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Ars: Leopard marred by interface changes

updated 11:25 am EDT, Mon October 29, 2007

Ars criticizes Leopard

Mac OS X Leopard is in general a fantastic operating system, but hurt by its new look, ArsTechnica writes. The publication's new review praises the "internal" changes of the OS, such as Time Machine backup and the tough-but-necessary migration to a 64-bit codebase, but complains that several changes to the interface are unnecessary or even detrimental to usability. With the exception of custom programs such as Garage Band, for instance, all programs are now required to use the new "slate gray" appearance, which is said to be not entirely unattractive but in conflict with items such as Aqua-like dialog buttons.

More harshly attacked in the review is the new Dock, which is rendered in a "pseudo-3D" appearance that reflects icons and any window placed nearby. This is described as gaudy, akin to a "nine year-old girl putting make-up on her dollie," while it is noted that the effect disappears entirely when moving the Dock to the side of the screen -- possibly as a move to appease critics of the alternative.

Two aspects of Leopard's GUI are said to actively hinder users, these being the new folder icons and the Menu Bar. Folders with special icons on them, such as Applications, are now rendered with low-contrast embossing, making them much harder to identify at small sizes. The same problem is amplified by the new Menu Bar, which is translucent and can be difficult to read if used in combination with the wrong wallpaper. Though Apple has toned down the effect since pre-release versions of the OS, this is said to be the primary problem with Leopard's interface, one that will most likely require third-party hacks to remedy.

by MacNN Staff





  1. madcran

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Change the dock to 2D

    For all you Leopard dock haters, check this out:

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Focusing on the negative

    I read the entire article and found that most comments were very positive. Wonder why the article headline focuses on the negative items?

  1. jmelrose

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Learning curve

    I have looked at the finder windows all weekend and thought that I left iTunes open. The new look does take a bit of adjustment.

  1. Constable Odo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Gaudy dock????

    In Tiger I always had my Dock to the right side of the screen and using the Hide function to show it when I went to use it. I kept it small and used high magnification. I hardly ever saw the darn Dock. These people are sure nitpicking about such unimportant stuff. Who the heck stares at the Dock's reflections? Is it really that distracting or using up tons of resources? Hide it then.

  1. Beechlady

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I like's different and visually sophisticated.

    I also had a pretty simple time on install.....hmmmm

  1. bjojade

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Definitely backwards

    I agree that some of the prettiness in leopard makes things very difficult to move.

    The transparent menubar makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. All it does is make it difficult to read the menus. The same with drop down menus. If you drop down over some busy graphics, it's near impossible to read.

    Stacks is another thing that's an issue. If you have it fan out, and you happen to have other icons there, you end up with an impossible to read area. Sure, you could keep everything off of your desktop, but not everyone wants to do that.

    Here's hoping that a system preference will be introduced to adjust the transparency so we can eliminate this error in Apple judgement.

    Oh, and the black Apple menu instead of the traditional blue? Seems like we're back to system 6. Yucky.

  1. drdocument

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Constructive criticism?

    It seems like the ArsTechnica reviewer had to really work to find things to criticize, and most of those were some form of "I don't like such-and-such."

    Personal likes and dislikes are not appropriate subjects of a sophisticated review.

  1. infobhan

    Joined: Dec 1969


    New visuals

    I disagree with the Ars writer on the Dock. I feel it's far more attractive without limiting usability. I'm still undecided on the menu bar, but overall I think it works well as long as you don't have a particularly busy desktop pattern with high contrast. I think both changes help to draw more focus on the active window. Most of the time you don't need to be staring at the menu - it should be there when you need it but unobtrusive otherwise, and I think the Leopard interface does this well. It might be nice to add a transparency slider to control how strong this effect is.

  1. deVilliers

    Joined: Dec 1969



    > These people are sure nitpicking about such unimportant stuff.

    Whether it is important or not depends upon the user.

    Whether it is nitpicking depends upon the effect that it has upon that user.

    I see nothing wrong, and am not offended, by people voicing fair and rational criticisms. It may not be important in the grand scheme of ideas and politics. However, it is unlikely that anything written on computer forums dedicated to discussing computers is more than mere nitpicking. One, surely, can have a break from discussing -serious- matters!

  1. njfuzzy

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The operating system is very good on objective matters, but the reviewer doesn't personally like some of the aesthetic details.

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