Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/05/27/tiger_ui_letters/

Mac users discover Tiger's hidden Booleans

They were just avoiding the Spotlight

By Andrew Orlowski

Posted in Letters, 27th May 2005 12:41 GMT

Letters Hold the reviews page! Spotlight in Mac OS X 10.4 does have Boolean operators. They just aren't documented, and they don't work very well. But here are your thoughts on our critique of Mac OS X Tiger's user interface, Spotlight and Dashboard.

(The review focussed on the UI and the value of the upgrade: we look at compatibility and other aspects here).

But compatibility is a major concern.

Good work on the Tiger review - my feelings exactly on Dashboard and Spotlight (why on earth can't you see what folder each result belongs to without expanding the info for each one?). Mail's smart folders are even more restricting - they don't even let you set up rules based on sent messages. The point being, I guess, is why don't Apple give you choices? Each version of the OS appears to be more restrictive.

Tom Davis


EXCELLENT article! While I have MANY complaints about missing features in Tiger, the one cool thing is that it fixed a deep sleep issue with my PCI firewire card! However, Tiger removes Appletalk legacy networking, and removes the ability to use iSync from the menu-bar, and removes the GIF animation option from PREVIEW, and removes the option to move mail box to right or left side of screen. For these reasons, I have to state to all that wish to buy it, I have a client who now refuses to buy Tiger for the mail issue alone! Justin M


In "Mac OS X 10.4 - more bling than bang?" you ask, "Does no one at Apple use Mail?" Evidence suggests the answer is "no". If anyone at Apple bothered to use Mail they might have noticed that Mail won't tell IMAP users when they have new mail unless it's in the inbox, Mail can't send long URLs without breaking them to the point of unusability, and Mail can't even count correctly. If anyone at Apple used Mail they might have noticed that the flagship feature of Mail in Tiger, Smart Folders, have a pretty poor track record for actually doing what you tell them to. Continuing this line of inquiry, we surmise that no one at Apple actually uses iSync with a .Mac account. We can determine this by noticing that Tiger removes one of the few useful features of the iSync software (the ability to synchronize multiple devices), and replaces it with a special obstacle course of clicks, menus, and data integrity uncertainty. We might also ask if any reviewers had actually used Tiger before bothering to praise the glory of Dashboard and other dancing monkey nonense. Instead they seem to have concentrated on insipid tiger pun headlines (hint: Exxon Valdez). As an operating system, Tiger offers a lot for users, and many of the technologies introduced (the kernel API, Core Data, etc.) should provide fertile ground for revolutionary third-party development. But the set of user-visible features on top of the operating system is withering and dying under the weight of flashy stupidity.

Faisal Jawdat


Great article, you've articulated a number of my own issues with Tiger, particularly with the Dashboard. I've made similar observations: the water-ripple effect is cute, and while there may be no objection in principle to cute visual effects, shouldn't they be applied consistently? So when a widget is closed, why doesn't it disappear down a drain, like water in a sink? More importantly, in relation to UI, there is a striking contradiction in the use of the Dock and the Dashboard: - Dragging a widget icon from the Dashboard tray to the desktop launches the widget application. - Dragging an application icon from the Dock to the desktop deletes the icon. I can't help but think there's scope for confusion here, since the same action performs nearly opposite functions. The potential for error is greater when the Dock is in its default bottom-of-screen location, where it is in close proximity to the Dashboard and where their visual and functional similarities are more pronounced. Perhaps it would never occur to a new user to drag a widget icon at all, having learnt that this action on the Dock will make the icon disappear in a puff of smoke. George Phillips


Congratulations for writing an article that at the very least is true down to the slightest detail (and sometimes even pertinent), which is very unusual coming from you. [er, thanks - AO]

I used to be a Dashboard skeptic -- until I started using it. I like to be able to call tons of useful tools and monitors at the push of a single button, not worrying about them cluttering my workspace or closing them by accident, whatever, and they always stay arranged the way I put them, and I don't have to worry about opening them manually. I suggest you run a search for dashboard widgets made by third party developers too, because some of them are truly useful and the future looks bright.

While many things have been broken, about as much has been fixed or improved. Among other things, TextEdit now allows undos beyond the last save point, and right-clicking on the top-left area icons of Finder windows now works, which saves quite a few annoying clicks and useless view changes.

Although I have quite a few issues with Tiger (like now being awfully slow to put to sleep and wake up, Safari crashing at least once a week even after the latest update, etc), hardly any of them would be UI-related (well, except Safari's annoying warning when you download an application). I'm really happy with my upgrade, even though I use only a fraction of the new features. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only Mac user in the universe who usually likes the UI, but perhaps it is that detractors are more vocal.

Martin Girard


"insigtfull", "precise" and "funny". Unfortunatelly, neither of these 3 words applicable to your article about Mac OS X 10.4.

It looks like you got "good idea" (the fact that it is very difficult for Apple to convince people to switch from Panther to Tiger, because Panther is very good OS), but then you start to invent things to support your point of view. I do not use Roxio Tost, so I can not verify your claim that it will not burn songs from iTunes Store (though I am very surprised to hear that it was able to do it in the past). All other "problems" describe in your article are either fictional (You do not have to buy Quick Time Pro to play MP3 files in the browser) or reflect your personel point of view on the way things should be (You might think that Dashboard is useless, but other people might have different opinion ) Couple more articles like this, and I will remember your name and will start to avoid it.

Very disappointed,

Andrei Tchiov


All kinds of software compatibility broke, most importantly with third-party VPN software. Even the vendors who did manage to fix their VPN clients to work with Tiger claim that there is a substantial performace hit over Panther. Sadly, the author of uControl has declined to provide a Tiger update to his driver, so anyone wishing to use track-pad scrolling on their laptop is left scrambling (why did Apple not include this as a feature of Tiger?). Last, the feature I hear about most with Tiger--Dashboard--is just a flashy and useless gimmick. There is no way it's worth the RAM it consumes. In fact, I'm wondering if Tiger isn't a grand scheme to boost sales of RAM directly from Apple at their famous "twice the market value" prices. Summary: Everything I liked broke, and none of the new stuff is compelling.

Brian Keefer


I keep finding little things that have been improved that are nice. One I just noticed yesterday is that text to speech is much clearer. I will probably use this more often since it is improved. I expect that in the coming months I'll find a lot more useful features. I do agree with the overall assessment that Tiger is sort of disappointing. They did a lot of good things but I expected a tighter feel to the design. This seems a little sloppy. John Konopka


Nice to read a Tiger review that doesn't fall for all the hype. Re. Spotlight. Look at the Apple support forums, and you'll find that there is a serious issue that has caused a number of organisations to revert to Panther. If you plug in a firewire drive, Spotlight instantly starts trying to index it. You can, by somewhat devious means, make it stop, and add the drive to the Privacy list, which stops Spotlight indexing it. At least, that is, until you unmount the drive, and later reconnect it. Spotlight then tries to re-index it all over again. If you've got a chain of 40 firewire drives, like a lot of video editing types have, you're screwed, as Spotlight tries to deal with ALL of them at once, and the machine is working so hard it grinds to a halt.

Chris King


Nice to read a Tiger review that doesn't fall for all the hype. Re. Spotlight. Look at the Apple support forums, and you'll find that there is a serious issue that has caused a number of organisations to revert to Panther. If you plug in a firewire drive, Spotlight instantly starts trying to index it. You can, by somewhat devious means, make it stop, and add the drive to the Privacy list, which stops Spotlight indexing it. At least, that is, until you unmount the drive, and later reconnect it. Spotlight then tries to re-index it all over again. If you've got a chain of 40 firewire drives, like a lot of video editing types have, you're screwed, as Spotlight tries to deal with ALL of them at once, and the machine is working so hard it grinds to a halt.

Chris King


Great article. I thought you might be interested to know that there is yet another reason that Dashboard proves an ineffective reason to upgrade to Tiger. Due to the open nature of the Dashboard environment, a third-party company has already created a utility to run Dashboard widgets (meant for Tiger, natch) on Panther 10.3.9. So, for those who really do crave this CPU-eating eye candy, they can get their fix without upgrading to Tiger at all. The application is called Amnesty: http://www.mesadynamics.com/amnesty.htm Lisa


The new OS does include features that I appreciate. Apple's ads are correct in that I can search and find stuff more easily. Widgets may be a gimmick but they are still a very usable gimmick. The overall increase in speed and capability makes it all worthwhile. So the Windows XP user pays more and get less. Oh, so you're in Bangkok? Well of course you can buy illegal stuff there. Is that what you want your readers to do? Cheers Andrew Sheppard


(Yes and no, Andrew).

Very interesting reading. I probably won't be upgrading my Mac at home this time. However, I am trying to get and upgrade at work, mainly for a very important feature you did not pick up on - the built in screen-reader. This could be a really key selling point for Tiger as it means that for the first time visually impaired users can get a screen-reader, that is fully integrated into the OS, for the price of a Mac Mini (~£400 allowing for peripherals). In other words hardware and software for much less than the same price for just the leading screen-reader software on the Windows platform (JAWS - £655).

Sebastian Crump

Thanks Sebastian - our UI critique shouldn't have omitted that. Sorry.

Now to the missing Booleans. Well, whaddaya know?

Thanks to Gary Olmstead, Graham Niblo, Jason Wong, Brendan McKitrick (and others) who point out they are there but simply not documented. For more information, read here.

You need to place the term in quotes, with no space. And it doesn't always work. But it's there. Now for a UI, please, Apple! ®