My favorite feature in OS X is...
Mac OS X 10.5 has some amazing features and as a recent switcher from Windows to Mac I've spent a lot of time using as many of them as I could so that I could really become proficient with my Mac. This morning I got to thinking: if I had to choose one single feature in OS X that I would have a difficult time without, what would it be?
For me that feature is Spaces.
My use of Spaces has become highly tuned now. On my dual screen Mac Pro I have 6 Spaces and keep certain types of application targeted in each of them. Here's how I use them:
|1) NetNewsWire||2) iTunes|
|3) Safari / Adium||4) Open work area|
|5) Rails development area||6) VMware Fusion / Windows XP|
Which means that when activated it looks like this:
I have mouse button 6 on my Logitech mouse dedicated to Spaces so I can quickly navigate when I'm in "mouse mode", I have F5 dedicated to Spaces on the keyboard when I'm in touch type mode and I use either Control-Option-Arrow to move between spaces quickly or hit Control-Number to pop directly to a window. If I'm alternating between two applications quickly I'm hitting Command-Tab.
On my MacBook with its limited screen real estate Spaces is even more important.
What's your favorite?
So there you have it - my most used and valued feature of OS X - the one I would have a really hard time without. Apple says there are over 300 new features in OS X - if you had to choose one single feature on your Mac (Finder doesn't count!) that you couldn't live without, what would it be?
The one feature that I can't live without. I use it constantly and everytime I touch a Mac with 10.4 on it I dread having to open files in some bloated application just to see if it is the file that I want to email.
As far as favourite feature goes? That's really hard to answer because things become so second-nature you forget they're there.
Some that I like though are: right click dictionary lookup (it's great when I come across a word I don't know); Spotlight; in-built hardware support for multiple displays (ok, technically not a part of OS X); Software update (just love how much easier this is than other OSes); Time Machine (although I still use SuperDuper for specific backups, to mirror my system and to backup my iPod); Services (found under the application menu. Prob one of the most under-rated and under used features of OS X); and Quickview - gotta love it though I still often forget it's there.
Spaces is significant step forward for Mac, especially considering the number of UNIX users who were used to that function. However it wasn't that stunning for me personally as I'd been using CodeTek's Virtual Desktops for several years before Leopard. I think the feature of Leopard I use most often and therefore recognize as outstanding is Quick Look. I deal with lots of graphics each day and Quick Look makes the process much simpler. If you haven't been introduced to the Quick Look plugins list which provides interesting and very useful extensions to this very handy feature...
@Chris. There are two workarouds for the CS3/Spaces glitch. Hit the Tab Key twice does it. Alternatively use a spaces hot corner and navigate that way rather than using Command Tab or dock icons.
In Leo i use more and more QuickLook. With some useful plugins it is a necessity in my everyday workflow.
but if you're a fan of spaces, uyou will love warp, especially on your macbook. try it out. i don't use any other method to switch spaces anymore.
@Welles: Thanks for the link - very helpful!
Right up at the top is Quick Look & Time Machine (something I dismissed (at first)).
But - the feature I would miss most if it was gone would be.....
Couldn't live without it..
Quicklook is also pretty rad.
But, the thing I use the most in 10.5 is the improved Spotlight. I use it to launch apps constantly. I probably go all week using my dock two or three times.
BTW - Your blog is awesome. My father is finally switching and I've been pointing him here for help a lot. Thanks a ton.
Now that I have something I know is working, and I see kick in every hour, I'm much less worried about not only drive failure, but also screwing something up on my own. I had my drive in my laptop die a few days into a 3 week vacation back in December. While I got most of the data off the drive before it went completely under, I knew the rest of it was waiting for me back home on my NAS.
Plus it's been real handy for experimenting with data. It's almost like an automatic version control system, so I've used it to tinker with new variants of World of Warcraft interface mods. Something doesn't go quite right, and I just hit Time Machine and restore the older files.
I've been quite impressed with every version of OS X adding at least a few things I wonder how I lived without. 10.2 introduced me to iSync and Address Book, causing me to make sure every cell phone I bought in the future had bluetooth. 10.3, Expose. 10.4, Spotlight, and now 10.5, Time Machine. Sure, there were ways to do what these features added before they were in OS X, but the Apple layer of polish and refinement added them to my daily life on a computer.
Now to impatiently wait and see what 10.6 brings...
In contrast to Tiger, I could not live without Quicklook.
Which is one reason why I would also say Exposé is my favourite.
Now if somebody could create Exposé for real-world desktops, we'd definitely be in business! 8-)
http://lifehacker.com/392596/hamachix-updated-with-leopard-support. best vpn software out there.
Also Spotlight is another I use daily.
But I have to say, my favourite feature is Quicklook, I find myself constantly wanting it on Linux/Windows.
The interesting thing coming from Windows is that it natively does not have Spaces, Expose or Time Machine type functionality. Technically Vista has a Spotlight-like feature but it's... meh and with some file types you can see a small preview in certain classes of Explorer windows though Quicklook blows the doors off that.
@Jon: Thanks for the nice comments man. I assume the value of this blog for a lot of people is also in the comments - I can't tell you how many great tips and applications I find as a result of the comments.
Also, my wife is addicted to Alex -- she does consulting work where she is constantly writing up 3-4 paragraph reports. Being able to have material read back to her means she doesn't have to call me over to proofread before she sends stuff off to her client.
Other than that I completely agree with the top 5 list (although I don't use Expose that much).
I would also add: access to a Unixy terminal with all the tools and commands that come with that. Cygwin on Windows is just not the same.
Expose, Time Machine, Spotlight, Spaces, the Dock.
I had previously tried using Spaces but hadn't got the hang of it. Your posts about it persuaded me to give it another go, and I've now got it incorporated in a stable setup where it enhances my efficiency.
I also run dual monitors and love it with Spaces - and I actually prefer dual monitors (17" iMac and 17" LCD turned on it's side for portrait view) to the 24" iMacs where I'm studying. Dual monitors provide better organization.
It's interesting no one mentioned Dashboard. I'm sure most of us have one widget we couldn't live without. My faves there are Corporate Ipsum (a text generator) and my ISP usage meter.
Quicklook and Spaces
If I had to choose it would be Quicklook because Windows can be made to so virtual desktop, just not as well as OS X. Quicklook cannot be duplicated in Windows currently. Microsoft would have to integrate it into the OS. I couldn't see a 3rd party developer doing this because they wouldn't have any pull over other vendors including Microsoft.
I also love Spotlight, Time Machine, and Quicklook.
I think I did everything right. Specifying different apps to certain Spaces, etc. to take advantage of the automatic switching features. I think the killer is that it made something that I do regularly, dragging and dropping between applications, harder. I could still do it, but I had to add in an extra step, or at least an extra split second of time or thought.
In the end, I turned it off and just went back to my old tried and true ways. (I sound like such an old codger.)
I should probably give it another shot, and it would probably serve me well to read other posts like yours to see how others are using it. It's obviously meant to be a productivity booster, so it's entirely possible I just missed the boat on the best way to implement it into my workflow. Wouldn't be the first time.
Thanks for another great post, Dave, and for putting Spaces back into my brain again. I'll let you know how it goes...
The new, faster Spotlight
This Add a 'recent things' stack to the Dock tip.
I use to have two 21" monitors on my Win2K machine. Since switching to the Mac, I had one 28" screen. However, after some issues with reading some online web manuals and while trying to develop at the same time, I've broken down and attached a 17" LCD onto my setup. So now Spaces is even better!