Blog DavTar

January 27, 2010

Shadows Under Icons and Windows

Filed under: User Experience — cygnl7 @ 7:20 pm

This is something that really annoys me, and Apple is doing it with the newly announced iPad.  But it’s something that happens pretty much everywhere (windows, mac os, gnome, kde, etc.).  If there were some configuration flag that turned it on or off as needed, then life would be grand.  What is it?

I can’t stand having shadows under windows and icons when the wallpaper behind those windows and icons isn’t flat!  Apple has gone to great lengths to make it possible for a desktop (or padtop?) to look three dimensional.  This picture of the new iPad from Gizmodo shows that.


The dock looks all 3d, the image behind it obviously has depth, and then BAM!  Icons with shadows directly under them take that depth away.  If I want a 3d-looking desktop, I wouldn’t expect those icons to cast a shadow directly beneath as if what was underneath was a flat surface.  Yet I see this all the time.
It surprises me that a company such as Apple, who spends so much time on pixel-perfect user experience, hasn’t done something about this already.  If there was a simple flag to specify whether your desktop wallpaper was “3d” or not, then shadows could be enabled/disabled when over the desktop image.  Sure, they should still cast a shadow on other icons and windows, but not on the “3d” desktop.  Surely it’s easier said than done, but with modern hardware it shouldn’t be that hard, should it?

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