Switching to a Mac isn’t easy

For as far back as I could remember, I have always preferred Linux on my PCs. Linux is just so much better for software development and server administration. I have never been a fan of Windows, and have never fancied a Mac or OS X either, but because you are forced to use a Mac for iOS development, I finally decided to give a Macbook Pro with the ‘retina’ display a try.

I have been hearing from a lot of developer friends lately on how they switched from Windows to a Mac and love it. This made me consider switching to a Mac entirely, as I don’t prefer having to lug around multiple computers, but after using one for a week, I have given up on the idea.

Here’s why:

1. Command key instead of the control key. This was the first hurdle I ran into. Most shortcuts that use the Ctrl key on a regular PC have to be substituted with the command key. For example, you have to use command+c to copy instead of Ctrl+c like you would on a regular PC. However, this was easily fixable, as explained here.

2. The window buttons are on the wrong side. The minimize, maximize and close buttons are on the left side of an application window instead of the right.

3. The maximize button doesn’t maximize. When you press the maximize button on a application’s window (the green button with a +), the window simply gets a little bigger, instead of filling the entire screen as I would normally expect. There is however, a second double arrow button on the right of the window which seems to make it fill the entire screen, but seems to move the window into another workspace. Confusing.

4. Tabbing between multiple windows of the same application seems impossible. For example, when a regular and incognito window of the Chrome browser are open, pressing command + tab doesn’t switch between them.

5. Edit -> cut is greyed out in Finder. I’m not sure why they left the option in the Edit menu. Pressing command+x doesn’t ‘cut’ the file either. Because of this, moving files is a little tricky. You have to copy it first (command+c), then press command+option+v to move it.

6. The keyboard doesn’t have Home/End/Page Up or Page Down keys. I had no idea how much I used these until I used a Mac.

7. The Backspace key is incorrectly named delete. The actual delete key is missing. On a regular PC, backspace deletes content behind the cursor, while the delete key deletes content in front of it. On a Mac, delete behaves like the backspace key, and the PC version of the delete key doesn’t exist.

8. Function keys don’t work as expected. Can’t press F2 to rename a folder, and can’t fix F5 to refresh the browser (huge deal). Function keys only seem to serve as handy shortcuts for changing the volume, brightness, etc.

9. The delete (backspace) key doesn’t move files to trash in the Finder. Instead, it is command+delete to move to the Trash. However, command+shift+delete doesn’t permanently delete the selected file, and empties the trash instead.

10. Finder doesn’t seem to support SFTP. As someone who copies files to/from servers a lot over SSH, lack of native SFTP support was a huge deal. Programs like Cyberduck got the job done, but were clumsy to use compared to having support in the native file browser, like Nemo on Linux Mint.

11. Missing Terminal scripts. Only a subset of commands/scripts from a standard Linux install are available. For example, uptime and top are present, but ip and free are not. Also, lack of a package manager accessible from the Terminal was a big no no.

12. No multiple workspaces. I love grouping related programs to their own workspace. For example, browsers on one, terminals on another, IDE’s on the third, and so on. This doesn’t seem to be supported on the Mac, and the dock got very cluttered very quickly.

Granted, there seems to be a “Mac way” of doing most of these, and Steve Jobs’ classic “you are holding it wrong” comes to mind. But for someone who is used to a PC, switching to a Mac seems like a tough ordeal. It seems you have to forget most of what you know and start over from scratch, but the problem is if you do ever get ingrained into the Mac way of doing things, going back to a PC is not going to be easy. And for this reason, I am going to stick with my Linux PC for now, and confine the Mac strictly to iOS development.

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