Top Ten Things Macs Can't Do (that PCs can)

I gave Bill Gates the best years of my life. I've owned about a dozen DOS and Windows PCs. And I worked in Redmond, Washington for Microsoft in the late 1980s. And yes, I must be a bit slow, because it wasn't until 2010 that I finally got fed up making excuses for all the crashes and reboots, the lack of interoperability between Windows computers in our own home, the vulnerability to viruses, etc. So, I made the switch to a MacBook Pro. The transition for a fifty-year-old PC user wasn't too bad. After a couple weeks I was becoming comfortable in the new environment. But now it's been years, and I'm still frustrated by the things that Macs can't do that PCs can. Or is it, things that Apple won't do? Out of pure stubbornness? (Although, with changing leadership at Appte, probably some of these things will be resolved.) Such as:

  1. While opening a file from within an app, Macs can't rename, copy, move, or delete files
  2. Macs can't maximize a window to full screen with a keystroke
  3. Macs don't let you arrow or tab to different fields in typical dialogue boxes (like Cancel/Save)
  4. Macs don't let you cut a file to paste it into another folder
  5. Macs can't make an app menu live by a keyboard shortcut (like Alt on Windows)
  6. Macs can't go to the beginning or end of a line with a single key combination
  7. Macs can't go to the beginning or end of a document with a single key combination
  8. Macs can't re-size windows by all corners and edges but only from the bottom right corner (until 10.8)
  9. Macs don't tell you what operating system you have (they give #s, but not the Lion, etc., name)
  10. Macs can't backspace.

Also, Macs (mine anyway) won't beep to tell you that your battery is dying. They just display a super-subtle message in the top right of the screen. If you're looking away, and haven't saved your work lately, you data's toast.

Corrections and additions welcome!

Having written for PC Week as a Senior Technical Analyst, designing software, having written the functional specification for a version of Microsoft LAN Manager, and having been the liaison between Microsoft and IBM for an upgrade to IBM's LAN Server, it's sometimes obvious why engineers do not implement perfectly viable software functions. Other than possible patent rights issues that I haven't looked into, It seems generally that Apple decided to omit the functionality described above for three reasons:

1. Apple's architects think that their typical Mac user is not sophisticated enough and would get too confused if they enabled him or her to, say,  manipulate files from within applications.

2. The not-invented-here syndrome (which would be weird because Apple took its fundamental GUI windows concept from Xerox).

3. Steve Jobs wants won't implement such functionality just because Microsoft does.

Mac is a more stable operating environment largely because the Windows computer has always been wide open to hardware developers and software driver writers, whereas the Apple environment has always been much more tightly controlled. Thus the Windows side of the equation  has led to the extraordinary lowering of price and the explosion of hardware and software applications. But in the end, all that development has helped Apple thrive tremendously in a Windows World by offering more reliable products.

Bob Enyart
Talk Radio Host
Podcast at
M-F 3 p.m. on Denver's 50k-watt AM 670 KLTT

UPDATES: Please email with any corrections or additions. One of our listeners has claimed that Macs cannot list folder contents in columns by filename (to show hundreds per screen). I'm not an expert with Finder, but I imagine that they can do this. Any thoughts?

* Bob Enyart's Apple Survey Response: From Dec. 4, 2015...