Saturday, March 30, 2013

Using a Macbook Pro

I have just bought a second hand Macbook Pro.  I need it to create an iPhone app as Apple's application development platform (XCode) only runs on Max OS-X.

Initial impressions are good.  It is fast to boot and runs applications fast too. It has a cCore i5 with 8GB ram.  I upgraded to OSX Lion from its boot recovery partition.  Then I bought the OS-X Mountain Lion upgrade from the Mac App Store.  They are very easy to install and require no options to be entered.

What I like so far:

  • Nice hardware and design - really well thought out and executed - great quality
  • Chrome runs well so I have a familiar browser experience with all the productivity extensions I now rely on greatly (Delicious, Handy Google Shortcuts, X-Marks, LastPass,, Copy URL)
  • The two fingered swipe for scrolling up/down and right left is great

What is a bit weird - for a long term Windows user
  • The Launchpad is actually just a window that displays available applications.
  • You can use Command + Tab to display and switch to and active task.
  • You need to select an option to the get the hard disk icon on the desktop (like My Computer)
  • No right click on the touch pad - you use Ctrl + click to get this (or a normal mouse connected)
  • The Command key - its hard to know when to use this (e.g. Command + T opens up new browser tabs).  It seems to largely substitute for the Ctrl key in Windows, yet there is a Ctrl key too. . . 
  • No key for deleting the current character - the Delete key acts like the Backspace key in Windows. Fn + Delete does this, while Command + Delete deletes text from the cursor to the start of the line
  • Ctrl + Z does not undo your last action - you use Command + Z instead
  • Finding apps - there are Chrome apps (straightforward), iTunes apps (for iOS, iPhones, iPads etc), and Mac apps via the Mac OS store
  • The app menu across the top looks like its for the OS, but its for the current app you have open
  • The maximise button doesn't cause an app to fill the screen - it defaults to a size that Apple judges appropriate.  You can manually resize it by dragging the window size, which is then remembered.
  • The mouse scroll wheel works in the opposite direction Windows, but this can be reversed [link]
  • No page up/down buttons - Command + cursor buttons do this.
  • Installing applications - you download them as what seems to be then mounted as a "disk" which you then run/open and move the icon into the apps folder.
What I don't like so far
  • iMovie, Garage Band and iPhoto are all missing from applications. When I try to "upgrade them" I get a weird message telling me that I can't. It appears I would have to now buy these apps there were "free" from the app store to get them.  They were provided to the original owner, but not to me as a subsequent owner.
  • The lock in between XCode, iPhone app development and OS-X.  This is symptomatic of Apple getting people to buy most things (or everything) from them and is a cornerstone of their business model.  
So far, I haven't done much with XCode.  There is a lot of help available, but it looks like a very complicated development environment to me.  Lots of coding knowledge required, and a new language  (Objective C)

Overall, kudos to Apple for creating a nice laptop with a functional desktop OS - which Linux distros have struggled with over the years and not come close to, yet. 


Ewan Jaspan said...

you can get a right click if you go into system preferences, and go to trackpad. makes life easier! You will love the mac in no time!

Peter Campbell said...

Thanks Ewan. I had a look at that, enabled one finger tap for one (left) click and noticed that a two finger tap works for a right click. That is very handy.

SAP ECM (Enterprise Content Management) said...

I've been using macs for ages (and I write for a mac magazine) so here are a couple of things that will help:

1. Easiest way to launch is CMD Space which enables the search and start typing the first couple of letters of the application. Apps appear at the top of the search so its an easy way to start apps if they aren't in your dock

2. If you don't like the way apps don't open full screen, there is a free app called "right click" which automatically makes sure all apps open full screen. I use this as I don't like the default way OSX opens apps.

3. CMD Delete deletes the same way as the other delete key in Windows

It generally takes a little while to get used to things. For example, instead of right click - file - send to for sending an attachment to someone, you just drag it to the mail icon in the dock. If you want to open a file with a specific app (like photoshop), drag the file to the photoshop icon. You can also drag 10 files to the app and it will open all 10 at the same time. I.e. opening 5 word files

Other apps to look at:

Skitch (like MS Paint)
Caffeine (keep your machine from going into screensaver mode)
TotalFinder (if you want to have folders at the top of finder and separate tabs)
Menutab (free app to keep facebook as an icon in the menubar)

Some of these are available in the app store, some you will have to download directly.

SAP ECM (Enterprise Content Management) said...

Sorry, it's Athol here. My default login for google is business related.

Peter Campbell said...

Athol, thanks for the tips on shortcut keys and apps. Very handy. I am like it so far. The two finger scrolling - up down & forwards backwards is particularly nice. There is no equivalent in Windows.