May 8th, 2008 • 10:15 am
The Dock in Mac OS X 10.5.0 was a horrible fiasco, with the idiotic display and behaviour of “stacks,” which is a word that sounds way more innovative than what it actually describes, i.e. the specific, non-standard behaviour of regular folders in the Dock.
Thankfully, the Mac OS X 10.5.2 update addressed the most glaring issues, with the addition of options that enable you to bring back a certain level of sanity.
Even though these “sane” options are still not the default options—which means that there are still hundreds of thousands of Mac users out there enduring the idiotic Mac OS X 10.5.0 behaviours because they do not know that they can change them—at least by simply right-clicking (or control-clicking) on a “stack” in the Dock you can choose options to display the “stack” as a regular folder icon (as opposed to the utterly useless pseudo-3D display of a pile of multiple icons) and you can bring back the standard hierarchical menu of the folder’s contents that used to be the default option in previous versions of Mac OS X.
However, in spite of these (optional) improvements, I find it mind-boggling that, in Mac OS X 10.5, it is still impossible to open the corresponding folder in a Finder window in a simple way. You can open the corresponding folder in the Finder, but it is not simple. You have to click on the icon in the Dock, and then you have to manually select the “” command.
Worse still, if you are using the option to display the folder’s content in a hierarchical menu when clicking on it in the Dock, by default the “Open in Finder” command is actually hidden at the bottom of the menu:
As you can see in the picture above, the only thing that is visible by default at the bottom of the menu is the top 2 or 3 pixels of the “” command. And the “ ” is below that, so it’s totally invisible by default. You have to move your mouse pointer over the triangle at the bottom of the menu to cause it to scroll down the menu and make the hidden commands visible:
And then you can finally select the “” command to open the folder in question in a Finder window.
This problem occurs regardless of the actual length of the menu. Normally, the triangle is used when a menu is too long to fit on the screen. But that is not the case here. Even if you have tons of room above your Dock to display the menu in full, including its bottom two commands, Mac OS X still hides them by default and requires you to move your mouse pointer over the triangle to reveal them.
Compare this to the behaviour in previous versions of Mac OS X, where you could open the folder in a Finder window through a simple single click on the folder icon!
Mac OS X 10.5 changes the meaning of the single click, of course, which now brings up the contents of the folder in a fan, a grid or a menu. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing in itself.
But what is truly bad is that what used to be the default behaviour before Leopard has now become so complicated to achieve.
I’ve tried combining various modifier keys with a click on the icon in the Dock. The only thing that I have found is that a command-click on the Dock icon opens a Finder window showing the contents of the folder’s enclosing (parent) folder. But that’s not what I am looking for. What I am looking for is a truly simple way to open the folder itself in a Finder window (not its parent folder), which apparently only the “” command can do (with the above-described problems).
(To be more accurate, command-click shows the contents of the parent folder when the window is in list view. When the window is in column view, both the contents of the parent folder and the contents of the folder are visible, because the folder itself is selected in the parent folder’s column, and the next column shows its contents. What I would like is a simple shortcut that shows me the contents of the actual folder in list view, not of the parent folder.)
The only other thing that I have found is the “” command that appears at the bottom of the menu when you control-click (right-click) on the Dock icon:
This command is worded differently, because it does not do the same thing as the “” command in the other menu. Unlike “ ,” “ ” works the same way as the command-click shortcut, i.e. it reveals the folder in its parent folder. (In other words, it opens the parent folder, and then highlights the folder in question by selecting it.) This command is always visible by default when you control-click on the Dock icon, i.e. you don’t have to manually reveal it by moving your mouse pointer over a triangle. When using the list view mode in the Finder, however, it still opens the enclosing folder, which makes it less useful than the proper “ ” command.
I simply don’t understand why the “” command has to be hidden by default below the bottom of the menu when bringing up the regular hierarchical menu.
And I also believe that we should be able to use a simple shortcut to reveal the contents of the folder in a Finder window in list view without having to navigate the parent folder. The command-click shortcut should probably be kept for “” because that’s what the Command modifier key is used for in a variety of contexts (to reveal a Spotlight search result in its enclosing folder, for example). But maybe command-shift-click could be used here.
The bottom line here is that, in their apparent obsession with this new fancy “stacks” feature that is actually far from innovative, Apple’s engineers have failed to preserve the most basic level of usability for Mac users who happen to find the new fan or grid display modes far from useful. And it is quite careless of them indeed.