Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Getting Used To a Mac

Right, so I’ve had my MacBook Pro for over a week now and I must say, it works great. Really, really great. Maybe it’s because I’m comparing it to my four-year-old Dell laptop but still, it’s nice to not wait over a minute for startup and having to close background applications for the more demanding programs (I used to have to close McAfee and Samurize everytime I wanted to play games). The transition is not all smooth, of course, and I miss some aspects of Windows but overall, I must say I’m loving my Mac.

Several things/issues that I’ve encountered:

· Transferring files from my PC to my MacBook Pro went without much trouble, thanks to my 320 GB external hard drive. Moving the iTunes library between the computers went alright, thankfully. I used to transfer iTunes between PC’s and that just involves replacing the whole iTunes folder with the one containing your music (I used iTunes to manage my music files, so all the files are located in the iTunes folder instead of scattered all over the computer). However, I found that this doesn’t work when I transferred my music from PC to Mac. So what I did instead was to transfer the iTunes Music folder (just the subfolder containing the music, not the parent folder with the library files and everything) to my MacBook Pro. Then I transferred the iTunes Library.itl file and rename it to just iTunes Library, without the itl extension.

I found that this method retains my original playlists and play count (which is the most important thing). However, it doesn’t keep the album art. This is not a problem though, since I just made iTunes re-download the album arts from the iTunes Store. That took care of most of them. For album arts that aren’t available from iTunes, well, I made a habit of keeping them in the album folder itself, so I just looked for and re-added them manually. It’s just a bit of a hassle but not that much of a deal, since my play count is what matters most and if that’s intact, then it’s fine.

I found the above method in the comments section of the Lifehacker website. I don’t have the link now but thanks to whoever suggested it.

· Since I’m switching from a 17” to a 15” laptop, the smaller screen size bugged me a bit in the beginning, ESPECIALLY with the dock taking up some precious screen real estate. So I made the dock hidden, at all times. In Windows I used Launchy to launch applications and open files and folders, which explains why I hardly have anything on my desktop, and why I rarely use the Start Menu. I used a similar application, Gnome Do, while I was using Ubuntu. So of course, on my Mac, I installed Quicksilver and forgo the dock completely.

Quicksilver is AWESOME (just want to put that in)!!!

· I’m still trying to get used to the keyboard on my MacBook Pro. When I started using it, the first thing I noticed is that it doesn’t have a Delete key! Noooo! Nor the Hash key (#), nor the Home, End, Page Up and Down keys. I do realise that some of these keys are available on the full Apple keyboard, but until I buy one of those, guess I’ll just have to make do. For Delete, I use Cmd+Backspace; spacebar and Shift+spacebar for Page Down/Up. I’m not sure whether to remap the Return key for opening files instead of renaming them or stick to the Mac way of opening files with Cmd+Down. I know a lot of people will say things like if you’re changing to a Mac, you should stop trying to do everything the Windows way cause otherwise you might as well stick to Windows but still, I use ‘open file’ more than ‘rename’ and no matter what people say, one key is more convenient than two, especially if they require both hands.

I missed the Hash key because I use Gmail often and now to delete an email I have to reach for the mouse and press the delete button instead of using the keyboard. You can get hash on the MacBook Pro but it doesn’t function as a keyboard shortcut anymore.

· Finally, I miss the ability to cut and paste files. On a Mac, you can cut and paste text but apparently this function is disabled for files. When I went to search about this online I found some (very patronising) Mac users who said things like “Why would you want to have such a stupid feature on a Mac? If you cut a file and then forget about it and you cut another file, then the old file will be lost. So be glad you don’t have that dangerous Windows feature.

What the HECK?!

I thought everybody knew this, but apparently not. When you cut a file in Windows, apart from the file being greyed out, nothing will happen to it. So if after that you shut down your computer or cut/copy another file, the initial file will remain where it was. It’s only when you use the Paste command that the file will be moved. Seriously, some people should really stop, think and do their research first before criticising something.

In any case, I miss the Cut/Paste feature since it’s more convenient than drag and drop. Not sure how likely, but I hope Apple changes its mind on this. At the moment, I use Quicksilver to map the ‘Move To’ command to a keyboard shortcut, essentially acting like a Cut/Paste command, though this only works for folders indexed by Quicksilver. I still use the drag (and Cmd) and drop for the one or two odd cases.

Those are several quirks that I encountered while changing from PC to Mac. Even so, despite them I haven’t regretted buying a Mac since my new MacBook Pro is AWESOME! Guess there’ll always be some transitioning issues when you change to something new, so I just have to adapt.

Oh, and just to mention, the iPod Touch that comes with the Mac is wonderful. I’m still trying to get used to not having easy access to the buttons (I had a Shuffle before this) so I have to take it out of my pocket to pause it whenever I need to talk to people. But it holds my whole library, so I don’t have to make a separate playlist on what I wanted to put on my Shuffle like before. I haven’t used much of its other features though. I wanted to surf the internet the other day while I was in Starbucks but then I found out that you have to pay for the wireless. Drat!

Just bought a new Sennheiser in-ear earphone to go with the iPod Touch. In retrospect, maybe I should have chosen an earphone that’s more towards rich and detailed sound rather than bass heavy since I don’t often listen to the kind of music with thumping bass but, oh well, this is good too. It is true when they say you can hear things that you can’t hear using normal cheap earphones. Also, now I can listen to music in trains and other noisy places since it tends to block outside noise. Yay!

The only downside: I have a feeling I need to be more careful in crossing busy roads. These earphones can be a bit life-threatening like that.


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