1. 26
  1. 9

    I also used Linux on the desktop for over a decade, and switched to macOS as a daily driver a few years back. I think the benefits of Finder and Preview are often overlooked, but they’ve got some great features for day-to-day use.

    • I love Quick Look: select a file in the Finder, then press space to see a preview. Tap space again and it disappears. It’s extensible, too; if you brew install qlmarkdown, you can preview Markdown files this way too.
      • Similarly, I like that renaming a file is just “enter”. You can rename a file while quick-looking – this sounds niche, but I do this all the time. (Peek at a bank statement PDF to find out the date, then rename it while it’s open.)
      • And it’s available in file picker windows too.
    • Well-behaved document-centric apps let you manage files within them, too. Click the filename to rename or move it to another folder. You can drag its icon off the title bar into other apps (such as the terminal). Right click the icon and click the folder to see the file in the Finder. (Some apps give you “reveal in Finder” in the File menu, and I wish that was standard everywhere, but it doesn’t seem to be.)
    • Preview isn’t just a document viewer – I use it a lot for annotating screenshots for work. It’s also great as a PDF editor – you can combine documents, remove pages, rearrange pages, and annotate them. I find myself using this a couple of times a month.
    • You can use Automator to write your own scripts. You can either run them ad-hoc (via right click → Services), or automatically via a folder action (whenever a file is added to the folder, the script runs automatically.)
    • This probably isn’t big enough for its own bullet, but you can batch-rename files (right click → Rename files…) to add text, replace text, and number them.

    None of this stuff is exciting, and it was all possible on Linux. There’s rough edges too – I don’t think the recent redesign is as usable (screenshot from this article with more comparisons). But in macOS these features are right there, work quickly, and feel well-thought-out. Got a mis-rotated image? Select it in Finder, tap space, click “rotate left” button, tap space again. Fixed! Similarly, being able to rename and move files from within a program makes a lot of sense to me. When you realise your document’s taken a swing from the original plan, you can update it immediately. I really like having these file management tools at my fingertips throughout the OS.

    1. 5

      Preview isn’t just a document viewer – I use it a lot for annotating screenshots for work. It’s also great as a PDF editor – you can combine documents, remove pages, rearrange pages, and annotate them. I find myself using this a couple of times a month.

      This was the feature that sold me on Mac when my wife was trying to convince me to get one. It’s just fantastic how you can select a few pages from a PDF, drag and drop them into a separate PDF and that’s it.

      1. 3

        It’s almost funny how dumb this sounds as a sellable feature, but when you do need it, it’s an absolute life changer. IIRC you can also automate this in Automator, select a bunch of PDFs (and order of selection matters) then it can create a single combined PDF using the Combine PDF Pages action (which can interleave pages instead of appending them). It’s also got things like extracting odd and even pages - I’m sure that’s extremely useful to someone; Recompress Images inside PDFs, Extract PDF Annotations, Add watermarks, etc. You could quite easily do a lot of the effort of wrangling files for a publishing workflow in a few minutes of playing with Automator - such an underrated feature. And I say this as someone who is very happy to reach for shell scripts to automate things, the richness of Automator is just not comparable to having to learn dozens of task specific tools. It is, in its own way, a very good implementation of the unix philosophy.

        Edit: I just had a look at the Developer section, and there’s quite a few actions in there for dealing with SQLite databases; crazy!

        1. 1

          I’ll admit I haven’t searched well, but where would you go to learn about what actions are possible, and how to stitch them together?

          I have a MacBook for work, and I am constantly amazed at how many things you’re supposed to just know. Wanna take a screenshot? Duh, it’s CMD + Ctrl + Shift + 4! Press the space bar if you want to screenshot a single window! [^1] Meta + click the “close” menu item for “force close”!

          While definitely not in the same league, some of these Automator scripts I have come across online seem equally hard to discover. It’s not like these packages have manpages.

          [^1]: these commands may or may not be correct - I have to discover them every time.

          1. 1

            where would you go to learn about what actions are possible, and how to stitch them together?

            I don’t know if there’s a defined “learning path” for this; I think it’s a combination of playing around, reading things, chatting with friends, comment threads like these, etc. Having said that, macOS’ help system is also quite good! It’s available in every app, blends application support with OS support, and also locates menu items. For your screenshot example, opening the Help menu and typing “screenshot” opens this article (in a native app – open the sidebar for browsing the manual). That article has the keyboard shortcuts at the end.

            • I’ve got cmd-ctrl-shift-4 burned into me too, as “capture a region and put it in my clipboard” is my main screenshot task. But the “standard” shortcut (which I didn’t know before!) is less finger-bendy: cmd-shift-5. That gives you a palette of options for picture/video and whole screen/window/region capture.
            • You can also use cmd-space to open Spotlight and type “screenshot”, which is way less convenient but much easier to remember.

            Meta + click the “close” menu item for “force close”!

            I didn’t know that one! I’ve always used “Force quit” from the Apple menu.

            1. 1

              When it comes to Automator, you just open it up and read the documentation attached on each step that looks interesting to you, it’s all pretty “discoverable”. Poke around, see what’s there, file it away in the back of your mind for some day later where you need to automate something.

        2. 2

          Quick Look is something that is so ingrained that I forgot to mention it. I wish Dolphin had that. Enter-to-rename is something you can do with Dolphin, I think? Maybe? I know that the “rename batch files” worked pretty well, about as well as Finder’s.

          Preview is pretty powerful and showcases the power of the windowing system being based on Display PostScript – PDFs are basically just window objects. (I have no idea if there is an DPS code left in the Mac OS, but it sure was front-and-centre in NeXT.)

        3. 2

          If you were composing on an iPad Pro, you have added the keyboard? That alone is a super expensive combo. I think this puts you in a different category regarding money you have to spend on things. I had an iPad Pro actually a couple of years ago, and I only used it to watch video honestly. So, we already have different work flows–I’ve never really had a flow where I wanted a universal clipboard. However, Vivaldi can generate QR codes easily.

          I agree on tab groups. Vivaldi has those and I love them. I switched from Firefox as I had enough of their shenanigans. Topics into tab groups, if inactive bookmarked as a set. When I want to resume I convert the bookmarks back into a tab group.

          You mention in another reply you dislike apps in a browser.. so differences again. But, any Chrome based browser can share the browser window. So, you could share one of the available online spreadsheet choices. This is also where I prefer Google Maps. As far as offline, the only place I’d want offline is my phone–and it has that option. I also found Apple Maps less informative and accurate.

          I don’t think you were complete genuine referencing Asahi. Are you using it or was it there to make your argument more compelling only? I have a new MBP, but it is not my primary machine. I use UTM for linux virtualization and it works really well. It compiles aarch64 code quite quickly. I’m in no rush to switch to Asahi, but when it matures and the changes percolate to other distributions I may go with dual OS… but it isn’t a large requirement of mine.

          re: Things.. I use org-mode. re: notifications.. I use dunst and it can filter apps into urgency levels and has dnd toggles. I wouldn’t want a complete dnd sync also. re: Older devices are supported, and that is a massive win for Apple.. but with linux was this actually an issue? I’ve used MacOS on a machine on the cusp of not being supported and the experience was truly rough as opposed to linux where I could have taken steps to reduce overhead. I do think Android has a serious set of problems, no doubt, but the there are just things it can do that Apple will not allow. That is what really what I hit on MacOS in general–I will want to do something and Apple has decided I am not allowed. I worked in an Apple environment, and you can hit some really rough patches. We tried to throw money at Apple for support and generally could not get it despite having over a thousand Apple computers deployed on a 3 year replacement cycle etc.

          Your point about using versus developing might be key. If you just want things to work and never spend much time on it, yes.. linux is not for you. I would give my family a linux laptop.

          You said it. Apple has R&D costs, fine. They also just gave huge bonuses to retain employees, so their employee compensation might be questionable. And, they make massive profits. They also released the dog of a new monitor recently that is just a bad deal. They have every opportunity to lower costs and gain more users, but from their perspective that isn’t a business goal. It seems to work for them financially. It is hard to argue anyone is better on those issues. Whatever works for you I guess.

          1. 2

            That alone is a super expensive combo.

            I waited for the Black Friday sales, plus I am a rewards member at a major tech chain. My Smart Keyboard was free. But I do understand it does have an added cost for some/most.

            But, any Chrome based browser can share the browser window. So, you could share one of the available online spreadsheet choices.

            To a Chromecast – which, last I knew, actively leaks all content to the entire network. And then I have to run everything in a browser which I hate. And now all my data is in a cloud instead of safe on my own device where I control it.

            I don’t think you were complete genuine referencing Asahi. Are you using it or was it there to make your argument more compelling only?

            I’m actually trying to bring Adélie’s arm64 support up to a high enough standard that we can be one of the distros they offer as an alternative to ALARM. So, not only using it, but somewhat developing it. Just because I no longer want to run Linux on the desktop doesn’t mean I’m any less interested in developing Linux and wanting to see it grow. I wish that there will be a day I can use it on the desktop again, though I don’t hold my breath.

            re: Older devices are supported, and that is a massive win for Apple.. but with linux was this actually an issue?

            Yep. Kernel-side it isn’t so bad, but user-side it is. Wayland compositors and Golang are what stand out in my head, but there are more that I am forgetting, I’m sure.

            If you just want things to work and never spend much time on it, yes.. linux is not for you.

            We agree on this point :) It’s funny because I actually find even cross-platform development to be easier on a Mac, because I’m only focusing on my own code and its bugs, not the libraries and such underneath.

          2. 1

            Some thoughts to that:

            Universal Clipboard

            That’s an anti-feature to me that KDE Connect may provide, but I also disable it on windows.

            Safari Tab Groups

            Don’t know, I’ve been a tab group/managing/.. user, but since I’ve migrated away and just close everything at the end, I’m a much happier person. AFAIK Opera does some of this.

            AirPlay

            Points for that, though it’s still a proprietary system that costs extra money on every device that can support it. Let’s see about multi-DPI after wayland finally settled.

            Apple Maps

            Google maps/OSM?

            You can still boot Linux on them

            Well you can, but you won’t ever upgrade any drivers, for all we know you’ll have to dual-boot for the end of time.

            Costs

            I did actually think about buying an apple laptop after the recent M1 success. Too bad they do actually ship only 8GB of hard soldered RAM for everything under 2000€. So you get a beast of a processor, but don’t try opening too many tabs (electron apps) or actually compiling on it, because then you’ll trash your hard soldered SSD over time? So I went with a lenovo yoga, that way I’m also sparing another 800+ for an apple tablet or a ton of adapters. It’s a shame to be honest.

            1. 10

              I’ve migrated away and just close everything at the end, I’m a much happier person

              I respect that, but for my use cases, I need this stuff. I have a lot of long-standing research and projects going. For example, in 2021 I was researching cancer treatments for a family member so they could make an informed decision about their options. I have a few improvements I want to contribute to VirtualBox, and the relevant docs are in a tab group, safe and waiting for me when I’m ready to tackle them. Et cetera.

              after wayland finally settled.

              “Initial release: September 30, 2008”

              Not sure if Wayland reminds me more of Duke Nukem Forever (15 years of development hell later, it’s released but a disappointment) or Windows Vista (“WinFS! Palladium! Avalon! Well ok, none of those, but isn’t that new theme pretty!”).

              Google maps/OSM?

              I did mention Marble in my article. The point was to have a desktop app that performed these functions instead of relying on a Web site. I really dislike using applications in a browser and should probably write that up later.

              you’ll have to dual-boot

              I’m not sure if by “upgrade any drivers” you meant firmware. Asahi is looking at making firmware updates possible from Linux since they are packaged in a standard format (.scap file) and you can already upgrade them manually using a Mac CLI command (bless). Otherwise there is no reason you have to run the Mac OS on an M1 Mac, Asahi can be the only OS on the drive (though right now you probably wouldn’t like it).

              8GB

              …is enough for my Mum to do eight Safari tabs + Photoshop + Telegram on her MBA, but I concede it’d be really nice to have slotted RAM. Unfortunately there are reasons they removed them; I remember the PBG4 slot failure fiasco, and it does drive up cost, thermals, dimensions, etc. Not that I like the idea, but I do understand the point.

              1. 6

                I have a lot of long-standing research and projects going

                Bookmark seems to be the right feature for this use-case.

                1. 11

                  Bookmarks don’t preserve history. It is possible to use bookmarks in a similar fashion, but I have never been as productive with bookmarks as I am with tab groups.

                  1. 4

                    Preach! I find I think I’m terms of space. Tabs exist in space. Bookmarks do not. I can find a container or a tab, but bookmarks? Five years later as I’m cleaning out my bookmarks I remember how that would have been so useful.

                    1. 1

                      I use Pinboard, with the archiving feature; I can search by tags I’ve applied or some text within the documents. It’s pretty useful!

                    2. 3

                      For some reason as soon as tabs became I thing, I basically stopped using bookmarks completely. I feel like what I really want is a queue of “this looks interesting” things that slowly dies if I don’t look at it… kind of like tabs, they stay open until I get so annoyed by all of them that I just close them, but it works great to keep stuff around that “oh hey, I might want to read this a bit later”

                      1. 1

                        I use Reading List for that, but yeah, before I had a Reading List this was another use case for tabs.

                  2. 2

                    Which Wayland implementation is being discussed?

                    I’ve been using one for years and I’m pretty happy with it.

                    Between TV, home display, work display, and internal display, there’s 4 different DPIs/scaling factors going on, and it seems to work just fine?

                    1. 5

                      Wayland implementations are at that critical stage between “works on my machine” and “works on everyone’s machine”. Mine’s pretty well-behaved, non-nvidia, three year-old hardware, and all Wayland compositors I’ve tried break in all sorts of hilarious ways. Sway is basically the only one that’s usable for any extended amount of time but that’s for hardc0re l33t h4x0rz and I’m just a puny clicky-clicker.

                    2. 1

                      Wayland seems to be coming to the next stable KUbuntu release, which makes it “production ready” for me. But I can totally understand the sentiment (sitting on a fullHD + 4k screen with windows for multi-dpi scaling).

                      Fair point for desktop-app Maps, guess I’m just used to that now.

                      Regarding driver updates you’re right, I misremembered something. What does annoy me though is that you have to use a bunch of binary blobs that you’ll have to live-download from apple (or first put on an usb stick in a future asahi release). That feels like the driver blobs on android custom ROMs and isn’t necessary for any of my intel laptops.

                      For my daily workload 8GB of RAM isn’t enough, although I’m doing more than than office/browsing.

                    3. 9

                      That’s an anti-feature to me that KDE Connect may provide, but I also disable it on windows.

                      Well, it’s a useful feature for a lot of people that use multiple apple devices, including myself.

                      8GB of hard soldered RAM

                      Soldered on RAM is likely the future everywhere, not due to price, but due to engineering and physical constraints. If you want to increase performance, it has to come closer to the die.

                      So you get a beast of a processor, but don’t try opening too many tabs (electron apps) or actually compiling on it, because then you’ll trash your hard soldered SSD over time?

                      This seems to be a bit of a straw man. I haven’t had any issues with swap over the last year and a half of daily driving a MacBook air. Admittedly, it’s 16GB rather than 8GB.

                      I agree with the rest of your points, for the most part.

                      1. 1

                        it’s 16GB rather than 8GB

                        And that’s my point. I’m fine with 16GB, but 8 isn’t enough if I open my daily workload. (Note though that I was apparently wrong, I’d have gotten a decent machine for 1500€ apparently.)

                      2. 4

                        8GB of hard soldered RAM

                        Trying to compare on specs like that misses the forest for the trees IMO, the performance characteristics of that RAM are so different to what we’re used to, benchmarks are the only appropriate way to compare. The M1 beats my previous 16GB machine in every memory-heavy task I give it, if non-swappable RAM is the price I pay for that, I’ll gladly pay it.

                        1. 1

                          That’s very interesting. I’m just looking at my usual memory usage and an IDE + VM + browser are easily over 8GB of RAM. Then add things like rust analyzer or AI completion and you’re at 12GB. Not sure if swapping is good for that.

                        2. 3

                          Too bad they do actually ship only 8GB of hard soldered RAM for everything under 2000€.

                          That’s not true. A MacBook Air with M1, 16GB of RAM and 256 base level SSD costs 1.359€. Selecting a more reasonable 1TB SSD will set you back 1.819€. You can always buy a 2nd choice/refurbished model for 100+€ less. Also, one should consider that the laptop will hold a lot of its value and can be sold easily in a couple of years.

                          1. 2

                            only 8GB of hard soldered RAM for everything under 2000€

                            I’m shocked it’s that expensive in Europe. My M1 Air with maxed out GPU (8-core) and RAM (16 GB), as well as 1 TB SSD, was only $1650 (~1500€).

                            1. 7

                              It’s not that expensive. E.g. in Germany, the prices are currently roughly:

                              1. 2

                                Wait what. I did go to alternate (which is also a certified repair shop) and I looked on apple.com and couldn’t find that. And even now when I go to apple.com I get a listing saying “up to 16GB”, then klick on “buy now” and get exactly two models with 8GB of RAM. Oh wait I have to change to 14 inches for that o_O

                                Anyway if I could, I’d edit my comment, because apparently I wasn’t searching hard enough..

                                Edit: For 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD you’re at a minimum of 1450 (1.479 on alternate), which is still far too much in my opinion. And 256GB for my workload won’t cut it sadly.

                                1. 3

                                  Wait what. I did go to alternate (which is also a certified repair shop) and I looked on apple.com and couldn’t find that. And even now when I go to apple.com I get a listing saying “up to 16GB”, then klick on “buy now” and get exactly two models with 8GB of RAM. Oh wait I have to change to 14 inches for that o_O

                                  You click Buy, then Select the base model with 8GB RAM and then you can configure the options: 8 or 16GB RAM and 256GB storage all the way up to 2TB storage, the keyboard layout, etc. No need to change to the Pro 14”.

                                  For 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD you’re at a minimum of 1450 (1.479 on alternate), which is still far too much in my opinion.

                                  You are moving the goal posts. You said that a MacBook with 16GB costs more than 2000 Euro, while it actually starts at 1200 Euro.

                                  which is still far too much in my opinion.

                                  Each to their own, but MacBooks retain much more value. I often buy a new MacBook every 18-24 months and usually sell the old one at a ~400 loss. That’s 1.5-2 years of a premium laptop for 200-300 Euro per year, which is IMO a very good price. If I’d buy a Lenovo for 1200-1300 Euro, it’s usually worth maybe 300-400 Euro after two years.

                                  1. 3

                                    The trick is to buy these Lenovos (or some other undesirable brand) second hand from the people who paid for the new car smell, and get 5-8 more years out of them.

                                    1. 5

                                      The trick is to buy these Lenovos (or some other undesirable brand) second hand from the people who paid for the new car smell, and get 5-8 more years out of them.

                                      I can understand that approach, it is much more economically viable. But at least on the Apple side of things, there have been too many useful changes the last decade or so to want to use such an old machine:

                                      • Retina display (2012)
                                      • USB-C (2016), they definitely screwed that up by removing too many ports too early, but I love USB-C otherwise: I can charge through many ports, get high-bandwidth Thunderbolt, DP-Alt mode, etc.
                                      • External 4K@60Hz screens (2015?)
                                      • Touch ID (2016)
                                      • T2 secure enclave (2017)
                                      • M1 CPU (2020)
                                      • XDR display (2021)

                                      These changes have all been such an improvement of computing QoL. Then there are many nice incremental changes, like support for newer, faster WiFi standards.

                                      1. 2

                                        So very much this.

                                        My approach in recent years has been:

                                        Laptops are old Thinkpads, upgraded with more RAM and SSDs. Robust, keyboards are best of breed, screens & ports are adequate, performance is good enough.

                                        Phones are cheap Chinese things, usually for well under £/$/€ 200. Bonuses: dual SIM, storage expansion with inexpensive µSD card, headphone socket; good battery life.

                                        Snags: fingerprint sensors and compass are usually rubbish; 1 OS update ever; no 3rd-party cases or screen protectors. But I don’t mind replacing a £125-£150 phone after 18mth-2Y. I do mind replacing a £300+ phone that soon (or if it’s stolen or gets broken).

                                        1. 2

                                          I think we’re the same person. Phones seem to last about two years in my hands before they develop cracks and quirks that make them hard or impossible to use, regardless of whether it’s a “premium” phone or the cheapest model.

                                          I wish this weren’t the case, but economically, the cheapest (‘disposable’) chinese phones offer the best value for money, even better than most realistic second-hand options that can run LineageOS.

                                          1. 2

                                            :-D

                                            Exactly so. I have had a few phones stolen, and I’ve broken the screens on a few.

                                            It gives me far fewer stabbing pains in the wallet to crack the glass on a cheapo ChiPhone than it did on an £800 Nokia or even a £350 used iPhone. (Still debating fixing the 6S+. It’s old and past it, but was a solid device.)

                                            My new laptop from $WORK is seriously fast, but it has a horrible keyboard and not enough ports, and although it does work with a USB-C docking station, it looks like one with the ports I need will cost me some 50% of the new cost of the laptop itself. >_<

                                            1. 1

                                              I just bought a refurbished iPhone SE1 for 100 € to replace my old SE which had a cracked screen, dead battery and a glitchy Lightning port. Fixing all that would probably have cost as much. The SE still runs the latest iOS version and has an earphone connection.

                                        2. 1

                                          Thanks for the help with that website.

                                          You are moving the goal posts

                                          My price error does lower the bar of entry a lot, true. - I could now just stop writing and pretend that 1500 would be the ideal price and I’m regretting not buying it. But 1500 is still a lot of money when you can still get something that is very similar, has more features and costs less. I was able to buy something that is convertible for 1200 from lenovo, has more connection slots, has a replaceable SSD and does come with a high-end ryzen, supports linux (and windows) since day 1 (so it is not a glorified android tablet).

                                          I often buy a new MacBook every 18-24 months and usually sell the old one at a ~400 loss.

                                          I’m running phones for 8 years, laptops for 6+ years, desktops for 10 (with some minor upgrades). I wouldn’t want to invest that much time into buying a new one and selling the old one. But I can see you point, you’re essentially leasing apple hardware.

                                          it’s usually worth maybe 300-400 Euro after two years

                                          If you’re trying to always buy the newest thing available, fair. I’m trying to run these things for a long time because I hate switching my setup all the time and I like being environmentally friendly.

                                          Each to their own

                                          I agree, but I can see now where the difference in our preference comes from and I think that’s worth it.

                                  2. 1

                                    Note though that I’m not commenting too much on the OS aspect, it can be linux or windows, I use both equally. And if not for those 8GB of RAM, I’d have bought an apple laptop last week.