Back to the Mac

About a year ago, I published a light “listicle” to highlight some of the smaller features in the then-new iOS 10 and watchOS 3. Before diving into the details, I mentioned offhand that I omitted macOS 10.12 simply because there wasn’t anything particularly interesting to include from that release.

Unfortunately, this year’s macOS 10.13 “High Sierra” release is again slim with regards to user-facing features, despite macOS falling increasingly behind iOS in feature parity. After all, macOS still does not have Message stickers and animations, still has the same broken App Store, and still has all its preexisting problems like pitiful window management and the festering mess that is iTunes. Year after year, Tim Cook’s Apple continues to demonstrate they don’t care about macOS by simply ignoring it.

In light of this, I’ve decided to completely ignore whatever new hotness iOS got this year and instead shine the spotlight on the operating system that remains deeply important to millions of people’s digital lifestyles (despite being continually sidelined by Cook’s Apple). To give macOS the time it deserves, I’m sharing all the small but fantastic features I’ve picked up over these ten years that help make macOS the finest desktop operating system available.

For those wanting to jump right in, I’ve sorted the features by importance; the topmost sections are must know, while the bottommost ones are just curious oddities. You can click on any individual features that interest you, or browse entire sections if you’re feeling adventurous. Have fun exploring!

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Tags Explained

An array of seven colored dots, the visual metaphor used by macOS to represent tags

Over the past five years, you may have noticed a colorful array of dots appeared to decorate the otherwise reserved Finder sidebar. Those dots are part of a relatively new feature in macOS called Tags. As the name suggests, this lets you tag files and folders in Finder with colored labels for organizational purposes.

I had nothing but apathy for the feature. With macOS’s benign default tags like “Red” and “Blue”, I was left wondering what problem tags were even intended to solve. After all, what could colorful tags do that folders couldn’t?

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Lossless Photo Sharing

A cartoon of me with analysis paralysis while looking at a pile of different photo service icons, including Dropbox, iCloud Photo Sharing, Flickr, and many more

My mom sent me an email recently asking for advice sending a couple photos to a friend. She knew that emailing worked in theory, but was concerned the pictures would be compressed at some point along the way. I had to stop and think for a moment on this one; what is the best option for losslessly sharing a photo or two with someone? While on that thought, what’s the best option for losslessly sharing entire albums of photos? In a sea of services all promising to make the confusing mess that is photo sharing a thing of the past, how is anyone supposed to figure it out?

To combat this absurdly complicated productscape, I’ve compiled what I personally believe to be the best services for losslessly share photos with friends and family, separated into two tiers based on the volume of photos being shared. Regrettably, two categories are necessary since there’s currently no “cure-all” product or service that’s the absolute best option for sharing arbitrary amounts of pictures; some are wonderful for a picture or two, while others shine best for hundreds. Like many things in life, it’s all about knowing which tools to use for the job.

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Meaningful Names

A "Hello, My Name Is" sticker with the name "FOOBAR" on it

Do you know what magic() means? How about foo(), what does that do? What about arg1, what’s that supposed to be? To be frank, I have no idea what any of these represent since the names themselves carry little to no intrinsic meaning. They’re just meaningless fluff.

Oftentimes, this is what it feels like as a developer when reading code from the community. Not all developers write code in this style, of course, but some do and it makes understanding the story they’re trying to tell nigh impossible. Even the general public can sympathize with these feelings; you’ve no doubt seen “hackers” in shows or movies clacking away alphabet vomit and wondered to yourselves, “Who the blazes can actually read that?”.

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