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Thursday, December 20, 2007, 11:00 am PT (02:00 pm ET)

Apple to tweak 'Stacks' in Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.2 Update

Faced with criticism over the implementation of a new desktop organizational feature of its recently-released Leopard operating system, Apple Inc. is reported to be implementing some refinements as part of an upcoming update to the system software.

Mac OS X 10.5.2, due early next year as a free maintenance and security release for Leopard users, will pack a plethora of bug fixes and code corrections, but also include revised version of the system's Stacks feature.

A stack is a Mac OS X Dock item that aims to provide users with fast access to a folder of files. When users click a stack, the files within spring from the Dock in a fan or a grid, depending on the number of items or the preference set by the user.

The feature was conceived as a means of tackling the ever-growing problem faced by users when file downloads and general system usage rapidly results in a cluttering of the Mac OS X desktop. The implementation of the feature, however, was been met with some harsh initial criticism.

"There's just not enough room in a single Dock tile for a stack of icons to convey any meaningful information," wrote ArsTechinca's John Siracusa in his in-depth review of Leopard following its release. "Only the top one, two, maybe three items have any visual impact. And those few items may be misleading (e.g., the home folder appearing to be the Desktop folder) or completely generic (e.g., the Pictures and Movies folders showing up as plain folder icons.) Seriously, Apple, this is a bad idea."

stacks

A screenshot of the revised Stacks interface published by Macenstein.


Mac OS X 10.5.2 will reportedly add a missing "list view" to stacks that many pundits argue should have been there from the start. In addition, users will also reportedly be presented with the option to display a stack as a plain pile of files — as Apple originally intended it — or as an icon "so you know what you’re looking at."

The first private builds of Mac OS X 10.5.2 began making their way into developer's hands earlier this week. Rumblings around the Web have suggested the software could arrive mid-January, complete with support for a new wave of Mac systems based on Intel's upcoming 45-nanometer Penryn-based processors.

For more on Stacks, please see An Introductory Mac OS X Leopard Review: Meet Your New Desktop and Road to Mac OS X Leopard: Dock 1.6.