Takin’ A Bite Out of the Apple: The Little Things

As much as an earlier blog of mine, bestowed praise upon the MacBook Pro, I will admit to a few annoyances with the laptop. Annoyances I do not think I will be able to get over, no matter how long I keep the MBP.

For years, when I would buy a new laptop, I would get one with a 17 inch screen, as I found this an ideal size for a laptop. My first foray into an Apple laptop is a 13 inch MacBook Pro. The difference 4 inches can make on a viewing area is incredible. I find myself having to increase the viewing size of some web pages, emails, or even when using Excel. I am ever so grateful I didn’t go with my first instinct to get an 11 inch MBP. I think if I had gotten one that small, I would have tossed it out the window, within hours of bringing it home.

The problem with the screen size, is not so much with web sites; but rather when working in Word or Excel. I have to increase my viewing size in Word to 125%, just so I can read what I’m typing. When I had a larger screen in Excel, I would often lower the viewing percentage, normally to 85%, so having to dramatically increase it, is a new phenomenon for me. Almost every email I receive, I am increasing the viewing size. Excel, I have found that viewing at 150% gives me the right viewing size. However, this is not something I can blame on Apple or anyone else for that matter. The screen size was my choosing and I will live it, because the only alternative would be to replace it with a MBP with a larger screen and I’m not ready to do that after 6 weeks. I could buy a monitor; but I don’t think I could justify the cost for the amount of time I would use it.

My biggest displeasure with the MBP, is the keyboard. It might be the worst keyboard I have ever had the misfortune to use. I find it stiff and not very conducive to touch typing. When I say touch-typing, I mean I type about 90 words a minute with an error rate of 6 words. The touch-typing numbers are from when I was using a Windows-based laptop. I am still doing around 90 words a minute; but I my error rate has almost doubled, if not tripled. The problem I am having, is that I find I have to really push down on the keys to get them to register. The longer, I have to spend holding a key down, the slower I type. I often find plenty of red squiggly lines in my paragraphs, because letters didn’t get touched long enough. Before moving to Apple, most of my errors were spelling mistakes, reversed letters, misspelled words; but now on top of those errors, I am getting the missing letter typo as well. In fact, while typing this paragraph, I have had to re-type certain words because for it wasn’t picked up when I was typing. What I should have done is just left the paragraph as it was with the missing letter errors for everyone to see and just corrected my spelling errors.

I really ca not hide my utter disappointment in the keyboard. In the past, when I was looking for a new laptop, the first thing I did was test the keyboard and often would pass on a laptop, simply because I did not like the feel of the keyboard. The problem with an Apple laptop, is I can configure or at least select my screen size, amount of RAM, HD size,  and a few other bells and whistles, there is no choice in keyboards. I found all the keyboards as being the same, across the different models. I could use a Bluetooth keyboard and I think it is a great keyboard, that I use it from time to time with my iPad; but I don’t want to have to lug around a laptop and a keyboard with me.

I would have preferred if Mountain Lion would allow me to show known file extensions by default, and not hiding them when I save a file. I like to see my “pdf”, “doc”, “xls”, “txt” at the end of files. I should not have to uncheck the “Hide file extension” box each time I save a file. I have selected the option in settings to show file extensions; but then it shows me alllllll the file extensions and for lack of a better word, uglies up Launchpad. I don’t need to see after every application “.app” in Launchpad.

I have tried over the past few weeks to give the Mail application a chance; but I think it might be the biggest piece of doggie excrement ever pre-installed on a system. If I could go more than one day without it asking me for a password to either send or receive an email, I would take back all I just said about it. I just tried to send an email via Gmail and received a pop-up asking me to enter my password. Really? All of a sudden after all these weeks of using it to send email, I have to enter my Gmail password again? So, I did a little test. I closed the application, re-launched it, hit send on my email again, and without even blinking an eye my mail was sent. Uhhhhhh, WTF????!!! I’m sorry; but I really don’t know how else to express my dismay over this application. I would use Thunderbird, if I could get it to show up in the Notification Center; but as I can’t, I suck it up with Mail.

Some of my complaints are minor faults; but are faults none the less. The file extension request is an esthetic thing  and more a user preference than anything else, so I can ignore that annoyance. The size of the monitor, could be solved by buying a bigger laptop, so that one is on me; but the other two problems I have, come directly from Apple and its design team. I’m not sure if others have had the same complaints as I do with regards to the keyboard; but the typing experience on an MBP keyboard is horrid. As for Mail asking for your account password almost daily I know is a common problem, as I have read in plenty of forums people complaining about this problem and have done so for a few years already.

For a company that wants to make sure the user has the best experience possible, I would think someone would have found a way to fix the Mail problem years ago and would have done something about the keyboard issue. However, one thing I have learned from reading in the forums is that Apple will fix your minor problems; but when it comes to OS issues, they are very slow to react, if they react at all.

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5 comments on “Takin’ A Bite Out of the Apple: The Little Things

  1. Your Mail problem doesn’t sound right…I use GMail with Mail and don’t get prompted for passwords all the time like you do. Have you tried calling Apples support line…I’ve found them excellent in the past.

    Also I’m a touch typist, albeit a little slower (75-80wpm), and I don’t have an issue with the keyboard, although I’m using an older Mac.

  2. It’s not just GMail that I have a problem with; but also with my Hotmail. I read in some of the Apple forums that you should modify the Keychains to fix the problem. From what I read, it fixed the problems for some; but for others it didn’t. However, I may do as you suggested and contact Apple support regarding this problem.

    I think the keyboard is a me problem and not a Mac problem, per say. I am very particular about my keyboards and have felt keyboards like my MBP’s before and have not bought the laptop because of the keyboard. My brother has an older MBP (mid-2011?), so the next time I’m at his place I’m going to try his keyboard to see if something has changed in the models.

    Thanks for reading and thanks for your comments.

  3. I just wanted to echo John Tucker’s comments. The only time I’ve had password issues, it’s been a result of either the mail service acting up, or some deeper misbehaviour in OS X, rather than Mail getting confused. Don’t get me wrong, Mail isn’t the be-all and end-all of mail clients. I do miss the integrated mail/notes/contacts/calendar world of Outlook from time to time. But I haven’t found it too bad as a mail client.

    As for the keyboard, I regularly touchtype somewhere around 100-120wpm with 6-10 errors on my 2010 17″ MBP, and my 2011 11″ Macbook Air. But I do know that the best laptop keyboard I’ve ever encountered were on ThinkPads. The Macbook keyboards work well enough for me, and that was a consideration when I first looked at them many years back. They could certainly be better, but when I compare it to others I’ve used, I’m pretty happy.

    I hear you on the smaller screens. I do a lot of my work on a desktop (dual-screen Mac Pro, I have some heavy-duty computing needs), but I also need to work on the road, and that prompted me to by the 17″ MBP. Size-wise, it was about as big as some 14″ units I’ve had (and it’s waaaay thinner). But I also have an 11″ Macbook AIr that I use when I’m wandering around conferences and doing presentations. It fits neatly into a small case alongside my iPad and my Moleskine. For presentations, some very light-duty editing and casual web browsing, it works well. I definitely wouldn’t want to use it for much more than that.

    • @farwestab, you never had problems with Mail asking for the same password multiple times? I have two Hotmail accounts. Sometimes it will ask me to enter the password for one; but not the other and sometimes it will ask me for both. If it always asked for both, I’d say the problem was with Hotmail somewhere; but if it is only asking for the password, for one of my accounts (not always the same one), than the problem to me is somewhere with OS X or the Mail.

      I think my problem with screen size is, that I’m so used to having the 17″ screen. My brother who has been using a Mac for years, always had a 13″ and never complained once. I think when I move this summer, I’m going to make sure there is a space where I can set up a monitor for when I’m at home. I’m not sure if I’m every going to be able to get used to the screen size.

      Since I wrote my last blog, I’ve been getting more and more used to the keyboard. I’m not a huge fan of it; but I can at least say I’m getting used to it. For me, the best keyboard I ever used on a laptop was for my HP Pavilion. That was a dream keyboard.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Pingback: Cutting the Apple Up | Closing Windows and Letting the Apple Inside

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