by Chris Howard
Jul 05, 2006
Last week Devanshu discussed rumors of what might come in Leopard; I pondered if Leopard would leap ahead; and around the web, others began discussing what they hope will be in Leopard. So I’m throwing my hat into that last ring, because there are a couple of things under it that haven’t been mentioned elsewhere. Others, such as Automator and Spotlight improvements, everyone is asking for.
1. Automator usable and user-friendly
Automator promised so much but hasn’t delivered. A horde of people will disagree, but who are they? They’re more likely to be the power-users. Automator was promised as a tool for the average person. Steve said it was for people like him and he always gives the impression he understands the average guy. On that it has failed to deliver. Automator is not automatically learned or understood. It’s great for the person who really, really needs it and they will make the time to learn it, but for the rest of us, it has been a let down.
Even with a background in programming (albeit a few years ago now) and I’m yet to successfully build a useful automator workflow. Sure I can build plenty I don’t need. However, any time I’ve had an idea for a Workflow, it has been stymied by either a lack of the necessary Actions, a lack of functionality within what is available, or plain old not being able to work it out with out spending a lot of time on it. Automator shouldn’t take time to learn or write Workflows.
Automator needs both a much larger set of Actions as well as being easier to use. It also needs to come with a truckload of free Workflows so the average user can be more likely to find what he wants there, than by having to write his own.
2. Screen partitioning
I’ve submitted this one to Apple a couple of years ago so hopefully they’ve worked it out. I want to be able to split my screen in two. Thus I can have have one large part for the applications I’m working in, and a smaller part for things I want to keep visible.
3. Wake up Macs remotely
In our house, I print to a printer on another Mac. Problem is, often when I want to print, that Mac is sleeping so I have to go wake it up. Even though Wake on LAN is enabled it doesn’t wake when it is sent a print job. It should. Likewise when I want to connect to another Mac on my LAN to access files. Fortunately I discovered a wonderful piece of freeware, WakeOnLAN from ReadPixel which enables me to wake other Macs. But really, this should be built into OS X.
Spotlight needs one interface. Currently there are four.
Spotlight also needs to be much faster. It flies on my kids’ computer with not many files, but takes 10 to 20 seconds to return results on my Mac with thousands of files. (And mine is higher specced than there’s)
It also needs more flexible querying, such as plain english search queries and boolean searches.
Who else hates having to press the spacebar before a search in Finder so you can select the location to search. Spotlight should search the location you are in by default, not the last used one.
5. An application launcher
OS X needs an application launcher. Overflow is my favorite. Other folks would prefer something else such as Butler or QuickSilver, but the fact is, many Mac users aren’t happy with the current application launching process in OS X.
6. Screen captures
The screen capture function of OS X needs to be configurable. Options should allow selecting the folder captures are saved to; whether or not to create a hierarchical folder structure based on date; and what format to save captures in.
Growl is the notifications god. OS X should include this functionality. Some would say it’s a bit Windows-ish to have notifications, but the popularity of Growl would say otherwise.
8. Finder fixes
We could probably write a single article of the Top 100 things people want fixed in Finder. Here’s a few:
- Tabbed windows
- Navigation when dragging and dropping. i.e. If I hold the dragged file over the Back button, then Finder will navigate back the path I came.
- Cut command on context menu
- Option to sort folders to the top of the file lists
- A refresh window key (like even Windows has this i.e. F5 key). Auto-refresh that is supposedly in Tiger doesn’t always work, or not work fast enough. I just compacted a file and waited 20 minutes for the Finder window to refresh the file size. Get Info told me it was different but the Finder window didn’t update the file’s size until I swapped to a different folder and back again.
We know booting Windows will be in Leopard but me and zillions of other Mac users are really hoping that something like Parallels Desktop will be built into OS X. Andit’d be great if it has the ability to boot multiple OS X virtual machines.
10. Multi-user that works properly
There needs to be some serious improvement to the multi-user environment. By that I mean where there’s more than one user account on a Mac.
Hands up anyone who has had difficulty getting an application to work in a non-administrator user account. (A throng of hands appears.) Google Earth for instance. Haven’t solved that one yet. Most times the problem can be solved by finding the right file permissions to change. Problem with that is, when Joe Average brings home that shiny new program for little Johnny Average, installs it, and then finds it only works under his own login, what’s Joe do? Either he lets Johnny on his login; or he makes Johnny an administrator. Joe doesn’t understand about file permissions.
And something worse happens. He curses Macs and tells all his friends to not believe what you hear about Macs being so reliable and user-friendly.
You could say it’s the application developer’s fault for not putting files that in the right place but in that case can’t the OS feedback what file the application is having trouble accessing? And telling Joe what he needs to do.
In administrator accounts, I’d also like System Preferences to tell me when I’m editing a global setting (affects all users) and when I’m editing a local setting (only affects the current user). And I’d also like to be able to access all System Preferences from any account, but of course, with administrator authentication where necessary.
11. Third-party utilities
With excellent utilities such as Growl and Overflow available for the Mac, if Apple is not going to include functionality to match those and others, why not include the utility itself with OS X?
Macs have often included third party applications such as WorldBook, Quicken, Comic Life, Art Director’s Toolkit, OmniGraffle and so on. So instead of killing off some small guy, why not include his/her OS enhancment utility. My suggestions would be: Growl, Overflow, iClip and TextExpander for starters.
This is not technically a Leopard enhancement and could be rolled out with any Mac, but why not include them in the Leopard install? Otherwise, include them with every Mac.
12. Eye Candy
With Microsoft copying so much of OS X’s eye candy (Dashboard, Exposé etc), Leopard is going to need something else to wow the masses and to make it stand out as being ahead of Vista. So a bit more eye-candy wouldn’t go astray.
If you want to make this list a baker’s dozen, add my issues about Parental Controls.
Well there’s my wish list. The question now is, what’s yours? Oh, and if you disagree with any of mine or anyone else’s, you don’t really need to flame us. We’d much rather hear what features you hope will be in Leopard
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