Opinions, Technology

A Windows User’s First Time With A Mac

Rehan Ahmed Written by Rehan Ahmed · 7 min read>

Born into a world of Microsoft, Windows 98 was the first Operating System I ever used. The earth-shattering sound of a Windows PC turning on in the middle of the night in a room full of sleeping people is still one of my favorite scary memories. Moving on to XP, 7 and then finally, 8, I never looked back(or left or right for that matter). Placing my trust in the Bill Gates’ way of counting, I am now fully prepared to move on from Windows 8 to Windows 10 ( No, I won’t even to bother to ask the Microsoft guys about the missing digit). But, fate intervened and one day, I ended up in front of a foreign device, a Mac.

Being a student of IBA, I am mainly found in the Main Campus, hunkered over my laptop, typing away furiously. But that day, I ended up in IBA’s Sadar-based City Campus and even though the Aman building (which is basically all the city campus) has its fancies, I longed to go back to the incredible atmosphere of the Alumni Student Center of the main campus. One thing that did interest me though, was a rumor I had earlier about a “Mac Lab”(Sounds more like MethLab) inside the City- building, a room that is home to a dozen or so of Apple’s iMacs. Having never used a Mac before, I was intrigued and wandered off, looking for this “magical” room. Soon, I found myself in a room full of those incredibly huge iMacs and I took a to get my first hands-on experience of Apple’s PC operating system.

I have met some big Apple fans and some of my best friends would sell a spare kidney for the newest Apple products… Well okay, that’s not totally true but still, Apple fans are some of the most die-hard fans you’ll ever find (No, I am not one and I have never owned an Apple product). Some of these Mac fans can’t even listen to a word against their beloved PCs, so I was really interested in trying one out. So, back to the topic, I sat in front of that foreboding yet beautiful looking gigantic black screen. First impression? It looks absolutely top-notch. Hmm, so, how do you turn this thing on? Being a tech-geek, I already knew a fair bit about the iMac (or at least I thought I did), and naturally, I was completely baffled when I couldn’t even turn the device on. Feeling embarrassed, I was about to Google “How to turn on an iMac” on my Nexus when that angel of a lab assistant came to my aid. Maybe he took pity on the confused look on my face, or maybe, it was just because this happened often when excited new Windows-using students came to try out the Apple’s way of computing? For those like me who have no idea how to turn on an iMac, the power button is situated on the lower right corner on an iMac’s back (bless you, dear lab assistant).

Long story short, the iMac was finally turned on and I glanced down, expecting to see a big black slab of a keyboard that you would normally expect in a computer lab. Not here though, as in front of the big screen lay two wireless milky white things; one that looks like a tablet’s Bluetooth keyboard while the other, a button-less mouse. The keyboard, Apple’s Magic Keyboard, is a compact little wireless piece of technology that is easily my favorite but also my most hated thing about the iMac. More on that later! I picked up the keyboard and slightly fazed by its lightness, set it down on my lap; my preferred way of doing work. I opened up Chrome from the Dock (the only Mac-term I know about), and it launched a minimized window of Chrome. I looked for an option to maximize it but I couldn’t find those little squares on the top right to let me do that, the kind of buttons you would normally find on a Windows PC. Puzzled, I looked around but there wasn’t a single option to achieve that without going in the full full-screen mode. Being one of those OCD-like people who can’t just carry on, I wasted a good five minutes to achieve this feat and then ended up manually dragging each window to fill the screen (Later on, I did found out after a bit of Googling that those colorful buttons on the top left of windows are actually for doing some of these functions).

Keyboard Shortcuts? Umm…

Easy peasy, I moved on and logged into my Facebook, and scrolled up and down, liking a cat video, commenting on another; the usual stuff. After a while (quite a long while), I decided to check my mail and hit “CTRL+T”, the Windows way of opening a new Tab. Worked fine and just as I was starting to feel that the “Windows-to-Mac” shift isn’t that as bad as most people say, I tried to switch back to Facebook and that is the moment when it all wrong. Usually, “CTRL+Tab” would take me back to the first tab, but this time, it didn’t.

Now let me explain, I am one of those geeky computer users who don’t really need a mouse, at all. “Keyboard ninjas” as you may call us, a keyboard is like ansmashed-computer extension of our hands, a third hand that we should have been born with. And keyboard shortcuts? These are the fingers to this third hand. Without the fingers, it will still be a hand, but without the ability to do the things a normal hand can. Now the Mac, of course, it would not go by the same shortcuts as Windows. Apple would rather repeatedly hit that iMac with a baseball bat. And maybe, it should do that, when you consider the fact that there are different shortcut buttons for different purposes, “Command” and “CTRL”. Switching a tab? It’s “Command+Tab”. Opening a new one? “CTRL+Tab”. Opening a new window? “Options+N”. Re-opening a tab you just closed? “Options+Shift+T”. Cut/Copy/Paste, use Command for that. Typing in the address bar? Options button again.

Choose One Key Apple! ONE!

Magic Keyboard

Now I know, this isn’t entirely Apple’s fault; I have been so used to living with Windows that this all seems foreign to me, and it’ll probably be the same for a Mac user’s first experience with a Windows computer. But seriously, three different keys, for quite similar purposes within the same application. WHY? In Windows, all of this is the same except you just use a single “CTRL” button. That’s it. You don’t just keep switching keys for every single function.

My frustration kept piling up as I kept using one wrong shortcut after the another, and I was on the verge of throwing the little white keyboard when I accidentally pressed “CTRL+Q” instead of “CTRL+W” for closing the tab, closing down the whole browser as a result (Why would they put those two together? Why Apple? WHY?. But, I didn’t throw it, for two main reasons!

  1. I would have had to pay a heavy fine, and probably be banned from coming to the Mac Lab again.
  2. Apple’s Magic Keyboard is one of the best typing experience I have ever had, period.

And that’s about it. That little keyboard is one of the most soothing and most rapid typing experience I have ever had. Within minutes, I was able to type on it faster than I would have had on my very own laptop, even though I have had time to get used to it over the period of a little over three years. Of course, there were these incredibly irritating(for me) keyboard shortcut annoyances, the unnatural feeling placement of the “Fn” button instead of the CTRL one on the left and a little disconcerting feeling about the thing’s minuscule size, but man, it does offer you with one hell of a typing experience.

The magic mouse? The best scrolling experience ever, but not so good with the clicks and I quite missed the double tap (or wheel press) to directly open a background tab.

Copy Windows for once Apple, PLEASE!

Okay so, this is turning into more of a “typing maniac and his typing mania with a Mac” kind of post, so let’s get back to the point. The question I want to ask is “Why does a Mac want to frustrate you?”. There is no right click, why? Of course, it would have made sense if Apple wanted to stand out from Windows but seriously, then why do they have a Force Touch on the new iPhone that is basically the same thing, but a different implementation? Even on the mac, you can do a kind of a right click thingy by pressing the CTRL along with a click. Why make it harder? An Apple device is about simplifying things, take the iPhone for example, which is like the easiest phone to operate in the world.

The task manager! I miss it. Does Mac have one? What is it called? How do I open it? I googled, and I googled, and then I googled… and then I googled some more. It was like a necessity. For every task I needed to perform on a mac, I had to Google it. And that in itself was a big problem, considering my poor relation with the keyboard and its mirage of complicated shortcuts.

Look And Feel
Screenshot (294)

Personally, I am hugely impressed with how Apple has managed iOS and all the apps to follow a specific design pattern, and the same goes with the Mac. But sometimes, that is not so great, especially with that top bar. It looks ugly, plain ugly and I don’t want to see it all the time. I probably don’t want to see it ever. Thankfully though, the new update titled “El Capitan” has an option to hide it.



The Good: Incredible hardware, buttery smooth performance, clutter-free, touch gestures.
The Bad: Really high learning curve, unbelievably complicated keyboard shortcuts, somewhat dated looking OS, really expensive.

The Synopsis:
Yes, I did get quite excited while I was randomly swiping on the mouse and suddenly, a new screen (Mission Control) swiped into existence but I didn’t quite get the hang of it and the Windows-change thingy, but that’s to be expected from any new user of an operating system. One thing I have to say is that my whole experience was buttery smooth, as many of my Mac-loving friends like to point out every time they see a Windows PC lagging, but the point is that, if you buy a PC for the same price of an iMac, it sure won’t lag. Normal Windows PCs with the same or a little fewer specs are half the price of an iMac, as are most Windows laptops when compared to the Macbooks. Of course, Apple’s hardware is why you pay such a high price but then again, the price is a bit too high.

Although I am completely sold on the Magic Keyboard’s typing experience and quite like the interface and animations on Mac OS, a Mac really isn’t for me. A while ago, I wrote an article about how “Why I Will Never Buy An iPhone”, and it was quite for the same reason as I cite now for not going the Mac way. A Mac might be a gorgeous piece of hardware and software, but it is a bit too pricey for my needs, especially when Windows offers me all those goodies for much, much less. To make that choice even more reasonable, I am already too deep in the Microsoft way of living to take the leap to the Apple side; one big expensive leap. Maybe, someday, when I have enough money to spare, someday…

Written by Rehan Ahmed
I cover startups, review gadgets and talk about latest developments in the technology industry. Get in touch through rehan@techjuice.pk. Profile