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Five Enhancements for Future Apple Operating Systems

At the WWDC keynote in just a few weeks, Apple will unveil new features across its stable of operating systems (see “WWDC 2022 Stays Virtual Starting June 6,” 5 April 2022). The company has already started talking about some of those features (see “Apple Previews Upcoming Accessibility Features,” 17 May 2022). Rumors suggest that Apple could also release the classical music app it promised almost a year ago (see “Apple Buys Classical Music Service Primephonic,” 31 August 2021), offer new health-tracking features, and enhance notifications. As always, some changes will likely be useful, while others will fall flat.

We at TidBITS recently put our heads together to develop a wishlist of things we’d like to see Apple change or add. Some weren’t new—we’ve already drawn attention to issues with the organization of the iOS Settings app (see “Bad Apple #2: Alphabetize Settings in iOS,” 21 February 2018), Apple not allowing users to help train Siri (see “Why Can’t Users Teach Siri about Its Mistakes?,” 14 August 2019), the excessive complexity of Focus (see “Apple’s New Focus Feature May Be Overkill,” 20 January 2022), and better data protection in iCloud Drive (see “Bad Apple #5: iCloud Drive Folder Sharing Risks Data Loss,” 12 May 2022). So let’s just stipulate that those suggestions remain in effect.

But other results of our brainstorming—mostly improvements to existing Mac features—struck us as worth sharing. We’re under no illusion that publishing these ideas will have any immediate effect—Apple undoubtedly locked the feature set for macOS 12.5, iOS 16, and so on long ago—but we hope they will seed future changes.

Time Machine Interface Overhaul

When it debuted with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard in 2007, Time Machine offered a significant rethinking of backup. It backed up everything on your Mac every hour, maintaining versions of changed files and trimming unnecessary versions to save space. Restoring files used a familiar Finder-like interface coupled with a timeline that allowed users to navigate through the stored versions of files. Since then, the underlying Time Machine code has changed radically, particularly with the recent move to APFS. What hasn’t changed over the past 15 years, however, is the Time Machine restoration interface.

That’s a problem. Time Machine is slow, clumsy, and disorienting. Navigating the directory hierarchy in the Time Machine’s window is slow, and finding a particular version of a file is an exercise in frustration. We’d like to see Apple revisit the Time Machine interface and make it so that it’s easier to navigate, shows dated versions of available files at a glance, and clarifies to the extent possible the differences between the current and older versions.

Or, perhaps Time Machine could be integrated into the Finder itself. Matt Sephton has hacked together a system that shows one way to make restoration simpler—a Restore from Time Machine contextual menu item accessible when Control-clicking a file in the Finder. Surely Apple could build such a feature into the Finder and provide some additional interface for users who wanted to revert to a version other than the latest.

iCloud Backup for the Mac, or iCloud Time Machine

Given the necessity of backups and Apple’s acknowledgment of that through both Time Machine on the Mac and iCloud Backup for the iPhone and iPad, it’s surprising that Apple hasn’t taken the next step and enabled Time Machine to back up to iCloud as an additional, offsite option with all the benefits that come from cloud-based backup.

Users would have to pay for additional iCloud+ storage, but that seems like a win for Apple’s Services division. Apple would need additional data center capacity to host all the data, but given how many millions of iPhones and iPads are already backing up to iCloud, we assume Apple knows how to do that.

Such a service would require that improved Time Machine restoration interface. If you think navigating through Time Machine is sluggish when working from a hard drive, imagine how slow it would be when used over an Internet connection.

Safari Site-Specific Browsers on the Mac

If you have a website that you regularly visit on the iPhone and iPad, you can add an icon for it to your Home screen. In a small way, you’re turning that website into an app. It doesn’t share cookies with other instances of the website in Safari, and in at least some cases, you can’t even access the address bar or other tabs in Safari to navigate elsewhere. It’s essentially a site-specific browser.

We’d love to see site-specific browsing capability come to Safari on the Mac. Although there are a variety of site-specific browsers available, they all have various issues (see “The Best Mac Site-Specific Browser for Google Docs,” 18 June 2021). Personally, I spend a lot of time on the TidBITS and TidBITS Talk sites every day, along with several sites I run for the Finger Lakes Runners Club. It would be helpful to interact with TidBITS and FLRC in separate apps—which would also capture clicked links directed at the associated domains—rather than ending up with 10 or 15 tabs to each site open by the end of the day.

Given WebKit’s ubiquity and integration into macOS, it should be easy for Apple to enable this. Certainly more so than for a third-party developer, and it would further integrate the macOS and iOS user experience.

Improved Undo for Preview through Versions

Preview is a surprisingly capable graphic editing app, but it suffers from one major liability compared to others: you can only undo changes you make to a graphic while it’s open. As soon as you save and close, your changes are written into the pixels of the file and become immutable. We edit a lot of screenshots in Preview because it has all the tools necessary for quick markups and annotations, but it’s always frustrating to make what turns out later to be a mistake and have to start over entirely.

Most graphics programs solve this with custom file formats that keep added objects editable, provide layers that can be changed independently, offer versioning, or all three. Preview has no file format of its own, but with relatively little effort, Apple could at least leverage macOS’s longstanding versioning system to provide an easier way to undo changes. There’s already a File > Revert To submenu that provides access to the most recently saved version and to the Time Machine-like interface for browsing and comparing other versions. If that capability were accessible via Edit > Undo, Preview users would be more likely to realize that their changes don’t have to be permanent, even after saving and closing files. And frankly, Preview might get more use.

Apple could go even further and develop a native file format for Preview files that would be managed by the versioning database behind the scenes, but it’s hard to imagine the company devoting such time to Preview again.

User-Level Logs of Important Configuration Changes

We all constantly make configuration changes on our devices. We install updates, change network settings, tweak notification options, and more. Settings in iOS and System Preferences in macOS both offer hundreds, if not thousands, of options, and plenty of configuration takes place outside those two apps. Most of us don’t remember much of what we’ve done, which can lead to all sorts of confusion later on.

We’d like to see Apple build a log of “important” changes into its operating systems, with an API for apps to log their own changes. Whenever the user took an action that met the criteria for “important”—turning on File Sharing, giving an app Full Disk Access, configuring Focus, adjusting system-wide text display, restarting the device—that action would be logged.

Making the log easy to parse would be essential—Console is a disaster. The log viewer should include the date and time, the device on which the change was made, details about the action, and ideally, some way to reveal the spot where the action could be reversed or changed. It should be entirely searchable, of course, and it would be great if actions could be categorized in certain ways to filter the results. It should run on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, and its contents should sync across devices via iCloud, so you could use your Mac to view the log for your iPhone.

Such a log would be a huge help when figuring out what had changed recently on a system that has started acting up, especially for someone trying to help a less-experienced friend or relative. It would certainly be a boon to Apple support technicians trying to troubleshoot a caller’s problem. It could also be useful when replicating a setup on a new device.

What other specific enhancements or features would improve your experience using Apple’s operating systems?

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Comments About Five Enhancements for Future Apple Operating Systems

Notable Replies

  1. I have a crappy internet connection (twinned DSL, 5mb up on a good day with a tailwind…) I tried iCloud backup, and it totally swamped the connection. So some way to limit bandwidth on iCloud backups would be A Good Thing.

  2. What other specific enhancements or features would improve your experience using Apple’s operating systems?

    I have a lot of ideas, but the top ones for me:

    • Mark messages as unread so I can go back to them later. Just like email.
    • SPAM controls for messages
    • Custom ringtones and vibration patterns for watchOS
    • More discrete notification controls for watch vs iPhone, including the ability to make notifications always go to the watch, even if the phone is unlocked.
    • Family sharing Photo and Music libraries

    (I have a lot more ideas, but since you said five…)

  3. I’ve complained about the read/unread message thing for years. But now on iOS you can at least pin them. My Mac OS is Sierra so I’m not sure if you can do that in newer ones.

    Diane

  4. re: Safari Site-Specific Browsers on the Mac

    You might take a look at UNITE for macOS - https://www.bzgapps.com/unite

    Ostensibly, it does what’s described in the referenced part of the article.

    I got it as part of a suite of apps but only tried it with Netflix - seemed to work OK, but I haven’t used it since.

    • Just thotcha might otter wanna know
  5. Add a command to iCloud where you could tell it to keep certain files or folders downloaded from iCloud on the current device until told otherwise.

    Before traveling to places where I will be offline or on limited bandwidth or costly mobile network, I often have tried to download files I know I might need. Since this often is quite many and big files, it is very disappointing when I discover that they have disappeared from the device.

    I love the log of changes suggestion!

  6. Universal Search for Apple Mail.app rules (in Mail preferences)

    I use Mail since Puma (2003). In these 19 years I have amassed more than 700 rules. Finding a rule to edit it can be a real nightmare as one can type just 3 characters until Mail Prefs decides which rule to choose.

    I don´t know if Universal Search is the right term. What I mean is this: When I for example start typing in the Mac Appstore search field, there is immediatly a list of apps below the search field that start with the same characters.

    I want that for Mail rules. In the last 10 years I have mailed Apple several times regarding his problem and have never received an answer.

  7. Update macOS every two years instead of the current annual update.

  8. Oh yeah! That’s a big one, and I assume it would be easy for Apple to add.

    I’ve given up on Apple ever understanding how families want to share photos, in particular. That’s a windmill I’ve been tilting at since the earliest days of iPhoto.

    Yeah, I looked at it when I was evaluating SSBs for Google Docs. It didn’t work for that scenario, but might in other situations. Still, I think this is something Apple could do better. All the third-party SSBs are quite weird.

    If you click the cloud icon next to the file or folder in the iCloud Drive Finder window, does that not do what you want? Or are you saying that iCloud Drive will later evict those files?

  9. Yes, it will evict those files if you, for some reason, get low on space. The last time this happened to me, I got a warning when downloading Netflix series to offline watching that there was no space. Some days later, I discovered the files were only in the cloud.

    Another scenario is that files you seldom use gets evicted. On my Mac Pro where I have ample space, I would prefer to have all iCloud files on the mac to make backup of the files. I do backup to Google Cloud Cold storage, making one new full backup every year and removing the four-year-old backup. Before I start the new backup, I have to download iCloud files again.

  10. That can be done. System Preferences. Depending on which version of MacOS, find the iCloud settings. On Monterey and Big Sur, the top items in System Preferences include Apple ID, which is where [you’ll find] you can turn off the option “Optimize Mac Storage” - that will keep all your iCloud Drive storage on the Mac (assuming you have adequate space.)

    On Mojave, that setting is in “iCloud” on System Preferences. Then you click “options” next to “iCloud Drive” to turn off Optimize Mac Storage.

  11. I agree with @ace’s suggestions. Here are some of my own. I don’t think they’re going to happen, but I would appreciate it.

    More user-friendly installation history

    Back in the early days of Mac OS X, the Software Update preference panel/app had a tab to show you the installation history. It’s not there today - forcing you to pull up the System Information app, which isn’t very user friendly.

    Universal uninstall

    Windows users have had this for a very very long time. There’s a control panel that shows all installed apps. You can select an app and request that it be configured, repaired or uninstalled. It’s a simple UI wrapper that calls a configure/repair/uninstall app provided by the application, but it is very convenient, because everything is in one place.

    Apple supports this for apps installed by the App Store. You can pull up Launchpad, long-click on an app, and then click the “X” button to uninstall it - just like you can on iOS. I think we should be able to do this for all apps, regardless of their source.

    It would be trivial if the app includes an uninstaller, but it should be possible for anything else that installs using Apple’s Install system service, because the installer stores a receipt file that records what was installed. Third-party uninstall apps can do this, so why can’t Apple?

    Bring back HFS file system support

    At least as read-only. I can’t believe that it would be that much engineering effort to keep a basic read-only implementation around, but it would allow people with old floppies and CDs and disk images to be able to read the content without awkward third-party software or emulators running old versions of macOS.

    Restore legacy audiobook support

    Those of us who had audiobooks in iTunes pretty much lost access when upgrading to Music. The files are still stored and available, but they aren’t available in Music or Books.

    Modify Music and/or Books to find and present these without making the user manually re-import them. And support all the formats that iTunes used to support (e.g. Audible content). And allow metadata editing (title, author, etc.) the way iTunes did.

    APFS optimizer

    I realize that this isn’t necessary for SSDs, but plenty of us use APFS on hard drives (e.g. to create very large Time Machine volumes), and performance degrades as the files and directories get fragmented.

    I’m not sure what kind of optimization would help best (directory defgragment? Rebuild/replace directory? Defragment files?), but Apple should be able to do something.

    If Apple doesn’t want to do this, then at least release detailed file system specs so a third party (like Disk Warrior) can develop a tool.

    Configuration tool for Apache

    Apple ships the Apache web server with every installation of macOS, but it can only be configured by manually editing configuration files with a text editor.

    Apache has been a part of Mac OS X since day-one, and in the past, Apple provided simple configuration via a “Personal Web Sharing” tab in the Sharing system preferences and their Server product allowed a bit more control with a friendly GUI. But today, there is no interface available - not Personal Web Sharing, and Server no longer supports a web server.

    Would it really be that hard to once again provide a management interface for the software that they are already shipping with the OS?

    (And just out of curiosity, why does Apple continue to ship Apache if it’s disabled by default, they don’t provide a tool to enable it, and as far as I know, none of Apple’s tools use it)

    Special display configuration

    If you have a high-DPI display, macOS may or may not recognize it as such. If it does not, you need to resort to third-party software (which doesn’t always work as well as it should) to gain the configuration options that Apple’s Retina displays provide.

    It would be trivial for Apple to add a check-box on the Displays preference panel where you can override macOS and explicitly tell it that a display is (or is not) a high-DPI display, allowing you to access the different configuration options that go along with the display type.

  12. Re: app uninstall

    Or, for those of us that detest LaunchPad (or otherwise just never use it), launch MAS, select the app, and choose Delete App… from the ellipses menu.

  13. What I want most is an option for simple text search in Mail and all documents containing words, perhaps with control over what types of documents that would include “all containing text formats.” I found Siri a huge step backwards in ability to find documents containing particular words or names. Siri fails to search certain word processing files, to the point that I no longer trust it. What I need for much of my writing is a simple search for particular names, things, places and ideas that would cover text files, emails, RTF, .doc, .docx, PDF, and other formats. I would like to have the same option for searching the web.

  14. Big “me too” for Family Sharing of Photo Libraries. I switched to Lightroom Cloudy which works exactly the way Photos should work, and is very good, but costs £9.98 a month.

  15. Re " Improved Undo for Preview through Versions"
    You can make changes to an image if you do the following:
    1/ open image file and make any colour or size adjustments (this is permanent)
    2/ save as PDF
    3/ make required markups or annotations & save
    As long as the file was saved as a PDF, all markups are now editable.
    If you require an image file, use Save As. The original PDF will still be editable.

  16. Sorry, this is going to be long.

    If you are still running on Mojave or High Sierra, you can skip this right now. Who even knows if any of these will work on older versions of the OS? But if you are on Catalina, Big Sur or Monterey, read on . . . because as much as I love Apple, their hardware, and their Operating Systems, the Mac Finder is really long in the tooth and hasn’t been updated in decades. There is just so much more possible that will make you love your Mac again and speed up your workflow.

    I wish Apple would incorporate into the OS some of the functions of the excellent third-party apps I’ve grown to know and love over the years. Some of these run-at-login applets have been on the market for 20 years. When I talk to AppleCare Senior Advisors, none of them seem to have ever heard of these.

    Also, Apple may never adopt these functionalities for fear of upsetting the developers who created them and who make their living from their licensing of them. Steve Jobs had no such compassion, he’d steal any good idea he came upon and liked. Tim Cook is not so mercenary.

    I’m going to describe the function first, then at the end the name of the app.

    1. A unique folder for every app, kind of like Microsoft Word saves documents in a separate folder from templates. So the OS automatically goes to the assigned folder for open and save dialogs. Also features quick icons in Open/Save dialogs to jump to favorite folders that aren’t necessarily used for saving. For example, all my skies and textures that I use in photo editing are handy to have with one click. This isn’t the folder I use to save finished work, so cannot set it as the preferred folder.

    2. A Finder with side-by-side windows, making dragging a file from one window to another window a breeze. Also has tabs that can be memorized so I can click one button and my Finder is set up for photo editing, click again and my Finder is set up for word processing. The Finder windows are tabbed and the path is visible, and the path can be at the top of the bottom of the window or turned off.

    3. An icon in the menu bar to tell me if the connection from the cable modem or router to the Internet is up and running or not. I can always connect to the router as it generates its own IP addresses for the local network. So I have no way normally of knowing the full network is down. This app fixes that.

    4. Full control over my menu bar. Apps I use all the time appear in the menu bar, and apps I use only occasionally appear in a second menu one click away. Apps that I don’t want in my menu bar, like my user name (since I am the only user) can be hidden.

    5. I take a lot of screenshots and Apple’s way of invoking the screenshot requires pressing two or more keys. My screenshot app is always in my Menu Bar and can be invoked with one click. I can choose which windows to capture, or capture the whole screen. I can do a scrolling capture for something long. The capture even has a nice drop shadow when I capture a single window. I can fully annotate the screenshots in my choice of 8 colors with boxes, circles, lines, arrows, text, and blurs for confidential information. I can save them in whatever folder I choose.

    6. Every time I copy something using Apple’s ancient Finder software, the copy only persists until the next copy operation, which takes its place. The thing I copied is gone forever. I use an app that offers unlimited pasteboards, so every copy is kept. For standard copies, I can set the number of days before the copies are deleted. For something I want to keep, like a signature, template, or something I might want to share frequently, I can move the copied item into a persistent pasteboard that will never be erased until I erase it.

    7. When I press the green dot in any window, the Finder expands the window and hides the menu bar. And that is all it does. First, I don’t always want the menu bar hidden and second I’d like to have a fast way the arrange the windows, like having 4 windows open, one in each corner, or two windows sides by side. This app does just what I have described. I don’t use the rearrange as often as the full screen with the menu bar function.

    Does anyone want to know what these programs I’ve described are called?

    1. Default Folder (Saint Claire Software)
    2. Pathfinder (Cocoatech)
    3. Internet Status (App Store)
    4. Bartender 4 (MacBartender.com)
    5. xNip (AppStore)
    6. Paste (AppStore)
    7. Moom (LittleTricks)

    Now, I know some of you are hard-core old school and don’t want to muck up your systems with add-ons. That’s fine for you, not for me. I love all the applets I’ve mentioned and none of them has ever caused the slightest problem. They are well written, well supported, and do the job they were designed to do. YMMV.

  17. Just to clarify this, because to me the first para implies that “Optimise” will keep all your iCloud Drive storage on the Mac, which is not correct. The second para about Mojave is correct and clear.

    FTAOD Having “Optimise” checked authorises macOS to offload files to be cloud only.
    Having “Optimise” unchecked forces all files to have local copies.

  18. Yes, sorry, forgot to add the important part:

    On Monterey and Big Sur, the top items in System Preferences include Apple ID, which is where [you’ll find] you can turn off the option “Optimize Mac Storage”

  19. But for me, it’s only certain folders that I want on my Mac, the remainder can go be cloud only. This is how I’ve used Dropbox since whenever and it’s the best approach I think.

  20. I would welcome

    • proper conversation mode with Siri.
    • a gesture to fling windows / files to other screens and devices on my network
    • smooth, quick, effortless Time Machine with a proper interface permitting multiple varying restores
    • solving this pain in the proverbial that passwords and two-factor authentication has become.
    • the capacity to designate default applications on every OS.
    • a revamp on the whole CUPS/print engine
    • The ability to extend family storage on Apple One to more than 2Tb
    • Various apps, Books comes to mind, can become important repositories which share badly or not at all.
  21. I’d like a Finder window mode that basically splits your standard column view window into two halves, with the right half being a mirrored image of the standard LHS. Now you can use RHS favorites to choose an area for the RHS columns (or just navigate there by hand). Makes drag and drop between two areas on the file system or comparing contents of two folders much simpler than as presently through tabs or multiple windows. Plus, it would be a an actually usable interface for Finder in single-window/single-app “Full Screen” mode. Basically, Finder gets an mc makeover.

    But honestly, I’d give up on getting even a single new feature in macOS 13 (and probably even 14) in a heartbeat if in turn Apple promised to just fixed all the stuff that’s broken, ugly, or outright unusable. TV app, I’m looking at you. And while we’re at it, drop this silly annual update obsession. Update when things are actually ready (LOL @ Universal Control‌), fix what’s necessary as soon as it’s required, don’t screw around with stuff that works just because marketing needs a splash for their upcoming annual dog and pony show. I guess this is more for the ‘never going to happen’ category. But we can always dream. :wink:

  22. blm

    Does Messages even have a concept of read/unread for the reader (I know I can turn on read receipts so the sender knows when I’ve read their messages)? For me, I’m just always at the bottom, so I have to scroll up to find the first unread message, and I have to do it from memory, there’s no indicator of which messages I’ve seen and which I haven’t, or where I left off reading.

    Having something more like Slack (or, literally, hundreds of other messaging systems), where there’s a clear demarcation between read and new, and where I’m at the last read so as I scroll down I’m reading from oldest to newest would definitely be on my Apple wishlist.

  23. They should. When you open the messages app, a conversation thread for an individual or groups has a blue dot when there is an unread message. All I need is the ability to mark a conversation unread, so I remember to go back to it later.

    I know I’m not alone in wanting a feature like this. I often get messages that I cannot answer right away but sometimes forget to answer them.

    I just checked the messaging app Signal - it allows me to mark a conversation unread. That would be perfect for the iOS Messages app. I don’t need to mark individual messages unread - just signal that there is something unread at a glance at the unread badge on the messages icon, and then the blue dot within the app itself.

  24. blm

    Ah, ok, I was thinking individual messages within a conversation. I do see the dot when a conversation has unread messages, and yes, I’d definitely like to be able to mark a conversation unread (particularly since when I delete a conversation, the next one in the list is automatically marked read).

    But also, when I tap a conversation, it drops me at the bottom. I’d much prefer it drop me at the last message in that conversation I saw, instead of having to scroll up, trying to remember when the last message I saw was sent (if I even noticed) or its content.

  25. I’d like Spotlight to ‘just work’ like it used to.
    I find searching my drive for simple files/content to be a frustrating mess. Instead of returning a nice, short list of matches on my drive I get an endless list of web pages, Siri ‘suggestions’, Search Web, Siri Knowledge etc. Why is it so hard to prioritise the local drive and forget trying to search the planet?
    Thank goodness for FindAnyFile. For me, Spotlight it totally useless in its current form. I’m reluctant to turn it off completely in case it then hoses the ability to search in specific apps (Mail etc). I often work on older machines and the Spotlight implementation is so much faster, better and more accurate.

  26. Excellent point. If I want to search the web or WP, I’ll open a browser and do it from there. Spotlight should focus on local search.

  27. You can turn off web searches in Spotlight: System Preferences > Spotlight; deselect “Siri Suggestions”. Then Spotlight searches only the contents of your Mac.

  28. :+1: That has always been deselected here. But I still get my results cluttered with a whole bunch of garbage. Worst of all that garbage, web search is the very first item.

    But then even simple things like Asteri*k or filename ends with lloWorld don’t work. :roll_eyes:

  29. I’d go one further and suggest they release features at any time, only when they’re ready, rather than on any pre-determined schedule.

  30. I like the suggestion to go to a two-year schedule for operating system upgrades instead of one year.

    The thing I want most is for Apple to focus on fixing things that don’t work so well (Preview markup, Dictation) rather than adding more bells and whistles.

  31. I’m sure Apple is heading in this direction, but…

    When I attach a keyboard and touchpad/mouse to my iPad, it’s no longer a touch user interface. It is now a pointing device interface. When I have a keyboard and touchpad or mouse attached to my iPad, programs should run as if I’m running them on the Mac — with menus and context menus. Run the Mac version of the program.

    There are things I can easily do with Pages on my Mac (like insert a new page) that I am not sure exactly how to do on my iPad because of the limits in the touch interface. I find myself running help constantly to see exactly how to do something that is easily done on my Mac due to the menuing systems.

  32. I agree with less frequent updates. I want either bug fixes, or an update that means something.

    Dictation!!! I used to use that often, but it won’t work anymore. Am I blaming this on Sierra or has it become flakey?

    Diane

  33. I should have said Spotlight instead of search above. I did manage to stop it from searching the web, but otherwise I’ve found it immensely frustrating. There seem to be some hidden commands that let you specify searching certain apps, but they are hidden, and Spotlight seems unable to search everything that I want to search. Which is why something simpler and more predictable like EasyFind.

  34. What bugs me is change for the sake of change, which gives us fiascos like Spotlight that are far more complex and confusing than necessary or useful. Marketing wants new features to sell more Macs, but it has reached the point where many of us avoid updating until we have to.

  35. I would be very happy if Apple introduced an API for interacting with the data online. I have a NAS running 24/7 on a 300/300 fiber internet connection, but backing up Apple data is just a pain.

    The biggest pain is maintaining a backup of all the photos on the household devices (two adults and two teens). In order to maintain a local backup I have to have separate profiles on the two macs running, and remember to have all the accounts logged in…

    Just give me an API that enables me to pull photos in full quality. I could then have a Docker service running on my nas pulling all photos down (I would just have to provide credentials for the iCLoud accounts) and then creating an extra backup on AWS, B2 or C2 (Arq could also use that API and skip a step for me).

  36. I have just “upgraded” from an iPhone SE to a iPhone 13 and this is the first iPhone I have had with FaceID. I think it largely sucks in terms of usability as implemented. I also have a couple of issues with MacOS that I think could be improved.

    1. Why do I have to swipe up to open the phone after I have unlocked? On the SE I could press the home “button” and unlock in one single action, now I seem to need two hands. How about include a press of the glass or something like a finger print scanner under the glass?

    2. Fix Apple Pay with FaceID UX. On the iPhone SE I used to be able to pay really simply by moving the phone near a card reader (the default card pops up when a NFC is detected) and simply resting my thumb on the home button. I could do that one hand in a simple smooth motion. Now I have to double click (why double?) the power button and get my face in front of the screen before moving the phone over the counter to the card reader. Really clumsy experience so far.

    3. Why do I need to unlock the phone for directions? I have my phone in a phone mount, but sometimes I need directions to a location only after I have started driving. “Hey Siri, take me home!” “You need to unlock your phone first” but my face is too far away from the phone so it asks me to enter the pin which would break the law in the UK. On the SE, I dont remember it ever asking to unlock first and even if it did all I had to do was reach over and put my thumb on the home button.

    4. Fix Apple Music/iTunes cloud sync. I have been through the loops with Apple support on this and they couldn’t fix it. It seems if you have the same track on different albums, iCloud Music only wants to keep one copy of it and this makes all the other albums incomplete with the song marked as unavailable but still in the list. It also marks the versions you used in a playlist as unavailable if they are replicated elsewhere. It means I am still manually syncing my phone music library to my master iTunes on my Mac to get all tracks and all playlists complete because if I use Apple Music, a fair selection of tracks are not available on the phone. Eg. I have Parklife single by Blur on the original Blur Parklife album, but also on several 90’s compilations. The one Music chose to keep was one on one of the compilations, so now the Blur Parklife album is incomplete because the track is labelled as “unavailable” if I have cloud sync on.

    5. Bring back HFS support and Intel 32 bit support. I still use Intel Macs (iMac and MBP) and have a purchased (not rented) Adobe CS with Premiere, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects etc which has 32bit components, so Im still on Mojave and can never upgrade unless I want to loose the use of my Adobe software and have to buy a sub to CC. I appreciate this is probably a niche case, but its a lot of money for new software if I upgrade the MacOS.

  37. The need to unlock is nothing new. On my old iPhone 6, I had to do the same thing, but with Touch ID, it was trivially simple to put a finger on the touch sensor, even while driving.

    With FaceID, I find that the real issue is that it won’t read my face when the phone is in landscape orientation (typical when it’s on my dashboard, when navigating). If the phone is in portrait orientation (typically when I’m using a vent-mount), then it has no problem reading my face even when I’m seated behind the wheel - so all I need to do is swipe-up.

  38. Hmm… in Settings / Face ID & Passcode, do you have Siri turned on in the section “allow access when locked”? Because what you’re asking works for me (with the caveat that sometimes, as we all know, sometimes Siri doesn’t work when it should.) I just tried it while I was holding my phone unlocked and pointing away from me, and it worked fine.

  39. It appears that the problem here isn’t navigation, but the request to go “home”.

    I just tested it on my phone (pointed away and locked).

    If I say something like “Hey Siri, navigate to …”, followed by the name of a local shopping center, navigation begins immediately. But if I say “Hey Siri, navigate home”, it asks me to unlock the phone.

    Clearly, the restricted data is my home address, which is as it should be.

    The voice command that annoys me most while driving is asking Siri to read a text message that just arrived. That’s another command that requires the device to be unlocked (again, as it should be). But it was easier to unlock the phone while driving using Touch ID than with Face ID in landscape orientation.

  40. It’s indeed annoying you have only FaceTime to unlock your phone when driving. Even though I drive a compact car, I have to lean over and look at the iPhone head on to get it to unlock, certainly not a very safe thing to have to do in the middle of traffic.

    Back with TouchID I could blindly unlock the phone, but FaceID has this very narrow field of view due to the way its dot projector is designed (the other end of this problem is minimum required distance—something many people notice when failing to get FaceID to unlock in bed). It would be nice to see TouchID under the screen come back as an additional option for driving situations like these. There’s been plenty unreliable rumors on the topic, I’m certainly not counting on Apple to implement under screen TouchID.

    Part of the underlying problem is that there is no simple way to get the iPhone to momentarily stop auto-locking after just a couple minutes. Especially when powered in the car, I most often see no reason to have it auto lock. But there’s no option to tell it to stop doing that. When using maps in navigation mode, it will stay on. But if you are just using any other app, there’s no simple toggle in Control Center to tell it to stay on as long as I don’t physically push the power button. Lack of a simple such option is a nuisance plain and simple.

    And to pile on to naviagtion, why to this day navigation doesn’t have any pause button is a mystery to me. Cracks me up each time I’m at a rest stop urinal and I hear some guy step up and his iPhone goes, “proceed to the route”. Argh. :roll_eyes: :rofl:

  41. Because I have manual dexterity issues, I use dictation a lot. More than I type. It started out pretty good, and it has steadily gone downhill. I’m on Catalina now. For the last couple of OSs we haven’t been able to, for instance, add words to our custom dictionary. And with some very recent system upgrade I can no longer reliably do capital letters or the numeral 1.

    Meanwhile, on the phone, dictation works pretty darn well.

  42. Here’s two more things I’d like to see fixed in future macOS incarnations.

    1.) Safari print to PDF stinks. Give me at least an option to render the page to PDF as it does on screen in the browser window. Don’t rescale to letter or A4 or whatever if that screws up the rendering. Basically, print to PDF should result in the same thing I get if I do a window grab, exept of course vector-based and scrollable.

    2.) Progress indicators and completion estimates need to be fixed across the board. I get it, predicting how long a certain task takes is hard. But you can always update your estimates as you go so that the closer you get to the end, usually the more accurate your estimate gets. MacOS progress bars that stick at 2% for 95% of the time only to then jump to 100% 3ms before the task completes are useless garbage. Time estimates that are missing entirely, or that fluctuate wildly between 2 sec and 20 minutes repeatedly are also useless garbage. If you cannot update these estimates to get at least gradually more useful, get rid of them. But supply as much as you can when you can, and then update it to make it more accurate.

  43. I’ve got just one, and it applies to iPad OS and iOS… let us manage cookies! All I ask is a simple option to Select All and a way to de-select those I wish to keep. Would that be so hard?? Currently one can delete all cookies, or all cookies AND history, but the only option for selective delete is one by one, which is totally impractical.
    I use SweetP Software’s excellent Cookie app on MacOS, but sadly, it’s unavailable for phones or tablets :disappointed_relieved:

  44. One thing that you could try is to use Voice Control, and then you can dictate the passphrase/PIN to the lock screen.

    A little bit on voice control: here and here

    And a little more from a third-party site: How to Use Voice Control on iPhone and iPod Touch

    I’m not quite sure what this does to battery life, though. I know that you can activate the feature when you want it.

  45. Jeff,

    I suggest you look into Smart Folders for both Mail and the Finder. Typical of Apple, they are somewhat arcane and it’s hard to find out how to get the best out of them, but they are nonetheless extremely powerful and very flexible, e.g. you can build a list of boolean criteria and simply change the base search criteria as you want.

    FWIW, I moved away from the traditional Finder approach several years ago and wouldn’t want to go back. For example, you could create Smart Folders for Yesterday/Today and Last 7 Days, in which you stipulate the type of files and from that point, they can be anywhere on your Mac, but they always appear. This can be narrowed down to anything you want. A single word, multiple words, NOT words etc. etc. etc.

    BTW… When I say ‘arcane’, try this: Make a new Smart Folder in the Finder and click to add criteria. If you click the + icon, you will see some options. If you click ‘Other’ you will see the extensive list of possibilities. However, you’re going to spend a lot of time trying to work out how to find what you’re after unless by shear happenstance you press the Option Key and out of the corner of your eye, you notice that the + icon has changed to a … icon and out of curiosity, you click it, at which point, a whole new world of possibilities opens up. If you are constantly searching for specific words, you can leave the base Smart Folder in Edit mode and open in it’s own Finder window so you can just change the words as you wish, or you can access the Search Criteria anytime you want via 2-finger-tap in the Sidebar, or wherever you choose to store your Smart Folder.

    As for Mail… I haven’t manually managed Mail for years. Everything is in the inbox or an archive box (On My Mac). I have a few simple Rules that tag (for visibility) mail as they arrive and those Tags are used with Boolean criteria in Smart Mailboxes, to totally remove both junk and to narrow them down to what I find works best for me, which in the end, is a Today/unread folder, from where I can Tag again (2-finger tap) for later use, e.g. tax-returns, or junk adjustments etc. For run of the mill searches, I just search as normal.

    Here’s a quick example of the sort of immense possibilities that Smart Folders provide. In this example, you can simply narrow down your search by adding ‘None’ criteria to remove the obviously undesired files, or you could stipulate the type of file etc. etc. Searches like this are really quick to make, because you see the results in real-time as you build them, which makes it so easy to get what you want. None/All/Any are the crucial tools.

  46. You can set Finder windows to left/right via Tile mode, which gives them their own Desktop and which you can swipe to/from via 4-finger-swipe.

    I should also add …

    If you don’t like full-screen, as ever there’s an alternative. Press the Option-Key when you mouse-over the Green button (Top-left Window) and the tooltip will change to ‘Move Window to Left Side of Screen’ (or right side). This will resize the window and it will take up the left half of your screen. You can then do the same to fill the right side.

    Also… if you just Option-Click the Green button, without selecting a Menu choice, your windows will toggle between full-screen-height and there current size/position. Useful.

    Actually … while I’m at it, here’s another. :blush:

    Hold the Option key and place your mouse over the side/edge of a window, or the top/bottom, then tap-drag. This will resize the window vertically or horizontally around its centre. Alternatively, mouse over one of the corners and tap-drag and it will resize both vertical and horizontally around its centre.

  47. Export as PDF… will make a PDF that is identical to the Safari window. IOW, you could get a 300’ long page. Resizing the Safari window (narrower/wider) is useful for many sites.

  48. Some great suggestions here.

    On the matter of the Finder, I think there’s still a place for apps like Path Finder (which I no longer use) because everyone has their own “must haves”. But one simple change would be to improve Finder’s tools for renaming and grouping files. Path Finder’s build-it-yourself renaming tool is brilliant. And if I want to group ten items with similar names, is “New Folder with Items” really the best suggestion Apple can come up with?

    In Mail, I’d like smart mailboxes to be easier to build, for instance based on the results of a search. One person might have several email addresses, and for each of those addresses I have to add a “From:” rule and an “Any recipient” rule. Creating a smart mailbox for a dozen family members is a tedious job, and there must be a better way.

    I’d like Migration Assistant to offer finer control. I’ve just reinstalled macOS, and for various reasons didn’t want to restore all my apps and settings from a backup. It would have been nice to restore some of them, but I don’t think Migration Assistant offers any flexibility there.

    Going further – and perhaps related to @ace’s suggestion about tracking system settings, and other people’s ideas about making apps easier to remove – is there any chance that Apple could force developers to be more explicit about where apps store their settings? Stuff that used to go in Library/Application Support now seems to have half a dozen alternative homes, and then the plist files are somewhere else … oh well, it’s a nice thought.

  49. GFS - That’s an interesting idea. My first reaction is wondering how that would work for the archives of text-based files (mainly Text, Word processing, and PDFs) I have going back to the late 1980s. I make my living writing about science and technology, and those files are valuable because they give me important historic background on the topics I cover, like the Hubble rescue mission in the early 1990s, and include records of interview with people long dead. I have spent a lot of time updating file formats so I can access these files, and I don’t want to have to go through that again. If Smart Folders are just search results that find files containing “Edward Teller” without any restructuring necessary, that would work. If I had to rearrange all the files, it could be problematic because of the time and effort required.

  50. If Smart Folders are just search results that find files containing “Edward Teller” without any restructuring necessary, that would work. If I had to rearrange all the files, it could be problematic because of the time and effort required.

    Smart Folders and Smart Mailboxes are quite simply searches using Spotlight data. Spotlight scans everything, including library files you’ll never normally see. It scans all the text in all your files. So, yes, it will find whatever you’re after in a text file. You can enclose words in “” to only find whole words. As I say, it’s a bit arcane, but nevertheless extremely powerful. You can forget about organising in any way… files will be found wherever they are. You can then use the Finder windows sorting/organising options, e.g. by date, or kind, to make them easier to work with.

    So yes, text files are the simplest for it, but it will find text, keywords, data … everything. I suggest you try it quickly, as in my screen-grab, to get an idea and if it appeals, then there is a massive amount of other tools it contains and that will enable you to search with great precision. Worth a little time investment. :slightly_smiling_face:

  51. Just remembered another issue I struggle with a lot during everyday work on macOS.

    System-wide window management. I usually have a desired window size and location for most apps I use often. Say, for Mail, I usually know exactly where I want my main window and in which size, plus where any email I’m reading or composing should go and what size that should have. But now every once in a while you’re writing an email and you need to constantly check the contents of two other emails you’re referring to. At that point I’d want to drag those other two emails to the side (that’s what I have a 27" screen for) and put everything up so I can see it at the same time and in large enough windows to see it all at one glance. Problem is, that will then screw up the way Mail next time shows me a vanilla compose window or the window with some other new email that has come in.

    So I guess what I’d want to is a simple way to set defaults along with a simple one-toggle switch to go back to those defaults after I screw around with a whole bunch of windows. There’s various apps that attempt to help with this and you can script stuff to a certain degree, but I guess what I’m really looking for is something simple that’s built straight into macOS so I can use it with any app and for various different types of windows these apps can display depending solely on their type.

  52. Apple Watch and iPhone Silent Mode / Focus synchronisation. It is annoying that I can put my iPhone into silent mode, using the switch on the side, but an incoming phone call still sounds on my Apple Watch.

  53. And here’s one for iOS.

    I want a setting to ensure that the hardware ringer switch is used to mute ALL sound. Perhaps with an extra option to except alarm clock. I want the OS to only allow software to access to my speaker when that switch is in the ring position. Just like any use of video on my Mac means that green light has to come on.

    The background is that I can’t believe regular vetted app store apps get to push ads that end up playing sound even when the app is otherwise muted, the ringer switch is off, system volume is all the way down, and I sure as heck never asked for ads with audio. If that app weren’t to me really important, the first instance of such an ad would have led to immediate deletion. I hope devs take note.

  54. blm

    I agree with this completely. And if Apple can’t do what you describe, they should kick advertisers that play ads with sound even when the ringer is muted (there are ads that pay attention to the ringer muted setting, so I know it’s technically possible).

  55. From the standpoint of beginners and also those with low vision I would love to see a kind of universal Go Back in IOS. Every screen space seems to be touch sensitive when you have difficulty seeing and when you are not sure of what you are doing. Suddenly you are on a screen you have no idea how you got there or what to do to recover.

  56. Thanks. I’m going to have to do some tests to see if that’s good news or bad news. In 2018, when I was using Mojave, Spotlight could not find RTF files (the standard format for Nisus Writer) unless asked for them. Has that bug been fixed?

  57. Jeff, just go ahead and make a Smart Folder. You see in real-time how it’s working. So it’s really easy to build exactly what you’re after. Honestly, 5mins and you’ll see if it works for you. Expand your Finder window full-height for your monitor to get the best idea of results as you go.

    As per Spotlight:
    I have had issues over the years, which were always resolved (at least in the short term) by re-building the Spotlight index. Simple to do, but obviously takes time to rebuild, which is dependent on your cpu + the amount of Gbs. However, since Monterey, I haven’t had any issues at all.

  58. Human interface benchmarking. Measure macOS and included apps against the Human Interface Guidelines, for implementation, consistency, and intuitiveness.

    Apple’s various operating systems and included apps are increasingly veering from the original vision of user friendly and intuitive. Many apps have features missing in multiple places, such as undoing actions, easy search, ability to copy any item on the screen to the clipboard. It is slowly creeping towards a ‘windows/android’ experience. If we could create a benchmarking process, to measure Apple’s software releases against their own human interface guidelines, the missing, broken, and poorly implemented parts of their software could be highlighted for revision.

  59. This is a small one for macOS, but definitely from the common sense pile.

    Allow stock apps to be deleted like on iOS. People can always go to MAS and get Chess or Stocks back should they suddenly find themselves needing it.

  60. It’s probably more an App enhancement than an OS enhancement but I’d like to see Apple give some love to Keychain Access. It works ‘ok’ but is far surpassed by third party options and given Apple’s desire to have the most secure system it seems odd KA is a fairly half-baked solution.

    It’s ugly, not particularly easy to use and lacking in many features. As the core of MacOS, iOS and iPadOS security it really deserves to get a significant rewrite/update.

  61. I’m actually surprised how weak of an overall solution Keychain is. I know Apple likes to sometimes leave room for devs but a very few more features would make it much more useful. Notes finally is good enough for most people but Keychain is still too basic and feature free.

  62. Isn’t that what Apple has done with System Preferences > Passwords? Not to say it’s all it could be, but it does seem to moving in the right direction of providing more access to stored passwords.

  63. To be honest I never use Passwords, I always use KA.

    I just took a look to remind myself why and it’s still a long way short of things like 1Password. Both Passwords and Keychain Access deserve the most critical app judgment - they’re not ‘Mac like’.

    Maybe we’ll see some changes revealed in the next few days.

  64. The Passwords pref pane is certainly more user friendly and the kind of thing I can point my family at dealing with. Keychain Access is too obscure for most. The Passwords pref pane is a tad too easy to get to if anything, requiring the login password alone. I’d welcome some 2FA there.

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