Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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A few pixels more or less will matter

427 words

What a difference a few pixels can make - a little comparison for fellow Mac OS X.5 sufferers.

When trying to drag another application into the Dock, I always find it rather hard to actually get it in there. Dock icons tend to try staying in place and not open up that gap for a new application unless you aim very precisely. And aiming precisely is rather difficult when you aim at the moving target that enlarge-on-hover Dock icons are.

As a result I usually find dragging applications to the Dock unnecessarily frustrating. This is aggravated by me using the hidden Dock option to activate applications when dragging files to their icon. That’s not super useful for launching applications (which it does as well) but rather convenient for inter application drag and drop: You can drag an icon from a Finder window to Transmit’s Dock icon, Transmit will be activated and come to the front after a moment and you can proceed to drop whatever you are holding in its windows. All in one swoop without needing to use the keyboard. Me likes.

It’s just that when trying to drag an application to the Dock, I frequently find myself launching the application next to its desired location simple because it’s a relatively small spot I am aiming at and the free space in the Dock won’t be created unless I hit it precisely. Being slightly less precise would help here. And if the activate on drag feature had survived the development process officially, it might even be reasonable to ask for the adjacent application icons in the Dock to have slightly smaller sensitive drop targets when an application is dragged to the Dock (except for Script Editor I don’t think there are any applications one drops other applications onto anyway).

An now for something completely different. Looking at the POS known as the Mac OS X Finder and the shitty (caps labeled, tiny icon, mandatory text) sidebar its toolbared windows have. I frequently find myself placing an item into that sidebar when I wanted to drag it into a folder in that sidebar. Here the drop areas for items in the sidebar seem too small to be good while those for placing items in the sidebar seem to be too large ( a whopping eight pixels high if I counted correctly). So this just tips the scale in the different direction.

Unfortunately drag and drop interaction is a situation where you need to scale to be perfectly balanced all the time. Being right ‘on average’ doesn’t do.

July 15, 2008, 0:08

Tagged as dock, drag and drop, finder, os x, ui.

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