Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mavericks Multi-Monitor Magnificence

Yes, I like alliterations, but that isn't the topic of this short post. I have just installed Mavericks on my Mac, and I have tested some of the new functionality. My first problem arose after waking my Mac up. The gestures to move between spaces and to the command center, so all gestures requiring more than two fingers, wouldn't work at all. As I sought a solution to this problem, I found that this seems to be fairly common in Mavericks. I hope it isn't an inherent problem in their new multi-monitor support.

That new functionality is exactly what I thought multi-monitor support should be. I should state that I am no Mac fanboy. In fact, I have never owned a Mac and have vowed to never own a Mac unless I really need one for development purposes for iOS. However, Apple has finally done something good since Steve Jobs passed. I did have to change some of my habits for this new functionality as all monitors do not slide at the same time. Now, each monitor has its own set of desktops.

Apple has basically set each monitor as its own separate entity. Each monitor now has its own menu bar at the top. This was a serious flaw when I first got my Mac, and something that is very annoying for someone who comes from a system where the menu bar is on the top of each window. This also makes it much more clear which window the menu bar currently represents. I can't tell you how many times I quickly jumped up to the menu bar and tried some function only to find another window on a different monitor responding. Apple also adds transparency to the menu bars in the monitors that aren't in focus. This also helps to know where your inputs will appear.

I think one problem with this setup is where the desktops go when you disconnect a monitor. This may have been what was causing problems with my gesture inputs. I usually have a total of three monitors, but last night I only had two. I had windows that I simply couldn't find, but I knew they were somewhere. This may be a bug that will need to get fixed later. I just tested it, and the windows go to another desktop, but that isn't very helpful. I'd rather have the whole desktop move.

I have seen several complaints about the monitors not swiping between spaces at the same time, but I am guessing that is a trade-off for other features. I think I can find ways around this limitation, but it would be nice to have the option. This was probably done to allow for full-screen apps on one monitor without blacking out the others. This is probably the greatest benefit of the Mavericks upgrade. Essentially, that entire feature of full-screen apps was useless for multi-monitor setups. However, each monitor still seems to require a desktop instance. This isn't really a nuisance, but it is a waste of resources.

Overall, I think this is a pretty good upgrade and much more user-friendly. I hope they are able to fix some of the issues with minor updates, but I think I can live with them for now. But I won't be too happy if I have to restart my computer every morning because my gestures no longer work.