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Aqua!


Mac OS X takes the graphical user interface to the next level of computing—and beyond. We started out with a blank screen—the computer industry’s version of a Tabula Rasa, you might say—and set ourselves two goals: create a modern operating system that’s easy to use, and that looks more appealing than any Mac you’ve ever seen. In other words, Apple’s designers were strongly motivated to create an interface that would make what you get with other operating systems look like paleolithic tools (there, we’ve said it).
Core OS Graphics Aqua Finder Apps
Aqua, the Liquid Look
It’s the Mac’s new look-again look. We call it Aqua. The word means water in many languages, and the characteristics of water infuse the lucid feel of Mac OS X. Aqua brings your computer to life with color, depth, translucence and motion.

The Art of the Icon
In the beginning, icons characterized the graphical interface, representing things like applications and documents that you could click on and activate. Icons were small (32 x 32 pixels), sized for the low-resolution displays of the time. For 15 years, operating systems have used these small, low-resolution icons even as display sizes and resolution levels have dramatically increased.

Aqua sheds these constraints with large — up to 128 x 128 pixels — richly-colored, photo-quality icons. The larger size makes the icons much more legible on today’s higher resolution displays, provides a broader canvas for greater photo-quality detail, and makes for better document previews in the Finder—besides which, they’re just plain beautiful.

Single Windows
Operating systems are noted for creating screen clutter by spawning multiple windows. Navigating deep structured file systems meant dealing with multiple windows, and accessing control panels meant a different window for each panel. Mac OS X eliminates the problem of multiplying windows by focusing many of its applications in a single window. Key system components like the new Finder, Mail (our great new email application), and the system preferences panel are all confined to a single window. The result? Goodbye, clutter.

But we’ve taken the single-window concept a step further and applied it to the whole operating system. While the Mac OS can run many applications simultaneously, you can only interact with one at a time. And with many applications open, you could find yourself spending considerable time arranging windows or switching between applications.


Mac OS X actively helps you better manage your screen space so you can spend more time getting things done. It does this by improving screen space management with a new feature called Single Window Mode. When you’re in Single Window Mode the computer makes the current window the active window and automatically hides all the other open windows. When you want to work on another document or application, the computer automatically removes the currently active document and makes the desired document the only active document on the screen.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place
We designed the Mac OS X interface according to a simple guiding principle: a place for everything and everything in its place.

We figured the best place to start was the desktop itself. Mac OS X makes desktop clutter a thing of the past with the Dock. The Dock sits at the bottom of your screen and holds folders, applications, documents, storage devices, minimized windows, QuickTime movies, digital images, links to websites, or just about anything else you’d like to keep handy for instant access.
The Dock displays an icon for each item you store there. And these icons don’t just look good—they provide useful feedback about the applications and documents they represent. For example, the icon for Mail tells you if you have any new messages waiting to be read. If you store an image, the Dock shows it in preview mode, so you can tell what it is without opening it. And because you can minimize running applications into the Dock, a quick look at the bottom of the screen tells you what applications you’re currently running. Switching between tasks is a snap: simply click the application or document icon you want to start using, and it becomes the new active task.

The Dock holds as many things as you want to keep there. As you add items, the Dock expands until it reaches the edge of the screen. Once it reaches that point, the icons in the Dock shrink proportionately to accommodate additional items. To make the smaller icons more legible, however, we’ve included a great new feature called magnification: just pass your mouse over the icons, and they magnify to your preset maximum resolution.





Getting to Know You
Of course we maintained many of the interface conventions you’ve grown familiar with during the last 15 years. As you use a system, you build up muscle memory and acquire expectations for certain actions. The Mac OS X interface is designed to leverage that familiarity and help you smoothly transition to the new system. Likewise, while we’ve improved the appearance and behavior of many system elements, the core locations and behaviors of things like windows, scroll bars and icons remain largely unchanged and comfortable to Mac users.



The New Laws of Motion
Time was, when the operating system presented a panel to print or save a document, you had to know which document the panel was for, even though you might have many documents active at a time. And panels demanded immediate action, interrupting your work. Mac OS X introduces new panels that attach themselves to documents and make their relationship clear (you can even have multiple interleaved documents, each with its own print or save panel open simultaneously). And these panels no longer hijack your computer and demand your immediate attention. With Mac OS X you can proceed to other tasks before dismissing the panel—without having to interrupt what you’re doing. The new panels slide out from the window title, and their translucent quality makes them look as though they’re floating above the document.


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