Eight Windows Features Mac OS X Should Adopt

Eddie Hargreaves has a nice write-up of nine Windows features Mac OS X should adopt. I agree (or at least don’t disagree) with eight of them. However the one I part company on is #5, “Refresh keystroke/toolbar button for Finder windows”. Eddie explains:

Nearly every major revision of OS X has touted an “improved Finder” and one of the improvements has been the updating of folder contents. But there are still occasions where a file has been updated and its appearance in a Finder window goes unaltered. Windows toolbars have a refresh button that can be used to update the contents of the window. Since Apple has already copied the concept of making Finder windows look and act like browser windows (forward/backward buttons) they should add a refresh or reload button. They wouldn’t even have to create a new toolbar button icon, since they could just use the one from Safari. They could even use the same keyboard shortcut, since Command-R is currently unused in the Finder. Ideally, a refresh button shouldn’t be needed in the Finder at all, but we’ve seen four major revisions of OS X and it still hasn’t become unnecessary.

Sorry. That is totally the wrong solution to the problem, and totally a Windows way of thinking. You do not put an extra button in to make the computer do something it can and should do automatically. If there’s a problem with auto-detecting the need for refresh, then you fix the underlying problem so auto-refreshs happen automatically. You do not complexify the interface. The product is done when there’s nothing more to take out, not when there’s nothing left to put in.

5 Responses to “Eight Windows Features Mac OS X Should Adopt”

  1. Mike Roberts Says:

    I agree with you in principle, but it’s definitely something I puzzled over when I started ‘switching’. It should definitely be possible to make things work correctly with local or standard filesystems, but what about when you’re using a remote or non standard FS (e.g. the new Mac Fuse stuff that Google open sourced)? If they don’t have an effective update callback on update, then you’re forced to either poll automatically for changes (which could eat network bandwidth) or let the user refresh manually.

    As it stands right now I’m forced to unmount / remount or use the terminal in certain scenarios.

    I guess this can be summarised as ‘fix the underlying problem if you have control of it, otherwise provide a workaround’

  2. John Cowan Says:

    I agree with Mike Roberts. The computer is the network nowadays: two of the various “disks” I have mounted on my Windows box are my home directory on ccil.org (via FTP) and my Amazon S3 account (via WebDAV and JungleDisk). There’s no way that those sites can send some Mac-specific notification that something has changed.

  3. Eddie Hargreaves Says:

    Thanks for your response to my write-up. It was much more well-reasoned and thoughtful than a lot of comments I’ve seen. I do agree with you in theory and want to point out that I wrote “Ideally, a refresh button shouldn’t be needed in the Finder at all”

    Although the Finder has improved in the area of updating its contents, it isn’t perfect. There are still ocassions where I have to manually select files to get their info to update in the list view columns. Best case scenario is that they simply fix the Finder so I don’t have to select any files or hit a Refresh button. But after nearly six years of waiting for that wonderful world, I’ve kind of given up hope on that front.

    Also, I was wrong when I wrote that Command-R is not currently used in the Finder. It is actually used for Find Original, which I do use on occasion and would not want changed.

  4. Robert Michel Says:

    You could use the same reasoning to argue that we remove the reload button from our web browsers. File systems can change just as quickly as web pages and can be just as expensive to poll.

    I agree there is an underlying problem, but I don’t agree that it can be fixed.

    The underlying problem isn’t with the Finder (or Explorer), but with the way the file system works. To remove the reload button, I need the file system to tell my app when to reload. The problem is getting all file systems to do this reliably.

    And in the absence of an auto-notifying file system, what should the Finder do? Poll more often?

  5. laurens Says:

    Hi, as a Windows user I was looking for a reload-button aswell, to check the progress of backup files being uploaded to ‘My First Mac’. Apart from the fact that the world would be so much easier with Explorer and Finder updating automatically, the fastest way to quickly reload finder is ‘apple ]’ followed by ‘apple [‘.

    Maybe this is useful to anyone!

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