Tiger Gripes?

by Chris Adamson

With the lavish praise hurled upon Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger in the media — and not a little bit of scorn for Longhorn's problems — you'd think that jumping in with both feet would be a breeze.

Let's be honest. There are annoyances and bugs in this product, just as with any other. Denying that may be typical of some extreme Mac advocates, but it doesn't help: it doesn't advance the platform, it doesn't make things better, etc.

What bugs you about Tiger? Where does Tiger not behave, where do you see change for change's sake, and what from Panther (or Jaguar) would you like to have back?

This blog is mostly meant to collect your nits and gripes in the feedback, but let me toss out a few of mine:

  • iChat drops the connection frequently - once every couple hours, at least. This didn't happen in Panther. Watching in Activity Monitor, it doesn't take long for iChatAgent to go red (ie, "not responding"). What's up with that?

  • iSync acts like you've never used it before - even if you used iSync in Panther, the Tiger edition promptly announces that it's a new day and you have to re-add all your devices and give them an initial sync. WTF?!

  • Runaway CPU use - I occasionally see some benign application start gobbling 40% or more of CPU time, on both of my processors. Both iTunes and BBEdit have done this. Weirdly, the grab is reported by Activity Monitor as happening in system space, not user.

  • Mail got a pointless makeover - no more drawer, and the toolbar buttons are now rearranged, smaller, and less hittable. Where did this come from? Can someone tell me why the new way is better?

  • iChat Groups - groups used to be in a drawer, with checkboxes to show or hide group members in the buddy list. Now the names of all groups appear in the main display, with a count of how many group members are online. Fire does it this way too. On paper it sounds good -- in practice it means you either have a trivial number of groups, or an iChat window as tall as the screen. If you have 10+ groups like I do, you can fill the window just with group names.

This is where you list some of your gripes... or just attack me for saying that Tiger has a few flaws.


2005-05-04 13:02:18
I'm not experiencing the problem with iChat at all here, I'm logged in much of the time, and I've yet to experience a failure that wasn't totally my fault (removing the ethernet cable makes connecting to the web somewhat more...troublesome :D )

chuck the prefs and try again?

2005-05-04 13:03:57

You write:

Mail got a pointless makeoverno more drawer, and the toolbar buttons are now rearranged, smaller, and less hittable. Where did this come from? Can someone tell me why the new way is better?

The removal of the drawer is a good thing: now you can actually control the whole interface from the keyboard, before you couldn't switch mailboxes without the mouse. That change alone I think is great, especially if you're on several mailing lists and sort them (automatically) in different mailboxes

The other big one are smart folders in Mail: really great.

But the smaller, less hittable, visually less distinguishable (the outlines are now very similar, contradicting their own HIG) toolbar is not good. Also the contrast in the whole application is now lower, therefore less readable. And I still want to have the total number of unread mail, not just the number of mails in my inbox (because of automated sorting, this number doesn't really reflect what I receive)


2005-05-04 13:35:19
Mail Smart Folders

There is an easy way to have your entire number of new mails show up in the dock icon - use SmartFolders rather than rules. I replaced all my rules with equivalent SmartFolders. Now when new mail arrives I leave it in the InBox (which means the total number of new messages is listed in the dock icon) but I still have individual folders for viewing messages based on the criteria I choose.

In fact a message can appear in more than one folder - say if you had a folder that had contained messages from a mailing list and a separate folder for a friend who also happened to be on that list - messages no longer have to be either one place or another, via SmartFolders they can be found in either place.

The new Mail toolbar is something of a travesty - I don't think it's as hideous as some people, but it's obviously a step back from the sort of interface clarity Apple is known for. Hopefully they'll get the message and Mail 2.1 will switch the chrome to something better.

As for the drawer, I'm glad it's gone. The sidebar is much more consistent with other apps and as Maarten said, it's more accessible.

2005-05-04 13:40:37
same boat....
I agree, the buddy list organization sux in my oppinion.... ahh.... wait.... cool - View > Use Groups - uncheck this, you'll be good to go.

Mail - hated the look at first, I'll be damned if it's not growing on me. Personally, I liked the drawer (I was also the only one on the planet to like Jar Jar Binks, so don't take my word for it)

What's really got me in a pinch is the apparent breaking of my JRun environment.... pointing to http://localhost:8000/ no longer works, either does http://[computerName].local:8000/ - this sucks!

another bug (I think) is where the weather widget fscks up the close(x) button for other widgets. To see what I mean, open a bunch of widgets in Dash Board, hover over them with Option held down.... (x) should appear in top left of each individual widget... this works fine with no weather widget present but buggy with it up.... lemmee check again..... ahhhhhhhh..... I think it's cause when say, raining, the weather widget's png is taller, which causes it to overlap, causing the confusion....

anywho, let's hope JRun gets fixed....

oh, and Spotlight isn't as fast as I thought it would be (1.25Ghz,1.25Gb RAM PowerBook)

2005-05-04 13:43:22
Mail Toolbar
It's the red delete button that's the most distracting to me.... does not play well with that blue... gonna modify it.....
2005-05-04 14:00:36
Fixing Mail
Totally agree with you about Mail... But! Leave it to the wonderful Mac OS X developer ecosphere to solve the problem:



2005-05-04 14:48:52
Mail Smart Folders
I know, and I'd love to do that. But not all mailing lists place a marker in the subject, some require sorting on a "sender" header, and the list of headers you can use for Smart Folders is fixed, and "sender" is not among them, and unlike the old rules, you can't add your own headers.
So I don't really see how I could get the message reliably in the right smart folder.
2005-05-04 14:58:23
Source lists
Mail's makeover wasn't pointless. Putting the mailboxes in a draw was a complete contradiction of the modern UI guidelines. Source lists belong in a split view. So putting them there was a correction, not just a cosmetic thing.

And as for the toolbar buttons, I don't see what the big deal is. They're just buttons. I don't understand how anybody could either like or dislike them. They're so inconsequential.

Then again, I've seen artists spend hours designing replacement application icons because they thought the vendor-provided ones were ugly. So who the hell knows.

2005-05-04 15:33:35
My little gripes
In Mail I'm glad to be rid of the drawer, and I don't even mind the new icons, but you can't resize them any more (except for the mailbox icons). Why would Apple take away user choice in this matter?

My real complaint with Mail is that I had hoped that 2.0 would improve IMAP support, and it hasn't. Mail still doesn't recognize my IMAP Sent folder, so if I ask it to "leave sent messages on server," they just disappear into the ether, not being saved anywhere. Thunderbird and Entourage have no problems with this, so why can't Mail figure it out? (On the plus side, Mail finally handles "reply in format of the original" consistently, which I don't believe it ever has before. In all previous versions, it did not reply to RTF messages in RTF unless RTF was set as the default composition format.)

Also, Spotlight is not yet fully usable, as many people have pointed out. It's not fast enough (even on my iMac G5) to prevent the annoying phenomenon of reordering a search result just as I start to click on something, so that I end up clicking on something else. So I am sticking with Quicksilver to search for anything that QS can index. But when you really have to find something -- even in PDF! -- Spotlight is an invaluable timesaver.

Dashboard is obviously the replacement for Sherlock and/or Watson, so when more widgets come out to duplicate those functions -- eBay searches, phone book lookups (the Yellow Pages widget sucks), etc. -- it will be a terrific feature. But again it's not quite there.

It's a bummer that you can't use the Dictionary contextual menu in BBEdit or OmniWeb (to name just two), but that's not really Apple's fault. Still, I hope that feature can be incorporated into more programs, especially BBEdit.

Finally, printing with my old Epson is broken in Tiger. Major bummer.

2005-05-04 15:41:17
Printing fixed thanks to GIMP! (available now through Printer Setup Utility -- nice.)
2005-05-04 18:27:51
My little gripes
Not using either one of those programs I can't say, but can't you use the Dictionary service instead?

Context menus are inherently evil anyway. ;-)

2005-05-04 23:07:02
same boat....
JRun is up and running... had to install update (my bad) - that takes care of my gripes!
2005-05-05 00:29:41
Font management
Since the first OS X, I thought it was a bit of an irony that the platform known for it's userbase of designers can't quite get font management right. The font book might be nice if you have a couple dozen fonts, but if you work with several hundred it grinds to a halt. The ability to create new font libraries allows you to keep track of fonts stored in locations other than the blessed font folders. This is a great improvement but it is too slow and crash prone. If you can get it to import a few hundred fonts without crashing (hint: import only a dozen at a time ) it doesn't help because it is so slow. Every time you start the app to turn on a few fonts for a job it rescans the entire library which takes a while. It also seems like start up time for apps like Illustrator are dramatically increased even if all those fonts are disabled. If Apple could supply a little of their brilliance here and fix this it would make a lot of people happy. Also it would be nice for people who still have a large collection a legacy postscript fonts to have some way of getting into those font suitcases to reorganize the screen fonts--I'm actually using the Font/DA mover from system 6 running in classic. Talk about an app that could use a facelift :)
2005-05-05 04:21:20
Font management
I've had no end of problems with fonts, recently.

It wasn't until I opened Font Book simply out of curiosity that I found that Helvetica and several other system-required fonts had been disabled[!]

In fairness, this is on Panther, not Tiger, but this merely underlines some of the silliness that goes on underneath all of the gloss & glitz...

2005-05-05 04:29:03
Spotlight and Safari
With regards to the Spotlight tool in the menu bar, I'm not sure if I'll ever use it.

I've been using LaunchBar for quite some time now and Spotlight is just not anywhere near as fast as intuitive or as utilitarian as LaunchBar.

To be fair, Spotlight will come into its own at the system level where finding stuff away from the desktop and within applications is the requirement.

Now, having said that, how the hell did Apple manage NOT to add Spotlight functionality to Safari?

How on earth can I look at Safari and then have to drop back to Firefox to simply find stuff within a page?

I'd say someone over-baked the potato and then forgot to put the chili sauce on the hob...

2005-05-05 04:55:01
How did you install Tiger?
Curious. Did you read François Joseph de Kermadec's piece, Everything You Need to Know to Install Tiger before installing Tiger?

2005-05-05 06:59:13
My little gripes
You need to designate which mailbox you want the sent mail to go to!

Create a 'Sent' mailbox, select it, and then go the the "Mailbox" menu. One of the menu items says "Use this Mailbox for" and you can select from Drafts, Sent, Trash, or Junk.

I had that same problem with Mail for a long time, until I found that menu option. And really, it's the right way to do it. Why should an application make the assumption as to what mailbox you want them saved under? Same line of thought goes for Drafts, etc..

2005-05-05 07:54:11
Spotlight and Safari
Spotlight and Launchbar do totally different things. I don't understand how you can compare them.

And I don't know what you think "Spotlight technology" is, but it's not command-F. That's in every Mac application. You should check it out.

2005-05-05 08:17:53
Mail Smart Folders
Surprisingly, filtering on the recepient works for all the mailing lists I subscribe to.
2005-05-05 09:22:16
death to rodents
With the Windows machines at work, I've become quite accustomed to rarely (if ever) needing to use the mouse. Windows is, and always has been, very consistent with underlining the letter of the title that activates a specific function in menus. And aside from that, a single, simple tap of alt always brings you to the file menu in any windowed program. I really enjoy the level of two-button keystroke integration in Windows that still is sorely lacking in OS X. Sure, it does have some keystrokes (usually of the command- variety) but you still need to be mousing around quite a bit for full functionality.
2005-05-05 11:33:55
I prefer the source's to be included in the main window. The mail import function , however, is not working correctly. All of my mail folders have been imported but none of the messages. Is this a registered bug or just me????
2005-05-05 11:48:10
Crash crash crash
OS is solid but I'm noticing alot more application crashes. The biggest culprit seems to be Safari. It goes down at least 2 times a day. Usually in response to sites with complex poorly written EMCAScript. Or multiple Flash Movies. Have also noticed less stability in JAVA apps particularly Zend Studio and JBuilder. But that's more like once every couple of days.

Install over writes ( and fails to back up ) under the hood configs. Overwrote both my /etc/hosts and /etc/http/httpd.conf files. Not a big deal but it should at least make a back up first. ( fortunately I do this anyway)

Other than that I LOVE THIS OS!

2005-05-05 12:23:01
death to rodents
Uh, actually, if you go to System Preferences -> Keyboard & Mouse -> Keyboard Shortcuts, you can define keyboard shortcuts for accessing the menu, dock, etc. I think the default is control-F2. I'm not sure when this made it in, but it's in my Panther install.
2005-05-05 14:41:27
Spotlight and Safari
I'm sure I've been very clear about what I mean, so I doubt there's anything else to add.

I'm also very much aware of what Spotlight is and isn't.

I'm not sure why you've added emphasis with "Spotlight technology". Those weren't my words.

Please read through what I've written again. Clarity often comes second time around...

2005-05-06 09:27:25
death to rodents
Still, its the standard level of integration and simplicity that its always had in windows that is great. ie: I could switch the computer I'm working on, and not have to change any preferences (because I might not have authorization to do so if say, its at work). As well, Windows recognizes the fact that you may have opened the start menu or windows explorer (etc.) from the keyboard, and appropriately shows the little underlines to serve as shortcuts to functions within those areas.
Keystroke integration is just far superior in Windows than it is on those mice-pioneering macs.
2005-05-10 23:36:59
My TiBook's fan is running at almost FULL speed
Being a big fan of Apple technology, I immediately upgraded to Tiger the moment it came out knowing full well that I'll have to deal with the software's imperfections. Other wise souls would wait several months or a year before making such a move to give the OS time to be tested in the filed and updated.

Anyway, I wasn't disappointed until I started noticing that my fan is contantly running at near full speed. I have an 800-MHz TiBook with 500 MB of RAM. Has anybody noticed that?

2005-05-14 18:40:13
I had the same problem with the import function in mail. I have tried it three times and the folders import but none of the messages. The other problem I have had the folders do not stay. I will import them then either when I have to restart or quit out of mail and reopen it they have disappeared.
2005-09-17 06:22:21
Spotlight and Safari

And jharrell is right, dumbass.

Not only in Safari can you type command-F to find a word, (similar to "Spotlight technolgy" - disclaimer - not authors words.) but in almost every single browser, on every platform, it's available.

So I have to assme that you're an idiot.