Help me figure out my Macbook Pro!
June 9, 2007 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Help me figure out my new MacBook Pro!

I recently took the plunge and bought a new Macbook Pro. The experience has been great, but I've been having several annoying issues:

General lack of right click: While I've been able to find many of the options you'd usually expect with right click elsewhere, for some things, I have come up empty. Specifically:

-Thunderbird. In Windows, you can right-click on your inbox and mark everything read. How can you do this in OS X.

-Firefox: The bar with the favicons underneath the nav bar. How do you delete the current items already there in OS X?

I feel like there's a hot key I'm missing because these aren't available in any of the menu options.

Networking: The computer refuses to connect to my wireless. Every time I get a connection error. I don't mind troubleshooting, but is there a way I can get better diagnostics?

Pages/Office. Pages looks great, but I don't hear many people talking about it- everyone seems to alway talk about Keynote. Since this is just a personal computer, I'm not going to be doing any presentations, but I am an avid writer. Should i stick with iWork or get Office?
posted by unexpected to Computers & Internet (24 answers total)
CTRL+click = right click in almost all applications.
posted by maxpower at 12:59 PM on June 9, 2007

The hot key you're missing is "ctrl". If you don't have a two-button mouse or Mighty Mouse, control-click is the Mac way to get a contextual menu a la right-clicking on a PC.

Same goes for the bookmark items under the nav bar. Control-click and a menu pops up with lots of options, one of which is "delete".

I don't use T-bird (try Apple's Mail) but I bet control-click will help you here too.
posted by bink at 1:00 PM on June 9, 2007

Sorry, posted too early. What kind of connection error are you getting? Have you explored the "Network" preference panel? (Apple menu up in the left corner, System Preferences, Network.)

I don't know from Pages or Keynote, and use Office as little as possible, so I hope someone else can help you with those.
posted by bink at 1:02 PM on June 9, 2007

Try control-clicking. It does the same thing as a right click on a PC.

I'm not a big fan of iWork. Office for Mac works well, or if you're feeling adventurous you could try OpenOffice.
posted by danb at 1:03 PM on June 9, 2007

If the Pro is the same as my regular MacBook, there is an option in the trackpad/mouse settings to make a two-finger tap on the trackpad a right click.

Plus I'll triple recommend the bluetooth mighty mouse. The trackball-click for Expose is maybe the best time-saver of any input device I've ever used.
posted by griffey at 1:18 PM on June 9, 2007

Response by poster: bink, I just get "There was an error joining the AirPort network L4C17". It connects to my other wireless network in the house, which is just basic WEP 64-bit security, but not this I'm wondering if it's the router (some generic ActionTec that Verizon FiOS brings).
posted by unexpected at 1:19 PM on June 9, 2007

About the writing, it all depends on the kind of writing you do.

For example, if you need to embed images and equations, you are better off with a simple text editor + LaTeX. In my case, I use TeXShop.

If you want to do some text-editing that involves no images, you want to do some HTML editing, you could go with TextMate, Smultron, SubEthaEdit, or the free program from Barebones. You could buy the more featured program from Barebones if you need those features.

If you want some handling on page layout, and embedding images, you are going to be doing flyers, newsletters, etc. go with Pages. You have to think of it as a the bastard child of a text-editor and DTP program.

I honestly cannot see a reason to pay all that money for Microsoft Office when all you are doing is word-processing which you can achieve for less than a 100 dollars.
posted by hariya at 1:20 PM on June 9, 2007

Dammit, hit post too quickly.

There should be a test-drive version of Office installed on the Macbook Pro. Try it for 30 days, see if it is worth the money, and then decide. In the meantime, also try some of the word-processors that are recommended by me and others.
posted by hariya at 1:22 PM on June 9, 2007

forget holding down ctrl for right clicking, just put two fingers on the pad and click. you can also scroll up down or left right by using two fingers. it's the shit!
posted by pinto at 1:40 PM on June 9, 2007

For (slightly) better diagnostics of your wireless connection problems, try running the "Console" application (use Quicksilver or Spotlight to find it). That will show your the system log which often includes more information about connection errors.
posted by simonw at 1:56 PM on June 9, 2007

you have to set that in the options for 2 finger click, but i agree it is way better than control click
posted by GleepGlop at 2:20 PM on June 9, 2007

I recommend against the Bluetooth Mighty Mouse. I've found its scroll ball to be easily jammed up and unreliable. After it gets dirty and clogged, it's very difficult to clean. The "squeeze" button also false-triggers way too often for me and others who I've talked to it about, making it not usable.
You don't have to live without right-click. Also, if the two-finger tapping isn't your thing (though it sounds slick), Raging Menace's SideTrack is worth watching. They don't have a version that works for recent MacBook Pros yet, but the version I run on my PowerBook allows for hot corners and scrollbar areas on the trackpad. Pretty slick.
posted by lostburner at 2:25 PM on June 9, 2007

I really dislike the Mighty Mouse. The issue with its right clicking support is that you need to NOT have your finger resting on the left side of the mouse. That drove me nuts. You might be different.

On the two-finger tapping, it also works if you have two fingers on the trackpad and use the main button. That works best for me, because for some reason I don't trust the two finger tap. No reason not too, I just got in the habit of doing it the other way.

Also, part of your issue is that you're using apps that were designed for windows and ported. that's okay, but you're always going to have an experience that's slightly off. Mac Apps tend to rely on right clicking less and in my experience seem to be more reliable about making options available from the menu system (which also means you can remap them in the Keyboard & Mouse preferences in Sys Prefs). Also, I find that I use keyboard shortcuts for menu options much more often on the Mac than when I was using Windows full time. I'm not really sure why, but it's probably worth starting to learn those shortcuts. Take the time to figure out what the different symbols mean (this is a good resource) and I think you'll find it a smoother experience.

To get a feel for the difference between "Native" mac apps and ports, try out Camino. It's the same rendering engine as firefox, but I find it to be a _way_ better usability experience than firefox. It doesn't support extensions, though, so if they're core to your Firefox experience it will probably not work for you. Still, it's worth a shot.
posted by heresiarch at 2:54 PM on June 9, 2007

For writing, you might try WriteRoom, Scrivener,
or Voodoo Pad. I own a copy of MS Office because sometimes I have to work with people who are using it, but I never ever use it to create anything. I use Google Apps for my office projects.
posted by jiiota at 3:44 PM on June 9, 2007

Two finger click is great, but you have to set it up in System Preferences (accessible under the Apple menu), in the "Keyboard and Mouse" panel.
posted by alms at 7:59 PM on June 9, 2007

Other people already mentioned two-finger clicking. Two-fingers for right clicking and scrolling means I can stand using my laptop without a mouse (in fact, I kinda prefer it because I can scroll in 2 dimensions, where a scroll wheel would only let me do up and down).

For networking: Go to the networking section of system preferences, and click on the "assist me" button at the bottom and dig around in what pops up from that to see if you can find out more about what's going wrong.
posted by sparkletone at 8:24 PM on June 9, 2007

For (slightly) better diagnostics of your wireless connection problems, try running the "Console" application (use Quicksilver or Spotlight to find it). That will show your the system log which often includes more information about connection errors.

This is also not a bad idea.

By the way, it's kept in the Utilities folder in your Applications folder.
posted by sparkletone at 8:26 PM on June 9, 2007

I hate the way Pages displays fonts on-screen. And its toolbar is ugly too.

For word processing I recommend Nisus Writer Express, or its soon-to-be released better-featured brother Nisus Writer Pro (Pro has a free beta!). Nisus costs $40 but it's worth it. It's a super little word processor that's got all the features I need, and then a few more.

Don't install Microsoft software on your notebook. Urrgh. That's SO 20th century. Get NeoOffice if you want to open the occasional PowerPoint/Excel file (it's FOC). I wouldn't advise using NeoOffice for day-to-day stuff because I've found it a bit clunky and buggy. The guys are working on a native OS X port, although it's in very early stages and pretty much unusable right now. But check back in a few months.

If you want a zero cost word processor, try Bean. This is still in beta stage, however, and, again, on-screen fonts aren't great. It gets kerning pretty screwed up, although this is something they might fix.

Networking: Use a cable connection in order to perform a system update. It seems Apple messed-up wifi in Intel macs and there have been three patches this year covering it.
posted by humblepigeon at 1:24 AM on June 10, 2007

Don't install Microsoft software on your notebook.

A little drastic, I think. Especiallly since it's already on there (Office) in a demo form. It's not like it's somehow going to eat your computer because it's from Redmond, and OpenOffice, Nisus, and iWork are fine for lightweight and specialized uses, but if you're exchanging materials with people who work in the corporate or academic worlds, you'd be dead without Office on your machine.

I don't get all the hating on Office. Having used MS Word since it was first released for Mac, I've always found it completely capable of doing the job, incuding writing books. Yeah, it's got a dense feature set, most of which is useless, but the basic program functionality of all the apps is superb.

You might as well use Google Docs if all you care about is free and easy.
posted by spitbull at 4:54 AM on June 10, 2007

I don't get all the hating on Office.

It's not hating Office. I think Office is one of the best pieces of software in the world and is genuinely unparalleled. My comment is about hating Microsoft, on many different levels, from a lack of creativity and technological initiative, to monopolistic practices. When buying a Mac you have a real opportunity to get away from all that crap. What's the point in getting a Mac and installing Microsoft software? If you don't mind using Microsoft products, just get a cheaper computer with Windows onboard. A Mac offers freedom from Microsoft and all its evil domains, and you'd be a fool to ignore this.

posted by humblepigeon at 6:04 AM on June 10, 2007

Are you in a situation that requires you to use the trackpad (i.e., working on a train or someplace like that where you just can't use a mouse)?

If not, just use a mouse. You'll be way more productive. I can't begin to imagine using my Mac without a right mouse button. I'd go insane.

My personal mouse of choice is a MS Intellimouse Explorer, but ... why not just use whatever mouse you were using before you got your MacBook? You're already used to it, why not just keep using it?
posted by dmd at 8:44 AM on June 10, 2007

The track pad will let you right-click. Look at the Keyboard/Mouse section of the system prefs. There's a trackpad section, one of the checkboxes enables the two-finger right click. It's actually pretty cool, once you get used to it. For mice, any good 2+ button mouse will give you right click functionality. For extended control of multibutton mice use USB Overdrive. It's a great app, I've been using it for many years.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:49 AM on June 10, 2007

What's the point in getting a Mac and installing Microsoft software

The point of getting a Mac, for me, is that I can use almost *any* software, including Windows.

Microsoft is a complicated force in the universe, but as a longtime Apple fanboy and shareholder, I still don't think Apple is much better as a corporation. What I crave, which lately Apple has really delivered, is choice. Office is the best choice for a productivity suite for the work I do. Thanks God I don't *have* to own a Windows-only PC to use it.
posted by spitbull at 7:39 AM on June 11, 2007

What's the point in getting a Mac and installing Microsoft software?

99% of us Mac users don't consider it some sort of religious conversion. Unfortunately, the 1% that do make 99% of the noise.
posted by dmd at 4:27 PM on June 11, 2007

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