Mac Book Pro

My First Mac

I recently started at Pluralsight and as my daily machine I now have a MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016). I really like it, except for all the things I don’t like… See I’m a Microsoft fan boy. So I’m used to having a lot of the OS provided up front, but on Mac I find myself craving functionality that is not available by default. Luckily all the Mac folks before me have realized these short comings already and have made add-on products that I can use to fill in those gaps. So without further ado here is my list (updated over time) of products, utilities, tools, and other learnings that I wish I was told before I joined all the iSheeple.

Touch Bar

I don’t hate the touch bar, but I certainly do not like it. It lacks feedback and it absorbed the much needed ESC key that I use heavily as a developer.

How to make the Function Keys the Default Keys for the Touch Bar

The touch bar also abstracts away the critical function keys needed for debugging. Luckily there is a way to make function keys the default for individual apps which is actually a really great way to do it.

Terminal Woes

Okay, ‘woes’ may be too strong a word. Let’s face it, terminal and cmd both suck as is. PowerShell is awesome and is now cross-platform, but if you want to understand all the help docs and tutorials for Mac out there you need to understand bash. So I’ve been introduced to zsh which makes the terminal x1000 better! Actually, I really like it. Strange coming from this GUI lover.

A Better Terminal

There is even another option on Mac to take the terminal to the next level and that is iTerm2. It’s pretty awesome, but you’ll have to do your own research to see what all it’s capable of as I’m still just getting into it.

Window Management

In Windows we can do WIN + SHIFT + ARROW to dock a window to a certain location. This feature is one of my favorites and does not exist in MacOS and has been my #1 complaint. Recently I was introduced to Divvy and it is awesome! It is a paid product, but at ~$15 it’s worth every penny! They also provide a Windows version which I have not tried yet, but I intend to try it because it is that awesome!

Back to Windows

You knew this was coming! I love Windows, it’s my native land. I use a Boot Camp partition to boot Windows native. Then I use Parallels to load that native partition as a VM from within MacOS. Most of my use cases haven’t needed native Windows as yet so I’ve been primarily in MacOS and using Parallels for Windows.

Lesson Learned Running Windows in Parallels:

Back Button in Chrome

Left-click back in Chrome with multiple pages to go back though. While holding left-click then right-click multiple times. The interrupt causes left-click to be detected again and goes back. This is annoying when a second finger touches the trackpad while clicking the back button. So keep those fingers up mates!

Lessons Learned Running Windows Native via Boot Camp:

Trackpad

Even I have to admit that trackpad in Mac is the best in class. I’m totally blown away that I almost never have erroneous clicks when typing in MacOS even with my sweaty palms all over this trackpad. It’s a breath of fresh air! However, the awesome trackpad is only awesome by combining Apple hardware with MacOS. Once inside Windows native on Apple hardware the trackpad is no better and sometimes worse, because of size, than other hardware. The solution for this poor experience is Trackpad++ which helps replicate some awesome MacOS gestures in Windows and also allows you to turn the trackpad off all together! If you don’t purchase it, you are required to update to the latest version. Not a bad deal if you always want the latest for free!

Other Thoughts

If you have any awesome tools to make MacOS or Windows on Apple hardware better leave a comment! I’m all about making our OS as comfortable as possible and would love to have a similar experience on both Windows and MacOS. That may be blasphemous to some, but really a computer is a computer and an OS is just that an OS, not a religion!


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