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Things I'd Like to See in Leopard

Damien Barrett

WWDC is rapidly approaching and along with it we'll get our first preview of the features in Leopard. And so I've started to think seriously about the things that I'd like to see in Leopard. In no particular order:

A New Finder
I've disliked Mac OS X's Finder since Mac OS X first shipped. It's not nearly as streamlined or versatile as it should be. It wasn't until Tiger that the Finder began to handle gracefully a disconnected server volume. I certainly don't miss the days when a disconnected server volume often meant restarting the computer. The Finder has gotten better by degrees, but it's still got a long way to go. For instance, why can't we have the Finder columns autosize itself to filenames so the full filename(s) is visible instead of having the user have to manually resize the column width? And if the Finder can remember window placement, why can't it remember a custom column width that I've manually set on a window? Also, why can't the green plus button be either a zoom/shrink button (as it is now) or a maximize button (a la Windows)? While I personally don't like full-screen window usage, I know that having such a UI element as an optional preference would greatly ease the switching process for Windows users. And why must we resize our windows only from the bottom right corner? Writing about the Finder just makes me angry, so I'll move on now.

Better Save/Save As Dialog Boxes

There used to be pretty good keyboard control over many of the dialog boxes that we're presented with. For instance, if you go to save a file, most of the Save As dialog boxes would also respond to hitting the letter S as if you were clicking the Save button; and hitting the letter C on the keyboard would cancel the dialog. But since Mac OS X's debut, this behavior is all over the place. Some programs are written to understand this, but most simply don't have the fine-tuned keyboard control. I know many many people who would immediately gain a major productivity boost were this type of feature to be included in Leopard or if Apple encouraged developers to use build this type of keyboard control into their applications. We used to be able to do it; why can't we now.

A Dashboard Toggle
This is an easy one. I already use the great Dashboard Killer to disable Dashboard on some of my machines. If it's so easy to turn off Dashboard, then why isn't this just a preference in the operating system?

Better Menubar Item Control
I don't know about you, but on my computers, everything has its place and generally my icons don't move around. Once I've put an icon or a program in it's proper place on the desktop or in the Dock, I do not want it to move around. I rely heavily on motor memory to stay productive. Dock icon magnification wants to make me punch someone; thankfully I can turn it off. So why can't I then have better control over the load order of my menubar items? Why is it that sometimes the Airport menubar item loads before the iSync one and vice versa?

A Better Firewall
The IPFW-based firewall in Tiger is pretty good, but it could be so much better. How much better? Well, it could be just like Little Snitch, and then I'd be happy. Give us better information about incoming and outgoing activity and a way to build rules on the fly based on that activity. It's only a matter of time before our platform is hit with a real virus or trojan, and having a great firewall would be a big step towards protecting us against unwanted intruders.

Better CD-RW and CD-R Burning in the Finder
In Windows, it's very easy to add more data to an already-burned CD-R or CD-RW. With tools like the excellent BurnXFree, you can add more sessions to a CD-R or CD-RW, but when burning in the Finder, you have to either settle for one session for every CD-R (essentially a one-time burn) or completely erase the CD-RW and then write to it again new. This is very clumsy behavior and not logical. Simply put, please allow me to add data to a CD-RW in the Finder without having to erase it first.

Well, I could go on all night. I'm sure some of you have things you'd like to see in Leopard. Let's hear it. What's your wishlist look like?

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