Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mac annoyances (for a developer)

I'm switching to a Mac at work, mostly because it is recommended by other developers I respect.  But when it comes to productivity, I don't think it's going to make much of a difference: there are a bunch of features I had on my previous Linux (Ubuntu 10.4) laptop that just don't work well on the Mac.  Here is my list, in case Steve Jobs asks me later.
  • Apple has that stupid custom COMMAND button, just like Windows has their stupid custom START and MENU buttons.  It wouldn't be so bad if I could ignore it or use it in place of ALT, but it's used in most of the keyboard shortcuts, and the placement of the ALT and COMMAND keys on a connected keyboard is exactly reversed from the laptop keyboard.  I'm afraid I'll have to remap the keys whenever I connect my keyboard.  Ug.  I would love a good solution to this one.
  • Speaking of buttons, why doesn't the default keyboard have DELETE, HOME, END, PAGE-UP, and PAGE-DOWN?  I'll live since they usually work on my connected keyboard, but I emphasize "usually": for example, the HOME and END buttons do nothing as I'm writing this post in my browser.  Great... do I start learning Mac shortcuts for those?
  • Depending on the focus, keyboard shortcuts for enclosing windows don't fire.  For example, in Safari, if my cursor is in a text box, then I cannot switch to the next tab using my keyboard.  I get the same behavior in Eclipse... I just get stuck if my cursor isn't in just the right place.  Ouch.
  • I often want to resize a window by grabbing it's border on, say, the left side... or somewhere besides the bottom-right corner.
  • It's hard to navigate through the menu bar.  To get into a menu, I have to get to the menu bar, then type the first letter of the desired menu, then hit ENTER; on my other systems, one key combination will take me to the desired menu (eg. ALT+F for the "File" menu).
  • The menu bar contains many different sections: app operations, services, time, the Apple menu.  Why can't I separate them out and put the time where I'm accustomed to seeing it?
  • Any why does the menu bar always have to be at the top?  I'm accustomed to accessing system applications (eg. services) on the bottom.  Also, I put my dual screens on top of one another... luckily I can configure the menu bar to go at the top of my second monitor, or I would have been outright pissed (since it would have been in the middle of both screens).

I admit to being a Mac newbie, so I appreciate if you know any solutions that help with this stuff.  (But if you're going to say that I should buy a Mac keyboard or learn The Mac Way, please realize that I'll always do development work on some of my own machines where I run Linux (and I regularly hop on other people's Windows machines), so totally converting myself to the proprietary Mac approach isn't very attractive.)

Maybe I'm the wrong audience for this thing!?