My OS X Frustrations

Three months ago I started using a Macbook Pro for work. I really love a lot of things about the hardware and the software, but being a Windows user in my previous life there have been a few things to get used to and some things I think are just really dumb.

No merge?!

Ironically, my biggest frustration began when I was actually trying to make backups of a ton of work I had completed over a three week period. Too bad OS X failed me at this point…

In Windows and most Linux distributions, copying a folder onto another folder results in a prompt to merge the contents of the folder, subsequently asking if you want to overwrite/replace existing files. That’s exactly what I wanted and expected. To my surprise, OS X replaces … i.e. DELETES everything in the folder being pasted to. Those files aren’t sent to the trash. There is no undo. They’re gone. End of story. Pissed.

Side note: maybe someone out there has a workaround for this (other than Terminal) If you’ve got a local WordPress installation that has versioned (SVN or Git) files then you can’t use the WordPress automatic upgrade. But it’s worse than that. You can’t just download a plugin and paste the new directory on top of the old plugin because you wipe out all the .svn directories, breaking everything.


I’m fortunate to have a nice Apple Cinema display with a Thunderbolt connector to simply dock my laptop. You’d think that having a pure Apple setup (laptop, display, connector, keyboard, mouse), everything native and setup as Apple would like you to have that everything would work seamlessly.

Instead, a third of the time I plug my laptop in and my mouse and keyboard don’t work and the only way to operate the setup is from the laptop itself. The only fix is to restart.

Headphones should be simple

This one baffles me because of how simple it should be. When I plug my headphones into the laptop and music is already playing through my monitor sometimes it doesn’t transfer to the headphones. Sometimes it does — no rhyme or reason. Unplug, plug, unplug, plug.

Windows isn’t perfect either…

Windows may not be as simple for people to use, but so far my experience is that OS X has more flaws. That surprises me, because the hardware and software are so controlled. Windows has the vulnerability of hundreds of OEMs, hardware stacks, many more third-party applications, drivers, and more. Despite all that, I have a less buggy and more expected experience on Windows.

The jury is still out though. I’m more easily frustrated because it’s new; the flaws are new to me. There may be just as many or more problems with Windows that I’ve just become accustomed to. After a few months I may follow up with a more experienced opinion.

Usability Tips: Remind Your Users

Even if you’ve got a great service with great features on your website, you aren’t guaranteed that everyone will use those features or even know what they are. So when it comes to engaging your users, you have to be proactive. Remind them of different things they can do. Suggest next steps and hold their hands. It’s another click, another feature, another pageview – more interaction and more use will keep people coming back to your site. Another benefit is that it can make your website or application seem smart; it knows what you might want, OR it knows what you don’t know you want 🙂

Gmail, for example, will alert email senders that the recipient isn’t using Gmail and offers them a quick link to invite them.

Usability - Invite New Users

Another application I favor is Freshbooks. A very useful feature they’ve implemented is drop-dead simple. When users log out they display the usual log out stuff, but in addition, they add a support form and contact information. A lot of times people have feedback to give, but are too lazy to give it. Often it requires more clicks or hunting down the right page or right email address. Why not enhance interaction and improve your product at the same time by displaying a contact form after users navigate to a page they almost will always choose to view (the “logged off” page)?

Usability - Logged Out Page on Freshbooks