This Dialog Box Needs Some Help


Which dialog box? This one. The bane of my MacOS Xistence. And this is how it looks when you open it up using Go>Connect to Server:

Connect to Server dialog.png

So, what’s so wrong with it? It’s straight-forward enough, right?

Problem 1: There are two active-looking controls when the dialog box appears. One is a list, for which up and down arrows should work, especially since there’s a selected server in the list. The other is a text entry field, for which the up and down arrows should also work, as well as the left and right arrows, for that matter, especially since there’s selected text in the field. And both highlights are blue.

Which one is the real active field? Yes, it’s the one with the blue highlight around the box, not the one with the blue highlighted text, which would lead you to think there are two active controls in this dialog. How wrong you are!

The fix? Other Mac apps, including Safari, which I’m using right now, grey out the selection in an inactive list, and completely unselect the text in an inactive text entry field. On opening, this dialog box should have either one line selected in blue in the list or the text selected in blue in the text entry field, possibly with the last-used favorite in the list selected in grey (but definitely not blue).

Problem 2: Well, I decide that I’m trainable and, since I most often want to use a previously-used selection, my first thought is to hit tab, which correctly de-highlights the text in the text entry field, but inexplicably de-highlights the previously-used selection in the list, too! Now nothing is highlighted.

My brain, which was previously drawn to the previously-used selection, is now left thinking, WTF? Do I hit up or down arrow now? I was thinking “Up arrow, because I want to get to that one above the current selection,” but now I’m wondering what an arrow key will do, because there’s nothing obvious about what should happen next.

The solution is for the dialog box to behave properly with the highlighting of the various active and inactive elements. Were the highlight grey in the first place and I hit tab to get to the list box, it should turn the highlight to blue and I would be left with no wondering at all about what the up or down arrow might do. That ought to be pretty easy to fix.

Problem 3: The dialog box isn’t really a dialog box, so it has some strange behaviors. Like resizing the window makes the selection in the list box get unselected. And there’s no green dot, either. (Why not? Couldn’t clicking the green dot make the window expand to a size that is wide enough to show the complete server addresses and tall enough to show all server addresses? But the green dot behavior, in general, sucks in MacOS X and is one of the few things that Windows gets right… Ouch.)

Problem 4: This isn’t a problem with the above-shown “Connect to Server” dialog box, it’s a problem with the inexplicable nature of the Finder sidebar. (And with the Open/Save dialog box, too.)

Screwed-up Sidebar.png

Let’s say I used the above-shown “Connect to Server” dialog box and connect to Home. Funny thing is it doesn’t show up in the sidebar as I think it should. Instead, the server, shr-g5, shows up. Yeah, yeah, I know, the item in Finder>Preferences>Sidebar says under “Show these items in the Sidebar:” “Connected Servers,” not “Connected Volumes.”

But why doesn’t it? Why, when I want to get to Home do I have to wait for Finder to connect to shr-g5 and see what volumes are shared in order that I may eventually click on Home? Perhaps this is useful for folks who regularly need to look at different volumes on the same server and only want to have to navigate that silly “Connect to Server” dialog once per boot. But me? I want to see Home listed somewhere in that list, whether it’s under Devices (it would fit perfectly under iDisk, which isn’t a “device” either) or in Shared, where it really would belong, too.

Aw, Bill, you’re just cranky because you have to wait for the Finder to connect… No, I’m cranky because I just got off a 35-mile bike ride which was uphill all the way (OK, not really, but it sure felt like it!) and I’m not cranky as much as I am just plain tired, and, well, Apple gets the brunt of it today.

And maybe I am a bit cranky because I didn’t make it up Plains Road, whose approximately-25% grade will require more stamina and less weight for me to make it up. Sorry, Apple.

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