Oversights and Opportunities

The current incarnation of the MacOS is far and away the best user experience there is when it comes to desktop computing. At least, thatís my not so humble opinion. Thatís a far cry from saying that its perfect, which it isnít. Its certainly elegant, which has always been my favorite way of describing it. For whatever reason, there have been some oversights which I would never have expected to pass muster in Appleís testing groups.

As any other obnoxious Mac user will tell you, one of the keys to the Macís ease of use is its consistency. Problems like the oneís iím about to describe tend to tarnish that image. Hopefully Apple is paying attention and will take more care in grooming Panther before its released into the wild.

This listing is by no means a comprehensive one. Some of the issues arenít even all that important. But they are the glitches I run into over and over again.

Safari-
Why on Earth does Safari depart from the established standard for customizing the toolbar? Whereís my little widget which SHOULD be in the upper right corner of the window?
While Iím harping on Appleís topnotch browser, which I really do like, Iíd sure like to see all the media loading switches relocated to the same preference panel. Right now you have to be in Appearance to turn image loading on and off but you have to take a trip over to Security to flip the bits back and forth for pop-ups, JavaScript, Java, and plug-ins such as QuickTime, Flash, and so forth. Canít we please put them all in the same place? Better yet, get them out of prefs and put them in the toolbar so I donít have to keep the preferences open all the time.

iPhoto-
The problem I spend the most time stumbling over is the key command for ëHide Othersí under the iPhoto menu. ëHide Othersí is there, but the key command is AWOL. Do you have any idea how many times Iíve stabbed the apple-option-H keys only to wonder if my fingers are more confused than usual?

There is something that's far worse though. Have you ever tried to export a series of pictures as a slide show? Itís a decidedly cool feature, if you havenít tried it already. But when you want to include a piece of music from your iTunes library the only option you get is a check-box, thereís no way to actually choose the desired track. In order to select a specific track, you have to make a trip over to the ëSlideshowí feature. Worse, you actually have to start a slideshow, briefly at at least. If you make the change and just close the slideshow window the selection doesnít hold.
Last but not least, you canít change the date/time for groups of files. You can easily make that change for an album or for an individual file, but if you select a whole group of files the date field grays out.

Preview-
I only have one minor complaint about this very useful little tool. The File menu has a ëNew From Pasteboardí option. Pasteboard? Yes, I confess this one is pretty nit picky, but everywhere else in the MacOS the reference has been ëClipboardí, not Pasteboard.

Mail-
I just love Mailís Junk feature. Its usually pretty effective. Every now and then a piece of spam leaks through and I actually open it to see what it is. It would be really convenient if I could add a ëJunkí button to the toolbar in open message windows. That its missing is what I call an oversight.
It would also be nice if I could set a default account to be used when creating new messages. As it is, new messages are created according the the account where the currently selected message resides. Iíve sent more than a few messages from the wrong account because of this.
Finally, like many others, I need to be able to flip a switch in the toolbar of an already open message so that any HTML, graphics, etc. can be rendered on the spot. Iím sure not going to leave that on by default!

QuickTime Player-
Apple has seen fit to turn QuickTime into a revenue stream and since split its functionality into a light version and a pro version. That's not my beef. The problem I have is that QuickTimeís adware is downright annoying. I know I donít have a pro version. If I decide I need a registration key, Iíll buy one. For now, canít I just open the player in peace?

Finder-
The Finder is one of, if not the, most important pieces of user software on our Macs. Unfortunately its gotten second rate treatment from its developers. I know that it does have some multithreading, evidenced by its oh-so-advanced ability to empty the trash while weíre doing other things. Unfortunately it seems to come to a grinding halt when it mounts volumes, particularly server share-points.

It doesnít do well at all when its trying to display or manipulate directories holding hundreds or thousands of items.
Its particularly bad when using the built-in SMB software to work with Windows servers.

Speaking of accessing remote services, what is this nonsense about not honoring the user privileges specified when connecting to FTP servers? Read-only is just not acceptable.

Oh, and can we get rid of that silly network icon displayed in the root directory? If the services are set up and used regularly, by all means, display it. Otherwise its just an annoying distraction that does not afford any network access at all.

Iím sure a few of these things, if not most, will be corrected in Panther. If nothing else the Finder is getting a major rewrite and weíve seen evidence that some of the other apps are getting some serious attention. The thing is, Apple needs to pay closer attention to all these devilish details. XP is nipping on the Macís heels. Like it or not, Microsoft has learned its lessons and is finally working to craft a usable product or two. Now is no time for the iSteve to be spending too much time under the influence of his own reality distortion field.