We Moved The Cheeseby Imported Article

Every once in a while, somebody makes a design decision that irritates a very vocal portion of their users. The other day, we did that by removing the preferences dialog from Files. We moved the cheese. We didn’t get rid of it though, and we think that's important to note. Here’s the logic behind the move.


The good news is that we’ve heard absolutely zero people complain about not having easy access to the auto-select feature. This used to be the default. And it was awful. And so we moved it, and I think now is a good time to simply remove it. Not much more to say here.

Date settings

Surprisingly, there are a few people that are up in arms about not having the date configuration in Files. But really ask yourself if this makes sense to have in that app. Date isn’t something that only Files deals with; we use dates all over the system in all kinds of apps. By default, Files now respects your system settings with regards to how the date should be displayed. Maybe it isn’t perfect right now, but we’ve moved the setting where it should be: system-wide.


Several people are upset about not being able to access extensions in Files. This hasn’t been removed either! Extensions are handled in Software Center and they are enabled when you install them. We have heard some complaints about managing extensions per-user and be assured that we’re working on a way to handle extensions more intelligently in the future without compromising on security. But we think Files is a safe place to start the transition since there are very few extensions currently available and none of them are particularly intrusive.

Overall, think of this as a stepping stone to a greater extensions experience for all the apps on elementary. As always, we need your feedback to help make it rock. What kind of problems are you running in to? How can we make this easier and better?

Single vs Double Click

This is the setting that really freaked a lot of people out. Why would we remove such a vital and important setting such as being able to click an extra time in order to open something? If you really think about it, double-click is just a weird thing we’ve kept around since the old days. Sometimes genuinely liking something and simply being used to something are two different things. All modern interfaces are single click. The entire web is single click! But you probably have your reasons, so here is what we want to suggest to you:

Just try it out. Any change takes a bit of time to get used to. Give it a couple of days before you reach a conclusion. Find good reasons why single click won’t work for you and then report those reasons here. We want to make our apps better, not worse. If there’s a genuine problem, we need to know about it.

Don’t have preconceived notions. We’ve already heard people exclaiming “I need to be able to select multiple files!” If you’ve ever tried it, you know that you can still use ctrl + click to select files and folders without opening them, and we even have handy + and - buttons for multi-selection with just the mouse.

If you’re a developer, we still need a mouse and touchpad settings pane to replace the old GNOME one we’re using right now. That is really the proper place to put a single vs double-click setting if we really want one. Settings panes aren’t hard to code. It’ll take you maybe a day and you’ll get a lot of praise from the community. Everybody wins.

It’s All Part of The Plan

Don’t panic! This is just part of the grand scheme of providing options contextually, globally, and auto-configuring apps intelligently. For the past two years we've had a section about this in our HIG. We’re not going to just start removing dialogs from apps where they make sense to have. This wasn’t a random decision made in a single day: we created a blueprint, we discussed the implications of the change, and we only acted after we were really sure.

Way back when GNOME 2 was still king, we introduced the second version of wingpanel (the first version was a disaster). A very vocal number of people were extremely upset that wingpanel was not configurable. They wanted the panel on the left or the bottom and 48px wide and to add shortcuts in the middle and applets etc. Today, almost nobody complains about this. And better, we don’t get a single confused user wondering how they moved their panel or accidentally deleted the clock or worse the entire panel. We made some decisions about how the panel should be organized, where it should be located, and what kind of customization we wanted to allow (plug-able indicators and full CSS theming) and this yielded a much faster, lighter, sleeker panel.

We know there are many traditional Linux users out there exclaiming that Linux is all about choices and we should make everything configurable because that’s freedom. But that isn’t why most of you are here in the first place. You’re here because we’ve been making choices for you. Lots of them. We always have and always will. We’re the open source OS with opinionated design. That’s what makes elementary so good. We trim the fat. We optimize. We organize. We rethink.

Published May 17th, 2013
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