A Mac User and His New iMac – The Rest of the Months

I have a new Mac-related post coming up, but I wanted to finish off this series first (yes, it’s long overdue!). After month four, I started getting into a groove, and had fewer questions and issues – thus fewer things to write about. There were a few things though that came up, and so I give you the final entry in this series. In some cases I’ve added updates if things have changed since I first wrote these 6-10 months ago. It’s fair to say that things have smoothed out since the first six months.


  • Although I didn’t buy the iMac for gaming, I saw the promo for Wasteland 2 and the comments about it being similar to Baldur’s Gate, a game I used to spend hours playing. I bought it, let it install, fired it up…and squinted in dismay at the incredibly blurry text. There’s just no way around it: when you have a display showing 5120 x 2280 pixels over 27 inches of screen, and a game that caps out at only half that (2560px) you’re getting a lot of stretched pixels. The cut scenes in particular were extremely blurry; it got better once I was in the game, but even then the in-game text was pixelated. I spent about 5 minutes playing it, but the controls were awkward with the Magic Trackpad. I’m grateful for Apple’s refund policy, though it’s entirely unintuitive because the process looks like you’re asking for tech support until the final step where a refund option is presented. That’s very likely the last time I pretend an iMac with a laptop GPU and a 5K display can do any gaming. 🙂

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A Mac User and His New iMac – Month Four

The journey continues! By month four, I was starting to really get the hang of OS X, and most of my questions were more about “Why did they do that?” versus “How do I do that?”. I’m still no power user, but slowly the mysteries of OS X are unveiling themselves to me…

  • I am puzzled by what OS X does with videos and resolution. It looks like, in the case of video (because nobody like tiny videos), Apple will automatically double the playback size of a video; normal is a 2x zoom. This can cause some confusion if you’re working with videos – I’m not entirely convinced this was the right decision for Apple to make, but you can certainly play video at 2x size and have it look fairly good so there’s not a bit quality loss here visually.

1080p IMAGE

Above: the default size of a 1920 x 1080 JPEG as viewed with Lily View.

1080p TOO BIG

Above: the default size of the QuickTime player for a 1080p video.


Above: the QuickTime video reduced in twice by two steps – close to proper size.

Continue reading A Mac User and His New iMac – Month Four

A Mac User and His New iMac – Month Three

I’ve slowed down taking notes on my “learning OS X” project – largely because I seem to have gotten over most of the rough edges – but I still have many notes to share from the intense first few months. Here’s what I was experiencing in month three.


  • I’m not clear why/how, but the Microsoft Office updates for OS X are really terrible. The download takes forever – I’m on a 40mbps connection, but because there’s no speed indicator I’m not clear if the updates are gigantic or the update server just dishes up the bits slowly (hello Xbox Live!). The install progress also takes a while. The number of updates is fairly frequent (feels like almost weekly), and it’s a process that’s simply far too slow. Microsoft really needs to do better here. It would be great if updates for Office came through the App Store, but I imagine Microsoft has reasons for not using that delivery mechanism…

Continue reading A Mac User and His New iMac – Month Three

A Mac User and His New iMac – Month Two

I kind of fell off the posting wagon with this series of Mac updates, so this one has notes that date back to January/February. Still, I wanted to share them. 🙂

  • I had a two week break from using my iMac over the Christmas holidays, and I honestly missed it. Not in a “throw my Windows laptop against the wall because I want to be using OS X” kind of way, but using the actual hardware – the amazing screen, the huge trackpad, the fast performance – the reasons why I still very much enjoy using desktop computers and could never be 100% laptop-only.
  • I ran into a strange issue: I’d installed a trial version of an app called LilyView – it’s a stripped down, fast photo viewer that allows me to use the keyboard arrow keys to move through images in a folder. Something, inexplicably, the OS X Preview tool does not do. I liked the tool, so I bought it from the Apple App store. I ended up with two copies installed – neither one indicated it was the trial version. So I deleted both, re-installed the commercial one from the App store. It would be nice if there was some sort of app intelligence here.
  • Setting global preferences inside an app is kind of crazy, but apparently that’s what you need to do to change email clients. I found the setting in Mail where you specify which email client to use for mailto links, I changed it to Outlook 2016, I verify the change, I exit Mail, I click on a mailto link in Chrome, and Mail opens up instead of Outlook! I’m baffled. So I did some more research, and when I tried it again maybe 30 minutes later, it all worked. WHAT? It’s worked fine since making this change.
  • OS X is really inferior with what details it offers on Get Info. From Windows, I’m used to seeing pertinent information about media files. Resolution, audio bit rate, video bit rate, EXIF data for images, meta tags for music, etc. In Finder, I have the Preview pane turned on, and I see duration, sample rate, and bits per sample (weird terms Apple is using), but they’re all blank. Maybe it’s a network share limitation? Not sure why; data is data. In order to examine the metadata on my MP3 files I had to use my Windows 10 laptop to access it, then MediaMonkey to change it.
  • And speaking of Get Info, I selected a bunch of files, then Get Info, and was immediately assaulted by the Get Info window for each and every file. Yikes! How do you select a group of files and get info about them, say the total size?
  • I connected my HTC One to the USB hub and it wouldn’t show up as a device. The phone knew it was connected to a computer – I had various options for file transfer, charge-only, etc. – but despite various modes I put the phone in I never saw it in Finder. Not sure what magic pixie dust I need here to have it show up as a storage device…hmm. Looks like I needed to install Android File Transfer. I’m genuinely surprised by that!

Continue reading A Mac User and His New iMac – Month Two

A Mac User and His New iMac – Week Three

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted the last update in this series, but I’ve continued to make notes – let’s call it a “Mac Diary” – and I wanted to share my ongoing journey. Note the title change – I no longer feel like a Windows user sitting in front of a Mac, I feel like a Mac user now. My 2008 self might choke my 2016 self for writing that, but such is life. I think Jeff Bezos would be proud. 😉

I still have my Windows 10 laptop, and I still really like using Windows 10, but I can truly say I’m cross-platform now. Quad-platform I suppose, as I use Android phones and tablets, Windows computers, iOS tablets, and an OS X computer. I still have so much to learn about OS X, but I’m getting there. Onward with the explorations! Continue reading A Mac User and His New iMac – Week Three

OS X Isn’t Immune to Apps Behaving Badly

UPDATE: I wanted to clarify that 1password is most definitely not a “bad app”, in this case it’s just an “app behaving badly”.

No matter what OS you’re using, a bad app will give you a headache. Based on my experience so far, OS X seems no better than Windows at dealing with apps that lose their minds. For the most part I’d say apps on OS X are quite stable – it took several weeks of using the computer daily before I saw apps start to misbehave. Two instances in particular stand out…

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A Windows User and His New iMac – Day Fourteen

After this post I’ll be switching to a weekly format as my explorations wind down (or become less public at any rate).

  • Airdrop is really interesting. On my iPad I turned it on, then on the iMac I searched for Airdrop in Spotlight. The first result was the Extensions panel as part of System Preferences, which didn’t help. Then I remembered that Airdrop was on the left Favourites panel in Finder. Sure enough, there was my iPad, and it was ridiculously easy to transfer a few JPEGs and MP4 files. So fast, and so, so much better than what I have to do on my Windows machine with a cable and iTunes. This is a very tangible example of how Apple’s ecosystem works better the more Apple stuff you have. They could of course enable iTunes to act as a Airdrop bridge on Windows, but they won’t.


  • I transferred a .MTS file (a type of video file) over to the iPad, and got this interesting prompt (above) saying I needed an app from the app store to open it, or I could put the file in iCloud. I selected the app option, and I’ve been staring at the app store loading for over a minute. I don’t think it worked. Interestingly, my iMac said that my iPad “declined my request.” I tried again twice more, and the “Get App” button never worked. Looks like I’ll just use Handbrake to transcode to MP4 to go this route. It would be slick if Apple did a transcode to supported formats when you did the Airdrop…

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A Windows User and His New iMac – Day Seven

A Sunday with not much to do meant I could dig in and learn more about my iMac, but also fire up iMovie for my first video editing project on the new machine. It was a little…bumpy.

  • When I have three virtual desktops – email on the left, desktop in the middle, and Chrome on the right, and I’m in email and click on a link, it drops me into the Chrome virtual desktop (makes sense) but then it moves the Chrome virtual desktop over to the email virtual desktop (which makes no sense). I wonder if Apple does that to avoid the whiplash effect of going past your real desktop? I’d prefer to keep my virtual desktops in place though, because if I’m learning to lean on them when they move it defeats the purpose of the muscle memory of swipe left = email, swipe right = Chrome, etc. Is there a way to lock the virtual desktops in place?
  • I finally have a bit of quite time to fully edit a video in iMovie. Despite my earlier reported behaviour on import, the program is incredibly fluid and fast to edit the clips. I’ll be interested to see how it feels once I jam some 4K footage in there, and how good the 4K output quality is. Will Apple be thrifty on the bit-rate? can I even adjust it in iMovie? (yep, there’s a custom output)
  • I didn’t realize until now that the dock is hiding at the bottom in a virtual desktop – that’s slick.

Continue reading A Windows User and His New iMac – Day Seven

A Windows User and His New iMac – Days Five & Six

Another two days, another batch of learnings and questions. I’ve enjoyed the feedback and comments I’ve received to my previous posts in this series (thanks Janak!), so keep them coming!

  • Display scaling I’m incredibly impressed that so far I haven’t come across a single app or UI element in OS X that isn’t optimized for a 5K display. This is exactly the right way to deal with high resolution displays: make it seamless to the user. You just give them the advantage of a high-res display (increased sharpness) without the headaches. Windows 10 still struggles to make highDPI mode work. Even at “only” 1080p, there are a bunch of apps on my Dell XPS 13 that have blurry text or jumbled UI elements (Evernote, 1password, etc.). I think it’s mostly because Microsoft carries the torch of “backward compatibility” which is simultaneously Windows’ strongest features and also its biggest weakness. Unless I’m wrong, Apple changed an API and told developers to support the change or their apps would break.
  • I’m surprised the Escape key doesn’t do what I’d expect it to in OS X. If I have an email open, I’d expect ESC to dismiss it. If I’m looking at a JPEG file in Preview, I’d expect ESC to dismiss the window. Weird that it doesn’t.

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A Windows User and His New iMac – Day Four

Last week on Thanksgiving day, after fighting my way back from Great Wolf Lodge in traffic, I finally had some serious time to spend with my iMac. It was an afternoon and evening of experimentation. I genuinely haven’t had this much fun with a computer in years.

  • I finally took down my second 27″ Dell monitor and put the iMac up on the monitor stand. I figured, hey, it’s another 27″ monitor, so this should work, right? Not even close. OS X requires you to pay attention to both the bottom and the top of your screen, so the iMac was far too high. I had my twin 27″ Dell monitors eight inches off my desk on a Fellowes stand, and that always worked well, but not any more. I took out one riser segment, which dropped it to 5.5 inches, but that’s still a bit too high. So I decided to really drink the Kool Aid and ordered a Twelve South HiRise. Yes, I paid $80 for a monitor stand because it would match my iMac and has a cool little shelf. It raises it 3.5 inches, which I’m hoping will be the ideal height – it seems a bit low to me, so I’ll have to see if it feels right…

Continue reading A Windows User and His New iMac – Day Four