Tuesday, August 30


Smoothmouse + BetterSnapTool

I got myself a very nice iMac late last year - Core i7, 32GB RAM, Radeon 395MX, 1TB SSD, and the 5k Retina HDR display.  It's just about the best desktop PC you can get.

However...  The mouse and keyboard handling in MacOS sucks compared to Windows.   MacOS only has mouse acceleration control; the base tracking speed is fixed and very slow.  

That means that you have to keep picking up and moving your mouse because the speed at which it tracks is variable.  And since the menu is always at the top left of the screen, you tend to move your mouse more than on Windows, which just exacerbates the problem.

Also, my workflow 99% of the time involves two windows side-by-side.  On Windows, setting that up is just a keystroke; on the Mac it's just a complete mess.  You can do it, but it's unnecessarily complicated and hides the menu bar and the dock, so the moment you set it up you end up hiding the tools you normally use all the time.

After trying a couple of other options (Steermouse and MagicPrefs) I gave Smoothmouse a try.  It has an option that says "make my mouse work like Windows" which...  Makes your mouse work like Windows.

There's another couple of apps called BetterTouchTool and BetterSnapTool.  BetterTouchTool does a whole bunch of stuff for mouse and keyboard management; BetterSnapTool only handles snapping windows based on mouse or keyboard commands (which are completely configurable).

BetterSnapTool is on the Mac App store, costs just a few bucks, and works perfectly.  It's eleventy billion times better than the idiot crap that Apple came up with.

I've been tending to use Kei, my (older, slower) Windows machine instead of Taiga, my (shiny, new) iMac because of these niggling UI issues.  And now they're fixed.

The only remaining issue is that I'm running VMWare Fusion on Taiga with Windows 10 and Ubunutu 16.04 instances.  Each VM has 8GB of RAM allocated, meaning that half my memory is gone the moment I boot up.

The 2015 iMac supports up to 64GB of RAM - but because Apple idiotically used DDR3 rather than DDR4 (even though DDR4 is supported by the CPU), upgrading beyond 32GB costs about three times as much as it should, so I've been putting that upgrade off.

But apart from that, it's pretty good.  I just hit Ctrl-left-arrow or Ctrl-right-arrow and it goes Zip! Full-screen Windows 10.  Zip! Full-screen Ubuntu.  Zip! Back to MacOS.

Meanwhile, Smoothmouse and BetterSnapTool both get the coveted Does Not Suck award.

Update: Can't get VMWare Fusion to use both monitors.  Or, well, it does, but the guest OS is mirrored across them at a resolution selected by throwing chickens at a bingo card.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:14 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 460 words, total size 3 kb.

1 It's time for Apple to give up the single menu bar. It made sense when the GUI (and computers in general) was a new concept to the masses and screens were small. It doesn't make sense on 21+" retina displays in 2016 when even my grandparents in their late 80s use smart phones. Worse, Apple doubled down on the menu bar in El Capitan by forcing it on to every display and hiding the control to remove it from secondary displays under "Mission Control" with a check box titled "Displays have separate spaces". WTF Apple?

Posted by: Ken in NH at Wednesday, August 31 2016 01:51 AM (GYeaQ)

2 Yep.  On a notebook, and maybe even on the 21" model, a single menu bar isn't that much of an issue.  On a 27" screen, it's a constant nuisance.

One thing I like is that Microsoft Office for Mac blatantly ignores the Apple UI guidelines and gives each window its own menu bar, the way Doug intended.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wednesday, August 31 2016 02:16 PM (PiXy!)

3 Apple had a good point originally about the placement of the menu bar. The top of the screen is prime UI real estate, because you whip the mouse at it, and it will stop at the menu bar (On Windows, you end up in the title bar, or nowhere useful.). With the Mouse Acceleration, a quick, hard gesture could send it there.

Having the menu bar attached to the inside of a window that can be any size takes a lot more care and precision on the part of the user to hit the target.

On the other hand, Windows really screwed up with some of their text box handling routines. Forex, on the Mac, clicking in the blank space below the paragraph will take your cursor to the end of the text. On windows, it will take you some point in the middle of the last line above the mouse's X position.  And hitting the arrow keys while there's a text selection did much more sensible things (And don't get me started on Windows and auto-extending text selections in ways you don't want to when you're holding shift.... Maddening!)

Posted by: Mauser at Thursday, September 01 2016 12:13 PM (5Ktpu)

4 On a small screen, and particularly on a small low-resolution screen like the original 512x342 Mac, a single unified menu is the only sane choice.  (The Amiga did the same thing.)

On a 27" 5120x2880 screen, though, it's ridiculous, and the mouse acceleration settings that you need to make it at all accessible screw up every other mouse function.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thursday, September 01 2016 03:38 PM (PiXy!)

5 To put it another way, as monitor sizes have grown, the top of the screen has remained beachfront property...  But now it's beachfront in Alaska.  Which...  Oh, hey, $35,000 for 20 acres...

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thursday, September 01 2016 03:43 PM (PiXy!)

6 Yeah, they may as well right click and give you a pop-up of the application menu....

Posted by: Mauser at Friday, September 02 2016 10:59 AM (5Ktpu)

7 Why not send email to the customer service? May be they can help you solve the problem?

Posted by: casinocheating at Friday, September 02 2016 03:26 PM (msUZZ)

8 Your new spammer hit me, too.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Saturday, September 03 2016 05:26 AM (+rSRq)

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Apple pies are delicious. But never mind apple pies. What colour is a green orange?

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