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Switching to OS X, Obstacle 1: Where the heck is that button?

November 6, 2008

Obstacle 1: Where the heck is that button?
Obstacle 2: Switching between windows
Obstacle 3: Home/End buttons (Unsolved)
Obstacle 4: Python and friends

When the new cool MacBooks came out, we who are not a part of the Apple cult got a nice benefit. The older style MacBooks, that does not have the glass screen, became quite cheap. A new aluminium-body glass-screen 2.4Ghz MacBook cost €1500. The  white MacBooks, still with 2.4GHz Core2Duo costs €1000.

Yes, I know the new MacBook has DDR3 memory and faster graphics. I’m sure that’s very handy to have if you intend to dualboot to XP and play GTA IV on it. I don’t. As a Python/Zope developer, almost everything that counts is processor speed. And for €1000 you can get a 2.2GHz machine from Asus or HP. And now, for a limited time, a 2.4GHz machine from Apple. And as my trusty HP Pavilions fan is starting to make some (still discreet) noises, I decided this was the time.

Now of course, before I delete everything on the hard disk and install Ubuntu, I really should give OS X a proper shot. So that’s what I’m doing now. And I have to admit it, Apple is not doing this easy. I’ve encountered a long string of troublesome obstacles. The first one is simply lack of proper technical documentation for things you might like to know. Like how the keyboard works. There is newbie “Switching to Mac” documentation, but it’s aimed at typical Windows Office users, not for a Unix user or programmer. I guess Macs are still not very popular in the developer world, even though they are everywhere in the Python community.

I quickly noticed that in Finder, if I pressed [Enter], I would start editing the label. That, honestly, is a pretty daft keyboard assignment. The MacBook keyboard also do not have things like Home, End and Page Up/Down, which is really annoying. Or a delete key. I had to Google around a lot to figure out that Delete is Fn+Backspace (logical) and that you can open things in Finder with Cmd+O (I’ll get used to it). So as a help to other that evaluate Mac, here a the page that I finally found that lists most of the shortcuts. It doesn’t list the Fn+Something keys on a MacBook though, a reference for that would be nice too. But I’ve figured out these:

Fn+Left arrow: Home
Fn+Right arrow: End
Fn+Up arrow: Page Up
Fn+Down arrow: Page Down
Fn+Backspace: Delete

Well, that was easy. But it ain’t over yet. In fact, I’m not even finished with the keyboard-related part of my troubles.


From → linux, mac

  1. Luc Bourhis permalink

    Preferences > Keyboard and Mouse > Keyboard Shortcuts lifts your obstacle 2.

  2. No it doesn’t, and I explained why in that post.

  3. One rarely needs the Delete key in OSX. Many times you can just use Backspace. When editing text, most Emacs commandos apply: Ctrl+D deletes characters (equivalent to the Delete key), Ctrl+A jumps to the beginning of a line, Ctrl+E to the end, etc.

  4. I need the delete key all the time. But Fn+Backspace works for me. At I mention in Obstacle 2, I don’t like Ctrl+A and Ctrl+E. It feels unnatural to me. At the moment I’m using Cmd+Arrows where that works and Fn+Arrows where that works, which is silly.

    It is definitely noticeable that OS X is aimed at people that uses a mouse and gets confused by too many configuration options. 🙂

    I’m writing a deathmatch/flamewar post to read while I make up my mind. 🙂

  5. You can also use Cmd-Down to open things in Finder. It’s a bit strange at first, but it makes sense when paired with Cmd-Up (to go up a level).

    — a recent Mac convert

  6. WJC permalink

    I’ve switched to OS X couple months back too. It’s true that always need to Google on some keyboard shortcuts.

    But once used to the common shortcuts like
    Cmd-O to open things up,
    Cmd-W to close window
    Cmd-Q to quit whole application

    Other than that it is quite a nice experience. One thumbs up feature that I like is the Multi-Touch Trackpad, they have for Macbook. It’s really really convenient for me.

    4-fingers swipe UP, Show Desktop, all things hide to corner
    4-fingers swipe DOWN, Expose, split up all the windows
    4-fingers swipe Left/Right : Application chooser same as Cmd-Tab

    2-fingers scrolling is the best of ALL. No longer need the page up/down button, Besides, it could even scroll other application windows while u working on your current window without click over to activate that window. (Good for multiple browser page, doing comparison or other stuff)

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Switching to OS X, Obstacle 2: Switching between windows « Lennart Regebro: Plone consulting
  2. Switching to OS X, Obstacle 3: Home/End buttons (Unsolved) « Lennart Regebro: Plone consulting
  3. Switching to OS X, Obstacle 4: Python and friends « Lennart Regebro: Plone consulting
  4. Ubuntu vs OS X: The deathmatch! « Lennart Regebro: Plone consulting

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