Top X Mac OS X Annoyances

by Chris Shiflett

Related link: http://shiflett.org/archive/196



Here's my Top X List of Mac OS X Annoyances:



  1. Separating Menu Bar from Window Is
    Stupid.

  2. Apps Don't Really Close When You
    Close Them.

  3. Maximizing Is Broken.

  4. Alt-Tab to a Minimized App, and It
    Stays Minimized.

  5. Too Many Option Keys.

  6. No Dedicated Page Up, Page Down,
    Home, or End Keys.

  7. Only One Desktop.

  8. The Clock Sucks.

  9. iPhoto Sucks.

  10. Safari Sucks.


I elaborate a bit more on my personal blog, but these are the main things keeping me on Linux for my primary desktop.


Feel free to point out ways to get around these annoyances, and of course, let me know if any are just a result of my own ignorance. :-)



What annoys you about the Mac?


19 Comments

daeley
2006-02-12 10:02:54
Hmm
1. Separating Menu Bar from Window Is Stupid.


Maybe. Or maybe you're just used to the Windows/Linux paradigm.


2. Apps Don't Really Close When You Close Them.


Individual windows close fine. This is a document-based OS, not application. See #1.


3. Maximizing Is Broken.


Sometimes, yes.


4. Alt-Tab to a Minimized App, and It Stays Minimized.


From your blog entry, I see that you mean Command-Tab. And yes, people do say Command-Tab. Or Apple-Tab.


Apps do not minimize. Windows are minimized. So what you are actually saying is that when you Command-Tab to an application with a minimized window, the window does not unminimize itself. I agree, this is annoying.


There are a couple of ways around this. First, I got into the habit of hiding apps instead of minimizing windows. Works better for me. There are a couple of add-on utilities that will also help. Google "maurer witch" to see one.


5. Too Many Option Keys.


6. No Dedicated Page Up, Page Down, Home, or End Keys.


It seems from your blog entry that you have a Mac laptop, which explains #6. What you may not be aware of is that using that Function key in conjunction with the arrow keys, you get Page Up, Page Down, Home, and End.


7. Only One Desktop.


You say that like it's a bad thing. Seriously, though, check out the free Desktop Manager if you can't do without. Of course, maybe if all of your windows weren't maximized... ;D


8. The Clock Sucks.


9. iPhoto Sucks.


10. Safari Sucks.



Maybe. Depends on why you think they suck.

shiflett
2006-02-12 10:17:16
Re: Hmm
As a general rule, I've tried to adapt to the "Mac way" rather than getting annoyed with certain behavior, because I know it's futile to complain. I've been using a Mac for over three years, so these aren't knee-jerk reactions.


Having dedicated home and end keys would be worth losing those extra command and enter keys, in my opinion. Maybe that plus a bit of creativity could pave the way for dedicated page up and page down keys, too. :-)

stevendearth
2006-02-12 10:53:57
Number 2 is a stretch
Most of your issues are personal preference related, but number two is just wrong:


2. Apps Don't Really Close When You Close Them.

Of course applications close when you close them. Hit apple-q, and the application will close. Click on the button on the window, and the document closes. Easy enough.

pkscout
2006-02-12 13:34:27
Firefox runs on OSX
If you don't like Safari, don't use it. Use Firefox instead. If you're using Firefox on Linux know the experience should be the same. Some of the themes don't work quite right on OSX, but many do.


One of the things that does annoy me is that if you don't use Safari you still have to use Safari to change your default browser. Or at least you do by default. There is a systems pref pane called "More Internet" that fixes that. It's available at:


http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/16066

shiflett
2006-02-12 13:40:30
Firefox runs on OSX
I do use Firefox, and I figured out how to set it to my default some time ago. (Same with Thunderbird.) I only complain, because I think Safari could be a really awesome browser with a bit more attention paid to it. It feels like Apple is taking the Microsoft approach to its browser - let it rot, because the faithful will continue to use it anyway.
DavidBattino
2006-02-12 14:28:53
Menubar Clock
I use wClock, donationware from www.wolfware.com. You can display both date and time at once, in a number of formats. Clicking the text opens a small calendar. It looks very clean.


The main annoyance for me is constantly having to resize Finder windows (when they’re in column mode in an Open/Save dialog) to see long document names.

frankxiv
2006-02-12 21:55:41
Perspective matters
1) Separating Menu Bar from Window Is Stupid.
Yes, and the opposite annoys me when I am away from OS X. The global menu bar is a great way to quickly tell which app is active, especially when you are using multiple displays.


2) Apps Don't Really Close When You Close Them.
The opposite of this is one of my major pet peeves when using Windows at work. I hate that I have to relaunch an application just because I closed the last open document. So, if I want to close what I'm doing and start a new doc I have to open the new doc, then close the old one if I don't want to have to relaunch the application. Talk about backwards design.



3) Maximizing Is Broken.
I've seen this in certain apps. It isn't something I really notice because I don't have a tendency to maximize windows in OS X the way I do when using Windows. I'm not sure if I can pinpoint exactly why this is but I know that I don't.


4) Alt-Tab to a Minimized App, and It Stays Minimized.
And I yell at Windows every time it does the opposite. Just because I switch to an open application does NOT mean that I want all of the documents that are open in that application to pop to the foreground. 99% of the time I want ONE document and I can just as easily open that one document from the dock.


5) Too Many Option Keys.
Please clarify this. I have the same number of option keys on my Mac as I do on my PC.


6) No Dedicated Page Up, Page Down, Home, or End Keys.
I suppose you are referring to a laptop here. I don't mind this on my 12" powerbook since there really isn't room for dedicated keys and I can just use the FN key combo. However, on the larger powerbooks I think they should have the additional keys.


7) Only One Desktop.
I do not think that this should be included by default. There are options available to do this which is no different then linux. This is a function of the desktop manager that you are using, so simply get the program to do it on your Mac and stop complaining.


8) The Clock Sucks.
What kind of statement is this? What sucks about it? Does it tell the time? What would you like it to do?


9) iPhoto Sucks.
What exactly sucks about it? What program are you using that is so much better than it? I personally think it is a great program that excels at what it is meant to do.


10) Safari Sucks.
Safari does need help. No argument there.

otto
2006-02-13 00:33:48
Sorry..
I'm sorry to say, but my impression is that you just don't get it.
shiflett
2006-02-13 05:01:50
Re: Perspective matters
> The global menu bar is a great way to quickly
> tell which app is active, especially when you
> are using multiple displays.


I'm considering using Mac OS X on my desktop, which means I'll be moving from a 12" PowerBook screen to a more reasonable 23" screen. In most cases, I think this will improve the experience, but it's going to increase the distance between the active window and its corresponding menu bar. I'm concerned about this, because it's already annoying to have to move my focus so far when working on something.


> I hate that I have to relaunch an application
> just because I closed the last open document.


Yeah, I can understand that. Linux does the same thing, but I guess it's one of those things you learn to work with. How do you learn to work with the fact that command-tab is more polluted on a Mac? When I say polluted, I'm referring to the way you can command-tab to a new app without anything happening. Sometimes it's because there are no active windows. Sometimes it's because the only active window is minimized. Sometimes it's because you just switched to Finder, which never goes away.


Coming from a Linux background, I can't seem to understand how Mac's approach could be better.


> Please clarify this. I have the same number of
> option keys on my Mac as I do on my PC.


My PowerBook has four (five if you count the extra command key), plus an extra tiny enter key. If full-sized keyboards are better, this wouldn't be something that would affect me when switching, but it's an annoyance now, particularly because a little bit of creativity should have paved the way for dedicated home and end keys at the very least.


> This is a function of the desktop manager that
> you are using, so simply get the program to do
> it on your Mac and stop complaining.


Again, coming from a Linux background, I'm not used to having to buy anything to get these types of features. (You can substitute "download" for "buy," and the same applies.) This probably doesn't bother people coming from Windows, because they're used to buying everything, but Macs already come with so many useful things.


(There are plenty of ways to make this feature only available to those who seek it out. Let us edit an XML file or something.)


> What would you like it to do?


Others have pointed me in the direction of an XML file that I can edit, so I'm going to try that. But, to answer your question, I want it to tell me the date, not the day of the week (if it must choose only one). I'm much more likely to know today is Monday than know it's the 13th. On Linux, I can click the clock to get a quick glimpse of the calendar, something I must launch an app to do on the Mac. On my Mac, I have to click the clock just to get what I feel is the essential information.


> What exactly sucks about it? What program are
> you using that is so much better than it?


I think most people are missing my point. Don't compare the Mac to something else and simply say it's better. Of course it is. Compare it to perfection (your idea of it), and go from there. That's exactly what I've done, and although my idea of perfection isn't going to be the same as everyone else's, most Mac fans who have commented on my blog have agreed with a few points from my list, and they're always different. I've concluded that every item on my list annoys other people, too, but most people are so excited about how much better Mac OS X is than any other desktop OS that they don't mind.


I'm not attacking the Mac. I'm trying to justify using it exclusively. (I've been using it on my laptop for over three years.)


iPhoto sucks, because I can't have more than 1000 photos and scroll up and down without waiting for the spinning wheel. Maybe a new MacBook Pro will solve that. :-)


> Safari does need help. No argument there.


Yeah, I'm just disappointed. Apple seems to have taken the Microsoft approach to browsers.

Dan_Zambonini
2006-02-13 05:43:05
A very domain specific complaint...
... but GarageBand is driving me crazy. Like Safari, it could be an amazing application, except for the minor problems that cause major inconveniences. Such as:


# Can't export straight to mp3, only direct to iTunes.


# The export is broken; it often will skip one or more tracks in the export process. Also, the exported track is sometimes missing some treble.


# When you make your mac work hard, it corrupts audio files, loses audio files, or just plain crashes. It's all too easy to crash it.


# I thought it was supposed to be a music app, but they've introduced a whole new version (from 2 to 3) without adding any functionality for song writers! I don't give a #### about podcasting, Apple, it's a music-production application!

trollll
2006-02-13 06:04:47
Opinion as fact...right
"Separating Menu Bar from Window Is Stupid."


Listed as a fact? Wow... This just made your entire argument sound like it came from a four-year-old.


If you don't like Macs, don't get one. Get some other nice hardware and run Linux on it. Or, hell: get Mac hardware and dual-boot Linux. Airport throws a wrench into that one, though...

frankxiv
2006-02-13 07:11:40
Re: Perspective matters
>Yeah, I can understand that. Linux does the same
>thing, but I guess it's one of those things you
>learn to work with. How do you learn to work with
>the fact that command-tab is more polluted on a
>Mac? When I say polluted, I'm referring to the
>way you can command-tab to a new app without
>anything happening. Sometimes it's because there
>are no active windows. Sometimes it's because the
>only active window is minimized. Sometimes it's
>because you just switched to Finder, which never
>goes away.


I actually like this as well. OS X is very efficient at managing memory so I like to leave applications open when I am not currently using them if I will be using them soon. If you are tabbing through though and tab to apps that you no longer need simply press Q while command tabbing and the app will quit. Also, try using Expose to switch among apps, you may get hooked on it.


>(You can substitute "download" for "buy," and the
>same applies.)


It will be hard to make your Mac personalized if you don't want to download anything, even if it is free. There are a lot of little free apps/utilities that I use on my Mac. There are also a few really, really nice shareware apps that I have been using for years. One thing you will find is that there are some really dedicated developers on the Mac side. They make nice apps and stick with them, constantly updating them over long periods of time (e.g. DragThing, Graphic Converter, BBEdit).


RE: the clock. Again, I use a free app that displays a little calendar icon next to my clock that shows the date. Also, when I click on it I get a drop-down calendar that shows appointments in iCal for the date selected. Finally, if you have iCal running in the background it's icon in the Dock will show the current date.


>iPhoto sucks, because I can't have more than 1000
>photos and scroll up and down without waiting for
>the spinning wheel. Maybe a new MacBook Pro will
>solve that. :-)


It definitely will solve that. Also, how old is the version of iPhoto that you are using? The current version is really nice and may already have added the features you are wishing for.

gwhilts
2006-02-13 08:10:36
2.5/10


  1. Separating Menu Bar from Window Is Stupid.

    No. In fact, it's quite useful.

  2. Apps Don't Really Close When You Close Them.

    Windows close, apps quit and they quit just fine when you quit them.

  3. Maximizing Is Broken.

    Yes, it is.

  4. Alt-Tab to a Minimized App, and It Stays Minimized.

    I think you mean "Cmd-Tab". Now I see the source of some of your frustration. (And yes -- this is annoying.)

  5. Too Many Option Keys.

    Oh come on.

  6. No Dedicated Page Up, Page Down, Home, or End Keys.

    They're are on my keyboard. Okay, not on the Powerbook, but I'll sacrafice a few keys here for compactness -- the arrow key shortcuts work fine too.

  7. Only One Desktop.

    http://desktopmanager.berlios.de/

  8. The Clock Sucks.

    Um, okay. It's a clock, what do you want?

  9. iPhoto Sucks.

    No, it doesn't. Actually it's the best product of its type. If you really don't like it though, you can use any number of alternatives. This is just an app, not part of OS X.

  10. Safari Sucks.

    No, it doesn't. It's a pretty good browser actually. Yes there are a few things I like best in Firefox, a few things in Camino, a few things in OmniWeb, but there are also a few things I like best about Safari. Even though no single one of these browsers has everything, each of them are pretty good. IE sucks. Konqueror comes pretty close to sucking. Once again, though, even if you don't like Safari, it's just one of many browsers out there, not an embedded part of the OS.


JohnO'Shea
2006-02-13 11:13:46
Firefox runs on OSX
Let it rot? You can get nightly downloads for Safari if you want:
rdarden
2006-02-13 11:39:26
Menu bar size
> which means I'll be moving from a 12"
> PowerBook screen to a more reasonable 23"
> screen...
> but it's going to increase the distance
> between the active window and its
> corresponding menu bar.


I'm surprised this hasn't been mentioned yet, but the menu-bar-at-the-top system yields a menu bar that is "infinitely tall." To move the mouse to the menu bar you only have to move it up enough to reach the top of the screen. You can't overshoot it. I've been told this relates to Fitts' Law (http://www.usabilityfirst.com/glossary/main.cgi?function=display_term&term_id=265) .


When I'm using a Linux or Windows system, I find it very frustrating to have to hunt for the menu bar. The menu seems impossibly small to me!

frankxiv
2006-02-14 08:28:00
Menu bar size
You hit the nail on the head. I had read this years ago and forgot about it. Great point and you are absolutely right that you simply can't miss the menu bar when it is at the top of the screen.
aristotle
2006-02-16 14:35:47
MacOS makes sense

You donít need multiple desktops when you donít work with all fullscreen windows, and you donít need all fullscreen windows when clicking anywhere in a window in the background merely raises it, without activating whatever control might have been where you clicked.


Having a single menubar makes it easy to hit and makes it easy to establish which application is currently in focus.


You conflate windows and applications.


Basically, there are very good reasons for the Mac interface working as it does. You may never have gotten used to it (it seems that almost all people who get used to the Windows way first are forever lost to the Mac way), but that doesnít make it stupid.


As for the complaints about Safari and iPhoto, I have no idea how they are related to OS X. For web browsing, you can use Camino and Firefox. And iPhoto is extra for-pay software, whether it comes from Apple or not; so find something else that works for you.

shiflett
2006-02-16 14:55:30
Re: MacOS makes sense
> You donít need multiple desktops when you donít
> work with all fullscreen windows, and you donít
> need all fullscreen windows when clicking
> anywhere in a window in the background merely
> raises it, without activating whatever control
> might have been where you clicked.


I don't have full-screen windows, since that's basically impossible on a Mac. :-) Also, when a window raises, that can be annoying when it was a stray click that caused it. It may not matter in the sense that nothing bad is going to happen, as you correctly note, but that doesn't mean there's no room for improvement.


Having as a few as 5 active windows can easily clutter a desktop, especially on a laptop. (There are lots of us with Mac laptops.)


> Basically, there are very good reasons for the
> Mac interface working as it does. You may never
> have gotten used to it (it seems that almost all
> people who get used to the Windows way first are
> forever lost to the Mac way), but that doesnít
> make it stupid.


You seem to be making the typical Mac zealot mistakes:


1. You didn't read the entire post. I don't use Windows. My opinions come from a background of using Mac OS X and Linux on the desktop.


2. You confuse being the best with being perfect. Just because the Mac way may be better than an alternative doesn't mean that there's no room for improvement.


3. You assume that I've only considered the bad aspects of these features and not the good. For example, you explain to me the benefits of having the menu bar at the very top of the screen, assuming that the disadvantages of this approach are irrelevant.


3. You assume that you can't have the good without the bad.


4. You assume the Mac way is perfect.


Some of my annoyances are due to my own ignorance, which I happily acknowledge. However, almost every one of the 50 or so comments have agreed with at least a few things from my list, and the responses have been predominantly from Mac users.


There is room for improvement.

arifsaha
2006-02-23 08:05:26
Menu bar on the top is the best!
Menu bar consistently on the top of the screen is one of the BEST feature about MacOS / MacOS X. It means consistently only 1 (one) menu bar exist on the screen at consistently same place. In fact, if any of the desktop manager in Linux have this feature, it may be the reason that desktop manager become my choice in Linux.


Additionally, it also make sense not to show toolbars when the application / windows inactive.


I do technical support and tutoring, I have many experience having user click at the *wrong* menu bar. How many time I wish I can just say, "just look at the top of the screen, you see the bar...". Finding the right menu bar is a skill that need to be trained. Make sure only one menu bar active and at consistent place at the screen will definitely reduce the barrier for people to become computer users.


--
http://www.arifsaha.com/