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How to fix the four most annoying quirks of Yosemite

Kirk McElhearn | Oct. 23, 2014
OS X 10.10 Yosemite is out, and, while there aren't many surprises in the interface--which Apple has been showing off since June--users are getting their first tastes of the new look and new features. And many of them are finding that there are some annoyances the way Yosemite displays (or doesn't display) certain things. Here are my top four Yosemite annoyances and how you can fix them.

OS X 10.10 Yosemite is out, and, while there aren't many surprises in the interface — which Apple has been showing off since June — users are getting their first tastes of the new look and new features. And many of them are finding that there are some annoyances the way Yosemite displays (or doesn't display) certain things. Here are my top four Yosemite annoyances and how you can fix them.

Banish translucency

I don't get the whole thing about translucency. It certainly looks cool, and the technology required to render both a translucent menu and what's behind it is probably quite complex. But what's the point of translucency? Is it simply, to paraphrase Steve Jobs, when he presented the rotating cube that displayed with Fast User Switching back in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, "Because we can?"

To me, translucent menus just look blurry. And with thinner fonts, it makes it even harder to see what they say. It's bad enough to have blurry menus, but this extends to some windows. You can see it in the Spotlight window, the Safari window in certain situations (such as when you display Favorites), and in the menu bar. Apple says that "Translucency adds more dimension to your desktop," but I don't really need more dimension; I need to see things more clearly. Translucent sidebars in the Finder or iTunes don't make using OS X any easier.

Fortunately, it's easy to turn this off. Open System Preferences, then click Accessibility. Click Display, then check Reduce Transparency.

There are two interesting things here. First, that Apple hides this in the Accessibility preferences, rather than in, say, the General preferences, which is where the option to use the dark menu bar and Dock. Second, that Apple isn't clear on the word it's using. It's translucency, not transparency; the Apple web site gets it right, but the Accessibility presences has it wrong.

End rant.

The case of the missing iTunes sidebar

Since the earliest days of iTunes, the sidebar — the list at the left, which showed your different media libraries, your playlists, and your connected devices — was a familiar and practical tool. But now, in iTunes 12, it's gone. It had already been granted second-class status in iTunes 11, but iTunes 12 nuked it.

Well, not exactly... You still can display a sidebar, though it won't show everything the previous versions did. When viewing any of your media libraries, click on Playlists in the navigation bar near the top-center of the window. This displays a sidebar with the name of your currently selected library at the top and your playlists below. This playlists sidebar displays in any media library, and if you click the name of the library — such as Music — you can choose to view your content along with the sidebar.

 

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