Things I like? Ok, enough whinging. I love the display. Got that?! I really do and using Photoshop and Illustrator on a Mac is, well, different because of the display. I also love how fast the whole experience feels. It’s like Apple have put the users experience of speed at the forefront of everything else. When I start Photoshop, the splash screen appears almost straight away. I don’t care if the package hasn’t loaded yet, or whether the processor is wheezing away in the background – it’s my perception as a user that is different. I’m sitting thinking, ok, that was quicker than on my PC.
I also like using the dock. I’d tried this a couple of times on Windows, but then it felt that I was using Windows, trying to be a Mac.
There are still some little issues that need to be ironed out, but last night at home, using a PC, I automatically went to look for the Command-S key combo to save, so the Apple vibe must be sinking in… Moving to Mac from Windows doesn’t have to be painful! Leave your experiences in the comments below!