This is a pointless blog post. I am stuck in a boring call, I want to write something that isn’t too taxing, I don’t really have anything to say about macOS Ventura… so 🤷🏼.
Ever since WWDC 2022 last week I’ve been running macOS Ventura on my Mac mini and the MacBook Air. Neither of these are my primary devices, so I figure I could install Ventura just to see how it is. I love the name and that’s probably the real reason behind me trying it out. Plus I am generally bored in life and like to try things out (and am stupid enough to install Beta software… I’ve been trying out macOS Betas since Catalina actually, including during the big jump to Big Sur).
Apart from the name I also wanted to try Ventura as I was curious about Stage Manager. It looked good in the iPad demo (and after upgrading my old iPad to iPadOS 16 I learnt Stage Manager requires an M1 iPad, so that was a bummer) but I couldn’t figure out if it would be of any use on macOS. Since I was upgrading both the MacBook Air (with its smaller screen) and the Mac mini (attached to a relatively larger 24″ monitor) I figured this would give me a good idea of whether I’ll actually use the thing.
First impressions after a week of using is that I am still trying to figure out whether I need it. I disabled it on the MacBook Air as it was taking up valuable real estate on the screen, but I’ve left it running on the Mac mini. I use multiple Spaces, and it is good to see the apps running in a space on the side… but I can get the same info via something like Contexts (which I already use). I disabled the Contexts sidebar (which is what it’s called) after a while as I didn’t find it “pretty” and I am hoping Stage Manager being an Apple creation I’ll find it prettier. I haven’t disabled it yet, so that’s a positive I suppose… but I am very much on the fence. It feels a bit janky, and what gets to me is 1) not unable to change the wallpaper by right clicking on the desktop and 2) not being able to move windows from one space to another. I swear I can do this sometimes (or I’ve done this at least once, with Stage Manager on, am sure!) so either I am imagining this or one of these behaviours is a bug. =/
So that’s Stage Manager.
There’s some small touches like notifications when an app adds itself to the login items – I like that. The redesigned System Settings is very… what’s the word, spartan? clinical? Not sure. I liked the previous System Preferences actually though I know a lot of people hate it… I mostly just searched through it, so all I cared about was it looking pretty when I opened it. This new one doesn’t look beautiful at all. It’s not ugly or bad, but it’s definitely not the one I would choose if you showed me both side by side.
To give credit where due though, once you go into certain items I like how you are able to read more stuff at a shot. Again, depends on the item. “General” semes to be more sub-menus; while “Appearance” is well laid out. Ditto for “Control Centre” and “Desktop & Dock”. “Trackpad” is… sad, a beautiful thing that’s just been demolished. I loved how the previous one had these animations and explained things, the new one is very business like.
This is typical I suppose. Things change… they have to change, life demands change, and sometimes the change brings good things, other times it screws things up. Pretty much every change is a mixed bag that leans slightly towards one side or the other, so this is expected I suppose. Am sure more heavy users of macOS will have other things which they notice has changed… but I don’t use my devices that heavily, and I treat macOS with the knowledge that Apple probably wants us to treat it like an appliance… so I don’t fuss about too much with it. :)
Stage Manager (an update; 2 days later)
I started using my Mac mini more as that’s got Ventura installed. And I am starting to enjoy Stage Manager. Yes, still feels a bit janky (it’s beta after all) but I get the concept of Stage Manager now, and it suits well with my workflow.
I am a huge Spaces user. And I typically have just a single screen. Once upon a time I used to do dual screen, and later triple screen, but over time I realized I just like having a single screen so I can see everything on that one screen rather than scan across two or three. Plus with macOS I make extensive use of Spaces, so I typically have a single app/ window per space and I keep swiping between them. I make some exceptions to keep the number of Spaces under control, so sometimes related apps are together. Like, for instance, Outlook and Teams that are both used for work; or TextMate, WorkFlowy, and Bear that are all note taking apps and its unlikely I need all three open at the same time. I usually keep each Firefox window per space, once upon a time I tried have two Firefox windows in a space but that didn’t gel well with my workflow… coz I found having two windows distracting. I wanted to have more than one Firefox window in a single space so I don’t lose focus of that extra window with its own set of tabs that I need to get to, but I also don’t want the pressure of a Firefox window with tabs looking at me. :o)
Stage Manager takes care of these! Now I can have more than one Firefox window in a space and since only one window takes full focus, with the others being thumbnails, I feel like I get the best of both worlds (in terms of the two issues I was talking about in the previous paragraph). Moreover, even in cases where I have for instance TextMate, WorkFlow, and Bear all in the space, I don’t have this window clutter of all three of them open (coz I forgot to close one)… at a time only one has the full window open, rest are just thumbnails.
I guess this works well for me because of my particular workflow. I know most people prefer multiple screens while I prefer a single one (exceptions being when I am on a call and screensharing.. I usually plug in my external monitor for that). I also like having a single window in focus in a space, and I don’t like maximising it because I enjoy seeing the wallpaper behind the window (each space has a separate wallpaper and I am nuts enough to keep changing them often). I like using Spaces, but also want a way of having more than one app in a single space sometimes yet not feel that the space is cluttered. All of these requirements are taken care of by Stage Manager + Spaces.
Mind you, all of this is also with the luxury of the larger 24″ Ultrafine screen. On my smaller 14″ MacBook Pro I don’t know if I’ll enjoy Stage Manager as much. I haven’t updated that to Ventura yet, so can’t test it yet.
Stage Manager (an update; some weeks later)
I now use Stage Manager on both the Mac mini and MacBook Air. I don’t mind it on the MacBook Air either.
Overall I am happy with it except that 1) I feel it is slowing things down (could just be in my head, or a side effect of the additional animations etc. – this thing needs an M1 iPad so is resource hungry) and 2) some things are irritating like how I can’t right click anywhere on the Desktop (to go change the background for instance), or move windows from one Space to another, or (discovered today) any files that appear on the Desktop (screenshots usually) are not visible either. The slowness does put me off, I feel like I am less inclined to use the Mac mini because of that.
Update (a few days after that…)
I turned off Stage Manager on the Mac mini as it started feeling more slow.. enough to make me start hating the Mac mini. This was a device just a few months ago I was in love with as it was so fast, and now it felt janky. This is a Beta 1 OS after all, am sure it has debug stuff etc. turned on and probably not optimized enough… so best to wait for a while.
Also, looks like Screen Sharing (from my laptop to Mac mini) was quirky too… not sure if it’s a Ventura bug or related to Stage Manager.
The day after I turned it off Beta 2 was released. :) So I installed that, and figured I was missing Stage Manager (I really love the “single window” mode it puts my workflow in, plus being able to see all the other windows of that Space on the side) so I turned it on again. Maybe it’s because of the new Beta, it does feel more fluid than before. Fingers crossed.
Moreover, I can now move windows from one Space to another even with Stage Manager turned on. Oh joy!!
Update (two weeks since the first post)
I’ve been mostly using the Mac mini the past few days. It always starts off well, but seems to slow down over use. And some things like Teams screen sharing with Stage Manager is weird because it keeps moving stuff around when I switch between Spaces (because Teams has a small window of its own when you are on a call, and that window keeps grabbing focus when I switch Spaces… and Stage Manager puts it in the centre of the screen).
I turned off Stage Manager again today and that immediately sped up things, so it’s not just me imagining. Am sure I’ll miss it and turn it on again tomm. :)