help ease my transition from designing websites on PCs vs. designing on Macs
March 10, 2009 8:22 PM   Subscribe

Please help ease my transition from designing websites on PCs vs. designing on Macs.

I've designed website mockups in Photoshop (Windows) for about 5 years, but purchased my first iMac in January. Since then, my productivity seems to have declined and my right (mousing) arm is constantly sore.

The first big change is the resolution. At 1680px, everything on the iMac is super small which requires a more laborious process of focusing on elements like the browser scrollbar and Photoshop toolbar. This sounds like a subtle distinction, but it makes my otherwise quick mockup process feel more awkward and proves much more strenuous on my forearm which is routinely sore.

The other problem is the aforementioned difference in mouse acceleration. I've installed Mousefix and decreased my scrolling speed but something just still Mousing feels imprecise and requires more effort.

Have any of you experienced the same hangups after switching from PC->Mac? Does design feel awkward at first? Is there anything else you tried or are there any other mice which feel more solid/concise compared to the Mighty Mouse?

Part of the problem is that I'm not very good at putting this stuff into words or concretely identifying what's causing me trouble, so sorry about that.
posted by deern the headlice to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Yep, experiencing the same thing. Still, a year on - 40 hour weeks spent using a Mac for all that time. Try a "real mouse" would be my first suggestion -- the Apple ones are pretty lumps of plastic, sure, but they really don't feel precise. The moving them around, absolutely; but even clicking them feels slow to me: I think the depth you have to press the end down is too far. That said, even a different mouse hasn't fixed my problems. The keyboard feels sticky compared to what I'm used to. The only way I know of to try to reduce that laborious process of focusing on applicaton elements is to memorise shortcuts, but, relative to PCs, Mac shortcuts are not up to scratch (often 3 or 4 keys need to be pressed simultaneously), and of course they're not consistent from program to program. I know it's not approved of, but I suspect I'd be happier going back to a PC. I don't really know what to say.... if you decide to start a support group, let me know. ;)
posted by springbound at 8:33 PM on March 10, 2009

PS: Sorry, missed one paragraph in there, and thought I was saying something new when I suggested a different mouse. You'll be able to plug any mouse into a Mac (I've been using a Microsoft one, of all things!), so use whatever you're comfortable with!
posted by springbound at 8:39 PM on March 10, 2009

The Mighty Mouse isn't great... aside from the scrollball being a pain to use, it is wildly inconsistent when you need accurate mousing. I love my MX Revolution, although I'm not sure I'd pay $99 for it if I had to do it again. That said, occasionally I'll forget to charge my Revolution and switch back to the Mighty Mouse and the difference in mouse acceleration is painful.

You might try getting to know more keyboard shortcuts; they're incredibly useful on the Mac, and might even speed up your process so it's faster than it was on Windows. Springbound above mentioned that they do require a lot of simultaneous button pressing but in my experience you get used to it.

I think part of switching to a higher resolution is just getting used to where things are located -- essentially you're retraining your muscle memory from five years of repeated and consistent work. Of course, that becomes twice as frustrating when you are dealing with an OS switch. After awhile though you should be able to forget your Windows past -- I'm at the point now where I've retrained to Mac methods and it's annoying when things aren't where I expect them to be in Windows!
posted by cvp at 8:46 PM on March 10, 2009

> The first big change is the resolution. At 1680px

Why can't you just change to a resolution you're comfortable with?

Presumably things would be roughly the same if you'd got a new PC monitor and were working at that resolution?

And, just out of curiosity, why did you change?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:16 PM on March 10, 2009

Definitely get a different mouse, you shouldn't be feeling that much strain.

Keyboard shortcuts are going to be your best friend, you can do almost anything with a shortcut, and once you have them down your workflow should improve dramatically.

Specific to Photoshop:
z (zoom tool) then use your mouse to draw a box over whatever element you want to see closer
apple and - (minus) to make it smaller
apple and + (plus) to embiggen
apple and 0 to fit on the screen
apple and 1 to view actual pixel size
apple and mouse scroll wheel to scroll horizontally through a doc

System wide:
shift and mouse scroll wheel to scroll horizontally (in pshop this will let you scroll up or down faster, not horizontally)

Also, if you're regularly doing any small detail work on a doc and want to save time from all the zooming, you might want to try this one doc, multiple windows tip which works in photoshop through window > arrange > new window for _doc name
posted by nerdcore at 9:36 PM on March 10, 2009

I find it difficult to get anything done on a PC nowadays, but I switched 7 or so years ago. I think it's just a matter of becoming accustomed to your tools. You've only been using it for a couple months so far, and how long did it take you to learn windows?

I second the utilizing more keyboard shortcuts talk. In the finder, cmd+shift+a (applications folder) is pretty useful. Also cmd+shift+u (utilities folder).

Most of what I do in photoshop is just key commands, rarely do I ever have to use the toolbar or menubar – and it's mostly when I just simply don't know or don't remember the key command. M - marquee. T - type tool. V - move selected item. G - paint bucket/gradient. B - brush/pencil. Cmd + or - to zoom. Space - drag the viewport.

This is really about all I use. If you hold down Shift you get the option behind the current one. For example, if you want gradient but you have the paint bucket in front, hitting shift-g will switch between the two.

Don't forget about Expose for switching between applications. It's really pretty amazing, especially if you have it configured for a third mouse button or something. And spaces will be useful in the next OS upgrade, I hope. I hear some 3rd party extensions makes it worth using.

Metafilter seems to be pretty lousy with PC apologists these days.
posted by kpmcguire at 9:47 PM on March 10, 2009

1. Get a tablet.

2. Change your mouse acceleration by downloading the Microsoft Mouse driver for Mac.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:55 PM on March 10, 2009

This isn't so much Windows to Mac problem; it's a change in monitor and mouse.

As far as the monitor goes, higher resolution LCD displays are the trend for the whole industry. (Dell sold a popular monitor using the exact same LCD as the Apple display on my desk.) It's known that Apple has been modifying the OS to support smooth scaling of all user interface elements to take advantage of high-res LCDs without making everything tiny. Someday we might have 200 ppi displays (with text rendering taking advantage of the extra pixels) yet still have everything appear at "normal" size (adjustable by the user).

I find any large/heavy mouse to be unusable for any length of time without soreness, and recent Apple mice are bad in that respect. For years I've been using Kensington mice but my favorite model has been discontinued. Their driver software does allow fine-tuning the acceleration (including showing a graph of curve).

I recently bought a friend with similar problems (except it was a big Dell mouse) a Microsoft Compact Mouse 500, which is light and nimble, but not too small.
posted by D.C. at 11:57 PM on March 10, 2009

The iMacs have pixels that are no more densely-packed than the monitors you'd typically be hooking up to a PC, so it's not a resolution/ppi issue as such (unless you had a monitor with very chunky pixels previously?), probably more to do with OS X not offering as much control over the size of things and perhaps rendering some things a bit smaller. There's not a lot you can do about this on an iMac I'm afraid.

I suspect replacing the Mighty Mouse will help an awful lot. They're fine for short periods but uncomfortable and unreliable in the long run, I couldn't bear to use one all day. Make sure you go for a mouse that has decent OS X drivers or doesn't need any.
It might also be worth trying a graphics tablet, I don't use mine a lot but sometimes it's useful and gives my arm a break from the mouse.

After switching from Windows the main irritation I had was with switching between document/applications, but nowadays I have Expose's All Windows and Desktop features mapped to the two buttons on the side of my mouse and that works superbly well.
posted by malevolent at 1:08 AM on March 11, 2009

Screen resolution and mouse acceleration can both be altered via Systems Preferences.

Since you are using the machine professionally, buying a mouse that meets your needs seems reasonable. I use my iMac as a consumer machine, which is what it's intended for, but I wouldn't use my Mighty Mouse for design work, or the mouse that comes with Windows machines either.
posted by justcorbly at 5:40 AM on March 11, 2009

I've always used a Mac, but I'm going add my voice to the chorus encouraging you to learn those keyboard shortcuts.

Also, my wife is a designer, and she swears by her big, ancient Kensington trackball. I mostly swear at it, but she insists that it lets her work more precisely with less strain. FWIW.

You probably don't want to alter your screen resolution unless you are using a CRT monitor (which I am 99.44% certain you are not). LCDs look like ass when you run them at anything other than their native resolution. Give it a shot, but be prepared for disappointment.
posted by adamrice at 7:32 AM on March 11, 2009

++Justcorbly. I would also suggest a gaming mousepad, for the ultimate in speed and precision.

Tablet is a good suggestion too but takes a lot of effort to become accustomed to.
posted by shownomercy at 7:44 AM on March 11, 2009

Another vote for "try a different mouse" - my Logitech Bluetooth MX Revolution is a little too jittery (I could probably play with the settings a bit more to get a better feel), but my generic $10 Logitech usb mouse is far more accurate.

I use Steermouse which helps a little bit, as without it the mouse seems to "snap" to buttons, etc. Annoying!
posted by backwards guitar at 9:10 AM on March 11, 2009

"This isn't so much Windows to Mac problem; it's a change in monitor and mouse."

Absolutely. I hate adjusting to a new monitor, and the crazy big resolution you have on the iMac, though a feature many people specifically look for, made me buy a Mini with a separate monitor instead.

I'll give another vote for the Logitech bluetooth MX Revolution mouse. Good lord, I love this thing!!! I picked mine up for $49 on Amazon (rebate), but after having one for... has it really been 18 months? I'd have no regrets about paying full price for a new one if I had to. It's awesome!

Best. Mouse. Ever.
posted by 2oh1 at 10:32 AM on March 11, 2009

Oops - I should have read more :) The comment above mine obviously wasn't a vote for the MX Revolution. Ahh well. I love mine!

Initially, I used Steermouse with it until Logitech finally fixed their driver issues. Steermouse is pretty slick.
posted by 2oh1 at 10:35 AM on March 11, 2009

[slight derail] Logitech fixed their driver issues? I'm not being sarcastic, I'm genuinely surprised to hear someone say this. The most current version (2.6) caused kernel panics on my Mac; I just looked at the Logitech support forums, and a company rep promises that with the so-far unreleased 2.7 "'kernel panic' is less frequent."
posted by adamrice at 1:49 PM on March 11, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks a ton for the advice guys. This answered several of the responses:
"You probably don't want to alter your screen resolution unless you are using a CRT monitor (which I am 99.44% certain you are not). LCDs look like ass when you run them at anything other than their native resolution."
Yeah, I'm kind of stuck with that resolution if I want any clarity.

I also wanted to also say that at home, I have a PC with a Logitech MX 600 wireless mouse and I absolutely love it. It feels solid, medium-heavy and concise. A lot of you are fans of the Revolution MX - do they feel pretty similar?

Also for tablet users, do you find it pretty natural to use it for right-click shortcuts? It seems like it'd be awkward in theory.
posted by deern the headlice at 6:59 PM on March 11, 2009

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