My MacBook Pro Experience - Day 29

My MacBook Pro Experience - Day 29

Summary: Over the past month I've had the opportunity to use many of the applications that came bundled with my MacBook Pro. In this post I'll try and give the non Mac OS X users who are reading this article a little of the flavor of these applications.


Over the past month I've had the opportunity to use many of the applications that came bundled with my MacBook Pro.  In this post I'll try and give the non Mac OS X users who are reading this article a little of the flavor of these applications.


I have to be honest and admit that initially I hated the Finder app.  It reminded me of too much of the long forgotten Program Manager from the pre Windows 95 days.  It seemed far too overly simplistic and clunky.  However, over the weeks I've had a change of heart over the Finder.  Once I got used to its layout I found that it was quick and simple to find whatever I was looking for.  Maybe over time as more files were created and applications installed Finder would become more cumbersome. 


Finder offers three different views of files and applications - as icons, as a list and in columns  I'm finding myself switching between icon view and column view regularly.  Column view is particularly good for navigating through files and applications organized in folders.


Safari is the web browser that ships with the Mac OS X.  This is a pretty basic browser and I installed both Firefox and Opera and never really looked back after that.  Safari might be fine for basic web users but if you do a lot of surfing or blog or participate in online forums, or if you're used to one of the other major browsers, Safari is going to be too basic for your needs.


I've read rumors that Apple is planning on releasing a Windows version of Safari, but to be honest I really can't see much point in this.

Address Book

Pretty basic application that fails to impress or inspire.  The only really advanced feature is that you can connect to a cellphone using Bluetooth.

Address Book


Another pretty basic application that's designed to act as a appointment diary.  It's pretty easy to add appointments to the calendar but I hate the way that the size of the application changes as you switch views from day to week to month.


DVD Player

I love the DVD player.  It's simple and it just works.  It doesn't hog too much system resources and you can play DVDs while doing other things.  I also love the fact that you can resize the video window while a DVD is laying and the scaling is smooth and there's no juddering of the playback. 


I've found this application to be very useful over the past few weeks.  All the screenshots that I've taken have been taken using Grab.  It's quite basic and doesn't have cool features such as automatic file naming that I'm used to using in SnagIt but it works.  However, if i was keeping the MacBook getting a decent screen capture would be high priority.


Post-It Notes for your Mac.  Pretty handy.  I've been using Post-It Notes software on my Windows machine for years and rely on them (quite often my desktop is covered in notes) and so it was a pleasant surprise to find a similar app on the Mac (although Vita users will see a similar tool on that OS now too). 



GarageBand is application that allows you to record music and podcasts on the Mac.  I tinkered with GarageBand a fair bit and it's quite an interesting application but it's way out of my league.  I went through many of the tours and tutorials for GarageBand but I just didn't have a need for it.  however, it seems like a great way to put together a track. 

If you want to get into podcasting, GarageBand seems like a good route to take as it seems to offer much greater power than anything that ships with Windows.  There are hundreds of sound effects and jingles that you can chose from and features such as speech enhancement.


iMovie HD

If you like editing home movies then I think you'll love iMovie HD.  This is a very powerful video editing suite that give you access to pretty much all the tools you need to create the perfect movie. 

iMovie HD offers you easy access to professional features such as themes, video effects and a sound studio. 

Another upside to iMovie is performance.  The applications is both fast and responsive and also seems to be nice and stable.  The last thing that you want to happen is to have the system crash in the middle of an editing job. 



iDVD is a powerful DVD authoring suite that lets you convert your home movies into DVDs.  You can add special features such as menus, chapters and slideshows and also include HD content and create widescreen presentations.

There are a number of features that I like about iDVD.  First, it comes complete with a stack of themes to get you started, and these are pretty neat looking themes mind you, not tacky looking ones.  There are themes for both standard 4:3 format and widescreen 16:9.  Another really nice feature is the enhanced map view that iDVD offers of your DVD layout.  In this view you can see which scenes lead to which and quickly reorganize them or even delete unwanted scenes.  Nice.


Overall, I've been very impressed with the applications on the MacBook.  Some are quite basic but other are very sophisticated indeed.  In particular, the iLife '06 software suite contains some very impressive and powerful applications.  If you're into editing home movies then I feel that iMovie HD alone could clinch the deal and turn you to the world of Mac. 

Topic: Apps

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  • Finder - Placing folder aliase in the dock makes things MUCH faster

    If you drag ANY folder (which creates an alias) to the dock, you then have a continuous, one click access, to everything in that folder, including ALL subfolders. This applies to drives also. There is usually no reason to have to open windows in finder and then drill through them. It can all be handled from the dock. Pre OSX, you could do the same thing by placing an alias to any folder, including drives, in the Apple menu.

    To see this is action, just drag your hard drive to the dock ? near the trash where folder alias are stored. Then click on it and follow the subsequent menus.
    • did you mean right click?

      did you mean right click? normal click just opens it in Finder.
      • click...

        ...and hold
        • yes

          click and hold does the same as a right click on the dock... right clicking is a bit
    • And don't forget to try this...

      The "title bar" area of the finder, between the "New Folder" icon and the
      Spotlight search bubble, is another "dock" of sorts. You can drag frequently
      used programs up there and have 1-click access to them. I keep icons for a
      Terminal window, Activity Monitor, Disc Utility, Toast Titanium and Snapz Pro
      X docked up there. I've met a few long time Mac users that didn't know this
      was a feature. It's very handy.
      • Tried it...

        • It's even better

          Those icons are drag aware, too. Put an icon of your favorite graphics editor up there
          and drag and drop image files onto it to force them to open with that application.
  • Integration is key

    Thanks for the comments on the programs, but it's really hard to get a sense of their true power when you look at them one at a time.

    What's really great here is how they work together. Yes, AddressBook is nothing special on its own. But it's integrated into every other program on the Mac. Having a system-wide address book is mighty handy.

    As another example, when using iMovie to put together the video from my wedding, adding songs was ridiculously easy, because it's integrated with iTunes. You can add tracks from iTunes without ever leaving iMovie.

    As a side note, this is a real strength for others, like the Adobe Creative Suite, where all of the programs work together so well, although I'd put Apple's integration many steps ahead of Adobe's.
    tic swayback
    • I couldn't agree more

      I've said this all along. Especially when your OS integrates not only among the desktop apps, but with several enterprise suites and a wide variety of enterprise servers. But the biggest plus is when your OS environment allows you to configure and code to all of those powerful external suites and servers allowing for a high degree of customizability. Also the integration with web based servers and apps is very important in a world that is headed toward web based applications. <br>
      Can your OS say <b>RIA</b>
      • Can your OS also say

        monopoly (thru anti-competitive means) and anti-trust violations?

        Higher TCO... lower ROI?

  • Finder

    Here's my own pro Finder usage tip. I use two finder windows, one stacked on top
    of the other. Most often, both windows are in Column view. The advantage I get is
    that I get to maintain a stable work resources window, which is often a collection
    of folders if it's a website. Then I'm free to use the other window for anything else
    I need to do, like finding files I need, or doing other incidental tasks.

    Mac use often tends to be conceptually different than Windows use. Mac has
    always tried to steer its users towards its inherent advantages. Drag and Drop is a
    mainstay in the Mac way of doing things, so when we ask for a maximized
    window, we get a window that sizes itself to the maximum width and height of the
    content rather than the screen itself. The idea is not to obscure all the other
    documents you might have open because if you can see them, you can drag to
    them, or click to activate them. Watch an experienced Mac person use the machine
    sometime. You'll see that they seldom minimize or expand their windows. The
    system remembers the window sizes and locations, in most cases, and they'll
    often stack up dozens or more windows and just shuffle between them using the
    dock and or a partial view of the windows themselves.

    Thanks for your look at the Mac. I enjoyed reading the entire series

    Len Rooney
  • Safari does fine

    especially with *standards-compliant* websites, rather than ones that have decided to go proprietary with MS standards. i have done all of the things the author mentions (design and code sites, participate in chats, blog . . .) and more (attend on-line classes) with Safari and have no trouble, except one: The WebCT that my college uses could not update the class's front page correctly in Safari, so i had to resort to Firefox.

    Firefox drives me mad. It takes forever to open. It took me five tries to get a copy installed that wouldn't stop responding and crash -- hard.

    i've never had a security issue with Safari, and the tabs are excellent. (Having to use IE 6 at work is infuriating! Firefox is much better on the Windows side.)

    i would like to know specifics on why the author considers Safari a barely-adequate browser.
    • I'd like to know that also

      Id like to know also what he doesn't like about it, his statements on it doesn't make
      any sense at all.
      • WIndolerium

        Safari doesn't LOOK complicated, so it must be underpowered.
    • me too

      I'm really curious as to what the author means by "basic" when he talks about Safari. I
      use both Safari and Firefox (and sometimes Netscape and even IE 5) and I don't
      regard Safari as any more basic than Firefox. I think they are roughly equivalent. The
      do some things differently, so it's a matter of taste.
    • My complaints

      Safari is useable, but I prefer Firefox (or Camino) because they are so much more customizable. All of the add-ons are nice, adblockers, etc.
      tic swayback
      • Safari add-ons

        Saft, Pith Helmet, though those are overkill for me. All I want is a good adblocker,
        and I use SafariBlock for that. I haven't used Firefox since I started using Safariblock.
        You can even put in a filter to disable those incredibly annoying intellitxt pop ups.
    • The only other problem with Safari IMHO

      that bugs me right now is that it doesn't work with Google Docs and
      Spreadsheets. Safari's cousin Camino, which is based on the same rendering
      engine as Mozilla and Firefox, works just fine with Google Docs. Fortunately,
      Google have announced that they are working on Safari compatibility, so
      hopefully having to resort to Camino for Google Docs is a short term issue.
      Other than that, I don't find Safari to be anything less than a supurb browser.
      There are a few non-standard websites that don't display properly with Safari,
      but I think that's a standards issue, and they are few and far between.
    • Safari

      I have both Safari and Firefox and have to use Safari
      for one of my blogs because Firefox will not display
      the pictures in the blog. Go figure.
  • Thanks for the series


    Thanks again for the series.

    I hope you've found the Mac platform to be a viable environment. My hope is that
    an exercise like this serves to inform computing in general. I think the series was
    well received and helpful. It will encourage people to take the more broad pan-
    platform approach to computing as it becomes a bigger part of our lives.

    Keep us informed.


    Harry Bardal