OS X Yosemite: First thoughts

I upgraded my MBP to OS X Yosemite on Friday morning, and at this point am closed to being finished with getting software installed, etc. As I have worked through getting software installed and getting the system ready to use, I’ve developed a few initial impressions of the changes to the user interface.

I upgraded my MBP (a 15-inch, early 2011 model) to OS X Yosemite on Friday morning, and at this point I am closed to being finished with getting software installed, etc. I typically move between versions of OS X with a clean install and then re-install software and restore files (as needed). It’s not necessarily an approach that would work well for everyone, but it works for me and helps ensure I have a reasonable clean system.

My first thoughts, in no particular order:

  • Helvetica Neue as the primary UI font is going to take some getting used to. My MBP is a couple years old, and is not a Retina device; that has a big impact on how it renders. I particularly notice the difference in the menu bar and in context menus. It simply does not render as clearly and legibly as the font OS X has historically used there.
  • The flat UI will also take some getting used to, but I think I like it, in general, for window decorations, UI controls, icons, etc.
  • I am not crazy about the shift to brighter colors for UI elements and icons. I would characterize many of them as close to garish. I tend to like understated UIs (the theme of my blog will attest to that) and while the flat aspects of the UI head in that direction, the colors most certainly do not. The blue used for UI elements, folder icons, etc., is particularly bad in this regard. The second UI tweak I made was the shift to graphite for basic UI appearance (which unfortunately does nothing for the blue folder icons); the first was to shift the dock to the right side of the display and to have it auto-hide to slide the mass of bright colors out of sight. I hardly ever use the dock (thank you, apps like QuickSilver and Alfred!), so this is something I would do anyway, but I don’t miss the explosion of bright colors from the dock.
  • Transparency and effects: I haven’t decided about these, but in general they feel like a bit much to me. What benefit, for example, is there to having the blue of several selected files in a Finder pane bleed through the context menu when I right-click on them? There are places where I like a bit of window transparency but some of the transparency implemented here feels gratuitous.

My overall general impression: a mixed bag. This is the first OS X version I’ve installed (going back to when I started with OS X Leopard) where I have not had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the UI evolution.

I’ll follow up a bit after I’ve been on Yosemite for a couple weeks with additional impressions. I’m curious to see how/if these impressions evolve with the passage to time and usage. The other aspect of this is that the system I updated is my own laptop; I have two other MBP’s I use for work and I don’t have any near-term plans to update them… I will be switching between 10.10 and 10.9 on a daily basis, which will likely bring the differences into sharp contrast.