Is Mac OS X easy or hard for long time Mac users to master? To me the next generation operating system’s learning curve seems reasonable considering that Apple is attempting to offer an operating system that has the renown Mac ease of use and a UNIX engine. But what do others say?
a “Los Angeles Times” piece, Jim Heid, a contributing editor for Macworld, said that “surprisingly few” Mac users are upset about having to learn Mac OS X’s new navigation techniques and shortcuts, but are more concerned with subtler issues such as mandatory registration.
When you install the next generation operating system, a program runs that helps you configure key system settings. However, the program also requires that you register Mac OS X by supplying your name, address, e-mail and telephone information, which are sent to Apple when you connect to the Internet. Heid said that some users have privacy concerns over mandatory registration, though there’s an “escape hatch”: press Command-Q when the registration screen appears and you’ll bypass registration.
He said that some Mac users are also a bit miffed with the operating system’s use of file extensions. Before Mac OS X, the mac operating system encoded data about a file’s format into the file in what are called type and creator codes, eliminating the need for file extensions and the hassles behind them. Although Mac OS X still supports this scheme, it also relies heavily on extensions, and Apple is recommending that software developers do so too, Heid points out.
“Apple says this is a feature, not a flaw — that, in today’s world of networks and the Internet, file extensions are the most reliable way of indicating what a file is,” he said. “It’s true that the Mac’s type and creator codes can be stripped away when you e-mail a file or transfer it to Windows. But embracing file extensions as an alternative? Apple’s cure is worse than the disease. Fortunately, software developers still have the option of using type and creator codes in the Mac OS X versions of their programs. They should. What’s more, Apple should tweak OS X to eliminate the risk of causing problems by changing a file’s extension.”
Meanwhile, Gene Steinberg, author of the upcoming
“Mac OS X Little Back Book” — which we’ll be reviewing in the near future — writes in
an Arizona Central column that Mac OS X can be quite confusing to Mac users, though Apple has “tried (and largely succeeded) to do the impossible”: they’ve melded NeXTStep with the venerable Mac OS.
Though he finds the graphical user interface “extremely attractive,” he laments the fact that some simple functions as creating a new, empty folder, have changed. Once you used the Command (Apple)-N keyboard combo to do this. Now this keyboard combo creates a new Finder window. You’ll need to press Command-Shift-N to make a new, empty folder.
But for someone not familiar with the traditional Mac operating system, Steinberg said that Mac OS X should be easier to learn than its predecessors.
“Take, for example, the Open and Save As dialog boxes, the little windows you see when you want to open another document or save it for the first time,” he said. “Up till now, these two features were apt to be quite confusing for both newcomers and more experienced Mac users. I can tell you that I’ve handled more than a few telephone calls and in-person sessions explaining their use. “
The installation process is also easy except for the fact that Mac OS X is a multiple user operating system. That requires some rethinking, Steinberg said.
Other tasks, such as copying one hard disk to another, are also confusing. With Mac OS 9.1, for example, you do this by dragging the icon for the disk right to the other drive’s icon. But do this with Mac OS X and all you’ll transfer is the alias, or link, to the drive, not its contents, Steinberg said.
“In theory, you ought to be able to copy the actual files by holding down the Option key during the operation,” he writes. “Instead, however, you’ll often see a prompt that says, ‘The operation cannot be completed because you do not have sufficient privileges.’ You now enter the confusing world of setting read and write privileges. Before you reach for the aspirin, there are often ways to deal with this situation, but for now, this is one troubling area of Mac OS X’s interface that can confound both new and experienced users.”
Steinberg’s conclusion: in the end, most things you do with Mac OS X are easy, but there are still a “few chinks in the armor” that Apple needs to work on.