Fixing the Mac OS X Dock poof

The Dock adds a whole new behavior: Object annihilation. Drag an object off the dock and it disappears in a virtual puff of smoke. This is the single scariest idea introduced to the Macintosh since the original bomb icon. How would you feel if you spent eight hours working on your first Macintosh document, only to have it disappear entirely when you try to move it from the dock to the desktop? Pretty disorienting, no? This is a completely unnecessary concept for the user to have to learn, particularly in such a painful way. Makes for a “hot demo” though, doesn’t it?

Bruce Tognazzini — Top 10 Reasons the Apple Dock Sucks

While I don’t agree with Bruce Tognazzini’s desire to transform much of OS X’s interface into the “Classic” Mac UI, I do think his complaint about the Dock poof is valid. It can easily lead users to believe that whatever they have dragged out of the Dock has been permanently erased. I wonder how many frantic support calls Apple has received from users who believe their application, folder, or document has just been nuked after dragging it off the Dock.

Rather than using the potentially confusing smoke poof, Apple should use the same zooming animation used for opening and closing windows and drag-and-dropping objects. For those who don’t display their drives on the desktop, a fading effect would occur. Fading is far from perfect, but I think it is significantly better than the smoke poof. Getting a bit more complex, the removed object could be “absorbed” into its containing folder or disk, which would temporarily appear at the point the object was dropped complete with name & label if any.

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Daniel J. Wilson

I am a designer, drummer, and photographer in Brooklyn, NY.