My #1 wish for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard

The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2006) starts today. In the keynote speech Steve Jobs will show a preview of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, the next version of Apple's operating system. As always there are plenty of rumours going around regarding what will be new in Mac OS X and what else he is going to reveal.

I haven't paid close attention to the rumours, but I did see a list of updates to the applications included in Mac OS X. There was no mention of my pet peeve with Mac OS X, a little thing that has bothered me for years. Most Mac users will never have had a problem with this, and most will probably call it a feature. To people like me who work in a mixed environment it is a source of frustration.

I'm talking about the hidden files that Mac OS X likes to sprinkle across remote drives mounted using SMB. .DS_Store and ._filename files show up wherever you've been with your Mac. Open a folder in the Finder, save a file from your favourite text editor or save an image from Photoshop and then take a look at the drive from a Windows computer.

It isn't pretty. Nor is it necessary. I know these files are supposed to contain "helpful" information about folders or files, but you can delete them with no harm done. In a mixed environment these files give sysadmins and Mac haters a reason to point their finger at us Mac users and tell us to leave their network drives alone. And I know from personal experience and frustration that there is at least one case when a single ._filename file can bring an ASP.Net based website down.

So please, Apple, if you make one single improvement to the way Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard handles networking, make it stop littering remote volumes with these files. At the very least, please give users an easily accessible option to turn this "feature" off.

Posted on August 7, 2006 in Mac