[Small] Annoyances in Big Sur

I’m opening a new topic to group together changes in the interface for Big Sur that Talk subscribers may find annoying. I believe that most of these items are something that can be lived with, but others may disagree. That is why I’ve indicated ambiguity in using the. word ‘Small’ in the topic:

  1. The garish login screen issue has already been raised. Big Sur actually provides a nice set of dynamic photos of the Big Sur coast as an alternate desktop and it would be nice to substitute one of those for the login.

  2. The hidden close indicator in notifications: when you see a persistent notification, there is no apparent way to dismiss it. There are actually 2 ways: flicking the box to the right or cursing to the upper left corner revealing a circled ‘x’ to click, but neither are apparent.

  3. Finding a ‘handle’ to move screen windows: In Big Sur, the title bar has been eliminated from screen windows. With many applications (especially Apple apps), the selection area for toolbar items extends almost to the top of the window. In those windows, the only surefire way to be able to grab and move the window is to grab it above the ‘traffic signal’ icons on the upper left. The grab zone does extend across the window but it is extremely narrow above the toolbar icons.

  1. The dual-purpose TIme Menu Item: In order to see notifications and widgets, one must clock the TIme area of the menu bar, which is now pinned to the right end. This, of course, hides the notification function. Some, who find no use for seeing system time in the menu bar, may also object to the space taken. However, that can be rectified by changing the Clock tab in the Dock and Menu Bar preference item to show analog time, displaying a small clock, as the icon.
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External volumes are shown with a document icon (not a drive icon) in the Finder’s sidebar.

Great list and good idea to have a thread on this. Maybe you can add a link to your point no. 4 since we discussed that here. I don’t know about the others in that discussion, but I submitted feedback to Apple about that.

Mine all show disk icon outlines. Are the desktop icons for them something other than disk icons? Glenn Fleishman recently wrote an article for MacWorld about customizing disk icons.

Alan -

On the garish login screen issue, the desktop can be changed, but the initial login screen still persist in all its ugliness. Have you found a way to change that?

These are good suggestions for working around these problems. Thanks for these. Now if only Apple would think about this mundane stuff when they eliminate little things that the designers deem clutter or unneeded!!

I know, first world problems and all that, but I’ve gotta think some of these changes fall into the “change for change’s sake”.

I haven’t seen any ways to modify the login screen. I was hoping your post would surface some.

I generally like using an Apple system screen as the background and a Big Sur photo would be perfect.

Try this

The procedure in that tip is just a fancy way of changing the Desktop Picture–easier to do in the Desktop Picture & Screensaver System Preference. It may work if you have only one login id defined. However, according to the comment, it doesn’t work if multiple id’s are defined. Many of used have multiple ids defined. For example, I have a skeleton id, ‘Phantom User’ set up with no customization in order to rule out system problems that may be caused by alterations I have made. When I log out of my usual id with the Big Sur dynamic photo desktop picture, I get the garish background.

The login wallpaper issue actually started in Catalina, which I asked about here:

In over a year, no one has come up with a solution that doesn’t involve (temporarily) disabling SIP, and I’m not even sure that would work in Big Sur anymore. Either way I’m not tempted to try that.

The developer of MacPilot also has decided that this is not possible in Catalina and beyond, and so has removed the option to try to change that from its app. I find this fairly definitive for two reasons:

  1. They would not want to remove the feature if they could help it

  2. They are pretty much experts at finding ways to do these esoteric things.

Given 1 & 2, if they have determined it can’t be done, I think it can’t be done.

My Biggest UI issue with Big Sur…

…is the hiding of the “proxy icon” that you could use to drag the file you are working on to another app. I use that all the time, and the icon is now very tiny and hidden until you mouse over it. You can reduce the delay before it appears, but I just want it to show all of the time.

Also, as mentioned above, notifications suck. So badly that I am left to assume no one at Apple uses its own notification system. Which makes it even sadder that their terrible notification system (which was never very good effectively killed Growl.

And for how many years were we told that it was impossible to restore the startup chime, when there was a method all along?

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I assure you it wasn’t there all along.

In installations of Big Sur 11.1 and 11.2 (beta) I really miss the Title Bar, since it is useful for showing the path or entering the path into Terminal.app by dragging the icon.
I have found that dragging the window responds anywhere in the top bar that is not occupied, including left, right, above, and below the traffic lights and between any objects displayed. (Or, hidden, as in any text entry field which no longer has borders displayed.) It is still nonsense from an accessibility viewpoint.
The big target of the Title Bar was helpful for those with essential tremor and similar.

I’ve got the same issue. Not very elegant if you ask me.

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Just out of curiosity, how much time do people spend looking at their login background image?

I see it when I reboot perhaps once a month for the 10 seconds it takes me to punch in my password and the Mac to bring up my session.

My experience has matched that of Alan Forkosh. The Finder sidebar icon for an external local disk in 11.2 (beta) is a black & white perspective outline the same shape as the default external drive icon on the Desktop. Default Desktop Drive icons I have seen include a ‘bare hard drive’ for the boot volume, a shiny gold external volume, and, for external Time Machine volumes, the traditional Green icon with the TM icon as in the Menu Bar.`

This should restore the Catalina title bar to Big Sur and brings back clickable icons. Not pretty though.

defaults write -g NSWindowSupportsAutomaticInlineTitle -bool false

In my case, essentially none. I concentrate on clicking the correct icon and entering the correct credentials. I find the screen garish, at best, and am certainly gratified when I see my chosen screen background after login.

This works to restore the Title Bar to Finder windows but is apparently ignored by many applications both Apple and third-party.
(Having it back in the finder is the inverse of ugly for me.)

Examples I’ve seen show it working in Finder and Mail. Haven’t seen anything beyond that. At least BS Finder retained the option of showing path in window footer.

I believe there is ample evidence that it was in NVRAM all along, we just didn’t know the right command to re-activate it. I’ve heard from dozens of users with Macs sold between 2016 and now that they were able to activate it again and only a very few who were not able to figure it out.