Friday, January 06, 2012

Dear Apple—Getting the Interface Wrong

I wish to find and open a file—say Switch, a useful program for doing things with sound files. My application folder contains about a hundred and fifty applications and folders, arranged in alphabetical order. To simplify the search for the one I want, I start by pressing S on my keyboard.

The window now shows, as its bottommost file, Safari, the first application that starts with S. Since the file listed at the bottom of the window is the first one starting with S, every other application whose name begins with that letter is now off screen. To get to the file I want, I will have to scroll further down.

Apple is famous for the elegance of its user interface, but in this case it got it wrong. Pressing S ought to either put Safari at the top of the window or System Preferences, the last S file, at the bottom. Either of those would put Switch where I want it—visible.

Until Apple makes that simple fix, I will simply have to remember, when I want to find Switch, to press T.

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13 Comments:

At 4:39 PM, January 06, 2012, Anonymous gesher said...

I agree 100% - because I also like to find my applications in the same manner.

But Apple doesn't want you to reach applications that way. They want you to use the new Launchpad nonsense that was included in Lion. So they don't care about improving the experience for the other methods.

 
At 4:40 PM, January 06, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should maybe be searching using spotlight which learns which files you search for more often and bubble them to the top of the list.

Apple-Spacebar is the keyboard shortcut. That's how I open almost all my apps. I never open the Applications folder.

 
At 4:49 PM, January 06, 2012, Blogger rif said...

Have you tried Quicksilver? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quicksilver_(software)?

 
At 5:57 PM, January 06, 2012, Anonymous LA Liberty said...

Use Spotlight, David. I open everything with it (also a quick dictionary/thesaurus and calculator). Simply command+space and go!

 
At 6:23 PM, January 06, 2012, Blogger John Dougan said...

Workaround: If (working from your example) you quickly type the second letter (w) it will refine the search and move the cursor to the first file that starts with sw (or if there are none, the file after where files that start with sw should be). Only if you delay significantly typing the next letter will it restart the search.

 
At 10:25 AM, January 07, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was using apple over the holiday because i was staying at a hotel and their lobby computer was apple.

OMG, it was the worst piece of design i have ever come across. it reminded me of stuff which gets designed for disabled people. the whole thing was clearly designed and built around people who do not ever want to do anything beyond watching youtube.

i love windows because it lets you have things like right-click and has far better power-user capabilities than apple.

windows XP is the best. and it is a REAL shame that microsoft is now trying to copy apple. it should stick to what it is good at: work and developer orientated functionality. visual basic and visual C++ in my opinion are by far the best piece of software i have ever come across

 
At 7:49 PM, January 07, 2012, Anonymous Andy Z said...

Exactly, windows is the way to go. Ever been to a tech conference? Everyone there uses windows.

Macs are toys. Only n00bs use macs.

 
At 3:25 AM, January 08, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i hate mac but they do have good hardware (as in its very pretty).

to be honest i think dell makes better stuff than apple. dell is simple, sturdy and functional while quite cheap (at least in comparison to apple).

yes, the only advantage apple has is that it is pretty.

 
At 6:39 AM, January 08, 2012, Blogger Johannes said...

I have not personally used it but many knowledgable people advocate Launchbar or Alfred to work around such issues. Personally I would just use Spotlight. But it's really not done well by Apple.

 
At 7:07 AM, January 08, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pressing S ought to either put Safari at the top of the window or System Preferences, the last S file, at the bottom.

A third, possibly even better, solution: center the list of S's on the (vertical) center of the window.

As somebody else pointed out, if you type the second and even third letters of the filename quickly, it'll search for something that starts with all the letters you've typed. But it still puts the first match at the bottom of the window, which is still stupid.

--hudebnik

 
At 9:54 AM, January 08, 2012, Blogger Ilíon said...

"yes, the only advantage apple has is that it is pretty."

Don't discount "way more expensive than it ought to be" as an advantage -- that is, to certain ways of thinking.

Ultimately, what Apple is selling is cachet; and for that it must be relatively expensive and widely known to be so.

 
At 9:56 AM, January 08, 2012, Blogger Ilíon said...

If it's any consolation, I find the search feature of Windows 7 (I expect that Windows Vista had the same) to be uttely useless compared to that of Windows XP and earlier version.

 
At 3:42 PM, January 09, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree. After XP windows took a strange turn where its trying to be apple (whatever their OS is called) with media center and all that crap.

ideally i would have liked microsoft pay more respect to power users and developers. maybe they should make windows for power users and developers and make some other OS for n00bs and apple fan-boys.

 

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