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This chapter is from the book

Photoshop on the Windows PC and the Macintosh


After this Lab, you will be able to:

  • Understand Windows PC and Macintosh Differences

There are differences between the Windows and Macintosh interfaces. Many of the most fundamental are behavioral. Windows often sets conditions for some action on the computer then performs the action, rather than acting then modifying, which is the usual behavior of actions on the Maintosh. Some of these differences are cosmetic, like a different use of gray and white for backgrounds or Windows' blue versus Mac's striped lines on the title bar of the selected window. Other differences are the nature of pull-down menus and a different, though similar, set of key commands. Note the interface of Photoshop running under Windows (Figure 1.5) and Photoshop running on the Macintosh (Figure 1.6).

Figure 1.5Figure 1.5 Photoshop 6.0 running under Windows.

Figure 1.6Figure 1.6 Photoshop 6.0 running on the Macintosh.

Photoshop has been carefully designed to operate as similarly as possible for both Windows and Macintosh users, while respecting the behaviors and consistency you expect from your specific computer platform.

One difference between Windows and Macintosh is that a command that uses the Alt key in Windows usually uses the Option key on the Macintosh. In other cases the Command key in Windows is used, when the Control key is used on Macintosh. This book will use the convention "Alt/Option" or "Command/Control" plus the appropriate letter key (i.e., Alt/Option-click or Command/Control-d) when giving a key command for greater efficiency. It means the key preceding the slash is the Windows version, and the key after the slash is the Macintosh version.

It is necessary for a designer to have easy familiarity with both Windows PC and Macintosh platforms in these days of contract employment and rapid change. Yet that doesn't always mean the designer has machines in each platform available. There can be problems when presented with files from the operating system that's not on your desktop, but there are also solutions.

First of all, Photoshop shares files among Adobe products Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat on Windows or Macintosh platforms. If these are the only programs with which you work, you won't have problems.

There are Macintosh-to-PC tools for file exchange and compatibility: MacIn-DOS 3.0 from Pacific Micro (www.publishingperfection.com) works under Windows Explorer, Windows 98 and Windows desktop to exchange files between Mac and PC. It allows user to see the Finder information on Mac OS files and use it to create additional file type associations to make file transfers more easily. MacIn-DOS 3.0 lets you read, write, and format Mac diskettes and other removable storage media on Win 95/98 or NT 4.0 PC.

There are Windows-to-Macintosh tools: There have been PC emulator cards available for the Macintosh since the days of Windows predecessor MS-DOS. The Macintosh operating system itself has the ability to recognize and copy Windows-formatted files and floppies.

Files can be shared between Windows and Macintosh with certain products: MacDrive 98 from Media4 Productions (www.media4.com) can be used to read hard drives, floppies, and portable media from Windows 95, 98, and NT 4.0. It also formats Macintosh disks.

Notes on the Macintosh

The Macintosh—whose best graphical user interface ideas were adapted from the Xerox Star computer—maintained hegemony with the graphic design community for many years. Until the 1990s much more attention was paid to design and testing of the Mac's interface—and evangelization of standardized interface elements and behaviors to third-party developers—than went into Windows or its third-party applications.

Ted Nelson (www.sfc.keio.ac.jp/~ted)—the conceptual father of interactive cyberspace—was one of the first to critique the graphical Macintosh interface and its quirkiness (i.e., asking what does the Finder find?). Since then Donald Norman, Jakob Neilsen, and others have critiqued it from within and without Apple Computer, Inc. During different periods of their corporate histories Apple and Microsoft have each led in attentive and innovative interface design and development; Microsoft gets points for its groundbreaking but unpleasantly implemented system of cartoon Help agents called "Bob" that was released shortly before Windows 95.

Because Apple Computer, Inc. had management problems for much of the 1990s, market share was lost to Intel PCs running Windows, so this platform's interface standards became entrenched along with its market dominance. Someone once observed you stick with the first word processing program you learned, and for most people that's also the case with computer operating systems.

Finally, there's the Web, which is helping to make the tower of Babel between systems irrelevant. The World Wide Web is the greatest factor fighting platform incompatibility. HTML is designed (though there are platform-specific issues to some tools) to be able to be read by browsers on all platforms, including UNIX workstations, as are the GIFs and JPEGs that make up most graphics on the Web.

The nature of GIFs and JPEGs will be explored in detail in Chapter 10.

Macintosh monitors are 72 pixels per inch (ppi), while most Windows PC monitors are 96 dots per inch (dpi). This means that graphics created for the Web on the Macintosh will look smaller in a browser running on the monitors of a Windows system, and that graphics created on a Windows monitor will look larger on a browser running on a Macintosh.

Monitors have their own color casts, which can greatly affect how graphics are perceived on them. Often Windows monitors appear darker than Macintosh monitors, for their gamma is calibrated to 2.5 while the Macintosh monitors are calibrated at 1.8. Monitor calibration can be checked at www.natureimages.com. For more information on color, please see Chapter 8.

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