There are at least half a dozen ways to multitask on macOS, and I can’t find any that I enjoy using.
Usually, my work setup starts with a Windows PC, which can be a single laptop screen, a desktop connected to a ridiculous Samsung ultrawide G9 curved monitor, or something in between. But today, thanks to literally two drops of water making contact with the XPS 13 touchpad and a post-op cat who doesn’t appreciate his temporary ban on climbing things, I’m coming to you live from the M1 MacBook Air. And I hate it.
Not hardware, mind you – I find the redesign comfortable to use. With 16GB of RAM, it can do everything I want without flinching, and the battery life blows away similar Windows machines. This is the operating system and always has been.
I admit that a lot of people can get their work done on Macs for some reason, but I’m not one of those people. About every 18 months I do an Apple desktop platform, and since I work in media, there are a lot of people around to explain what I’m doing wrong and why I’m doing it wrong. should Like this experience.
“Mission control options make it easier to find the right window.”
“Notifications aren’t bad if you install a separate app for each thing, like Gmail, Twitter, and YouTube.
That’s what they tell me.
Other than Windows, I don’t need to install an app for everything (or, as Mac users will say, the app store selection is so poor that there aren’t any apps I want to install) or twiddle my fingers. between keys only to optionally switch between different sets of browser windows.
In my usual setup, I don’t use anything more complicated than Alt+Tab to switch between windows, and using Command+Tab on a Mac seems like it should be the same experience, except it’s not. I get icons for each app instead of previewing the window and what’s inside it, and it can only jump from one app to another instead of letting me choose the specific browser window I want to open. Once I’m in a Chrome window, I could jump between them using Command+Tilde, but that’s an extra step and an extra set of keys to solve a problem that shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Using mission control instead has the advantage of showing me everything on the screen, but it’s a layout that changes too drastically depending on what I have open, and apps that open full screen are hidden behind another click. Keeping multiple windows in view is a challenge for me in a way that just doesn’t need to be, which is too bad when I’m trying to juggle multiple tabs, Twitter, and three Slack conversations.
My frustration only gets worse when it comes to the messages that, for me, appear almost constantly. On Windows, messages received from web apps through Chrome still make sense in the system interface, with more graphics and styles that reflect where they came from. Plus, the OS will tell me how many of them I have (or that I’m waiting at all) without filling my entire screen. That way I can see them as they come in and then go back and fix them later when I have time
I can usefully look at different apps by simply hovering over that program’s entry in the taskbar, and the cross-tab layout—probably my favorite feature in Windows 11—works in a way that just makes sense. It’s easy to divide screen space between different apps, then open others on top of them without messing anything up, using tools built right into the operating system. (I admit that in my ultrawide Windows setup, I recently added the PowerToys window manager to give me more control over where programs end up, but it’s not necessary.)
The solution to my frustration seems to lie beyond the cliff of learning the proper combination of key commands; six-finger swipe up, down, left, right or diagonally; And installing an app made by some guy that will “completely fix it”.
Moom, Rectangle, Alfred, Raycast — I don’t know if these are real products or my co-workers are trolling, but I feel like I’m back on Android 6.0 trying different launchers to enable basic features. If I could find a setup I liked, I’d be willing to change my mind about macOS, but so far, it just doesn’t work and never will.