Sunday, February 27, 2011

UI Windows Features I Wish Mac OS X Had

It's the little things that matter. Here are some things I wish Mac OS X did that Windows does. I focus mainly on day-to-day user interface issues. Perhaps I'm just struggling to break free of years of Windows habits (although I still use Windows regularly, in addition to Mac OS X, which is my main OS for home and work).
  • Restore all previously-minimized windows when switching back to an application with command+tab (in Mac OS X, to restore all windows, you must hold down option when you command+tab back to an application)
  • The ability to right-click (or CTRL+click) anywhere in a folder and select, New Word Document, or New Text File, etc.
  • In Mac OS X, when you Get Info (command+i) on a selection of fifty files, you get fifty little info windows, one for each individual file, instead of a single info window for all of the selected files in Windows (useful for determining the size of a selection of files)
  • Selective file-level file encryption (i.e., by right-clicking on a file and enabling encryption for that file only) 
  • Better support for open source applications GIMP and Inkscape (have to run in emulated X11 environment making the interface very clumsy and inelegant) 
  • The ability to right-click (or CTRL+click) on a file and select "Send to..." mail recipient, any mounted drive on your machine, or a myriad of other destinations
  • Clicking on the program icon in the dock/taskbar to (un)minimize the application
There are so many great features of Mac OS X that far make up for the above quirks (Exposé and Quick Look, for example). If you have any suggestions on how to easily overcome some of these annoyances, or if you have some other Windows features that you wish Mac OS X had, leave a comment.


    1. Hi Brian,

      I thought I might give you a couple tips related to your post here (in order of your bullets):

      1. I often use the "Hide" command, pressing Command-H. It will completely hide all windows of an application, and when you command-tab back to it, it will bring everything back as you had it before.

      2. New folder: Command-Shift-N. You can use this in every file browsing window, including save dialog boxes.
      New text file: I use a free program called BetterTouchTool to map Command-Option-N to "Create new file in current folder," which is essentially a new, blank text file.

      Note that BetterTouchTool can also do some great things like add the left/right/top window resizing introduced in Windows 7. I can send you a list of my settings for that program via email if you'd like.

      3. Command-Alt-i will get you a single info window for all selected files. Be aware that if you change your selection, the info window dynamically updates for the new selection.

      4. I don't know of anything to get that feature, but I haven't looked much.

      5. Photoshop? :)

      6. Launchbar serves this purpose for me (among many, many other features). Quicksilver can do some of that, too. I haven't tried Alfred (see the App Store), but I hear good things about it.

      7. Not sure here.

      Hope that helps!


    2. Yeah, Command+Option+i is great for Get Info on multiple items! Thanks for that tip! I wish OS X would just default to the "multiple items" get info window if multiple items are selected (or, even give you the number of files selected and the file size of those files in the status bar of your Finder window like Windows does).

    3. Restoring all previously minimized windows when switching back to an application looks like a Firefox 4 bug to me. I don't see any other applications do it, and I wish Firefox didn't.