December 15th, 2005 • 4:17 pm
I’ve already written about the scandalously slow and unresponsive behaviour of the user interface for Spotlight searches in Mac OS X’s Finder.
Now that I have a G5 Quad, I thought I would put Spotlight through the test.
Sadly, I have to report that, with the same number of indexed files on my volumes as on the G4, the G5 Quad is, yes, somewhat faster, but still suffers from unacceptable hiccups when you are typing a search request in a Finder window. I don’t get the spinning pizza of death anymore, but I still get interruptions every few letters while Spotlight tries to complete searches on partial words that are completely irrelevant.
This means that, even with the fastest Mac currently available and with a generous quantity of RAM (I have 4.5 GB), Spotlight still offers an unacceptably choppy user experience for anyone who has a large number of files stored on his hard drives.
From this, I can only draw two conclusions. Either Apple only tests Spotlight on machines with hard drives that only contain a small number of indexed files, or Apple doesn’t really think that this choppy user experience is a problem.
Obviously, unless Apple engineers live on another planet, they must have machines with large numbers of files on their hard drives. So realistically the only possible explanation is that Apple doesn’t care, and feels that the choppy experience is acceptable.
This is something that goes completely against fundamental principles of user interface design. Mac OS X wastes an enormous amount of power on irrelevant searches for partially typed words, and the user is forced to wait until Mac OS X completes these irrelevant searches before he can continue typing his search request.
And the worst part of it is that it’s not a performance issue. It’s purely and simply an issue that stems from Apple’s software design choices. They could simply provide the user with the option to type his search request in full before starting the search. It’s a simply matter of waiting until the user has pressed the Return or Enter key before processing his search request.
It would be such a simple fix, and yet you just know that someone, somewhere at Apple, has made this design decision and just refuses to hear the users’ complaints. It makes me positively mad.