7 Productivity Hacks My Pretty MacBook Won’t Do

Posted in Blogging

Unlike most blog posts, I’m truly hopeful that (a) selected good Samaritan Mac evangelists will chime in to explain why I’m completely wrong. (b) Apple and software manufacturers will take this input and fix some baffling ticks.

To my mind, it seems that we all need to pick between the best hardware and operating system in the world (Mac/OSX) and the best productivity tools (Windows). For my blogging lifestyle and work habits, I’ve noted annoying Mac deficiencies which might make a serious blogger at least somewhat wary of making the switch.

Life On the Fence
Like many, I’ve wanted to make the move “back to Mac” for years, but was woo’ d by cheaper Windows equipment and the ubiquitous effectiveness of Microsoft productivity software in each generation of MS Office. After giving Vista’s bloated promises a chance for more than a year, I’ve gone and done it. I’m writing this post on my shiny new MacBook aluminum case notebook.

The new MacBooks are beauties to behold in sheer elegance, backlit keys and raw power. At 4.5 pounds & 13.3 inches, this sweet little Mac-thing is everything I’ve ever wanted in a physical machine. OSX is lovely and, while not as feature rich (really it’s not), blows Vista’s doors off in speed and stability. OSX is a Panther baby.

History Of a Mac User Gone Rouge Rogue
From the early 80s until 1996, I was a fanatically devoted Mac-addict musician video editor. Problems arose when wanting to code .asp web applications using MS SQL databases. I was devastated to learn OS9 was not easily ODBC compliant, therefore pained to support local client-software, like MS Enterprise Manager, to communicate with Microsoft databases.

There were no other obvious client-options and weak online DB tools available then. The black 12 inch Compaq I bought at Best Buy felt like a stupid brick, compared to my handsome MacBook Wall Street, with golden-glowing keys.

I wanted to write web app’s with DreamWeaver man, didn’t see a future in ColdFusion, .CGI looked like Swahili to me (and was becoming less popular), .php was a couple years off and developers did simply did not use Macs.

Begrudgingly I made the switch over to what I considered “the dark side,” Windows 98. By the time OSX came out, our whole business was built on Windows. We were reluctant captives of the Microsoft empire for the better part of 10 years. It was like being in a utilitarian-marriage to a woman I did not love.

Now that I’ve made the switch back I’m shocked to learn what Mac can’t seem to efficiently handle.

  1. Can’t Scrape & Bake Links: When blogging, it is extremely common to link out to other sites or your own site’s pages. It’s one of the roots of our culture a fundamental precept of Google’s ranking algorithm. With Windows (both XP & Vista) copying formatted text from a browser, including embedded links, works perfectly well.

    Go to any web page using Windows FireFox, copy some anchor text, paste it into Windows Word, DreamWeaver or PowerPoint and it you’ve got the anchor text to highlight for your readers–embedded links and all.Not so with Mac browsers FireFox and Safari.Though some Mac programs have preference settings to support various levels of paste-included-formatting, in many cases it just doesn’t work for pasting links.For a blogger, this is a huge productivity loss.

    Think about the scenario of creating a daily post roundup.I used to scrape together a list of post titles (links intact) right out of Google reader, paste into DreamWeaver, grab the HTML from code view and paste into WordPress.

    Alas, now I have to copy/paste the name of the post, grab the link, embed the link in the anchor text and I’ve just wasted quite a lot of productivity. What used to be stream of consciousness construction is now an organ grinder process, and I’m the monkey

  2. Productivity Applications For Mac Are Weaker: It should come as no surprise that Microsoft makes only half-ass MS Office productivity tools for Mac. Let me count the ways it’s obvious that MS held back on the dev-budget.

    Open-source office applications, with the exception of Google App’s are generally weak, though coveted by people who don’t mind a no-frills productivity environment. Apple iMail Mail and iCal, which come with Mac are bare-boned and relatively featureless, nowhere near as useful as MS Office. Either way, Mac tools just don’t stand up.

  3. Keeping Track of Large Volumes of Email is Harder: With MS Outlook 2003 & 2007, the “find” function is so incredibly intuitive that I never had to file anything. Even with 125,000 saved emails between the In, Sent & Trash boxes, I rarely lost anything. For the last 8 years, I’ve been building one giant .pst (Outlook Personal Data File) that worked great until, you guessed it–VISTA, which can’t handle any amount of .pst girth.

    Mac handles volume great and “Spotlight” is pretty cool.However, Entourage has only a bit more internal search clout than Outlook Express did 5 years ago. At the least “Find” functionality in Entourage is better than iMail, which is free, so how good do you expect iMail to be?My mother thinks the outcome, me being forced to file my email, is great. However, I don’t have time to do anything but dump my emails into a pot and use great search functionality–not nearly as intuitive on my shiny new Mac.

  4. Apple iCal has less features than my BlackBerry and is pretty dumb. Sync between iCal and Entourage calendar is quirky. Calendar Sync between my MacBook and Google app’s for contacts and calendar is a pain the the butt to set up.BlackBerry 8830 with Google Sync (Contacts, Calendar) and IMAP using BlackBerry’s email client is an easier platform to deal with than than synchronizing contacts and calendar on this Mac notebook to anything.

    I now think of my 8830 as the master among my remote devices.True, Office 2008 provides implementation with Exchange Server…so what? If I wanted Exchange I would have kept my Vaio. IMAP works fine using iMail or Entourage, but the local mail clients are so weak so (again) who cares?

  5. Give me a break! You can’t insert hyperlinks in an Entourage email’s body! WTF! It doesn’t even work to paste from another MS Office Doc. I’m a blogger so, when I send emails, I like to link out to resources for the recipient.To me, the inability to paste links is a total application killer, practically a platform killer. I am forced to compose blogger-style emails in Google App’s Gmail client, which is not anywhere near as robust a writing environment as MS Outlook. Someone at Microsoft must be sitting around the beer table having a good laugh about this one.
  6. Screen Captures: This one is so simple. Using Windows OS “Print Screen” function, screen captures are placed on the clipboard for pasting into nearly any application. Mac OS drops a .png on the desktop which needs to be dragged into an app’ or opened/exported from an image processing program. Again, for anyone who’s ever put together a PowerPoint deck or blog post replete with dozens of screen captures, this silly Mac drawback can slow things down a lot.

  7. Where’s the SD card slot on the MacBook people? So let me get this straight, no more popping the memory card out of my camera and simply transferring pictures and videos directly to my laptop, without keeping track of an external card reader or cable? It’s a tiny little slot. Couldn’t Apple it fit in the chassis? How much could it have cost to include?

Hot Link Anchor Text Pasting That Does Work On A Mac

  • From MS Office applications to others except Entourage
  • From iMail to any MS Office Application except Entourage
  • Any Office Application to DreamWeaver

Hot Link Anchor Text Pasting That Does Not Work On A Mac

  • From any web Browser to any application
  • From any application to Entourage calendar detail (works from any Windows app’ to Outlook)
  • There are no calendar notes in iCal to past into
  • From DreamWeaver Design View to any application (Also does not work on Windows)
  • From iMail to DreamWeaver

Unbelievably Dense: You can’t insert a hyperlink to an HTML email in Entourage! It doesn’t even work to past a hot link with anchor text from another MS Office application! This is absolutely inexcusable. I just tested again, because I still can’t believe it!

Sure, I’m Crabby
I know this sounds like some pretty picky stuff but these points matter a lot to my process, especially when I want to grab links from the web really fast for a blog post–with the anchor text. Mac calendars’ functionality, sync to Google App’s and other subtle roadblocks make productivity more difficult on a Mac to me. I can hardly keep up with my email because the clients are so weak. It may seem over-sensitive, but both Vista and Mac have their challenges and there is no perfect option.

Vista On A Mac & CrossOver
Yes, I know I can install and run Vista over OSX, but what’s the point? I’m trying to get away from Vista. CrossOver, which lets us mostly run Windows programs native on OSX, falls down using IMAP with Google App’s and other Internet functions like Clip Art and help from within MS Office App’s. CrossOver is not the magic fix it promises to be.

Unlike most blog posts, I’m hopeful that readers will explain to me why this perspective is just a misunderstanding. To my mind, it turns out that state-of-the-art means choosing between the coolest hardware and OS in the world (MacBook/OSX) and the best productivity tools (Windows/MS Office).

  • David Szetela

    Which is why I wasn’t *that* upset when my MacBook Pro was stolen at SES SJ.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @David: Did you replace your stolen MacBook with a Windows laptop or another MacBook?

  • Ed Kohler

    For scrape and baking, give the ScribeFire extension for FireFox a try.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Ed Kohler: Thanks for the tip. ScribeFire looks like an interesting plug, which I just downloaded and installed. I’ll explore it.
    The key: will it facilitate scraping links out of FireFox and pasting into DreamWeaver or any of the MS Office apps’ ? Thanks for being a good Samaritan :) .

  • Charlene Jaszewski

    MAIL: I never use Entourage. I don’t know anyone who does. Mail lets me insert weblinks just fine! If you want great “find” functionality, why not use Gmail? It’s supposed to be amazing, but since I can’t make smart mailboxes that filter things (like I can do in Apple Mail), I don’t use it.

    PRINT TO SCREEN: The Mac’s print to screen function works just fine in a pinch for me, and I write technical docs for a living. I like that it makes separate files for me. After I take a bunch of screenshots I just put them into a folder for reference, no big whoop. If you want better functionality (naming/filing them as you take them), then you need a screen cap program, like SnapzPro.

    MS OFFICE: As for MS Office for Mac, I think most MS Office products are bloated to start with, so I don’t find much missing for my purposes.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Charlene Jaszewski: Thanks for responding. This is what I hoped, that Mac diehards would showup and help :) . It’s nice to hear from you in this thread.

    iMail is not an option because the sorting and searching functionality is not sufficient for my needs. I HAVE noticed the iMail templates offer a writing environment that is decent.

    So far as Gmail goes, I use it and it is actually the best solution to my mind. Everything works in Gmail and, ironically, Google Apps handles the scrape and bake thing really well. However, the search and sort functionality, while better than both iMail and Entourage, is not good enough compared to Win Outlook.

    I must need to work faster for screen captures than most. Even when dumping into a directory, it’s just not as fast as having FireWorks open, doing a Windows “print screen,” using key commands to create a new FW doc and key command pasting into the new FW doc, which is automatically the same size. Thanks for the SanpzPro tip, I’ll check it out for sure.

    Thanks for the great tips Char. Stay warm.

  • Scott Sloan

    Glad to see you went mac. Now you just need an iPod touch or an iphone in replace of that blackberry. The device is amazing and I’m working on an app you would be jealous of. Hope all is well in Duluth!

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Scott Sloan: Actually, we have both, and I don’t get jealous :) .

  • System Error 51

    1) I have always done it like this – I find copying the underlying link pretty damn annoying

    2) MS is primarily making apps for Windows. Not for Macs?!

    3) I don’t think that’s true. Spotlight handles everything quite well for me.

    4) iCal is an application made for the HOME user. RIM’s BlackBerry is a device made for the enterprise. Not comparable.

    5) Thunderbird.

    6) Command-Shift-4

    7) Macbook’s never had that and will never have.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @System Error 51: Thanks for help and input:
    #3, to my mind Spotlight’s functionality, while very cool, does not compare to WIN Outlook for sorting email, #5 Thanks, will check out Thunderbird, #6 What can you paste it into anyway?

  • Mark Nutter

    To me it sounds like you have just as many gripes with MS as you do Apple in this post. Points #2, #3, and #5 are all related to MS programs. I’m an ex-windows guy myself, in fact I was a big Apple hater before I switched over. Since then I’ve convinced vast majority of my friends have since switched over too so I know a lot about how different people adapt to the new environment. The one thing I have found is that people who can’t seem to let go of the world of Microsoft generally have the hardest time switching. Do you fall into this category? When I made the switch it was because MS finally pushed me over the edge with frustration. I decided from the get-go that I was going to try to see what computing was sans-MS. 5 years later I can safely say that I haven’t missed the big M in the least.

    The gripes you have with OSX so far are only failings because they don’t fit into the work flow you are used to. I could just as easily switch back to Windows and write a blog post complaining about how Vista doesn’t have Expose or Spaces, and how drag-and-drop support between applications is scantly supported, or how I can no longer use command+shift+4 to take a screenshot not of the whole screen but an area I specify myself (down to the pixel) or how inconvenient it is for me to have to open an application just to save a screenshot with alt+printscreen when the Mac just makes the file for me in my favorite format and places it on my desktop.

    If you take my advice its that you give the OSX the benefit of the doubt and try to reserve your skepticism which is what I sense you still have a healthy dose of. There are few mac power users out there who haven’t ditched mail or ical for more robust third party options yet and after all, that’s why OSX has an SDK (built in, I might add). Spend some time on some mac hints and tips sites and find out about all the neat programs, keyboard shortcuts, utilities, etc that OSX has not to mention the must-have 3rd party apps out there. (shameless: http://nuttersmark.com/blog/web-development/9-great-web-development-tools-that-are-already-on-your-mac) The one thing I’ve noticed about the apple user community is that while the software library out there isn’t as massive as that for Windows, it is generally of a much higher quality.

    Once you start to discover all the cool stuff you never knew you would want or need you will slowly start to fall back in love with the platform. MS is for enterprise business, macs are for everyone else.

    (P.S., iChat does accepts scraped links from any app, although I’m not sure this helps you. Why not just open up the source of the web page and grab the HTML yourself?)

  • Iphtashu Fitz

    I can’t believe you’re complaining that Mac’s don’t come with SD readers. There are so many different formats of media that ANY computer that includes an SD reader is virtually obsolete as soon as it’s released. Just go to a site like amazon.com and do a search on “sd reader” and you’ll find all sorts of 5-in-1, 19-in-1, and even 23-in-1 media readers for under $20. If computer manufacturers tried to cram SD readers, Compact Flash readers, Sony Memory Stick readers, etc. into laptops they’d end up costing hundreds of dollars more and not have any space for peripherals that the vast majority of people would actually find useful. So stop whining, spend the $20, and get the same functionality in a MUCH more flexible manner.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Iphtashu Fitz: Cool! I was waiting for this type of response. All I know that I’ve been buying Windows computers for about 10 years and, ever since I’ve had a digital camera, I’ve been able to insert the SD card in whichever computer /camera combo I had in the era.

    While it’s true there are a number of formats, there are also a number of multi-format card readers to handle most common media types. Call me a whiner if you like, I want it on my computer. Thanks for stopping by.

  • ok

    6. shift-ctrl-cmd-3 (4) takes screenshots into clipboard.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @ok: Thanks, will test which applications it will successfully paste to. :)

  • Marty Weintraub

    @xMark Nutte: Thanks for the great input. No, I don’t want to hold on to Windows. I loved Mac for the bulk of my career, starting with Apple 2, MacII CI & FX, 6100, 8100, PowerEdge cloan, Blue&White G#, Gray G4 before I switched.

    YES, I do see that it is a matter of a different work flow and I AM giving it a chance. In fact I’ve committed to being Mac…so here I am. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  • Marty Weintraub

    I’ve decided to strike-through #6, because, these good folks have explained that there are many more screen capture options on a Mac than the Print Screen function in Vista. Thanks everybody. BTW, the Digg bookmark of this post is headed hot in the news section here.

    Thanks for the great ideas and rants everybody.

  • Nunuvyer Biuzniz

    Why would you want to take your camera card out just to have your computer read it? It’s so much easier to just hook up the camera via USB, leaving the card in.

  • Nunuvyer Bizniz

    Also, I am calling FAKE on the whole post. You aren’t a Mac owner, because you said iMail instead of Mail. No Mac owner would ever do that.

  • Sumesh

    Fellow new-Macbook-toting blogger here :)

    I find quite a few irritants with Mac OS X – but I realize they’re because I was bought up on Windows. Heck, I had similar problems when I started using Ubuntu too. We should realize it is a part of switching OS, and everything will be fine sooner rather than later.

    For screen shots, I find Instant Shots to be good – you can select image format, save location and also capture selected areas/windows.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Sumesh: Thanks for the Instant Shots tip. I’ll check it out.

    Don’t get me wrong everyone, I HATE Vista. It hangs, crashes and is enough to drive anybody nuts. XP was stable and worked fine. I want to love Mac. I was brought up on Mac and was mortified to switch to Windows. Now I’m back and I’ll stick with it until I find work habits that match previous productivity habits.

    @Nunuvyer Bizniz: Thanks for the tremendous insight Dick Tracy. LOL

  • dan

    @Nunuvyer Biuzniz: why would you want to take the memory card out of the camera? maybe because even $10 card readers will transfer data faster than most cameras, plus why carry an extra usb cable around? Maybe if you are only taking 2 mega pixel images it doesn’t seem like the speed is an issue, but with 24 mega pixel cameras out there and 64GB SD cards it becomes a huge issue.

  • Josh

    I wanted a MacBook Pro as soon as the new Intel ones came out. I switched in October 2007, so I’ve now spent a full year working on the Mac for everything apart from work where I have a PC and at my parents house where I maintain a PC network.

    In my opinion, I’d suggest that comparing Apple Mail/Calendar to Outlook is perhaps not the most fair comparison. It would be better to compare those apps to Windows Mail/Outlook Express. Entourage 08 for sure can be compared however and I agree, it’s somewhat bloated. However, I’m unconvinced its Find facility is poorer than that of Outlook 2007 – the spotlight style search is pretty fast (I have several gigs of Exchange-linked email I just tested it on). And Gmail, which I tend to use anyway, is exceptionally quick but does of course require you to be online, in general.

    The ScribeFire thing in your comments that’s mentioned sounds useful: I have to say I never missed this functionality, but perhaps didn’t notice it.

    Interesting observations, thanks!

  • ross

    Hi Marty
    Thanks for the post – it got me looking around trying to fix things for you. I’ve got two things.

    #5 Entourage allows you to send active links, they just don’t show up as active until after you have sent the email. It sounds like you have html mail turned on. That is the only thing I think could be wrong. Is that how it works for you?

    Another screen shot tip that may be useful for you is if you hit shift-command-4 and then the space bar it will auto crop the image to whatever window you are currently over.

    Godd luck!

    _Ross

  • Chris (Amateur Traveler travel podcast)

    I agree with you about Entourage but for that reason I abandoned it for Mail and the built in Mac-apps. You will find that there are more programs that integrate with iCal than Entourage for instance. So I would take a look at Mail, iCal, Address Book.

  • al

    I don’t get it, your title suggests your MacBook won’t do 7 things, but 5 of the things it won’t do are because you are using M$ software. Your MacBook can do it, your M$ software can not. If you so need your M$, install Vista on your MacBook, then your MacBook will to it all again.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Dan: Right, I was thinking about pocketCam videos we shoot at conferences. Those are fairly hefty files to move back and forth by USB cord. Sorry, I’m a media snob. I want the multi-card-reader built in. I expect it given Mac’s roots (first optical multi-drive). Sure, I know they need to shave costs but I don’t want to carry around any extra cables, sockets, bays, etc.. Charge me $35.00 bucks more Steve and tell engineering to figure it out.

    @Ross: Yup, it sure does let you send links, if you type the w w w . part. The recipient gets the links just fine. However I care about "anchor text." Anchor text is the actual HTML text that the link is embedded on. (It looks like this embedded on). Entourage won’t let you create anchor text. If anyone here has ever created anchor text with Entourage, then join right in and show us how it’s done :) .

    Ah, I’m remembering it now: Opcode Studio Vision Pro Mac2CI and awe @ the first AudioMedia II Card from DigiDesign. Prior to that I was swapping OS and file disks on a shiny new Mac+. When the SE came along, that 20 meg hard drive blew my mind. We had been hauling around 40 MB Syquest removable drives, about 6 inch square. Setting up an Avid Media Composer on that 8100 with a SeaGate Barracuda array was a pretty heady deal in my days as Creative Director of the late CBS affiliate up here in Duluth. I still use AfterEffects.

    Just for the record
    I wrote this comment in DreamWeaver , which I always have open, spell checked, grabbed the code and pasted it into WordPress. It was as fast as typing unformatted into the comments window of WP. For those of you who don’t think scraping anchor text is important, here’s a treat blogging technique:

    • Set up Google Alerts on any topic keyword, person, product category, etc…
    • Route them automatically to a specific email box.
    • Every Friday before you go home from work, find the best 10.
    • Scrape the link and anchor text out of Google Alert email
    • Paste it into DreavWeaver (this does not work in OSX)
    • Type a little description of the blog post you are recommending from your weekly alerts
    • Title the little ditty "Weekly Link Roundup," or some such thing
    • There ya’ go brothers and sisters: the Ten Minute Link Roundup From Research that Auto-Accumulates

    Ok, so there’s 20 little techniques that make terrific use of anchor text scraping and pasting. Nobody here has paid any homage to this problem other than to say they can’t image why I would care OR "gee don’t ya’ open the source code, find the link, one at a time, cope the code, etc…

    One other thing. Where is the equivalent of the button that deletes the next ascii character (as opposed to the previous) in the word, like with Windows?

  • Eric

    I’d like to know why you feel the search function in Mail is lacking. I switched to a Mac about 2 years ago and I absolutely love it. I’ve got at least 10,000 pieces of mail that it sorts through and it never fails to find what I’m looking for. I never have to bother with sorting or filing any of my mail, although I usually do a pretty good job of selecting what search term to use to find the particular email that I’m looking for.

  • Joshua Parker

    I don’t use Windows or Microsoft on my Macbook Pro because I feel that I pretty much have all that I need along with a few open source apps to add to my workflow. I agree with what someone mentioned before, you pretty much have to delve into Mac’s OS and reinvent a new workflow because a lot what you do in Windows is different from how things work in Leopard. Now to comment on your points:

    1. If I understand your statement correctly, I think this is something that Leopard does quite well, which actually is more of an annoyance to me. When doing so, try Command + c and Command + v.
    2. Applications maybe, but productivity as a whole, I would have to disagree. It’s all about creating a workflow that works best for you. There are some things that are hidden – well not really, some times we overlook things – in Mac’s OS but some of those gems are big helps.
    3. Besides the general folders (i.e. Inbox), I use @Action, @Archive, and @Hold folders. When you do a search, you can filter that search by Inbox – which I don’t because my Inbox is always empty – or filter by All Mailboxes and then filter down even more by From, Subject, Mailbox, etc.
    4. You can create a Home and Work calendar in Google Apps, then use a free application called Calaboration to add your google calendars to iCal. It is basically having your Google Calendar on your desktop and when you something to Google Apps Calendar, it will show up in iCal and vice versa.
    5. Like I mentioned before, I am a Mac fanboy and can’t comment on MS Office apps.
    7. As someone mentioned before, this has never been on the Macbook and this is more of something you will find on a Pro version.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @al: Who cares if it’s MS or M$, native Mac or third party…? tell us what tools to use to accomplish the the business functionality, in productivity tools, to accomplish the tasks. Maybe the best answer is, it won’t.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Eric : Dude, you’re a better man than me. I can’t get a grip on the engine. I’m a search marketing pro and I hope I understand the “feel” and complexity attributes that go search engine results page. Maybe the UI is just dumb. The Entourage algo does not seem nearly as intuitive, in terms of results generated. Anyone from MS or Apple out there to debunk either position please?

    That said, Your comment is heartening, welcome and maybe if I keep with it I’ll get the hang. So far it’s only a little better (at least for me) as Gmail’s search function.

  • Eric

    Marty: Perhaps you’re over thinking things then. I have a basic idea of how search engines function but I tend to throw what little I do know out the window when I’m searching through my email. Usually what I’ll do is just pick the sender’s name (if I know it) plus one or two words that I’m positive were in the email. That usually filters the email list down to less than 15 or so results and from there it’s fairly easy to find what you’re looking for. I will admit that this system is obviously flawed in that it requires you to remember at least one or two very specific details from whatever it is you’re looking for. If you can’t, it can be very difficult to find anything. I usually just try to perform my search based on whatever concrete knowledge I have, be it the sender, subject keywords, or the estimated date that I received that email.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Joshua: “1. If I understand your statement correctly, I think this is something that Leopard does quite well, which actually is more of an annoyance to me. When doing so, try Command + c and Command + v.”

    LOL Obviously I know the key commands. Try this: Open FireFox to this blog post, scrape the title of the post, link and all.

    Paste it into Mail. It will lose the link.
    Paste it into MS Word. It will lose the link.
    Paste it into DreamWeaver (or won’t you use that because it’s not built into a Mac :) Again, no link

    Dude, each of those acts works great in Vista and XP. Sure, I could paste an ugly link with “copy link location,” but I like to treat emails like they are a blog, with anchor text and links (google anchor text)

  • Joshua Parker

    I totally understand, however, I don’t use Firefox. Can I convince you to maybe try Safari instead?

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Eric: Agreed. At the end of all the conversation, I can find the needle in the haystack using Outlook 2007 and not always in Entourage. GoogleApps are worse. Mail is worse than that.

    It’s not over or under-thinking–it’s not being able to find things :). Knowing that I should> be able to–does not help. I’ve been sorting email since 2002–and this combination of OS and apps’ are not state of the art for sorting emails…at least for me.

    I know that’s not “the Mac’s” problem. It’s the available app’s problem. So far as that goes, it might as well be the OS for me.

  • Patrick

    Re: #7 Get a SanDisk Ultra II Plus SD card and it can fold over to expose a USB plug that you can directly plug into your computer. They have been out for several years but SanDisk doesn’t seem to push them much. I guess they make more money from selling card readers to people that don’t know any better…
    I have half a dozen of the 2GB models and use them for everything from camera memory to ESXi boot disks for internal server USB slots (No metal so they are safe inside the server)
    A 4GB card is about $30 on Amazon. Here is a good picture of one on Amazon:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/B0009HTB0Y/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_2?ie=UTF8&index=2

  • Michael Spurlock

    Ok, Marty. it seems pretty obvious to me that you are looking for some definitive answers and that you wrote this article to be inflammatory on purpose. To get what you want out of us Mac aficionados who come to the defense of our beloved platform. While it seems to be working, and based on my answers here will probably be more of what you are looking for, it might serve you and your reputation better to simply ask instead of evoking an angry defensive response. most people think more clearly and are more willing to give of their time and knowledge to someone who seems to deserve it.

    On to your problems:

    1. The problem you are facing in scraping and pasting is unique to the Mac. This is because Mac OS has two UI code bases that programmers are allowed to use to create programs. The old UI method is called Carbon and is still used by a bunch of developers. The latest UI method is called Cocoa and it fully supports scraping and pasting. All of the apps you have mentioned having trouble with are written by the worst offenders of clinging to old programming techniques. Apple has been warning developers for years that Carbon is going away and to stop using it. In fact, in Snow Leopard, it is finally reportedly gone for good. Hopefully this will push developers to move their code to the much more robust and flexible Cocoa environment which will in turn get the user a load of new functionality. In the mean time, why not try iWork Pages? It supports scrape and paste right now. Why? It follows current Mac OS X standards.

    2. Get away from Microsoft’s programs and I doubt you will continue to say the apps are weaker. Again, you continue to compare MS products between their flagship product line (for Windows) and the excuse for programs the release on Mac. This is a business tactic. They will never make a product on Mac that compares to the Windows counterpart because they know that users would switch in droves since they know their OS can’t hold a candle to OS X. So they protect their investment the only way they know how. Refuse to compete in an open market. Let us know what you want to do specifically and we (as a really nice group of users :) can help you find good programs in the Mac environment that fit your needs.

    3. The poster Eric has asked this as well, and I will echo it. Can you give a specific example of having trouble with Spotlight? I have never seen Windows search work well and certainly never be anywhere near as accurate and flexible as Spotlight. Please be really specific here and I bet we can clear this up for you.

    4. iCal is a little weak in places. Mostly because of other vendors not playing nicely with standards. Hang on a little longer and I think maybe iCal in Snow Leopard will answer some of our desires here. Compare iCal to Entourage and it is a gem. MS Office 2008 is a joke all the way around. In the mean time, there are a few products that can help ease your pain. Be a little more specific about the things you need that are missing and we can help you fill the gaps.

    5. Again, this goes back to #1. MS still uses a UI that is in the process of being deprecated. Oh, and it generally sucks anyway. Stay away from Entourage and MSOffice 2008 at all costs.

    6. Well Duh. CMD+Shift+3 = Snap Full Screen to file on Desktop, CMD+CTRL+Shift+3 = Snap full screen to clipboard, CMD+Shift+4 = Draw a box, snap to file on desktop, CMD+CTRL+Shift+4 = draw box snap to clipboard, CMD+Shift+4, then press space = Snap Window under cursor to file on desktop, CMD+CTRL+Shift+4, then space = snap window under cursor to clipboard

    7. SD? Where’s my CF slot? Or Memory Stick? Or XD? And MS Duo? Ok, you know what? I would rather have a 17″ laptop that is less than 1″ thick and weighs less that 6.5 lbs than lose all of the compactness for a $20 part. You are on your own here. Not many are going to agree with you here. You give up too much to add something that is too non-standard and license agreement bound to justify.

    Again, I think you will do better with questions than accusations. That’s my 2 cents worth. I hope you will be willing to give more detail where requested above to I and others can try to help you through the hardest parts of the transition.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Michael Spurlock Says: “it seems pretty obvious to me that you are looking for some definitive answers and that you wrote this article to be inflammatory on purpose.”

    Actually not friend. I thought about it for 2 weeks, half wrote the article on a flight last week, decided not to publish and felt very thoughtful about it. My review is “authentic,” within what I know. I have always loved Mac, however this transition is hard. Remember, I used to be one of you.

    1) Awesome, thank you. Excellent information
    2) Makes sense, I look forward to finding the apps’
    3) I speak of Spotlight searching EMAILS, not the whole box, it’s not special for searching emails. I have no problem with Spotlight, I just don’t find it intuitive for email search. I will reexamine.
    4) It’s Christmas Eve, and I promise to to make a list of email functionality I miss. Thank you for the leadership.
    5) Yup, Mac made a deal with the Devil here.
    6) Already redacted in the post
    7) Sorry, I want the most standard card formats reader in the box. Can’t change my mind about that

    “do better with questions than accusations.” I have not made accusations, just stated my opinions based on my experience. We call that a “review.” :)

    Thanks for your excellent and given comment. Happy Holidays.

  • Vincent Murphy

    “History Of a Mac User Gone Rouge”

    At least you didn’t “go mascara.”

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Vincent Murphy: L O L !!! Made my day, fixing typo :)

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Michael Spurlock:
    Downloading iWork, looks interesting thanks “as a really nice group of users” Please recommend blogs and community for me to follow.

  • Noah

    @Marty:
    I just copied/pasted a section from this blog post into Mail and everything was retained, links and all. It even kept the smiley from your last comment :)

    What version of FF are you using? I’m on Firefox 3.1beta2.

  • Noah

    Also, I just performed the same experiment pasting into word, and it worked just fine.

    I believe this is the relevant bug, which is now fixed in FF nightlies (and, apparently, in FF3.1b2 :) ):

    https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=428096

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Noah: Here’s the config: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.5; en-US; rv:1.9.0.5) Gecko/2008120121 Firefox/3.0.5

    I’ll download the beta and test. Can you paste it into DreamWeaver?

  • Tester

    Ditto Noah.

    I’m on leopard and both copying a link and dragging and dropping it retained the anchor text and the link target. I tried from this site to TextEdit and Mail and both worked fine…

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Noah: I’ll let you know after I download and test. I’ve gotta’ go spend a little time with the fam’ BTW, I am not able to paste from Safari into anything either. Therefore the issue can’t be “just” a FF bug. However, who cares! Hopefully I’ll be able to duplicate your result. It would be even better if I’m able able to paste into designer-view in Adobe DreamWeaver, which is by blogging tool. However, there have been other formatted-blog post tools mentioned in this excellent thread.

    Another point: It actually has always worked to scrape and paste from FF to Google Apps’ in FF. This is interesting. I’ll be back online late tonight or in the AM tomorrow. Thanks again to all kind folks who have stopped by. I don’t mean to be contrary…ok just a bit.

  • Thomas

    just use Mozilla’s internet suite, instead of Apple’s. Thunderbird, Firefox, and Sunbird. alternatively you could use Firefox and Thunderbird with the Lightning extension. Or just use Opera.

  • Thomas

    also, OpenOffice 3.0 is now OS X native, and in most ways quite comparable to MS Office.

    Apple has the most flexible screenshotting of any OS I’ve used.

    Command-Shift-3 Take a picture of the screen
    Command-Shift-4 Take a picture of the selection
    Command-Shift-4, then press Control while selecting Take a picture of the screen, place in Clipboard
    Command-Shift-4, then Spacebar Take a picture of the selected window

    as for SD cards, why not just plug the camera in and import via iPhoto?

  • Noah

    @Marty – I just tried the same experiment with safari, and it copied/pasted the link successfully into Mail. The firefox problem is definitely a known bug, but if safari is also failing you, then I’m not sure what the problem is. Sorry :-/

    I don’t have dreamweaver, so I can’t test that one out.

    Merry Christmas and such :)

    -Noah

  • Marty Weintraub

    @All, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah (or anything else you do or don’t celebrate). In coming days, I will aggregate all of the cool suggestions in this thread to a blog post of its own–after I check all of them out and test. Thanks!

  • val1984

    1. You don’t have to use DreamWeaver to copy/paste formatted text to WordPress. The formatting is kept if you copy text from GReader and then paste it in WordPress directly without pasting it in DreamWeaver and then copy/pasting it back in the browser.
    Maybe I missed something in your workflow but I think it’s more efficient not to use DreamWeaver.

  • Joao B.

    what? how come nobody here has mentioned “Grab” which is a built in screen grabbing app in OS X.

  • Shane

    I just recently switched from Thunderbird to Mail.app. I’ve been a long time Thunderbird advocate, but in cases where we are talking about many thousands of emails it has a significant bug. Someone at our organization has 50K+ emails in their account, the offline feature worked at first, but after a few weeks it failed to show the emails while offline.

    These problems are because Thunderbird uses mbox type of mail storage, which keeps all emails in a particular folder in one file. So that ‘Archive’ folder that has 50K emails plus large attachments are all one file in Thunderbird. The larger it gets, the more time it’s going to open that file. Mail.app on the other hand stores the emails in MailDir type setup where each email is an individual file, this scales much, much better.

    I’ve written about this on my blog.
    http://www.shanestillwell.com/blog/2008/10/27/thunderbird-offline-limits

    Another drawback of Thunderbird on OS X is the lack of Spotlight support. You can’t search for your emails using Spotlight like you can with Mail.app.

  • Jeff

    re #3 I had the same trouble, but there is a simple fix that makes it far better than windows searching. This link explains it: http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20071115193741157

    “I often find that I need more than Mail’s basic search. For example when I want to find an email from “Fred” with “Foo” in the title that has an attachment, etc. My usual method has been to create a Smart Mailbox, find the email I was looking for, then delete the Smart Mailbox.

    It just occurred to me to keep the Smart Mailbox and name it “Advanced search…” Now I have an an advanced search in my Mail sidebar. To edit just double-click the mailbox icon and enter new criteria. As a bonus, my last search is always saved.”

  • Derek

    Marty, I too recently (well, maybe not that recently anymore) bought a Macbook and have struggled with the transition away from my Windows familiarity. Often times I find myself still reverting back to my PC because I can do things faster there. That isn’t a knock on the Macbook at all, just that I am not as comfortable using it yet and still adjusting.

    In one of your comments, you asked about the way to delete the next character as opposed to the previous character. You can do this by pressing “fn+delete” to get functionality like a PC delete key as opposed to the backspace key. Hope that helps a little. :)

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Derek, COOL! thanks for the tip.

  • Matt

    For 7 – either buy a reader, or buy the San Disk Ultra Plus SD card with built in USB flash drive.

  • Michele

    Great post.
    Indeed, I’m waiting for the roundup you mention in the post.

  • Marty Weintraub

    Thanks for reminding me about this Michelle. We’ll get right on it.

  • Chris

    I believe hotlinks from Safari are preserved when pasted into Pages.

    I’ve got to say, most of your problems seem to stem from Microsoft applications…. and I’m not sure that’s a fair Mac criticism. No M$ apps, no problems.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Chris: does not paste formatted HTML from Safari into DreamWeaver, an Adobe product. It’s not just MS.

  • Dee

    Are you kidding me? Mac owns productivity software. I can’t seem to find any equivalents for my PC, which is really irritating.

  • Chris

    “Most” are from MS products, not all. The few problems which aren’t would hardly be blogworthy, IMHO

  • r4 cards

    So far as Gmail goes, I use it and it is actually the best solution to my mind. Everything works in Gmail and, ironically, Google Apps handles the scrape and bake thing really well. However, the search and sort functionality, while better than both iMail and Entourage, is not good enough compared to Win Outlook.