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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Beauty and Efficiency

I've recently had occasion to use a Mac for a period of time.

I've long been a Windows person. I know the system well, know a lot of its shortcuts, especially using the keyboard, and have built up an extended keyboard shortcut system of my own. It's become quite efficient.

Whenever I get a new Windows computer, or reset an old one, one of the first changes I make is to turn off animations. They're a waste of time. Windows appearing and disappearing is enough animation for me. I certainly don't need the operating system user interface intentionally slowing me down.

Microsoft has long ago figured out how to make this a simple feature. As of Windows 10 it's really easy: Windows key, type “animations,” and it takes you right to the single setting where you can turn them off.

On the Mac, there is no such setting. I enabled “Reduce Motion,” but this is not to be confused with what could be an “Eliminate Motion” setting. All of the basic window animations are still in effect, even though I'd rather those be the first to go.

A Google search turned up a couple articles that gave lots of terminal commands one can use to disable or speed up a plethora of animations. I ran all those and window motions like minimizing and restoring still animate.

The irony here is animation used to refer to creating the illusion of making something dead (images) look alive. Here, the animations make efficiency feel dead.

I've got a Windows computer with which I can use a mouse, touch screen, touch pad, or pen. On the Mac, I've got a touch pad and that's it. I've heard there are useful shortcuts for it, but sometimes I also get the sense that members of the Apple fan club aren't aware of how efficient things could be and instead just want to gush at how beautiful the user interface is.

Someone once told me a story about someone who was given some pointers and tips on using a Mac, used it for a weekend, and afterwards had no desire to go back to using Windows. I'm not there yet. So far even the basics like text selecting, cutting and pasting feel slow and unfamiliar on a Mac compared to Windows.

In addition to window animations, it's also windows use itself that feels very unfamiliar. I don't know any Mac shortcut keys for that. I use Alt+Space and Windows key+Arrow shortcuts on Windows all the time. I don't know the counterparts to those on a Mac, nor what they're called, nor if they exist.

The craziest part of this is how unnecessary these animated time delays are. It's not as if the processors are slow, and a faster processor would speed them up. Processors today are plenty fast. No, the issue here is Apple specifically recommends a 0.3 second delay for UI animations. Less than half a second may sound fast until you start trying to move around things really fast, and then it's not so fast anymore.

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