Showing posts from November, 2010

Window Controls: Mac OS vs Windows

As I observe casual users working with a Mac (my wife falls into that category) I often see them doing something that is very Windows like: trying to close an application by clicking the close button in the top of the window title. My wife also says she hates the Maximize window button because it doesn’t maximize the window like it did in Windows.

On a Mac the series of buttons in the top left corner of a window are called the Title Bar Buttons. Much like the window controls found in virtually every version of Windows, these allow the user to perform actions on the window they are attached to. In Mac OS they appear as a series of traffic lights in the top left of the window, in Windows on the top right of the window:
This is probably the one area that most people struggle with, and the underlying design philosophy is both subtle and complex, mostly because the buttons feel like they should work the same way in Mac OS and Windows but have some different behaviors.

They are named nearly th…