Smarter Dialogs

Users should not have to learn hierarchical filesystems.

NewsMac Pro

  1. As part of testing a syndication aggregator they are considering switching to, the user wants to import their feed list from an OPML file exported from their current default aggregator.
    selecting Import in NewsMac Pro
  2. Rather than forcing the user to play file clerk, the system presents a listing of all the OPML files within the search scope.
    OPML import dialog preview


  1. The user wants to review the transcript of a recent conversation.
    selecting Open Transcript in iChat
  2. The system locates and displays all of the chat transcripts.
    Open transcript dialog preview

QuickTime Player

  1. Open a file…
    selecting Open File in QT Player
  2. The Open dialog focusing on movies…
    Open movie dialog preview

QuickTime Player can also open images and audio files, but the primary use (based on my rather informal research) is for playing movies. As Cooper wrote, design for what is probable, not what is possible.

Notes and Thoughts

  1. The default dialog search rules (if any) would be set by the application's developer.
  2. Users could browse the filesystem hierarchically by clicking on a sidebar location which would then become the top level of the view. Column view would be available in Browse mode.
  3. Each dialog would remember whether it was in Spotlight or Browse mode.
  4. Performance is pretty good once Spotlight has indexed all UTIs for autocompletion with "Kind: Others…", but the initial run takes quite a while and makes the Finder appear to have crashed. Performing this step automatically at the time of a system update would be preferable.
  5. Multiple Kind rules either produce no results because they cannot find files matching both Kinds (as depicted below) or they cause the Finder to crash. I believe OR queries are possible using Raw Query input, but that is obviously not a good solution for most users.
    Smart Folder with two Kinds showing no results

Published by

Daniel J. Wilson

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