Why I Love OS X

First things first. I like Windows 8 too, I also like XP and 7. I also love the latest versions of Ubuntu - That Unity interface is really nice. I’m very open-minded about technology in general. I believe they all serve a purpose to the people who use them and obviously I’ve used them all at one point or another. But here’s the reasons I keep coming back to OS X…

The Interface

So, I’m writing this post using Marked, TextEdit, and switching back and forth John Gruber’s Markdown guide in Safari. The nice thing about it is that on my MacBook Pro, I can still see my desktop and dock which is the perfect working area. Not too boring, and not too crowded with panels everywhere. When you’re writing in Microsoft Word, you tend to have it in fullscreen. Many applications you use in Windows are in fullscreen except instant messaging and very few other things. Funny how they even still call it Windows when you think about it.

Pages and a lot of the other text editors for OS X not only look better against your desktop versus fullscreen, they also work a lot better because you can set the formatting tools to the side, make use of drawers, and even use the color dropper to choose any color on your screen. These universal tools, including the Special Characters and Speech, come in handy in many OS X apps.

The Apps

You can tell a lot about a person’s workflow by just looking at their dock. Pretty much no one has the same setup.

Image courtesy of Niki Brown

Some of the many apps I use and why

  • Soundflower, Audio Hijack Pro, and Fission - I categorized these three applications because I use them in conjunction with each other. Soundflower (which now comes pre-installed with Audio Hijack) lets you pass audio from one app to another. So instead of capturing the entire sound coming out of your system, you can only grab what’s going on in Safari, Quicktime, or Skype for example and pass it on to a recording app. My recording app of choice is Audio Hijack and I use it to grab live concert streams from radio stations and chop them up in realtime using Fission. By the time the show is over, I’ve already uploaded it. Saves a LOT of time.

  • Font Book - A built in OS X app which lets you visually look through your installed fonts, organize them into collections, and lets you search with ease. Lets me find that one font I want without too much trouble.

  • Preview - Another built in OS X app… Not only does it let you preview documents and images, it lets you annotate and edit them slightly too. I use it to combine multiple files into one handy PDF.

  • Colloquy - A beautiful IRC client. Very full featured and very easy to switch between multiple networks and channels. Highly recommend you check out #theverge on EFNet. ;)

  • Cyberduck - My favorite FTP client, it’s for Windows now too for those interested. The Bookmarks feature is cool and is preloaded with Google Docs/Drive, Amazon S3, and Rackspace. I use the History feature mostly.

  • Transmission - A BitTorrent client that lets me download what I need, see the progress, and easily prioritize my downloads with options as how many peers to connect to and how fast I want to download/upload. Whether it be public domain media, or abandonware.

  • Espresso - A very good web editor for those that get really stressed out with design. X-ray is the most valuable tool I have ever used. I use it to troubleshoot the annoying DIVs that don’t work correctly because I either don’t close it or the style is all wrong, and also to clean up my code. The fact that the CSS is color coded really helps when you’re looking for that one element. Great for beginners.

  • Inklet - Once you figure out how it works, and set it up to where it doesn’t register until you use your tablet stylus of choice, this is a great alternative to using a Wacom tablet add-on. This is the one time I use fullscreen - For drawing.

  • Img2icns - Lets you drag images and turn them into icons. Very useful for those who like to tweak and customize their look.

My main browser is Safari. I like it because it’s not driven with endless amounts of user generated extensions and doesn’t act like another OS. I have an Evernote button, Readability/Send To Kindle buttons, AdBlock (because of Flash crashes), and a Pocket Bookmarklet. They don’t take much room on the toolbar and are not resource heavy, it works for me.

Disk Utility and Terminal

When you have a problem with Windows, you usually use restore points or reinstall the system. These are not the greatest solutions and reinstallation’s are very time consuming if you have a lot of applications on your computer. The worst part of Windows in my opinion is how the filesystem is designed. You have shortcuts on the desktop and on the Start Menu/Start Page, but then everything sits in the Program Files folder and maybe some other places depending on how they’re installed. They also edit your registry.

In OS X, most apps are contained in a single zipped up file that contains everything and uses your Home Folder to save data. So there are very few apps that cause your machine to not boot up. When it does happen, a simple Repair Disk Permissions is all it usually takes to fix things.

Partitioning, erasing disks, RAID, and restoring is also built into the Disk Utility. You can burn CDs/DVDs and make disk images as needed.

The Terminal is very useful for those that like to work using the command line. You can turn off OS features, mount images to a USB flash drive, and if you need access to ADB for use with the Android SDK, you can do all that with it as well. Some troubleshooting can also be done within the Terminal too.

The Cons?

People exaggerate the disadvantages of using a Mac. There are very few applications for Windows that have no alternatives for OS X. You learn to live with Keynote and learn to hate PowerPoint, and you realize that getting to try a new app in the App Store all the time is really enjoyable. They are computers that are more than just for web surfing, editing, and music listening. You get so much more out of them compared to the traditional PC running Windows.

And that’s why I personally love OS X.