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9. Dumb Deleting

Several small things bug me about the way Mac OS X deletes files. If you have ever selected a lot of items and then pressed Command-Delete to move them to the Trash, you’ve no doubt encountered the progress dialog box that appears for several seconds while Mac OS X prepares to move the files to the Trash (see Figure 5). Why isn’t this action instantaneous, at least from the user’s point of view? Sure, the operating system must update its directory of the files’ locations, but this could be handled in the background, no? Likewise, why expose to the user the amount of time it takes to actually empty the Trash? From the user’s perspective, emptying the Trash should occur immediately, whether it contains one file or thousands.

Figure 5

Figure 5 The many frustrating dialog boxes related to the Trash indicate a problem with its implementation.

It also bothers me that if the Trash is being emptied, you can’t open it or add more items to it. If Mac OS X were truly helpful, it would honor the user’s desire to delete additional items, not insist that they try again later.

The final injustice occurs when you are trying to empty the Trash and a dialog box notifies you that "the operation cannot be completed because the item is in use." Fair enough; I don’t expect Mac OS X to allow me to delete a file that’s actually being used by another application, but is it too much to expect to be told the name of the application or thread that’s laying claim to the document?

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