I got a MacBook Pro 13 (early 2011) about a month ago and I thought I should share my early impressions on both the MacBook and OS X Snow Leopard. Now I do realize that Snow Leopard is going to be refreshed this month – in about a week or so, according to rumours – so my experience with Snow Leopard will soon be forgotten but still relevant. I will also talk about OS X Lion when it comes around – I’m eligible for a free upgrade to Lion since I bought the mac recently. The key specs are:
Intel Core i7 2.7GHz dual core, 4GB DDR3 RAM and 500GB Hard drive. It also has a Thunderbolt port but I haven’t found any use for it. Mac OS version 10.6.8 (current latest and probably last point update for Snow Leopard)
Coming from Windows, there are some programs that I assumed were bundled in with every operating system. For the most part, they are present in Snow Leopard but there are some that I miss.
I never thought I cared much for Paint until I realized it was missing in OS X. It’s a simple graphics tool that you can use to draw stuff, shapes, lines and what have you. Nothing like it is bundled with Mac OS X. Lucky enough, someone made a clone called Paintbrush. It works like a charm with all the key features that make Paint such a gem.
One of the features I’d grown to love on Windows 7 is the Snap feature. This resizes open windows to occupy half or the entire screen when you drag them to the edges or the top of the screen respectively. It’s a very powerful feature for productivity – so much so that even Ubuntu now has it. Not there in Mac OS X. In fact, window management in OS X is pretty bad. Windows don’t always maximise to occupy the whole screen; you can only resize windows by dragging the right bottom corner and no where else.
There are solutions though, this time not free. I use BetterSnap Tool which goes further than Snap to allow resizing of windows to a quarter of the screen as well. I also use Moom which has more advanced window management to allow customizations like resizing windows to 3/4 of the screen using keyboard shortcuts. It’s overkill – which is why I love it!
Installing programs on the Mac is quite different from Windows or Ubuntu. It’s very simple – drag the application into the applications folder. Some programs do have “Windows-like” installers though and others require installation via the Terminal. That’s all well and good. Maybe I’m being a little picky here but… The problem comes with removing apps. On windows we have uninstallers that take care of everything most of the times. On OS X you have to navigate to the applications folder and delete the app/drag it into the trash. Worse still, parts of the apps still remain in mysterious places.
Once again there’s a truckload of apps to solve that issue – simply drag the app to be deleted into an app like AppCleaner, and it will find the all garbage files associated with the program for you.
The good stuff
I’ve focussed mainly on the bad so far. Now for the good stuff. You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about the MacBook itself – that’s because it’s left me speechless. It is beautifully made; from the uni-body construction, to the backlit keyboard, to the giant glass touchpad – it’s all well thought out and simply awesome. The only thing is that it’s heavier than I thought but that’s ok… I could do with a bit of a workout.
The Mac more than makes up for the few things it doesn’t have with a boatload of features.
Automator is an app for building apps in a way. You can design a workflow or a series of tasks that you want the computer to do for you. These can be repetitive tasks like resizing a batch of images based on some criteria or extracting data from a website or anything really. I haven’t fully tapped into it but I can tell it is extremely powerful.
Spotlight is like the text search in the Windows start menu, only way more powerful. It indexes all the files on you computer so they are only a few keyboard strokes away. With spotlight you can quickly search for and open files, applications, word definitions and even perform calculations. There are more powerful options on Mac through, like Alfred, Quicksilver and others which can allow you to go to websites and even search websites or play songs in iTunes, write a note, create a calendar event or send an email – all from a little one line text box. Yeah.
I’m a huge fan of apps. I like trying them out, discovering new things and doing the things that I’ve always been doing easier, smarter and easier. I like easy. The Mac AppStore is simple and elegant and it has a whole bunch of apps. I find that Macupadte still has more apps than you can poke a stick at though. Macupdate has everything, the old and the new – stuff that hasn’t been released (betas), stuff that has been rejected etc.
The Mac is awesome and OS X Snow Leopard is awesome too. I will be upgrading to Lion when it officially comes out. I didn’t get any of the developer previews because I wanted to experience Leopard first as much as possible to see where it’s all coming from. Hopefully my experience will be helpful to anyone new to a OS X or just plain interested. I will continue to post more OS X stuff and a top apps list or something together with the usual(or not so usual :-p) news and happenings.