How long has the Desktop been on a Mac? Since before there was a Mac. Most of us work on a desktop, or manage our computers on a desktop, so the metaphor of arranging and organizing our Macs on a desktop seemed appropriate.
That was last century. We’re now moving quickly into the 21st century. The Mac’s Desktop is a cluttered collector of inane utilities and files and needs to be replaced. The sooner, the better.
I’m not a fan of the Mac’s Desktop, though it seems a better implementation than the version in Microsoft’s Windows. What else is new? I came across iDeskCal, a neat looking utility which embeds your iCal calendar on your Mac’s Desktop?
iDeskCal sits above your Desktop picture (I really hate using the Microsoftian term, ‘wallpaper’, but plenty of people understand what that means) but below whatever’s on the Desktop.
You can also move it around and configure fonts and colors to match your, ah, um, wallpaper.
This is exactly the kind of utility that Apple does not provide in Mac OS X, and probably for good reason. The road less traveled is often less traveled for a reason. You have to ask yourself, “because I can, should I?” Because it can be done, should it?
What good is the Mac’s Desktop other than a handy folder to save downloaded items or files that simply haven’t been filed yet. My Mac’s Desktop sure doesn’t look like a desktop.
If you’re still using your Mac’s Desktop to view what’s in folders instead of using the Mac’s Finder, then you’re stuck in the 1990s. The Finder’s Column View or List View is about all you need.
A case in point is the beautiful utility Photo Desktop from Alwin Troost. It makes your Desktop a mini photo album. Nicely done, yes. But why? Only because he can, not because it’s really useful. After all, the Desktop is where all the clutter is.
The Mac’s Desktop metaphor is a relic from the golden age of personal computing; back when you needed plenty of money to buy an Apple product. The graphic utility of the Desktop has come and gone. The true benefit of the Desktop is nothing more than a folder to save what hasn’t been put away yet.
You want true utility? Try the Dashboard. With one flick of the wrist (mouse pointer going to hot spot on your Mac’s screen), all sorts of user definable utilities pop open. That’s useful, though some of the Widgets may be suspect, but at least you determine which to use.
In the hierarchy of Mac user folders (User, Music, Pictures, Movies, Documents, and Desktop) it’s the Desktop that causes the most problems but gets used the most. It’s the open shoe box of clutter. The toxic waste landfill for files without a home. Yet.
I predict that in future versions of Mac OS X that Apple will find other ways to marginalize what we know of the current Desktop for a more efficient and effective utility as our point of origin for loose files on our Macs.
Why not create another screen layer, similar to the Dashboard and make it work the same way. It would simply display everything in the Desktop folder (admittedly, I can’t think of a better term, but I’m not trying too hard) the way Widgets take over the screen now.
Flick the mouse pointer to a screen corner hot spot, as you do for Widgets, and whatever is stored in your Mac’s Desktop folder magically appears on the whole screen. You’d be able to open folders and documents the way you do in the Finder but without the Finder.
The Desktop layer could even replace the current Desktop, relegating it to the more attractive eye candy utilities like fish tanks, or wallpaper, or photo albums—all cosmetic, and less than useful, but visually appealing.
As another example of how last century Desktop is, Apple’s Remote Desktop is woefully misnamed. It isn’t just a utility to access your Desktop, since it accesses nearly anything else on your Mac.
Applications, Music, Documents, Pictures, and Movies are not really part of the Desktop, so let’s not pretend they are.
Do away with the Desktop, Apple. It is nothing more than a folder in the Finder where we keep the cluttered masses of unlabeled, unfiled, unnamed, and unfortunate files, folders, and whatever else we haven’t decided what to do with. Yet.
Make the Desktop, in whatever name is eventually adopted, a haven of organization and utility, instead of a clutter box fit only for glitter and eye candy, or utilities which are already available elsewhere on our Macs.