Just how different is OSX?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by dreweth, Mar 16, 2005.

  1. dreweth macrumors newbie

    Mar 16, 2005
    Greetings all, long time x98 user here. This site and these forums have been a great help in determining what I need, and more importantly, when I want to buy my first Apple computer. However I need some straight-talk here, that I can't seem to find elsewhere.

    Coming from a long-term windows environment, am I going to need a book to use OSX properly?

    I gather that a huge premise of Mac functionality and software is based around ease of use, and that's a huge attraction. But when I go to my local Apple store and use their machines to get aquainted with OSX, it seems like a whole other world.

    Hearing things form this forum like:

    Are starting to set off a small alarm.

    I'm very proficient at what I do in windows, which, admittedtly, is mostly gaming, music, web-surfing, and working with documents. That's why an iMac is perfect. Except for gaming. I'm still keeping my PC as a stripped machine. :cool:

    However, what I pine for is the look and feel of OSX, and iMac, but is this going to be culture shock? Can someone shed a little light on how easy, or not easy OSX is to use?

    A link to a site explaining is fine, I guess, too. I just can't seem to find anything that isn't an ad. Any personal experiences like mine that turned out well? Or are we all just die hard macaholics from the cradle? :p
  2. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    A book like David Pogue's OSX: The Missing Manual is worth every penny.

    I never drag stuff to the trash -- it's so clumsy.
    Key Apple-Backspace instead
  3. DavidLeblond macrumors 68020


    Jan 6, 2004
    Raleigh, NC
    Just a note, in OS X when you drag a disk over the trash can, the can turns into an eject symbol. And now there are plenty of other ways to eject disks anyway other than dragging them to the trash (for instance a small eject icon appears next to the disk in the Finder.)

    As a relatively new Mac user coming from using Windows since 3.0, I can tell you it won't take long at all to get use to using the Mac and after you do you'll see how unintuitive Windows really is.
  4. Kyan macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2004
    OS X

    I switched two years ago and was also a x98 "expert". I have to tell you that the learning curve for OSX is really not that great. As Blue Velvet mentioned, David Pogues book is excellent. But I think even more helpful are the great forums available (this forum is right on top), and the helpful willingness of Mac people.
    Good luck with your future Mac, and I believe you will never want to go back.
  5. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    I think you'll have to unlearn some things that you probably considered the only way to do things. Getting a Missing Manual book is a good way to get there quickly.

    The incident with the Trash Can and ejecting disks was mostly necessary with Mac OS 9.x and earlier. I usually place my mouse pointer over the disk and right-click with my 2 button mouse and select eject.

    There are a few things that work from the contextual menus and there are a lot of options and keyboard equivalents from the menu bar menus.

    I've found that, when I had to use Windows as work, I kept tripping over things and ended up doing 4 steps for every 1 step on Mac OS 9.x/X. The one thing that I used a lot in Windows that's just simply missing is, when you're loading/saving, you have the ability to rename files and it's a pain to have to Command-Tab to the Finder to rename things and Command-Tab back to the application to continue.
  6. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    I'd used Win9x for 8 years before getting OS X - and I managed without a book (although the Missing Manual is very good)

    OS X is very easy to use - and it is pretty intuitive. A lot of the complaints are from true GUI experts who don't think any system is completely human interface friendly at present. That said, you do sometimes have to switch off thinking Windows and try to figure out what makes sense. I've found those with little Windows knowledge often automatically do things on the Mac that more experienced users might spend time figuring out how to do.

    I'd consider the following the biggest 'differences' from Win9x

    1 All your programs should be stored in the Applications folder. Many programs don't have an 'install' program which automatically dumps them in the Apps folder. But you can run some from the desktop when a .dmg folder is opened. It can then get confusing when you close the .dmg and the program isn't 'installed'. Many developers tell you to 'Drag icon to Apps folder' as the first thing in their dmg but some don't. On the other hand, uninstalling is very easy - tends to be 'drag from the Apps folder and drop on the Trash'

    2 You don't need to work in full screen maximise mode. The green 'maximise' button opens the window to what the developer considers ideal. To start with, this will be an alien concept to you - and you will try to drag the window to full size. But you'll likely swiftly become happy with overlapping windows and get used to using the space at the 'sides' for other apps.

    3 Get used to 'Drag and Drop'. When in doubt, try dragging and dropping. I remember trying to figure out how to save an image from the web to my hard drive. I 'right clicked' for 'Save Picture As' and nothing. I looked through all the menus in Safari. Then I tried dragging it to the HD. Ta da, the HD icon sprang open and I was able to drop it straight into the folder I wanted.

    4 You don't have to close programs to keep the system stable. You can just hide them so things open quickly. This is just as well since closing the last window doesn't close the app. You need to 'Quit' it if you really intend to stop using it.

    5 You can put 'Books to sleep and have them wake instantly. You may go weeks without seeing a reboot screen.

    6 There are lots of cool OS X tricks that help you work quicker/more efficiently. You will keep discovering new things - this place is wonderful for that.

    7 You may be told that OSX is stifling since the PC has so many more tweaks. I'd disagree. There are some very talented small developers out there who have amazing freeware/shareware applications that allow you to customise your system - from Applescripts to full blown apps. And they're easy to try since uninstalling them is so easy.

    8 iLife is wonderful. We've just had an Apple training session to show off iLife 05 and the two PC users in the room, left to go look at eBay to investigate Macs. The two Mac users just smiled :p

    It really is easy to use - get your iMac, you'll love it.
  7. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    I also switched back (stopped using Macs in the mid-90's) in 2002 from a very Windows-centric point of view.

    Basic use of the OS is similar enough that you won't find yourself unable to function, by any means. Most things work the same way or similarly enough. A few things are different enough that you'll want to learn some tips (I recommend, in addition to the recommendations above, "Killer OS X Tips" by, I think, Scott Kelby).

    Some things are, I think, worse - windows only resize from the bottom right corner, for example - but, by and large, it's more comfortable to use OS X than WinXP, and it'll take you a week or three to get used to it enough to realize that.

    Other than window resizing, there's nothing I miss from Windows (which I still use almost daily at work). When at my PC, I miss Exposé, I miss the automatic spell checking as you type in places like this reply window (right/control click in the window, go to Spelling->Check Spelling as You Type), I miss being able to save anything I can print to a PDF file, etc.

    I highly recommend getting (or using your old) two button, scrolling mouse. You need to be born-and-raised Mac to really like the one button mouse. I've used Macs since they came out (well, since late 1984), and I still don't like the one button mouse.
  8. vieoray macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2005
    well, there is a learning curve, but its not go out and buy a book dramatic. when i switched, i never got lost or couldn't figure something out on my own. if i had a problem, i just stopped and thought of the most basic, easy and straightforward way to do what i wanted to do...and 95% of the time, that was the way it needed to be done.

    i've found the help files in osx to be pretty good with some stuff, but lacking in other areas.

    the little differences stand out immediately -- stuff like when you hook up a camera you should "eject" it before you turn the camera off or disconnect it. there's several little things like that, and you just have to experience them...once you do they become commonplace. but remember with the new and unusual stuff, you will also be amazed by so much, like installing an application. just drag and drop the icon into your applications folder. want to uninstall? drag the app to the trash and its done. no drivers and control panel and other crap to deal with.

    go for it. osx rocks, and i promise you will agree :)
  9. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    I love my Macs - but this particular item is a bit unfair to Windows users. Almost any new Windows laptop will sleep well and about the same as a Mac. The older ones have/had many issues, but this isn't really a differentiator any more. My 2003 Dell (built for XP, forced into 2K by my employer) sleeps fine (and starts up fine, and doesn't drain the battery much), and it's otherwise fairly screwed up by the inept IT department.

    Another plus for the Macs (mentioned everywhere and true): no virus or spyware worries (yet) - vastly different from the PC world.
  10. Chrispy macrumors 68020


    Dec 27, 2004
    I made the switch a year and a half ago. I too, was a long time windows user... so much so that I even beta tested Windows XP and thought it was sooo amazing :cool:. The learning curve for OS X is very small and it only took me a few days to be completely comfortable with the OS X environment. Then Panther came out and I started using exposé. After that, I knew using windows would always seem like a step backwards... and it always does when I am on a windows machine. You will find it very easy to get used to OS X I am sure. Go for it! Once you do you will never look back :D
  11. dreweth thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 16, 2005
    This is some great info, thanks for the replies so far. It seems like a book might not be a bad idea; hell, I read one before learning how to ride a motorcycle, and that helped alot.

    Some of this stuff is a little wild, and some of it I've NEVER heard. I wish that my mac store would brag about some of this stuff:

    That is ridiculous.

    That is a huge attraction, and the reason I want the 20" (or whatever comes next) iMac. Stick it in a higher rez, and multitask.

    I've seen Exposé in action, and I LOVE it, but now I demand the spell check and PDF functionality. That's hot stuff. I've already decided, though, that the first thing my iMac mouse does is go to ebay, as I cannot live without the scroll wheel.

    And it sounds like a book is in my future with my iMac purchase.

    Please continue to contribute or share if you would like to, it's nice to hear these opinions. Thanks again for the replies!
  12. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    I know - tho our recent work XP ones still take longer than my PB. But I was trying to be specific from waking up Win 9x to OS X as a difference that the poster might notice. :)
  13. Jigglelicious macrumors 6502


    Apr 25, 2004
    For the most part, OS X isn't very difficult to get used to, and for the most part, most of the major way to do things should seem pretty obvious.

    With that said, if you are a major Windows poweruser, there might be a few things about OS X that could come off as annoying. I for one, find the Finder extremely annoying to use, and would do anything to have windows explorer instead. I would also like a way to open and look inside of ZIP files without having to extract it first. Still, thats just personal preferences, and most people find OSX a joy to use.

    If you are looking for a more direct comparison, check out OS X vs. XP
  14. twoodcc macrumors P6


    Feb 3, 2005
    Right side of wrong
    well i just got my first mac less than a week ago. i had never touched a mac (expect the ones from like 1990 or something). i can do basically all i need to do with it so far. no real problems. i'm still learning, but it's not like i'm totally lost or anything. and if i have any questions, i just post them here
  15. crap freakboy macrumors 6502a

    crap freakboy

    Jul 17, 2002
    nar in Gainsborough, me duck
    ooooo luverly.. :)
  16. vtprinz macrumors 6502

    Nov 30, 2004
    The single piece of advice given to me before I bought my first mac, which has been hinted at a few times here but not said directly, is that if you can't figure out how to do something in OS X, you're probably trying to make it too hard or have too many steps. You don't realize how many extra steps you go through everyday on a PC until you get used to OS X's lack of steps for almost all daily tasks. You'll rarely find that you need to do any more than 2 or 3 steps for anything, and almost always just one.

    With that in mind, in order to have a smooth transition, make sure you can take your time to adjust to the new layout. One of the things that bothers me sooo much is that, here at Va Tech, we have "the math emporium" which is basically a huge room filled with a couple hundred macs (just updated to brand new iMacs actually). This is great, so far, except that most freshman have to take online math courses at this place, along with quizzes and tests. Probably 3/4 of these windows-oriented students come out of the experience with an intense hatred of macintosh. All because they were forced to do work on an unfamiliar system, and they never took the time to relax and learn the OS. Even two years later I can't convince some of my friends that macs are a good thing, since they were so frustrated with it before that they won't take the time to actually look at the benefits. So take your time, and before you know it you'll hate to have to go back to windows ;)

    Oh, and one more thing, one of the hardest things for me to adjust to was the way applications close. Closing out all of the windows in, say, safari, doesn't actually close out safari. If you don't realize this, you can quickly stack up a dozen or so programs open and you might start wondering why your computer is slowing down (depending on how much memory you have). So just remember to close out applications that aren't needed, and leave the ones you use often open for quick access (if you don't know, on the dock, a small black triangle underneath the icon means the app is open)
  17. vieoray macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2005
    this has been my experience as well. i know several people who were made to, at some point, use a mac for something. they were windows users and had a difficult time because they just didn't take the time to stop, take a breath, look around and play with the os. as a result, they end up not seeing the benefits of osx and put blinders on. it's almost tragic :eek: i'll never understand it. everyone i know that has taken the time to actually use osx and play with it, including myself, all look back on their windows experiences and wonder how they ever used it.
  18. rosalindavenue macrumors 6502a


    Dec 13, 2003
    Virginia, USA
    My 2003 Toshiba with XP SP2 has horrendous problems going to sleep and waking up-- God forbid you should leave a firefox window open when you put it to sleep. I've spent almost as much time wating for it to sort itself out waking up as I have using it.
  19. aloofman macrumors 68020


    Dec 17, 2002
  20. jayscheuerle macrumors 68020


    Using an Apple/Windows hybrid keyboard? :D
  21. Plymouthbreezer macrumors 601


    Feb 27, 2005
    I love OS X over Windows because for me, it seems you're connected with the computer almost, and it actually does what you want to!

    None of my friends/family have Macs, so when they first try to use mine, they are sooooo lost! However, if you can get past turring it on, you'll be fine. I can't really think of anything on my Macs that truly difficult for the average use to do. If you have basic computer know-how, you will be fine after a few weeks. It may take a while longer to have it become second nature, but it will. I have been using Macs since System 7.something... And for me, Mac is just the "right" choice. ;) If you like hassles, use Windows, but if you want a solid OS, there's no other choice (well maybe UNIX). :)
  22. Edot macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2002
    Mysterious green button

    This isn't correct. The green maximize button will resize the window to as big as the window needs to be so that all of the contents of the window are shown. If the screen is too small either high or wide to display all of the contents it will make the window as big as it can in that direction and allow you to scroll to see the rest. This is handy for minimizing the amount of space that your windows take up and at the same time maximize the amount of space available for other windows. Clicking the green button again will return the window size to what you had it before clicking the green button.
  23. auxplage macrumors 6502

    Nov 11, 2004
    Virginia Beach
    Yeah, when I read that I was utterly shocked as well . . . lol :D
  24. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

    Dec 17, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I have an Acer notebook that is less than a year old that also has horrendous problems with sleeping- I simply don't use the feature. Oftentimes I end up having to disconnect the battery because it hangs and is no longer responsive.

    From what I have read, Windows notebooks generally consume much more power in sleep mode. I don't know for sure, but the sleep mode of the Apple notebooks has signficantly changed the way I use my computer.
  25. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    Really? iTunes doesn't seem to agree...

    It can go both ways, actually. Just so you know.

    I agree-- Command+Delete or Command+E (for disks) is so much nicer.
    Remember to use the keyboard. Click around on the menus to learn the keyboard shortcuts. They are a huge timesaver. I can get an amazing amount of work done and never move the mouse. Like F10 in Exposé. You can tab through applications. And use arrow keys to select which window you want.

    For general moving about the system, keep one hand on the keyboard and one hand on the mouse. Works great.

    Desktops too. Thats a great plus. Come home, press a key (where IS that any key? :p) and its awake. Go to class, open up the PowerBook, voilá!
    And you don't need to restart to regain system resources. Just leave your computer chugging away.

    Actually, my friend's laptop hemorrhages battery power when in sleep. Hibernate they do fine, but they take about 1-3 minutes to go into and out of hibernation. Sleep is something that doesn't work too well on most PCs. Desktops leave their fans running. Laptops suck away battery power. When I mentioned that I could leave my PowerBook in sleep for a bit over a week, my friends thought I was making stuff up because their computers have issues lasting OVERNIGHT on battery.

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