The DICT Development Group

Search for:
Search type:

Database copyright information
Server information

1 definition found
 for Macintosh user interface
From The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (30 December 2018) :

  Macintosh user interface
      The graphical user interface used by
     Apple Computer's Macintosh family of personal computers,
     based on graphical representations of familiar office objects
     (sheets of paper, files, wastepaper bin, etc.) positioned on a
     two-dimensional "{desktop" workspace.
     Programs and data files are represented on screen by small
     pictures ({icons).  An object is selected by moving a mouse
     over the real desktop which correspondingly moves the
     pointer on screen.  When the pointer is over an icon on
     screen, the icon is selected by pressing the button on the
     A hierarchical file system is provided that lets a user
     "{drag" a document (a file) icon into and out of a folder
     (directory) icon.  Folders can also contain other folders and
     so on.  To delete a document, its icon is dragged into a
     trash can icon.  For people that are not computer
     enthusiasts, managing files on the Macintosh is easier than
     using the MS-DOS or Unix command-line interpreter.
     The Macintosh always displays a row of menu titles at the top
     of the screen.  When a mouse button is pressed over a title, a
     pull-down menu appears below it.  With the mouse button held
     down, the option within the menu is selected by pointing to it
     and then releasing the button.
     Unlike the IBM PC, which, prior to Microsoft Windows had
     no standard graphical user interface, Macintosh developers
     almost always conform to the Macintosh interface.  As a
     result, users are comfortable with the interface of a new
     program from the start even if it takes a while to learn all
     the rest of it.  They know there will be a row of menu options
     at the top of the screen, and basic tasks are always performed
     in the same way.  Apple also keeps technical jargon down to a
     Although the Macintosh user interface provides consistency; it
     does not make up for an application program that is not
     designed well.  Not only must the application's menus be clear
     and understandable, but the locations on screen that a user
     points to must be considered.  Since the mouse is the major
     selecting method on a Macintosh, mouse movement should be kept
     to a minimum.  In addition, for experienced typists, the mouse
     is a cumbersome substitute for well-designed keyboard
     commands, especially for intensive text editing.
     Urban legned has it that the Mac user interface was copied
     from Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center.  Although it is
     true that Xerox's smalltalk had a GUI and Xerox introduced
     some GUI concepts commercially on the Xerox Star computer in
     1981, and that Steve Jobs and members of the Mac and Lisa
     project teams visited PARC, Jef Raskin, who created the Mac
     project, points out that many GUI concepts which are now
     considered fundamental, such as dragging objects and pull-down
     menus with the mouse, were actually invented at Apple.
     Pull-down menus have become common on IBM, Commodore and
     Amiga computers.  Microsoft Windows and OS/2
     Presentation Manager, Digital Research's GEM,
     Hewlett-Packard's New Wave, the X Window System, RISC
     OS and many other programs and operating environments also
     incorporate some or all of the desktop/mouse/icon features.
     Apple Computer have tried to prevent other companies from
     using some GUI concepts by taking legal action against them.
     It is because of such restrictive practises that organisations
     such as the Free Software Foundation previously refused to
     support ports of their software to Apple machines, though this
     ban has now been lifted.  [Why?  When?]

Contact=webmaster@dict.org Specification=RFC 2229