How Intuitive are Macs Really?

Posted by  on March 11th 2021 03:08 pm

My kid sister has been using Macs for about 5 years. She bought her 2012 MacBook Pro used on eBay for $500, and it lasted longer than any other laptop she has bought new or used. When she accidentally spilled orange juice on her MacBook two days ago, she asked my recommendation on getting the new M1 MacBook Pro or just buying another decade old used one.

She had never had any issues with slowness or reliability with her nearly 10-year-old Pro, so she figured, why upgrade. I had no idea that the resale value on a Mac Book is so high. On Best Buy's website, you can find a 2012 with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB spinning rust bucket for ONLY $499... I told her to just get the M1 MacBook Air. I've been using an Intel Air for my daily driver for about a year, and completely replaced my Dell XPS tower with an M1 Mini, which is slowly becoming my true daily driver (just need to hook up my NAS to my Windows 10 ARM VM, and I'm good to go with RDP and VPN to the office). She did it. She doesn't ALWAYS listen to me, but sometimes my advice is too good to pass on.

Anyway, this isn't a shill for the M1 Macs (even though they are fucking awesome), this is just backstory for an iMessage I got this morning from my sister. Just a photo of her laptop with a message saying "Cannot Connect to App Store" and no other context. I told her to restart. She did, same issue. I asked what she was trying to do. Install Chrome. Which made me realize something was amiss, since Chrome isn't IN the App Store.

I told her to open the .dmg file from her downloads folder, then drag the chrome logo into the Applications folder.

She then took a photo of the App Store icon in the Dock and asked "Is this Applications."

And at this I realized how silly the entire install process for Mac is.

  1. You download a disk image
  2. You have to mount the disk image (thankfully this is automagical - but maybe that is detrimental to the process?)
  3. It then automatically runs SOMETHING
  4. Which usually prompts you with a very IKEA-esque, wordless instruction that must be interpreted to then drag an icon into another icon
  5. You close the window
  6. Eject the disk image
  7. Before finally drag the icon from downloads to the trash can......... (there aren't enough ellipsiseses to emphasize how dumb this process is)

My sister isn't an idiot (though this made her feel like one), she's not even "non-technical" she's been "computing" as long as I have, but while I'm a programmer, she sits on her computer all day doing data entry and processing for medical stuffs (I actually don't know what her job is - something with old people and medicine and computers). This process is just AWFUL.

I hated MacOS for years. Longer than I should have, just because it was different. It was a bigoted view passed on from my father a CAD veteran who refused to ever use a Mac for anything. He was a Windows Zealot, and honestly, I inherited that, and I still think windows is the superior operating system, but I switched to Mac because the hardware is just better than even the best Windows hardware for the same price, and the software typically JUST WORKS. I'm not talking raw number crunching performance, but QUALITY of the hardware and user experience (which means a lot more to me than the ability to customize things).

I've had Apple products for about a decade (iOS development demands it), and I even own 9 Macs (Intel and M1 Minis, Books, and Airs), but while I've become accustomed to the weird idiosyncrasies of MacOS, they ARE NOT that intuitive unless you live on the App Store, or only consume the Apple-made software which might be fine for 70% of the population, but the moment one ventures outside of the walled garden, one might get lost.

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