Armchair CEO: Apple
Friday, January 21, 2005
Mac vs. Mac: Apple's OS Split Personality

There's a cage match in your mac. If you've got a .mac account or iLife apps, you've got a split personality...

In one corner, your operating system and the Finder. Most people simply use folders (also known as directories) to store and sort their data. This metaphor has been around since before the graphic user interface (GUI), and despite the ranting of Jef Raskin, continues to be the ruling paradigm in personal storage.

In the other corner, there's the "storage" system of iLife and .mac... No doubt you have music in iTunes. That's not too bad, except iTunes has decided to sort your music by author. Now iPhoto is another story. It has one of the most confusing and frustrating file structures I've ever seen. Now for fun, open up iMovie. While it's cool that you can access your photos and music from within iMovie, you shan't ever mess with the OS!

Here's the deal: if you put all your files in the folders where YOU want them, the iLife stuff won't like it.

I ran into this in, of all places, the Desktop Pattern prefs. There's a little section for iPhotos, and one for folders of your own. I had downloaded quite a few cool desktops, and wanted to use them. But slow caching makes that folder crawl when I put it in the prefs. The iPhotos work much faster. But importing those desktops into iPhoto is unnecessary and wasteful-- they are copied into the iPhoto folders.

You can see where problems creep in. If you don't use iTunes, it's bad too. iMovie puts together a rag-tag group of files also...

Add you .mac, and you now have localization issues. I recently set up an old mac as a backup. Since you can use .mac to sync machines, I thought, cool, all my bookmarks and such will be here! But alas, I had changed the user name to Homer Simpson. And now, when I get email, it's addressed to him, not me.

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