BLACK FRIDAY SALE
Save up to 60% on all Fstoppers tutorials

Windows User Attempts To Use the New M1 Max Macbook Pro

I'm a Windows user, but I fell for the hype and purchased a $3,500 M1 Macbook Pro. Will it be good enough for me to leave my custom-built desktop?

I could write an entire book on my experience in the first 24 hours with this laptop, but instead, I'll point you to the video above to get a glimpse of how things are going. 

In summary, the laptop itself is the most impressive laptop from a hardware perspective I've ever used. It has the best keyboard, trackpad, speakers, microphone, and monitor I've ever seen on any laptop. The software can be a bit frustrating, but I realize that many of my issues are due to my own ignorance, and with enough time, I can learn how to navigate macOS. 

All that being said, the real testing still hasn't begun. Next week I'm receiving over $1,600 in Thunderbolt docks to test this laptop with all of my peripherals. As you probably know, I've had very bad experiences with dongles, adapters, and docks in the past, but I'm keeping an open mind. Stay tuned for detailed testing of this machine over the coming weeks. 

Log in or register to post comments

36 Comments

Matt Mastrandrea's picture

Lee Morris Regarding quickly cycling through application windows - place three fingers on the trackpad and drag them all down. This will show you all the instances of whatever application you're currently using. There's a handful of gesture controls like that, and you can customize them in System Preferences -> Trackpad -> More Gestures. This will (and I'm not making this up)... blow your mind.

You can also CMD+Tab like you'd Alt+Tab on Windows.

One other feature you may love - multiple desktops. If you swipe up with three fingers, it'll show you all the windows, but there will also be a gray bar that drags down from the top of the screen. It'll say "desktop 1", "desktop 2". If you move your cursor to that top shelf, it'll expand and show a live preview of what's on your desktops. You can make as many of these as you want, via the plus sign on the right side of the screen. Here's where it gets cool. You can click and drag windows from one desktop to another, and even set apps to only open in particular desktops. To quickly switch desktops, you just have to flick three fingers either to the left or right.

Lastly, regarding the dock. If you go to system preferences you can customize that so it stays hidden until you move your cursor to that part of the screen. I'd recommend you play with the dock settings, including magnification.

W. V.'s picture

CMD-~ switches between windows within an application.

Timothy Linn's picture

Hey Matt. Great info. FWIW, Windows 10 the multiple desktop feature as well.

Hector Belfort's picture

As both a Windows and Mac user I've often been surprised by Mac OS system. I'm on it a number of year now so its not really an issue anymore but I'm surprised often by its layout being even more unintuitive as Windows. I've seen kids under 1 years of age managing to operate an iPad or an iPhone and yet at times I can't do simple things easily on a Mac. The two departments must not talk to each other at all. I'm been constantly been surprised that Apple haven't moved that phone / iPad experience to a Laptop to open a new audience to laptops. One of the things I find dealing with beginners in photography is the difficulties they have transfering images from a memory card to a PC or Laptop and then further managing them. I'm sure if Steve Jobs was still with us he would have transformed the laptop to a different level / experience.
No doubt they are powerful machine and very reliable (except for that butterfly keyboard which was a nuisance a few years ago). You are paying a premium price. These more powerful machines are papering over the cracks of the very bloated software that Adobe produce. Lightroom in particular needs a rewrite.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I'm not a fan of the Mac UI. it's so inefficient.

For your multi instances/windows question, when you have the instance active (eg, Finder, Chrome, etc), go up to the top menu bar. Then, click on Window. The instances are at the bottom of the list.

Alternatively, on the Dock, if you long press the app icon, it'll show the instances at the beginning of the list.

Anthony S's picture

I been using both Mac OS and Windows on a daily basis for years, After just a few days I was able to move between both relatively easy. I find little difference between the two day to day. There's just a little difference in the language.

You can maximise (sort of and sometimes) windows using by holding the Option key down, then clicking the maximise button. I tested this on a few applications this morning and I get different results. Finder windows (the equivalent to Explorer in Windows) and Safari (and probably some others) only increase to full height. Others (Mac Mail, Photos, Notes) all maximise in the same fashion as MS Windows. I would like an explanation for why this is the case, but I generally don't use applications in such a manner on my iMac anyway.

You can hover the mouse pointer over the maximise button for different options.

As for monitoring transfer speeds, I fully understand why you'd want to check the quality of a connection for a new cable/adapter/etc, but day to day I can't see much use once you know you have a good connection. There is the built in activity monitor which does provide an overall data received and sent speeds, in kilobytes/megabytes per second.

Thatcher Freeman's picture

Another application for checking the transfer speeds is that there are many devices where the transfer speed may be very fast at first, and then it'll slow down once some cache somewhere fills up. Or, if you have multiple devices accessing the storage, then the throughput for each concurrent transfer will be reduced. Perhaps another big one is if one day, you're doing a transfer and you see that the speed is lower than normal, then that could give you a clue that maybe some other applications or users are doing something in the background that you don't want. Maybe your transfer is slow because you're copying a ton of small files. These are all things that are nonobvious if you're only given just an estimated finish time, as you have to do math according to the file size to figure out if it's worse than what you expect.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

PathFinder (finder alternative) seems to give transfer speed. But not a sexy graph as Windows give.

Gustavo Mirabile's picture

I have Windows and MAC computers. I work with both of them. A massive deficiency in MAC is the way you map drives from external servers. Drives me crazy everytime.

Daniel Lee's picture

In my opinion not even the most powerful processor or GPU in the world would make it worth using Mac’s horrible OS.

Stuart C's picture

Well you know what they say opinions are like.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

I’m ready to deal with Mac if it adds hours to my life.

Felix Valeri's picture

On the dock, you will see a line | between the app and the trash can, place your mouse on that bar and long left click to drag it up and down to resize. you can then right click on it to change if you want to turn on magnification on.

you can also right click on it and go to dock preferences, there you can customize the menu and dock bar.

Timothy Linn's picture

I'm looking forward to this series. I'm making the switch back to Mac after over two decades and your questions are my questions. Fortunately, there are answers—except for the transfer speed issue. I don't get the mindset of the folks who answer a question with "you don't need to do that." It's not just ignorance. It's arrogance.

Dan Cantero's picture

Lee, Press CTRL + Down arrow to show you all the instances you have of the current application. Stick with it mate. It's a bit like when you start using a Wacom Tablet, it's hard in the beginning and so much better afterward. (Former Windows junkie)

RT Simon's picture

Shouldn’t a custom built desktop always be faster? Nature of the beast. For video rendering, the new M1 chips are reportedly only marginally slower than a 50K Mac desktop. That is an achievement.
Perhaps the only real test is processing RAW catalogs, 8K video, or complex 3D raytracing at higher resolutions, and see if there is a difference in production.

Joe Bodego's picture

I started using windows computers and as a former prepress operator, i had no choice but use the macs, that was 25 years ago. I am yet to embrace the mac as a true enjoyable computing experience, its like that weird cousin that you;re stuck with. I've also realized that Mac users are very "Cult-ish" an extremist lot they are.

Lyle Mariam's picture

As a dual user myself, two of the infuriating things are the time to start and battery life. I had three high-end Windows laptops before I bought an Air. I just received my new 16-inch MacBook Pro last week and it is neat not to have to wait 15-30 seconds for an i7 Windows machine to wake up. On a MacBook, you open the lid and it's ready to go. Even on my 2015 i5 MBA, it is virtually instantaneous. The other thing is battery life, my MacBook Pro will go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning with the same battery percentage. My Windows machines will completely exhaust the battery when sleeping for one or two days. Plus, the Windows laptop will only run for a few hours while Macs typically run for at least twice as long.

Ron Levere's picture

Lee,
Something I do on both Windows and Mac is to move the tool bar with the applications, etc. to either the left or right side of the screen, vertically.
There is more space available on the horizontal than vertical, so to me it makes sense to use it to stop taking up space on the bottom of the screen.
Ron

Property Shooter's picture

Yes, pinning the dock to the side is far more preferable for me, too.

D R's picture

I built high end PCs for over 10 years then one day considered the iMac because the price was about the same as building my own PC though the iMac monitor was better than anything I could get on the PC side.
That was 6 years ago and I will NEVER go back to Windows again.
There is a learning curve as there should be with anything. I hate it when people like Lee who put their brains in neutral and expect something to do all the work for them. Windows is a terrible mess of an OS, and of course if you use it for years you will have trouble using macOS. It would be like living in the ghetto and learning slang only then as an adult having to become an english major in university.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

What is shortcut on Mac to move a window to another monitor?

Property Shooter's picture

Drag it over, no?

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Keyboard shortcut.

Brandon Hopkins's picture

There's a 'move' command under the 'Window" menu at the top, but there isn't a built in keyboard shortcut. However you can assign your own in just a minute or two.

https://youtu.be/fikngk2Ojt0

Property Shooter's picture

Lee. Really?

I know you've started off your vid with "I am going to sound like a......." but...........really?

With all due respect it looks like you're looking for problems where there aren't any.

Activity Monitor will show you all of the computer's activity - network traffic included - and more.

As some others point out, you're trying to migrate. Of course there'll be frustrations, but throwing your toys out of the pram because you couldn't find the answer to a simple task.... really!?!? Maybe book a session at a Genius Bar.

At risk of sounding like a "FanBoy": maybe Mac users don't worry about such menial matters because they're used to their computer just working.... (it's kind of well known that Mac's "just work".)

Finally (and I'm sure you don't need this), if you buy a peripheral that Apple endorses, you can likely guarantee that it, too, will work. If you buy some hookie piece of trash off Amazon then likelihood is that it won't work as well as more reliable hardware... but that's the same with anything in life. It's not unique to Apple computers.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Really? Network traffic? Like you are asked for the speed of a car, but you are sent to check Google Maps with their road traffic stats.

Property Shooter's picture

Not quite the same, Alexander. Activity Monitor shows speed and a sexy graph… 🤷‍♂️

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Of a file transfer or all network activity?

Fred Leong's picture

I’ve used Macs at home and Windows at work for years, and I greatly prefer navigating on a Mac, perhaps because I know how to optimize my workflow and match my personal preferences. A lot of things are easier to show than to describe.

1. Personally I love using hot corners, I set them up in the System panel to have one corner show me desktop; another displays all windows. Another small optimization is to set the Dock so it hides unless I move the cursor down to the bottom. A relatively new addition is tabbed Finder windows, which lets you optionally have all windows for an application or Finder open in the same window with tabs to declutter your desktop, but you can still drag a window out if you want it separate.

2. In general there are 3-4 ways to do everything on a Mac, point-click-drag-drop; keyboard shortcuts (usually triggered by the CMD key); menu driven ways; and for power users, command line via Terminal. You can’t really blame Apple for small differences from Windows, as Apple was generally first and MSFT deliberately chose to do it differently.

A lot of these global settings will be under System which has the equivalent of the old Windows control panels, or in the Preferences pane of an individual app.

3. As someone mentioned you should schedule a session at an Apple Store if you can. Having free hands-on training and support is a big advantage, though they also have many videos explaining things.

4. Not sure I understand what you were trying to do with your copy and paste. But on your transfer speed question, Apple dropped that about 10 years ago (not sure why). I suppose most people don’t notice because it’s rare these days to be doing something that stresses the system enough to need to know, because most people don’t work with the huge files photographers do. I typically only encounter it when transferring video or downloading a big system update. Activity Monitor is one way to see all the running processes, how much CPU they’re using, and their network usage.

5. I’ve not used them myself, but a lot of people swear by automations. (Used to be done with Apple Script, then Automator, and now Shortcuts.) These might be useful for you if you have to do a lot of batch actions, like changing the names on a whole bunch of files or formatting things for printing.

https://support.apple.com/guide/shortcuts-mac/welcome/mac

6. Here’s a summary of some of the Finder navigation options. Some handy things to know are CMD-Tab (cycles between apps), CMD-~, CMD-esc, and Force Quit.

I think you’ll like the screenshot options on macOS, especially since they added a new control center from CMD-shift-5 (the old CMD-shift-4 still works but the new way is so much better).

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201236 (list of keyboard shortcuts from Apple)

https://www.macworld.co.uk/how-to/how-see-all-open-windows-on-mac-at-onc...

Fred Leong's picture

nm

Mike Rodgers's picture

End of the day, Apple (anything) is always form over function. Luxury brand.

Daniel Bliss's picture

From a Mac user of 31 years and until this week Android user who has had to use Windows devices once to twice a month for the past two decades, here's my perspective ..... you will be pleasantly surprised by the docking stations which are actually Thunderbolt hubs. The only pitfall here is that the USB-C ports on the computer are so tightly machined that they can accumulate dirt, which if you don't avoid or keep clean will build up to the point where the connection becomes loose. The thing on the Mac Home Screen they actually call the "dock" you will find ridiculous, a weak and at the same time overblown imitation of the active application browser bar at the bottom of a Windows screen. Not sure whether you will accept or hate the Mac Finder; I doubt very much you'll love it; to me it's just different. Screen minimization and maximization are all over the place on the Mac. Typography and legibility blow Windows away not least because of bolder fonts and greater x-height than Windows' spindly Optima derivative. Having the menubar permanently at the top of the screen is comforting and saves you from the annoyance of the pop-up thing on Windows that is asked to do too much, but it would be so much more powerful in terms of predictably switching between open applications if they'd replace the dock at the bottom of the screen with something like the one on Windows; because Windows gets you straight to the specific, uh, window, while Mac may, or it may not, unless we're talking one of the specific minimized windows on the bottom right.

I'm not surprised you love the haptic trackpad. Apple was better than Windows even with their mechanical clicking trackpad/button combo and they only expanded that lead when they went fully haptic in about 2016.

[Note, written before watching the video!]

Daniel Bliss's picture

On dongles and docks, check out Other World Computing, out of Woodstock, Illinois. They're probably the biggest player in Mac docking stations, though the products are now cross-platform. And they're rock-solid in my experience.

Two further dongle tips; the thing I mentioned above about dirt in the USB-C ports is especially critical for dongles. And the best $30-ish gigabit ethernet dongle for Mac, Apple's own, has NEVER BEEN BROUGHT OUT IN A USB-C VERSION (!!#%^&#); rather you have to, and I am not making this up, DAISY CHAIN THE DONGLES; Thunderbolt 2-3 adapter dongle in the computer, Thunderbolt 2 Ethernet dongle in the dongle. And it STILL works better than all the third-party USB-C ones because it does not overheat. Doesn't even get warm. Apple -- bring this Ethernet dongle out in a true Thunderbolt 3/4 version rather than making your customers depend on idiotic daisy chaining or third-party products that get hot to the touch.

Daniel Bliss's picture

While we're on the subject of converting to an Apple environment, I must give a very dishonorable mention to Move to iOS, Apple's only Android app. It. Doesn't. Work. It should be called "Don't Move to iOS", because that's the message it's sending. It very nearly had me returning the iPhone I'd bought under duress from my totally-iOS-brainwashed relatives, until the night before I was headed back to the store I found a backup my iCloud account had made from the first (almost successful) attempt at a transfer. Seven further efforts to reset and transfer and get it to go 100 percent failed despite handholding from Apple; their tech support simply isn't trained to support the app.

Daniel Bliss's picture

Total props for iStat; it should be part of the operating system. Having had it for seven or eight years I'd forgotten about the missing transfer rate info until you brought it up!