Why did you bother clicking on this post with a title like that? Because no matter how many online discussions youíve participated in about how OSX is better than Windows or visa versa, you canít (not many can) resist the urge to disprove anotherís claims about their beloved OS. If you can resist the urge, you my friend, are smarter than all of us (and probably more productive too).

Now that Iíve brought you down to my level, we now know that weíre all as dumb as one another so donít post here saying why on earth I started another discussion like this - youíre wasting my browserís vertical space and I hate scrolling.

On that note (about scrolling), my point: Productivity.

Iím a webdev using Windows 7. I canít seem to shake this unnerving feeling that Iím not as productive as my counterparts that seem to be frollicking in the green pastures of OSX. Youíre job is to convince me that, as hard as it may be to accept, that unnerving feeling is actually true - Iím not as productive.

Before you begin, please donít start flaming - I just canít be bothered. Try not to start a metaphysical discussion about the definition of Ďproductivityí - letís just be reasonable. Try to be objective - my goal here is productivity not aesthetics, virus vulnerability, etc. My end goal is to be convinced to attempt the great leap across to the other camp because it is more productive. Itís that or follow Windows 8 into the ravine below. If I donít leap, I at least hope to discover some productivity gems for the webdev game.

I would love to hear short descriptions of how others navigate (see point 1. Application Navigation) more efficiently in OSX (in Windows too if youíre so inclined).

That said, letís begin:

1) Application Navigation

Iím a dual monitor person. Iíve heard the arguments about restricting yourself to one monitor increases your productivity by decreasing your clutter. Maybe itís true for OSX where Iíve seen many suffer from Ďwindow clutter syndromeí but I gave it a go but found I was slower at almost everything.

Hereís something for the statisically inclined too (not that Iím basing my argument on it, itís just interesting): http://techreport.com/news/14343/mor...ity-says-study

The left monitor is my main one (IDE, Terminal, Photoshopís main window, chrome dev tools, and others) and the right, the secondary (Chrome browser window, FTP, and others). The Windows taskbar is positioned vertically on the right side of my main monitor (reason being that it is central to my view). My most used applications are pinned to the task bar descending in probability of use in a session. They are:

  1. Windows Explorer
  2. Chrome Browser
  3. IDE (Maybe someone can convince me that Coda is better than Netbeans - I found the OSX Netbeans to be pretty clunky and buggy)
  4. Photoshop (Main window on left monitor, palettes on right)
  5. FTP Client
  6. Terminal (Should be much higher in the order but Iím use to the shortcut)
  7. Colour Picker
  8. Database Software


My use of Windows is heavily keyboard driven because I find it to be the quickest. Last time I invested some decent time into OSX was on Lion and ďOSĒ keyboard shortcuts were frustrating at best (I think I hear an angry mob approaching - before anyone gets on their horse, I will explain my view on this shortly). A snapshot of a workflow process follows:

  1. [Win+2] Switches to Chrome browser and I continue to read about a javascript coding pattern.
  2. [Win+3] Switches to my IDE where I write a little bit of code with this new knowledge. [Ctrl+s] saves my file.
  3. [Win+4] switches to Photoshop to make a little button for my app.
  4. [Win+2] then [Ctrl+5] switches to chrome browser, tab 5 where my localhost app Iím working on is open. I hit [F5] to see my changes.


These steps above may be repeated hundreds of times in a session with multiple applications (from 1 - 8). I find this so much quicker than [Alt + Tab] on windows. Iíve also switched off all the stupid ĎAeroí prettiness. Meanwhile my OSX colleague is hitting [Command + Tab + Tab + Tab + Tab + Tab], fumbling around with the dock, un-maximised / Ďun-snappedí windows (Please let your blood return to normal temperature before you post).

So my first question is: How do you quickly and efficiently navigate between applications in OSX? It doesnít have to be keyboard driven if you think the mouse / gestures is faster but you have to consider the time taken to swap between keyboard and mouse to get that done - since in webdev most of your time is spent with both hands on the keyboard, that right hand must come home at some point.

Also, how does one integrate Mission Control and spaces effectively & efficiently into their flow?

2) The Menu Bar

Back to keyboard shortcuts (I wonder how many readers stopped reading at ďwere frustrating at bestĒ just to post an argument to disprove me). Three points I absolutely love about OSX keyboard access:

  • OSXís ability to customise keyboard shortcuts for applications. The fact that this is OS implemented functionality making it employable in any app is fantastic (I wish I could do that on Windows*).
  • [Cmd + Shift + ?] - what can I say? I love it and I wish I had it on Windows.
  • Spotlight - Not really associated with the menu bar but is definitely a points grabber.


Ö and the deal breaker for me:

Using [Ctrl + F2] is not a solution to accessing an OSXís application menu bar with the keyboard. Iím flexible but thatís ridiculous (and very slow). Additionally, that only gets you to the menu bar - Iím still quite a few key press away from executing my command. For those of you unfamiliar with the ubiquitous underlined character in Windowsí menu bars when pressing the [Alt] key, go and try it before you argue against me on this point. Please resist the urge to tell me to assign shortcut keys to those commands that Iím trying to access - Iím not going to be able to remember the shortcut keys for every single command in Photoshop for example. It is so much easier to press [Alt + S] and then [C] (Colour selection) than using the mouse. Hereís another: [Alt + E] [A] [V] and Iíve flipped the layer vertically. It takes me, on average, 0.7 seconds to do that keyboard shortcut. Convince me that you can beat that on OSX without having to remember every keyboard shortcut for the whole program. (Photoshop was probably a bad example because the natural position for Photoshop is left hand keyboard, right hand mouse but you get the idea).

3) Application Manipulation

Rearranging the position of application windows occurs a lot during a session. When youíve got 10 programs running at once it is inevitable. I am aware that there are applications for next to nothing that will take care of this on OSX for you which Iíve used and work great but I do remember not being able to replicate all of the Windows equivalents.

Here is an overview:

  1. [Win + Up] maximises a window to FULL SCREEN. Countless times Iíve heard even avid Mac users complain about the fact that the maximise button doesnít maximise the window to the full available screen space. (Has this been corrected in Mountain Lion? I thought I read something).
  2. [Win + Left | Right] snaps the application to the left or right taking up half of the screen. I use this one so many times per session. Snap a terminal left and another one right. Snap an explorer window left and another one right to compare fold contents, etc. So many applications.
  3. [Win +Shift + Left | Right] move the application to the next monitor.
  4. [Win + Home] minimises all application windows except for the one that is in focus. This is comes in so handy when you are in Chrome and need to upload a file thatís on your desktop. Press [Win + Home] and drag the file over (Oh, crap I just used the mouse) to the browser window.


4) Miscellaneous

There are certain behaviours of OSX that still really bother me. Please let me know if you agree or disagree, that they have been resolved, or Iím simply ill informed:

  1. Keyboard access to the context menu. In Windows I can highlight a file, for example, and press [Shift + F10] to gain access to the context menu for that file. This works pretty much anywhere a context menu is present.
  2. Navigating dialogue boxes. Iím a bit hazy on this one. I seem to recall being intimidated by OSX dialogue boxes (such as Open File) because they were so keyboard unfriendly. On Windows, for example, the ubiquitous underline character rears its head again and when combined with [Ctrl + Tab] (tab switching) you can access any* field quickly in a dialogue box.
  3. The application menu bar is fixed to the screen as opposed to the window. I know there is apps for multiple monitors, etc. I think Windows got this right though and OSX simply doesnít want to bow.