Eulogy for a Good Icon

This past year, I’ve had the pleasure of using Fournova’s macOS git client, Tower 2, to version control my professional and personal work. After years of forcing myself to use the inconsistent, cryptic commands required to make version control with git marginally usable, I could finally relax and instead use Tower 2’s intuitive graphical interface to make my versioning tasks as easy as clicking a button.

Tower 2 didn’t just provide a suburb user experience, it also dazzled with a gorgeous, gold-standard macOS app icon. Icon redesigns are a difficult balancing act between the existing brand identity and the needs of the redesign (in this case, macOS’s 2014 redesign). Despite the difficulty, Tower 2’s refreshed icon danced between them with ease.

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Restoring my iPod Video

I still remember how thrilled I was the day I got my iPod Touch—or more specifically, how thrilled I was I could finally dump my old iPod Video. Besides the strict technical upgrade, after four years of hard but loving use, my iPod Video was showing its age. The battery hardly lasted an hour on a single charge (even with the screen brightness turned completely down). The once-gloriously shiny metal back was now dull and dented, and the infamously scratch-attractive screen was even worse, transforming its contents into a dim and smudgy mess that no amount of polishing could fix. The 30GB storage that once seemed as endless was practically bursting at the seams.

So, with the new iPod Touch in hand, I retired my iPod Video to the great “old electronics” drawer in the sky and didn’t look back.

Until last month.

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Back to the Mac

About a year ago, I published a light “listicle” to highlight some of the smaller features in the then-new iOS 10 and watchOS 3. Before diving into the details, I mentioned offhand that I omitted macOS 10.12 simply because there wasn’t anything particularly interesting to include from that release.

Unfortunately, this year’s macOS 10.13 “High Sierra” release is again slim with regards to user-facing features, despite macOS falling increasingly behind iOS in feature parity. After all, macOS still does not have Message stickers and animations, still has the same broken App Store, and still has all its preexisting problems like pitiful window management and the festering mess that is iTunes. Year after year, Tim Cook’s Apple continues to demonstrate they don’t care about macOS by simply ignoring it.

In light of this, I’ve decided to completely ignore whatever new hotness iOS got this year and instead shine the spotlight on the operating system that remains deeply important to millions of people’s digital lifestyles (despite being continually sidelined by Cook’s Apple). To give macOS the time it deserves, I’m sharing all the small but fantastic features I’ve picked up over these ten years that help make macOS the finest desktop operating system available.

For those wanting to jump right in, I’ve sorted the features by importance; the topmost sections are must know, while the bottommost ones are just curious oddities. You can click on any individual features that interest you, or browse entire sections if you’re feeling adventurous. Have fun exploring!

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Tags Explained

An array of seven colored dots, the visual metaphor used by macOS to represent tags

Over the past five years, you may have noticed a colorful array of dots appeared to decorate the otherwise reserved Finder sidebar. Those dots are part of a relatively new feature in macOS called Tags. As the name suggests, this lets you tag files and folders in Finder with colored labels for organizational purposes.

I had nothing but apathy for the feature. With macOS’s benign default tags like “Red” and “Blue”, I was left wondering what problem tags were even intended to solve. After all, what could colorful tags do that folders couldn’t?

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