Friday, October 19, 2018

Reduce Transparency and Reduce Motion in macOS Mojave

Craig Grannell:

What you’d expect to happen is for macOS to remove the semi-transparent bits. So instead of Finder sidebars or the macOS app switcher showing what’s beneath them, they’d just have a neutral solid background. Nope. Instead, in its infinite wisdom, Apple’s decided those components should instead be coloured by your Desktop background.

This makes no logical sense. Why should the colour of an interface component be influenced by elements that may be several layers beneath them? Also, this decision can make interface elements less accessible, because you end up with an inconsistent interface (colours shifting as you move a window around the screen) and can impact on legibility (such as when moving a Finder window to the right on the default background, whereupon the sidebar goes a weird brown colour).

Craig Grannell:

So, anyway, I just opened the App Store app on macOS Mojave, and I had the audacity to click on something that was featured and looked quite interesting. WHOOSH went the full-window slide transition. BLORCH went my innards. Through squinting eyes I then did a bit more testing. Clicking Done made the window zoom downwards again. And then I clicked a standard list item. WHOOSH went the full-window slide transition, but, excitingly, in a different direction this time (horizontally). GAH went my brain, asking me to JUST SODDING STOP WITH THIS STUPID EXPERIMENT ALREADY.

This is with Reduce Motion on.

Previously: Is There Hope for the Mac App Store?.

12 Comments RSS · Twitter

It's true, Mojave has partially broken the Reduce Transparency feature by making window elements pick up color from the wallpaper. Nobody who uses Reduce Transparency wants this. For now I'm using Reduce Transparency with the Mojave dynamic background. After a while I can deal with it - the faint orange color window elements pick up is not too horrendous to get used to.

On iOS, apps don't pick up colors from the wallpaper. Every app uses whatever color it decides to, without Apple forcing weird translucencies and "vibrancies" into app backgrounds.

And so it's very weird that Apple keeps forcing colors and translucencies into app windows on the Mac.

Please Apple, when someone has made the effort to enable Reduce Transparency, it means they don't want any weird colors and translucencies showing up anywhere.

Good god, this totally explains why I though Mojave was screwed up when I first installed it and turned on dark mode. All of the dark elements had a gross pink-brown hue. I was like "WTF is Apple thinking making the dark mode this color and not a neutral gray???"

I even tried googling for others that had this issue and found nothing. I thought I was crazy and maybe nobody else cared that Mojave is pink gray with dark mode.

Then after two weeks I decided to change the background (no reason), and noticed that the entire interface changed color! What. The. Hell. There is no explanation of this anywhere until now! I wonder how many other users think the dark mode hue is "off" and have no idea it's because their desktop pic is doing it.

@Ben The other issue with this hue is that it makes drawing a custom background in table/outline views close to impossible because this requires to use a vibrant effect view (with or without a mask).

Tooltips are affected too, as are sheets. What is and isn’t affected by desktop color seems completely arbitrary. I’ve yet to find a combination of settings and desktop color where it *doesn't* look awful.

Aqua used to be the gold standard for human-computer interfaces... now it’s all very jarring and makes the system harder to use, not easier.

Any word on an esoteric pref to remove all the transparency? I vaguely remember a mention at WWDC that there was going to be some option to completely prevent the desktop color from influencing the interface.

> Aqua used to be the gold standard for human-computer interfaces

Not so sure about that. I think in early Aqua versions, you couldn't even switch from the kinda garish blue accent colors to grey accents. All of the UI elements were way too big, there were zero affordances for many interactions, only color (not so great for color-blind people), and all of the animations were way too slow. Personally, while I'm not a super huge fan of where Mac OS X's UI is today, I wouldn't want to go back to the Aqua days.

In my opinion, going from System 7 to Mac OS 8 to Aqua were all steps backwards. We went from an understated, utilitarian design language to an acid trip. That's not what I want from my operating system.

@Lukas "I think in early Aqua versions, you couldn't even switch from the kinda garish blue accent colors to grey accents."

It would be surprising if the popup button had just a Blue menu item.

@Lukas Yeah, after I posted that I took a look through Hackett's screenshot library, and found more frustrations than I remembered.

That said, I'm sure it's not rational, but I still like Panther's UI the best of all. I enjoyed the larger buttons (with unique outlines), an unobscured title bar for easily moving windows around, and the appearance of depth in things like search fields.

Also, drawers! I still miss drawers... to me they have utility that's distinct from sidebars. Panther's is a great example: I don't need to see my mailbox list at all times but when I do, I'd rather not have the main window's interface get scrunched to accommodate that

As for classic Mac OS, that was before my time... are there good screenshot archives somewhere? I'd like to look into it some more to see what I missed.

Quick update: Did some more experimentation and found out that the desktop color only influences sheets and tooltips when Reduce Transparency is *on*... that's gotta be a bug, right?

Also, a comment on Grannell's post mentions that Reduce Transparency + Increase Contrast gets rid of all desktop color influence... just tried it and that seems to be the case. Initially not a fan of the window border they added to the Increase Contrast mode in Mojave, but I'm going to stick with it and see how it goes.

>It would be surprising if the popup button had just a Blue menu item.

Yes, you're right. I'm misremembering something. I do remember Apple adding something to mute colors at some point early in Mac OS X's life span, specifically based on feedback from visual designers, but I'm not sure when or what it was.

Eduard Rozenberg

After installing public beta 10.14.2 Beta (18C38b), it seems the color vibrancy issue is resolved in some UI elements (app sidebars, notifications slideout panel, Spotlight search box) but not yet resolved for the Dock. Almost there...

I wanted the dock a light colour so I could see the tiny tiny black dot that indicates an application is active and I wanted the sidebars to be a neutral colour. This worked for me:

In Accessibility/Display untick Increase Contrast and untick Reduce Transparency. In Desktop & Screen Saver choose Colours, scroll down to Desktop Pictures, choose a light grey background, turn off Change Picture. I used Space Grey. This helps the dock background and also sidebars in several applications. I would prefer to turn off transparency completely and, independently of the desktop background, be able to choose a light colour for the dock but this is at least workable.

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