What I realised about Mac OS

Coming from a long background of Windows starting at Windows 3.1, Mac always seemed foreign and pointless. Over the years I had the occasional use of Mac but it was always met with frustration and wonder why anyone bothered with it.

It was around Windows XP I started getting frustrated with things on Windows. I started using Linux on a few PC’s and servers.
Windows Vista was released and I shelled out $400+ for the Pro version only to be met with the plague of Vista issues. It was terrible. After 3 or so months with it, I gave up and began using Linux as my main PC.

Linux just made sense and there was no turning back to Windows.
But what does this have to do with Mac OS? More than you may think, and more than I thought.

It was a few years after getting into Linux that I found out that Mac OS version 10 and later, was based on BSD, part of the *nix family. This had me intrigued. I decided to get a Mac Mini.
It was good, but it was still just another foreign OS with nothing to really draw me to it.

It wasn’t until last year that I decided to get a MacBook Air that it really hit me. I stopped using Mac OS as a Mac, and started using it as a *nix operating system.

Install Total Terminal ( http://totalterminal.binaryage.com ). This gives you a Quake style drop down terminal accessible via a shortcut for quick command line options.

Also install Brew ( http://brew.sh ). This gives you a Linux style package manager on Mac OS.

With these two pieces of software, I feel my Mac is like running any Linux distro, but with a different interface, eg KDE vs Gnome. The desktop is just a layer on top of the underlying    BSD OS.

A few other things I have done to use Mac OS effectively relate to the GUI itself

  • Enable all the gestures, especially 3 fingers app swipe switching
  • Full screen all apps, then use 3 finger app swipe switching
  • Enable tap to click rather than push to click

If you get a Mac Laptop, do yourself a favour and buy a Apple TV. The Mac will find any Apple TV on the network automatically and give you an option at the top of the screen to connect to it. When you connect to the Apple TV, you can use it as a second screen in dual screen or mirror mode.
It takes seconds to get say a Youtube video up on the TV using this. I have Youtube clients built into many other devices such as the TV itself, Apple TV, and the PS3. But nothing makes it as easy as just switching the Apple TV as a second screen.
The audio also switches to the Apple TV so you get the sound coming from your surround sound system. This is also good for listening to music from your Laptop.

The applications I use on Mac

  • PHPStorm – Cross platform ( Mac,Linux,Windows) PHP IDE http://www.jetbrains.com/phpstorm/
  • Mac Mail – Better than any existing Linux Mail Client
  • Spotify – Music streaming
  • Skype – IM
  • XCode – Mac OS & iOS Development
  • Qt Creator – Cross platform C++ development
  • Arduino – IDE for Arduino boards
  • Dropbox – Cloud storage
  • GIMP – Cross platform image editor, similar to Photoshop
  • HandBrake – Video conversion
  • Microsoft Remote Desktop
  • Numbers – Excel-like application
  • Pages – Wordprocessor
  • Pencil – Diagramming tool
  • Q Cache Grind – Profiling of cache grind files. Important to see where code is performing slow.
  • ApplePi Baker – SD Card ISO imaging tool designed for Raspberry Pi ISO’s
  • Steam – Games
  • Sublime Text – Advanced text editor
  • Total Terminal – Quake style drop down menu showing the systems terminal
  • VLC – Cross platform video player with a huge list of file type support
  • Twitter
  • Yummy FTP