« The inscrutable purpose of Mac controls | Main | Error message o' the week »

July 25, 2005


Jonah Burke

How does Apple make the dialog accessible to non-sighted users?

Chris Hollander

I guess it's nice to be apple. I help design software for city one of the largest city government agencies in the world.

not everyone understands that shaking left and right means, "your typed the wrong password. or maybe your password changed. or maybe the caps lock key is on. or maybe you got the wrong username. or maybe you've been fired for doing inappropriate things. or maybe the network is down, because of a terorist attack".

Not everyone can see the screen. Shaking your head side to side doesn't mean "no" in every culture.

It's always fun to design cute systems that just "make sense" to cool people like us. It may not be as fun and sexy to design real usable infrastructure, which just happens to have an interface sitting on top of it. Yes, your Moen faucets are a marvel of modern industrial design, but without all those ugly PVC pipes running in the walls, they're pretty useless...

btw, sorry this turned into such a rant...

Eric Gunnerson

Ditto on what Jonah said.

Cool <> Good design. I might like a system that works the way you describe, but many people may have no idea what's wrong.

Also, how does this work for people who are blind?

Dave Murdock

To Chris H., you know the caps lock key is on when a graphic is in the password textfield.

As for accesibility, don't make the mistake of assuming Apple doesn't have a string somewhere that can be read back to users. They have a built-in utility called VoiceOver for accesibility. You can read a bit on that here: http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/voiceover/. Just because none here have tested it doesn't mean Apple hasn't.

To EricG, the point I think of the original post is that most users don't know whats wrong when they get the Windows error message, they just dismiss it to try again. To suggest that many people don't know what's wrong when the dialog shakes its head, I don't know my son is 1 year, 5 months, and he sure knows what shaking his head back and forth means, and he can't speak.

And for future reference, the first time I saw the OS X behavior, it just brought a smile to my face, because it is cute and I wasn't getting yelled at by the system for an operation we all know is highly error prone.


It's not that Apple always gets it though ... I recently tried to install ITunes5 and it didn't complete... as I was greeted by a completely useless dialog.



I just picked up a new smartphone running Windows Mobile 5.0 edition. I noticed that the password screen does the "apple style" head shaking when I've entered the wrong password.
I'm not sure if this UI is part of Windows Mobile, or just part of the I-mate vendor software.

Anyway, I like it.

Giuseppe M.

Ubuntu linux does the same too and also appears a message.. in my opinion it's a funny way to start working with your system :)

The comments to this entry are closed.