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3. Desktop Doesn’t Do Nested Folders

One of the hallmarks of good user interface design is consistency. Even if a feature is not necessarily intuitive, it’s easier to understand if it works the same way everywhere it’s encountered. Unfortunately, Mac OS X isn’t as consistent as one might expect. For example, if you select a folder as the source for images in Desktop & Screen Saver preferences, it might work in one tab, but not in another.

In the Screen Saver tab, if you choose a folder, Mac OS X looks for images within that folder—and even digs into nested folders to find image files it can display as a slideshow. However, if the same folder is chosen in the Desktop tab, no images residing in nested folders are found (see Figure 3).

Figure 3

Figure 3 Feel free to use images in nested folders for your screen saver (left), but not your desktop (right).

Because I like to keep my images in many different subfolders grouped by subject, year, location, and so on, I find Desktop’s inability to look into nested folders extremely limiting. Ideally, users should be able to select either an individual folder, or a folder and all nested items. This could be cleanly fixed by adding a Look In Nested Folders checkbox in the dialog box that appears when you click Choose Folder.

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