Why you should learn to love your brother’s tech

What I’ve noticed from trying to stay platform agnostic for a while is that there are a lot of great ideas and techniques that tend to be blindingly obvious and part of muscle memory on one platform that are either unavailable or under used on the other. Today’s example is one that is part of almost every Windows users toolkit, but hasn’t been available as long on the Macintosh and ends up being under used.

Let’s say your working in Final Cut Pro and you’re saving a file. You’re working on a complicated project and the file names are variations of a base filename. You’ve opened up the save dialog and your presented with something like…

Save Dialog in Final Cut Pro

So, we’ll just start typing our long filename and…Not so fast. If you take your cursor and select the grayed out filename from the dialog below, you’ll get…

Final Save Dialog in Final Cut Pro

The name of the file you just selected, inserted into the text field ready for you to append a new version number. Seven out of ten Macintosh users don’t know about this feature just as seven out of ten Windows users are aware of it. Cross-cultural technology astigmatism can bite you in the butt.

The funny thing is from a user interface stand point you can argue this is a bug not a feature. On the Macintosh grey text indicates that the interface cue is inactive. So, if you were really a platform zealot you would say that they need to take this away in the next version of OSX or at least give us some indication that it is selectable. Maybe so, but once again I’ll just try to get my work done faster and easier.


  1. g. said

    that’s funny, I remember using this “hack” for the longest time (probably system 8) but I could be mistaken, since it’s been so long.

  2. Dale said

    Hey G,

    I’m not exactly sure when this feature was first implemented on the Mac. The further back it goes makes it even more interesting how widely used it seems to be with Windows users and less so with Mac users. This may have something to do with the circle of designers, animators and editors that I work with, but my guess is that it holds true with a general sampling of users.



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