Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Always Show Window Proxy Icons

Adam Engst:

While I’m glad that Apple added an Accessibility option to make the window proxy icons visible again, I firmly believe that hiding them by default remains a mistake. Proxy icons show what type of content is in the window, and with documents, they visually link the document to its app. The proxy icon for a Pages document looks different from the proxy icon for a TextEdit document or any other app—it’s a valuable visual hint to the user.


Clicking the downward-pointing arrow next to the title reveals a popover that lets you rename, tag, move, and lock the file. […] Unfortunately, the popover doesn’t provide nearly the same level of functionality as the proxy icon. Consider these real-world examples of how I use proxy icons, only one of which could be accomplished through the new popover interface[…]

Monterey also added a Show toolbar button shapes accessibility option. I typically run my Mac with that, Show window title icons, and Reduce transparency. I used to use Increase contrast, too, but am less happy with how it looks in recent macOS versions.


Update (2024-03-08): Pierre Igot:

A constant source of irritation for me since Apple revamped the window toolbar/title bar: When the window title is half hidden, and you click on it to make it editable, if you go too fast, BEFORE macOS has a chance to reveal it in full, then the click fails to make it editable and is effectively ignored.

10 Comments RSS · Twitter

"Accessibility" is now a misnamed catch-all for "Usability".

There's also a high risk that Apple will eventually remove this altogether, with the argument that few people turned it on.

Which, of course not, because it was off by default, and few knew of the feature's existence.

Kind of a far cry from 8.5's(?) introduction as a neat new feature.

(Did Copland have this?)

The another thing I’ve found that “helps to fix” Big Sur/Monterey is "defaults write -g NSAlertMetricsGatheringEnabled -bool false” to fix the alerts to be horizontal, instead of vertical. Weird defaults key, great results

Thanks for the tip! This feature was sorely missed.

The command line equivalent is:
defaults read com.apple.universalaccess showWindowTitlebarIcons -bool true

> There's also a high risk that Apple will eventually remove this altogether, with the argument that few people turned it on.
> Which, of course not, because it was off by default, and few knew of the feature's existence.

Furthermore, the type of people who change buried default settings also tend to be the type of people who disable the collection of telemetry information, which makes Apple's usage metrics look even worse for settings such as these.

After I had this realization a few years ago, I intentionally re-enabled analytics data sharing on my Mac and my on iPhone. Hopefully, a few other advanced users had the same realization, so Apple's metrics on "Reduce Transparency" etc. don't look quite as bad as they would have otherwise.

@Linus - Holy Shit. I might install Monterrey now. (I despise the vertical NSAlerts)

From where did you learn about "NSAlertMetricsGatheringEnabled"?

Literally the only source that I could find for it online is this tweet: https://twitter.com/LeoNatan/status/1466897436899790849

And I could only find that tweet using Bing. Google shows no results (when searching "NSAlertMetricsGatheringEnabled" with quotation marks)

Ben Kennedy

Linus and Mike: Holy shit indeed! I learned about the proxy icons and toolbar button shapes from this blog (and twitter), but the alert restoration is revelatory. Thanks for this!!

I was wondering why that tweet was getting attention. :)

I discovered this when trying to understand why some alerts show up in the legacy layout, and found that user default key. Unfortunately, there isn’t a similar key to restore sheets to appear in their pre-Bug Sir layout.

You know what I miss? Safari used to have this awesome feature where you could navigate the URL hierarchy by command clicking the title. I remember doing it on my G5.

So if you were at http://site.com/stuff/things/crap/items/blah.html you would command click the title and you'd get a menu that had "items", "crap", "things", "stuff", and "site.com" and you could use it to navigate back to any of those directories.

I am always editing the URL for various reasons (often just because of the piss poor navigation on a lot of sites). And of course this has only gotten worse and worse: hiding the full URL by default (who the hell thought that was a good idea???), and then center aligning until you click it (so now it's always at least 2 clicks).

I predict in 5 years they'll screw it up even more somehow.

The assholes took away "NSAlertMetricsGatheringEnabled" in Ventura.

Seriously, Apple, screw you. Stop shoving this iOS bullshit down our throats.

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