Friday, October 26, 2007

Leopard's Stacks renders Dock even more useless

It's obvious by now that the Dock is Steve's pet feature, otherwise such a usability nightmare would have been scrapped long ago. Yeah, I've kind of gotten used to it, but still: it's awful.

It fails most prominently as an application launcher. First of all, it can only hold a handful of your apps. If you add too many, they will be too tiny to be practical.

Second, this is clearly the case when a word is worth a thousand pictures. If I look for Photoshop, I want to find it under "P," not "next to the icon with the QuickTime logo, not far from the stamp icon." You can alphabeticize names. You cannot put icons in any meaningful order. So every time I look for an app in the Dock, I waste several seconds, and grow just a bit more frustrated.

Luckily, there is (or rather, was) a solution. I put my Applications folder in the Dock. I click on it, and up pops the entire hierarchical list of all my apps. This is such a great shortcut that I cannot live without it.

In fact, every time I sit down to anyone's Mac, I make sure to put the Applications folder in their Dock. That's the only way I can even begin to work. After I'm done, I leave it there. Nobody complains.

It should be there by default.

Shockingly, Apple is disabling this functionality. According to David Pogue:

I'm not totally sold on the Stacks feature. That's where you click a folder icon on your Dock, and rather than a complete menu of the folder's contents, you get a fan or a grid that shows an array of the actual icons inside. Trouble is, if there are more than 24 items in that folder (depending on your screen size), you get only a partial list. To see the rest of the contents, you have to click the icon that says, "35 more in Finder," which opens that folder's actual desktop window.

There's no way to make the Dock show the complete list of folder contents anymore; nor can you stick your hard drive's icon in the Dock and have complete, drill-down, hierarchical access to your entire computer, as you could before.

Wow. I didn't see this one coming.

This can very easily be a dealbreaker for me. I'm not joking.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, yeah I just installed Leopard right now, first thing I tried to do was put my home, applications and developer folders into my dock. Bingo! Stacks galore, pretty useless when you want to traverse a heirarchy of folders. Literally this is the first web page I've visited in Mac OS X 10.5.

This was the one really useful feature of the pre 10.5 dock, and reminded me of the MacOS 7/8/9 Apple menu where you could create aliases to all your favourite folders and browse them very quickly from there.

I was amazed to find there was no way to designate that a folder placed in the dock shouldn't be a stack - why can't I right click a stack icon and say "disable stack"? I don't mind if stacks are made by default (they are pretty cool) but I really need the old functionality back aswell.

Jim said...

Amen, brother. Now I need a substitute, something that'll let me browser hierarchically. Hell, I've been doing this since Mac OS 8!

I guess I could get use to just using Spotlight -- I never even used it in Tiger.

Man, this blows.

fxPPC said...

i've downgraded from leopard until someone figures out how to return folders to the dock. Leopard is usless without this old feature. I can't stand stacks, they are totally useless to me, but steve doesn't like to give us choices

Anonymous said...

I could not agree more: No to stacks!

Dermot said...

You guys know that you can command-click on the icon in the dock and click "List" to view the folder as a hierarchy, right?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, dermot-come-lately. They've addressed the concern with the very recent release of 10.5.2.

Dermot said...

Yeah, that occurred to me the moment I clicked "post". Ah well.

Anonymous said...

Make an alias of a directory and then add the alias to the dock and it is treated as a folder instead of a stack...works with everything except the user directories.