Five Enhancements for Future Apple Operating Systems

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:

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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.

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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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:

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.

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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.

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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.

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).

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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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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.