It’s The Little Things

You ever think about what makes working in a Mac app so great?

While an app’s functionality has a lot to do with it, it’s really the things you don’t think about that make you appreciate working on a Macintosh, and in particular OSX.

Here’s a few hints from some Mac apps:

Adium

Address Book

Camino

CSS Edit

Cyberduck

iTunes

Mail

Omni Outliner

Safari

Transmission

VoodooPad Lite

Do you see what they all have in common?

Now here are some Mac apps that aren’t really Mac apps. They’re generic programs masquerading as Mac apps. These are from developers that wrote apps with no particular platform in mind, and it shows:

Internet Explorer

Last.FM

Opera

Taco HTML Edit

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Entourage

Mac apps have a visual connection to their documents. The other apps don’t. The title bars don’t JUST serve as title bars. For these apps, most of the tasks you need to do can be done right from that title bar; save a document, create a new document, type in an address, etc. Sure, you can do those in the other apps, but their UI just isn’t quite as clean.

Yes, some apps can’t put all their functions front and center. But for those that CAN there’s really no reason not to.

And what’s the benefit? I don’t really know! It looks cleaner. The whole window reconfirms what app I’m currently using. It acts as a subtle visual cue.

If you pay attention to the UI you’ll see that great OSX apps are filled with subtle cues.