Why my app isn't going to get a modern macOS interface

Users now and the complain that my app isn’t modern enough. One of them annoyed me enough that I wrote an article on why the modern interfaces on macOS are so bad:


I looked at your app, and yes it looks outdated to me too. That may be fine for you but I do think you are missing a lot of sales. In my experience, making your app according the new looks, will result in much (and I say MUCH) more sales.
When I did an overhaul of one of my apps (read: made it look more inline with current macOS apps), sales went up by easily 500%. Yes, 5 times more sales each day on average. That’s not bad I guess.

So it may be worth to update your app looks a bit. Unless, you don’t care about sales. :slight_smile:

Do not misunderstand me. I can understand that you have problems with the current macOS look, but that is really separate from how you market your app. People just expect a slick and good looking app.

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What exactly is outdated in my app? Did you read the blog post? Should I make the app as bad as like Mail or the new Outlook?

Icons in the tabs (looks more like Windows icons), toolbar is old fashioned - use buttons for that instead, +/- buttons are hmm…very old looking. Replace those with simple lined + and - buttons, the tabs looks awkward and not macOS like, the ‘add a plan’ windows looks odd, the bottom window bar is not used nowadays - so remove that part,

You should make the app like an modern macOS app. If that’s in your eyes ‘bad’ then yes. :slight_smile:
It’s all about following the trends. Trends sell … old stuff not.

But it’s still my 2C and my experience. If you do not want to change things, that’s fine but just keep in mind you are missing a lot of sales.

apple ID
“Making the password field visible at an additional click does nothing to improve the security.”

well actually i think it’s nice, it focuses the user on the thing he needs to do first

You mean that fads sell. The buttons in Mail are so small that I can’t differentiate between then. New Outlook now has the same idea of hiding the sort menu like Mail does.

The tabs need an update. However, what do you mean with that the Setup window looks odd?

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well a bit quick conclusion to say, you could argue that users don’t want to change much, it bothers them when you do. and to “keep in mind” is a bit arrogant to say those conclusion to missing sales

He is not totally wrong. As I said fads sell. The question is if we should follow all fads and which improvement is a real one. And there I think Apple has gone wrong in the last years.


I quickly made a mockup … :slight_smile: very rudimentary but you should get the idea.

Current look:

Mockup look:


Philippe, first of all I just want to help here
I am 100% for sure, modernising the GUI will result in (much) higher sales. Yes, 100% for sure (if that’s arrogant, you are missing the point).


‘Modernising’ the GUI is not always improving things. That’s sadly a correct conclusion, I guess.

Thanks for the mockup!


Hi! People’s expectations change over time. They just look at the rest of the apps, and they start to compare.

Coming from your users, I think this is valuable feedback.

I’ve read your article and I think there are mixed things there (from a UX perspective), they are not related to the same point/issue.

Section: Hide and Seek
Yes, borderless buttons have started to be the norm (especially on the Icon based buttons). There are many reasons for this. The main one is that people know what to do with them.
Keep in mind that at the beginning, we had the Skeuomorphic design principle to help people with the mental models.

Section: Hide and seek 2
This is similar to the previous section + it takes advantage of Progressive Discloujure (the additional reveals option are not that often used).

Section: Hidden Password Fields
This pattern it does improve the security, but the big thing that it tries to solve is that people don’t know if they already have an account or not. I’m sure Apple has made this decision based on data.

Section: “Historically grown”
The 2 System Preferences sections might have been intentionally designed this way to make the user aware that there are differences, and they work differently. Again, I’m sure Apple has made this decision based on data.

Section: What does this button do?
In general, yes tooltips can help (maybe Apple missed these buttons). But, maybe users are also, very accustomed to those buttons.

Section: No Internet - no Interface
Today, some apps (or parts) are a UI layer to some Cloud Services. It’s normal to wait for the internet connection.

Section: Button mush
Again, I’m sure Apple has made this decision based on data. I think users do not to use the formating bar to much. All the main action are (bigger) on the action bar on top.

Section: Direct manipulation
I think they removed the “Sort by Date” option simply because the main listing functionality has changed. The filter option is now more visible.

Section: Visual effects for nothing
Sometimes visual effects can help to convey an idea or action. Take, for instance, animations (minimize, restore). They are not bad, you just need to evaluate when/where you need them.

I think in the end, it’s up to you if updating the look and feel for your app worth the time and effort.


Exactly my point!

I edited the mockup a bit. :wink:

The so-called modernised look to the Finder, compared to earlier versions, serves no purpose whatever.

Item: No longer having a grey button area and titlebar means you can’t tell what ia a button and what isn’t - I mean in terms of where you can click. I want to drag a window, discover I’ve clicked a button instead. It also makes it harder to tell whether a window is in focus or not.

Item: Extending the height of the sidebar to the top of the window is a mistake. It means there’s less room for buttons.

Item: It was bad enough doing away with colour in the Finder window icons, but turning them into those little wire puzzles you see in Christmas crackers is even worse.

Item: Doing away with buttons that look like buttons - which have an outline showing the extent of the button, is another piece of GUI foolishness.

Item: Moving the window name into the same space as the buttons further reduces the space available for buttons. In Big Sur I could do a defaults write which would keep these on separate lines but this has been removed in Monterey.

I’m sure there are other “improvements” to make the Finder look “modern” but that is enough to be going on with.


Call me a Luddite (and you will!) but frankly , ‘old’ and ‘mockup’ both look fine to me.
And the elephant in the room: you simply cannot make a cross platform app that conforms to both sets of ‘UI of the week’ without extensive conditionals, and probably completely different window classes per platform, which defeats the object.

Funny how this discussion somewhat reminds me of the outrage over the Xojo IDE versus the age old and kinda antiquated RB one.

Human beings are creatures of habit, who all too often consider any change as an infringement on their personal well being.

As developers, at least those among us who sell software to the public, our duty is to serve the public well enough to gain popularity. Fact is, a growing number of users actually start with iOS, and not macOS. Hence the efforts on Apple part to have them converge.

A UI is not unlike the commands on a car. Once users get the feel of a given interface, they expect the same throughout. For bad or worse, Mac users who started with iOS have different expectations than those of us who have been here for decades.

I embrace change, even if sometimes the grumpy old man I am does not like it. My business depends on it.


If I may make a few suggestions looking at the two screen shots, I’m not saying that either is better than or, just my feelings looking at these screenshots.

  1. “Add Plan…”, “Create Account” seem to be context related. They may not need to be in the toolbar.
  2. “Show Help”. There is a system supplied button for this, that will match other apps and adopt the theme of the current OS version. On Monterey it looks like this when it is in the toolbar.

  1. The icons for managing the account list, I know what “+” does and what “-” does… The other two, if possible can they be made into buttons with icons and labels?

For the account management, I lean towards a different approach.

The below is a very poor example, but it is what I have to hand. Use a large “Add Account” button at the top of the list.
Screen Shot 2022-04-06 at 3.57.42 PM

For removing an account from the list, I’d recommend putting the “-” button inline. IMHO, it is ■■■■■■ obvious which item it is removing. App Wrapper currently uses the OS supplied “Action” icon…

When that icon is clicked, App Wrapper displays an Action menu. You don’t need a menu, but I would recommend using a confirm delete dialog

  1. Tab panel indicators, I’d recommend using a segmented control for this. You can even embed that directly into the toolbar if you wish. It supports icons, but mainly it is a control that is typically associated with switching panes.

You can also just use the toolbar for switching panes, like App Wrapper’s preferences.

  1. There’s also a lot of blank space, the preferences window of App Wrapper will resize it’self to fit the content, toggle between “General” and “Interface” to see what I mean.

  2. I’d recommend adopting the Big Sur style toolbar. You don’t have to make it icons only. App Wrapper uses icons and labels (it also has the help button). While the screenshot in 1. Uses buttons with icons and labels.

I’d also recommend hitting up @Tim_Parnell and asking if he could take some time to look at your application for you. Tim is constantly beating down my crazy ideas, and hates icons in menus :slight_smile: but he is constantly pushing me to do better, not only in terms of looks but in terms of usability also.

I think Apple makes this hard for us at the moment, they don’t seem able to provide some really good inspiring examples that I can say just look at this.

Some of it too is personal taste. It is very hard for you to adopt the UI when you really can’t stand it yourself. I know, I struggle too. Tim and I were having a discussion recently about how much we love and miss Aqua, but in making my app look too Aquary, it sticks out like a sore thumb. I’ve left some in there, just don’t tell Tim :wink: