Archive for March 24, 2021

Wednesday, March 24, 2021 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Mac OS X at 20

Juli Clover (tweet):

On March 24, 2001, a Saturday, Apple began allowing customers to purchase Mac OS X, the successor to the classic Mac OS. The first version of Mac OS X, “Cheetah,” was famous for its “Aqua” interface with a water bubble-style design for everything from windows to buttons.

Jason Snell (tweet):

I’ve written a lot about Mac OS X over the years. Compiling that timeline reminded me of that. I was a features editor at Macworld when Apple began shipping OS X precursors, and so I edited most of our early coverage. Beginning with Mac OS X 10.1, I wrote most of Macworld’s big feature stories covering each release.


(While I wrote shorter reviews for Macworld, John Siracusa was always reviewing OS X at length for Ars Technica. Here’s a list of all his reviews.)

Joachim Fornallaz:

Fun fact: Mac OS X required a Mac with at least 128 MB of RAM, the same amount the original iPhone shipped with 6 years later.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Unless you have an old PowerMac lying around, the only way for you to run this today is via emulation, in qemu-system-ppc. If that’s a rabbit hole you want to jump into today, check out the Emaculation wiki.


Shared Shortcuts URLs Broken

Matthew Cassinelli (tweet, Reddit, Federico Viticci):

Hello all – we’re currently experiencing a fairly major outage for iCloud links related to Shortcuts, and at the moment almost every shortcut that has been shared in the past cannot be installed.


This is still developing and, while it does seem like it’s possible to resolve, I shared a thread where I highlighted how major issues like this are eroding the larger trust in Shortcuts, especially outside the current community – this is a crisis moment for Shortcuts.

I hope Apple is able to dedicate resources to fully overcoming the technical debt accrued inside the Shortcuts ecosystem, as well as restoring trust in the community – the people who are in this community and our ideas for how to use shortcuts are stronger than ever, but we’re constantly trying to stand on uneven ground.

Big Sur’s Sidebar Translucency

Nick Heer (tweet):

But, screen fidelity aside, it was clear after a day that using Catalina felt cramped and messy. Icons and text in the menu bar were not as well-aligned. Rows in the Finder were squished together like every pixel on the display remained precious real estate.

Big Sur changed all of that for the better. There is subtly more space around many interface elements, and there is a clearer sense of structure. But it also introduced problems for readability, many of which are the result of an obsession with translucency and brightness.


That is dark grey text atop a mid-grey button texture in a light grey sidebar. Subjectively, I find it unpleasant to look at; more objectively, it has insufficient contrast. It is the same with the Search field located in an application’s Help menu[…]


Nevertheless, the rest of the system behaves as though the foreground window is comprised of panes of glass, and the background windows are made of solid plastic. Often, this means background windows actually have better contrast than windows in the foreground. […] Several MacOS apps are similarly more legible when they are in the background: Music, Contacts, Calendar’s single day view, Dictionary, and Voice Memos — to name a handful.


Big Sur’s Gray Menu Keyboard Shortcuts

Dr. Drang:

The M1 MacBook Air is the only machine I have running Big Sur, and for the first few days I kept wondering why certain commands were disabled. They weren’t—I was confused about their status because the gray keyboard shortcut was catching my eye and the black command name wasn’t. It wasn’t until I slowed down and looked at the menus carefully that I noticed the contradictory text coloring.

I’ve been using Macs since 1985, and gray text in a menu item has always meant “disabled.” This was true even though early Macs didn’t have true gray. Among Mac users, “grayed out” is a synonym for “disabled” and has been for ages. Now, because looking cool is taking precedence over clear communication, we have menu items that tell us the command is available but the keyboard shortcut isn’t.

Nick Heer:

The presentation of keyboard shortcuts is in that same vein: by making them grey, the thinking presumably went, the command becomes more prominent and indicates availability, while the keyboard shortcut is still shown for those who need it. But is this a problem that needs solving? Are even the pickiest designers bothered by the apparent clutter of keyboard shortcuts in menus? If you want to consider it a problem, this solution means that the keyboard shortcut is hard to read and the meaning of grey text is ambiguous.

Oh, and for extra measure, it is compounded by physical keyboards that do not share the same markings.

Jason Snell:

I always sensed that something was wrong in Big Sur’s menus, but I thought it was the strange decision to have curved edges on the top portions of the drop-down, which breaks the metaphor that they’re connected to the solid edge of the menu bar. But graying out (and that is absolutely what I call it) keyboard shortcuts is also weird and wrong.