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15 Things Apple Should Change in Mac OS X 936

Posted by Zonk
from the twitching-the-tiger dept.
richi writes "Two of Computerworld's top operating systems editors, a Mac expert and a Windows expert, compare notes on what Apple should reconsider as it develops Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Mac OS X 10.4, or Tiger, is (in their opinion) a noticeably better operating system than XP or Vista. But it is not perfect. OS X has its own quirks and flaws, and they set out to nail down some of the 'proud nails' for the next release." From the article: "7. Inconsistent User Interface. Open iTunes, Safari and Mail. All three of these programs are Apple's own, and they're among the ones most likely to be used by Mac OS X users. So why do all three of them look different? Safari, like several other Apple-made apps such as the Finder and Address Book, uses a brushed-metal look. iTunes sports a flat gun-metal gray scheme and flat non-shiny scroll bars. Mail is somewhere in between: no brushed metal, lots of gun-metal gray, and the traditional shiny blue scroll bars. Apple is supposed to be the king of good UI, and in many areas, it is. But three widely used apps from the same company with a different look? Sometimes consistency isn't the hobgoblin of little minds."
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15 Things Apple Should Change in Mac OS X

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  • Window Management (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MECC (8478) * on Friday December 15, 2006 @10:23AM (#17254480)
    11. Managing Window Size.
    . . .
    Here's a thought that's simple and solves about 80% of the problem. What if Apple made both lower corners of Mac windows draggable? What if all four corners were? Either of those minor improvements would be quite welcome.

    How about regular click an edge to move the entire window, and control-click-drag anywhere on an edge to resize? (or vice versa)

  • by garcia (6573) on Friday December 15, 2006 @10:29AM (#17254570) Homepage
    I come from an OS/2, Windows, and Linux (some X but mostly CLI as of recent) background. I have a Mac (because of the Mini) and I just cannot get used to using it. In fact, I dislike it in almost every single way. The only reason it continues to be my desktop machine is because my SMP box has a bad CPU fan on one of the chips and I'm too cheap to replace both.

    * I hate the fact that I can never find *anything* I'm looking for. I spend entirely too long searching around for applications, their support files, and system configuration options. I realize that Apple designs these things for people who aren't familiar with computers, but fuck, it makes it hard for someone that is quite comfy with Linux and Windows configurations.

    * I hate the fact that I have no idea what the fuck is going on behind the scenes with the Mac. Yeah, XP has gotten to this point but I guess because I have a basic idea built up over the years from other versions of Windows, I don't mind as much. Being built on Unix, I would expect to understand more about what OS X is doing -- but I don't.

    * I really don't like the fact that I *could* do stuff on the CLI but I can never find out how. The files aren't in the locations I would expect.

    As I said, I use it as my desktop (which is basically web browsing) but that's because I don't have a choice. I have a friend that is amazed as how often mine "pinwheels". I have a 1.42 with a GB of RAM and it still pinwheels constantly. "That's just not right," he says. I agree.

    While I don't think Apple should be like Windows or Linux or OS/2, I really do think that they should reconsider their design choices or make some easy to find options that would change their design to fit the needs of everyone if they so choose (like putting the minimize and close options on the "correct" side of the window ;))
  • Finder ... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15, 2006 @10:32AM (#17254604)
    5/15 points talk about Finder.

    Why not ditch finder (which is a pain to use when you've used Konqueror, Windows Explorer and even Nautilus) once and for all and replace it with a modern and easy to use file manager (Konqueror would be the best candidat IMHO) ?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15, 2006 @10:38AM (#17254698)
    Was the fact i couldnt maximize the windows. Only by placing it on the top-left and dragging to full-screen. Im used to having an option to maximize my windows.

    Also i really missed a quick and simple way to start programs with keyboard. In windows i can do start->run or navigate the start menu easilly, in OSX i had to resort to third-party tools for this (quicksilver).

    Also the fact that during the 6 months i had my mac mini it crashed about 4 times didnt help my mac experience either...

    Its been a few months since i've last used OSX though so im not sure if any of the UI options i missed are currently available in plain vanilla OSX.
  • Maybe it is just me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nick Fury (624480) <> on Friday December 15, 2006 @10:44AM (#17254824)
    The person or persons who wrote this article seemed to be in a hurry to come up with 15 items. Three of them are all about how to view things sorted in Finder and even then they seem to relate back to resizing the window, which is also one of the items listed.

    I think they were rushed to meet a deadline and were really just wanting to cause a ruckus with an editorial piece about how Apple is not to their personal liking. I don't think they actually put much effort into writing this article.

    The shutdown thing is laughable. It actually takes me less key presses to shutdown on my Mac than on my windows machine. If the person writing the article had patience they could also wait the 25 seconds it takes the machine to shutdown automatically once the shutdown button has been pressed. Personally, I use that time to get up and stretch for a few seconds.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15, 2006 @10:52AM (#17254978)
    Because it's not Microsoft. That's the basic reason.
  • by bartlettdmoore (972179) on Friday December 15, 2006 @11:06AM (#17255210)
    Apple continues to drop the ball on the keyboard issue. Many dialog boxes require mouse input when a simple 'arrow over then press enter or spacebar' would be most sensible. What's worse is that some of OS X's dialog boxes respond to keyboard input while others don't--very frustrating! Windows got this right way early (I'm talking version 3 or earlier) and their key bindings have pretty much remained constant (and thus predictable) since. I love the Mac OS, but this drives me--and other power users--crazy! Its time for Apple to get on board with the keys on the keyboard. I'm appalled that the Computerworld article missed this flagrent impediment to using OS X to get things done...
  • by TeacherOfHeroes (892498) on Friday December 15, 2006 @11:16AM (#17255406)
    That is part of my point as well. I'm writing this in Gnome/Ubuntu. I have three window managers installed on this machine (KWin, Metacity, and Beryl), and all of them behave in the same way. I suspect that I could easily apt-get a few more that also behaved the same way. Windows also behaves the same way. Almost everything behaves in that same way. I realize that Apple likes to be different, but sometimes it would be nice if they at least included the option for the rest of us to do things the way that we're used to doing them. I know, I know, I have no right to demand anything from them. Thing is, Apple's big push now seems to be in winning converts from other operating systems. While I wouldn't hold some unusual default settings against them (I may very well like some of the different ways of doing things), I would very much like to have at least the option of changing things a bit.
  • by pubjames (468013) on Friday December 15, 2006 @11:26AM (#17255594)
    I want to be able two have two applications running "in the foreground" simultaneously.

    What do I mean? Well, I have two big monitors and often work with several applications at once, for instance, Photoshop and Flash or Photoshop and Final Cut Pro. I would like to be able to run them side by side, simultaneously, not have just the one in the "foreground" open.

    The problems at the moment are that it is very fiddly to position palettes etc between two applications so they do not overlap, lots of the palette windows disappear when when an application is not in the foreground, and there are lots of other petty annoyances.
  • Re:Window Management (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GreatDrok (684119) on Friday December 15, 2006 @11:26AM (#17255608) Journal
    "there must be something wonderful about only using the bottom, right corner "

    When I got my first Mac (I liked it so much I now have four) it drove me nuts as did having to use the menu bar at the top of the screen. Also things like the mouse cursor disapearing when I scrolled a window or clicking into a window only bringing it forward rather than activating the button I clicked on. These were all things which nearly caused me to dump the platform but over time I learned that there is something wonderful about it. Muscle memory is the key. I have found that I can now do things much more quickly than originally because a flick of the mouse takes me to the top left of the screen where I hit the menu with great accuracy (trackpad too). When I want to resize a window, woosh, straight down to the bottom right corner and zip the window is resized. No danger of hitting close because I decided to widen the window up near the close button. Losing the mouse cursor when you scroll? I wouldn't have it any other way. On Windows it annoys the heck out of me that the mouse doesn't disappear when I scroll.

    As more people come to the Mac from Windows, this discussion will keep coming back. The way the Mac does things isn't wrong or broken. Its just different and in time it becomes second nature.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 15, 2006 @12:45PM (#17257086)
    What you don't seem to understand is that you've insulted just about every Apple user out there that says they believe MacOS is the best. When someone says this:

    "Come on, despite what all the Apple fanboys say it's just an OS. If you don't like it, go elsewhere and don't waste your time getting frustrated. There are better things to do in life!"

    with s/Apple/Linux/g you'll be flamed and called a whiney Windows/Mac fanboy. I just don't understand the mentality that it's ok for linux to be complex and irritating and if you leave, you're a loser...but don't waste your time when it comes to MacOS or Windows...

  • Re:Window Management (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The One and Only (691315) <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Friday December 15, 2006 @12:54PM (#17257264) Homepage
    The problem isn't that the users don't "get" OSX. OSX is just an operating system. You're talking about it like it's the hardest quantum theory any mere mortal could never hope to understand.

    Quite true. The problem isn't not learning OS X, the problem is not unlearning Windows. "Take up the whole fucking screen with this window" makes sense in a GUI that's based on tiling (and, despite overlapping windows having been introduced in W95, Windows is still more of a tiling GUI--no differentiation between windows and applications, menu bars in every window, etc.). The Mac GUI isn't about tiling, so the "take up the whole fucking screen with this window" functionality doesn't mesh as well with the rest of the GUI. When I work in Windows, I always want to "take up the whole fucking screen with this window" because that keeps the menu bar in a predictable location. Windows, in effect, isn't really a single multitasking workspace so much as an implementation of multiple workspaces, with one application/window/form per workspace. The motivation behind wanting Mac OS X to "take up the whole fucking screen with this window" stems partly from being stuck in the Windows singletasking frame of mind, and partly from boneheaded software vendors who design the same UI for all OS's so that Photoshop or Office has to take up the whole fucking screen by design. (Mac-only software often has a minimalist UI that can peacefully coexist with other windows and applications, unless it actually requires that much space. Tasks that are usually done with space-sucking toolbars get put into Inspector windows and such.)

    Nonetheless, there's nothing stopping you from making a single Mac OS X window take up the whole fucking screen. Just hide the dock, move your window into the top left corner, and resize it until it takes up the entire screen. It's just a pointless and silly task in the Mac GUI so there's no easy shortcut for it.

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Friday December 15, 2006 @01:08PM (#17257490)
    This list reflects a lot of "windows user" bias and ignorance about the features currently in tiger.

    I'll go through the points I take issue with.. if I don't touch them it means I think theyre valid.. and there were at least a few valid ones.

    14 - a widget on the desktop is called an application... exactly what is so inconvenient about pressing the f12 key. Even on a several year old system the dashboard loads quickly enough.

    13 - it's called fruit menu [], a convenient little shareware app which, among other features you'll like (which i'll get to later), gives you about a million different ways to customize contextual menus with negligible resource footprints.

    12 - I think someone doesn't know what the f10 key does ; )

    11 - valid, but I for one don't like the idea of windows resizing on me when i want to simply move them to the side, so make it optional like hot corners.

    10 - remember fruit menu []? it makes the apple menu customizable like the windows start menu.. simply add your application folder to the apple menu with this baby installed and it's right there.

    9 - next you'll be complaining that because GM put's their headlight switch on the dash rather than the steering wheel, asian imports should do it to. Don't like raising your finger to hit the FN key? get a pc.. geez.. i'm a touch typist and have never had a problem with this.

    7 - This is not a functionality issue.. it's an "I don't like it" issue.. well some people like to have a bit of asymmetry in their surroundings.. i don't know about you but if every room in my house was painted the exact same color i'd get really really bored..

    6 - valid but nitpicky...i've never had the screen dim at an inopportune time.. i've compiled mplayer and run it from a shell and have watched 2 hour movies on my macbook without troubles with it. if youre really anal about it i'm sure there's a hack for it somewhere..

    4 - interesting.. but another point which i'd like to see as optional.. I often come across files from places like image boards where the name is a VERY long hash value. I don't want a column that's 1200px wide and hanging off the screen, thank you.

    3 - it's called drag and drop.. you can find the file you want in finder, drag it and drop it into the column view application dialogue. (sometimes it needs twice).. there is a second option of simply grabbing the icon of the file in the title bar of the window you have it opened in and dragging it to the dialogue that way.

    2 - nitpicking again. I regularly drag files into a space 3 px across.. have a lot of windows? that's what expose' is for. Additionally, if youre moving files between drives it helps to prevent loss in the event of some catastrophic failure.

    1 - i do a lot of file manipulation on my computer.. use it intensively.. and i've never had issue with dynamic updating. In fact the one thing I do notice is a nifty little feature in the finder where a renamed file will wait about 10 seconds before refreshing to it's proper location on a list or column.. in the case of folders this is very helpful.

    finally.. that list really betrays some bias.. come on.. that same tired "second mouse button" thing?
  • by Striver (612368) on Friday December 15, 2006 @01:12PM (#17257568)
    While it doesn't address the issue directly, this actually highlights the fundamental difference between Microsoft and all other competitors in this market and is the primary reason Microsoft keeps kicking butt in this market even though their products are technically inferior.

    Many, many years ago I worked in an auto body shop. The owner of the shop had a simple rule, it didn't matter what went into the repair job. For all he cared you could fill a hole in a quarter panel with moldy donuts and used up steel wool pads, just as long as the end result appeared completely professional to the customer.

    This is the strategy Microsoft has followed and it works, obviously. It isn't so much a matter of things working one way in windows and another way in OS X. Take window sizing for example. In windows, grab the corner, side, top, bottom or even right click the task bar icon. It makes no all works. Want to change the name? Slowly double click the file, or right click and select rename or just about any other way that seems logical, Windows is right there for you looking very professional. Want to delete a file? Highlight and hit the delete key, or drag to the waste basket, or right click and select delete, whatever works easiest for you, we are all different and windows is right there for you looking completely professional no matter how you waant to do it.

    Mac people, and for that matter linux people and the bulk of the open source community just don't get this at all. Once the functionality is there and it can be accessed some way, they figure the job is done. When you complain that it doesn't work well with your work flow they say, "Tough cookies, it's my way or the highway." Microsoft's response is, "You want it this way? Fine, no problem! You want it that way? well there you go! You want it another way? Well that is in there too!"

    That is all the average customer ever sees and they assume that everything behind it, right down to the kernel, is just as professionally put together. They never see the bailing wire and duct tape holding that fine professional interface in place. Out of sight, out of mind. And that is why Microsoft is going to continue to dominate the market even though everything they make is crap.

    The competition, on the other hand, reminds me of a guy I knew back in the 70s. He had this old beat up Chevy, ran like a fine clock. Blow the doors off of anything on the road. Mechanically prefect from one end to the other. It was also four different shades of primer and you had to crawl through the windows to get in.
  • by ronanbear (924575) on Friday December 15, 2006 @01:56PM (#17258282)
    Or what if I want to zoom in and then resize so that I can still see all of the document. On windows if I'm reading a pdf in zoom to fixed width mode and I maximize the window then the page zooms in so that there's no whitespace.

    Perfectly easy to get a pdf to take up the full screen (-taskbar, scrollbar and toolbars). On OSX I have to drag the window to the top left. Manually resize the window and then rezoom. It takes a lot longer (if you're doing it often) when all you want to do is be able to read some text. Instead there's a green button which doesn't appear to do anything sometimes.

    I like OSX but it is something I find very infuriating.
  • by hackstraw (262471) * on Friday December 15, 2006 @05:17PM (#17261410)
    The problem is that Windows Users (and apparently Linux Users) expect the zoom button (on the Mac) to take up the entire screen, so that it hides all other open windows. it doesn't do that.

    This is the second time I've read this in this thread.

    Windows users have been conditioned to only want to view one window at a time, which is perfectly fine, and the Mac has a thing hides the current application, and one that hides other applications. Also, there are things like 30" widescreen monitors that are the desire of all Mac users, and viewing things like slashdot in a web browser maximized across a 30" monitor simply makes little sense.

    Microsoft has enabled a number of features that have become habits of users as "hacks" or whatever to achieve a secodary goal. My .sig claims that MS invented the forward slash as an example. They did. Before MS decided to use the backslash as a path deliminator and everybody else uses the slash character, people then started using other systems, especially the WWW where the "forward slash" was used. The backslash deliminator thing has been confusing for quite some time. In developing on a windows environment, C/C++ #include statements and certain functions can (almost always) interchangably use a forward or a backward slash. The same goes for other MS products. On some versions of IE on an IIS webserver (some versions??) forward and backward slashes can be used interchangebly and/or they are stripped out or some unique behavior to that particular version.

    What also kills me is that a / is a reserved character and cannot be used in a filename in windows, but a backslash can be a legitimate character in other systems.

    Yes, there are a number of quirks and inconsistancies in OSX, but they have not turned into workstyles and have not affected people's view of computing.

"The vast majority of successful major crimes against property are perpetrated by individuals abusing positions of trust." -- Lawrence Dalzell