I bought a MacBook a few weeks ago, and I’m generally happy with it. However, it does have its faults, and being a long-time Windows user, there are quite a few features I miss in OS X. Today’s specimen is the weird mouse handling of OS X.
OS X is a lot less keyboard-friendly than Windows XP. One example is how you can navigate in application menus in Windows – you simply press the Alt key, and focus is moved to the menu bar. All menus now have a letter underlined in their name, so you can navigate to the menu with the arrow keys or just by pressing the underlined key. After opening that menu, you can navigate inside it in the same fashion. This is not always a perfect solution, but it’s better than OS X. I have to press Ctrl + F2 to get into the menu, which is more cumbersome than just pressing Alt. Then it is possible to use keys to jump directly to menus, but there is no visual indication of this feature. (I should probably mention that using the keyboard in this fashion in OS X is not the default – it must be enabled in the System Preferences / Keyboard and Mouse settings.)
Back to today’s topic: Mouse acceleration. Since the keyboard shortcuts aren’t as efficient as I’d like them to be, I use the mouse more than I would in XP. The problem is that it handles really badly. It is a bit tough to explain, but in Windows, there’s a setting for mouse acceleration. Meaning: How fast does the cursor move when you start to move the mouse?
In Windows, the cursor is very responsive, and relatively little effort is required to move it. In comparison, the OS X cursor feels light, but sticky. And at first sight, there is nothing to do about this.
Happily, there are settings for these things in the OS X mouse driver – they are just not exposed to the user via the GUI. Through Google, I found a free application called mousefix, which attempts to adjust the settings in the mouse driver. It alleviates this problem, but unfortunately doesnt’ fix it completely.
Check it out: http://www.knockknock.org.uk/mac/
My life would really be so much better if the OS X design team could copy a few features from the Windows XP design. Next time: How on earth can I right-click (bring up the contextual menu) in OS X Finder using only my keyboard?