So I admit it, I’m a MacHead. My Windowsearthal friends detest it – the cloud of smug which rises up from my Powerbook. But I want to prove I’m not beyond some criticism of the glorious thing that is MacOSX. Here are my top 4 MacOSX Usability bugbears, and yes, it does feel rather sacreligious …
1. Minimize is irreversible without the mouse
I love the Dock. I love my keyboard. I enjoy being to Apple-M windows away, but I also want to be able to make those windows come back with my keyboard – without switching to my mouse.
Reversible interactions is one of the cardinal rules of Usability. Come on Apple, please make the Dock keyboard accessible! I know I could simply layer my application windows and use Expose, but sometimes a bloke just wants an uncluttered desktop.
Possible solution: this article on arstechnica refers to a “Full keyboard access” feature which gives you complete control over the Mac from your keyboard. The catch is that its buggy … and its so buried that I can’t find it within the preferences …
2. Non- shortcutable Preferences
I use some of the MacOSX preferences everyday, e.g. Network. But getting there is a hassle (Apple menu -> Location -> Network Preferences, or Apple Menu -> System Preferences). I tend to use Spotlight which helpfully includes them in results (but see problem 3 below). I’d love to be able to have a simple link from my Dock.
Possible solution: there is some talk of esoteric keyboard shortcuts to some of the preferences, but I don’t want to remember such detail …
3. Spotlight results reordering
Spotlight is a great thing, but I hate the way it keeps resorting after the first items have appeared. Again, this is really poor usability … I’d almost suggest not displaying results until they are all in. I’m invariably after a sub-panel of preferences, and the number of times I’ve clicked on a document due to reordering. Grrr.
4. Those mini windows which aren’t quite real windows
Why does Apple use those mini-windows for certain features like the Colour Picker (see pic below)? Why is this annoying? Well they don’t obey all the keyboard shortcuts (e.g. Apple-` to switch between application windows), and you can’t minimize them. Also, the close/maximise icons top-right are half the size of normal windows’ ones. Cue Fitts-law fiddliness.
Thats it – enough ranting. Please let me know if I’m being an idiot regarding any of the above!