Windows 7 visual feedback

I’m a longtime Mac user who has started using a Windows 7 laptop for gaming. While on the laptop I’ll occasionally use non-game apps, mainly Notepad and Firefox.

I’m finding myself bugged by the lack of visual feedback when issuing a menu command. On a Mac, when I select a command — say, File -> Save — from an application’s menus (using the mouse), the selected command on the menu flashes to indicate that my click registered. Likewise, if I use a keyboard shortcut to issue a command, the relevant top-level menu will flash to show that the command registered. That is, in the case of using “Command + S” to save my file, the “File” menu item on the Mac menu bar will flash.

I’m seeing no such feed back in Windows. Whether I use the mouse or a keyboard shortcut, I’m seeing no feedback to tell me that my command registered. I’m mainly just saving small text files that are so small that a progress bar isn’t going to show up when saving them.

Does Windows simply lack this kind of feedback, or is there a setting somewhere to enable it?

I’m not aware of any built-in mechanism Windows has to do that.

I typically hit Alt to bring up the hotkeys for menus, then hit “F” for file and “S” for save. It’s 3 distinct keypresses instead of a single combo, but you get the satisfaction of seeing the menu pop up briefly. It’s not quite the same behavior as a Mac, though.

Nearly all apps use visual (if not audible) feedback. So does everything in a Windows menu, taskbar, etc. The only place there’s no immediate visual feedback is on desktop icons, and they do at least highlight to indicate focus.

Aah, the joys of working on multiple platforms.

My journey took me the opposite way, from Windows to Mac. I hate that distracting flashing. I know you’re saving the file, I just told you to!

I’ve never had reason to doubt that my Windows machine registered a command. I purposefully selected the command from the menu or clicked a button. Just a different approach to interfaces, but it can be frustrating to tackle a new one.

I am not a Mac person, but I have admired nearly every UI Apple has created. Even when the product is not the best, the user interface is often sublime. However, I can never shake the slight feeling that Apple’s guiding principle for UI design is “The user is kinda stupid. Spell it out in real small words.”


And that idiotic round hockey puck mouse. Ugh.

I loved Apple products until OS X came out, then the usability took a nose-dive. It wasn’t about making computers usable anymore, it was about making them:

  1. condescending (as posted above: “the user’s a little stupid”) and
  2. pretty

Psychologically it was a good move on Apple’s part, and they obviously have moved a lot more units post-OS X than pre-OS X. But for me? Eh.

As far as feedback goes, for tasks that don’t take long and don’t affect the performance of the rest of the system, the guideline is to not bother the user with them. Fancier apps will place a progress bar in the status area if a save is taking a long time.

Also remember you’re using Notepad: it doesn’t do crap UI-wise. It’s like 20 lines of code.

Speaking of Win7 visual cues… Is there any way to get rid of the pop ups at the bottom of the screen? - like when an email arrives and interupts you train of thought.

Outlook>File>Options>Mail>Uncheck Desktop Alerts

Wow, quick response. Thanks.

Windows does give you visual feedback that it has registered a menu command. It closes the menu.

One bit of visual feedback in Windows 7 that I absolutely detest is when it pops up a “thumbnail” picture of a program window (or several) when your mouse cursor touches a program minimized on the taskbar. Does anyone know how to stop it doing that? It frequently gets in the way when want to click something that happens to be close to the taskbar, and is really annoying.

I use a program called “7+ Taskbar Tweaker” that allows disabling that, among other things.

Can you elaborate? In Notepad, at least, there’s nothing, unless it’s a sound so subtle that my laptop’s crappy little speakers aren’t getting it to my ears. I’m accustomed to using keyboard shortcuts to accomplish common tasks (save, copy, paste, etc.) and I’m not seeing or hearing anything to indicate that my keypresses registered (well, except for Cut or Paste, which are kind of obvious).

I should mention that gaming is pretty much the only thing I use this laptop for. My non-gaming activity on it is limited to Firefox and using Notepad to make … notes. I use my Mac for e-mail and all of my other non-gaming computer tasks. So if there is indeed feedback in apps more advanced than Notepad, I’ve probably missed it :smiley:

I’m actually kind of annoyed that they removed the ability to set how many times it flashed. I used to set it to “1”, but now I’m stuck with the hardcoded 2 or 3. Though it’s not a big deal, since the flashes are very quick. They used to be much slower. Pulses more than flashes, really.

Thanks, I will give it a try.

You are correct, but remember: Notepad is NOTEPAD. It’s barely even a program. It’s literally just the bare minimum amount to code to wire-up a menu to a text control, and write a text file to disk.

You really should be using a… you know, actual application. Maybe you could find one to give you the feedback you desire, even. (Although I’d say those are rare on Windows.) If you’re just making notes, try Sticky Notes or OneNote (if you own it)-- those are designed specifically for note-taking.

regardless of what Notepad is or isn’t, Windows doesn’t provide the type of feedback Mister Rik is asking about. in the example of saving a file, it tends to “assume success.” meaning, if it doesn’t squawk when you try to do it, it succeeded. Else you’d get an error about it being a read-only file, or the original location couldn’t be found (e.g. network folder disappears.)

keep in mind that utilities like that can be useful, but they inject code into the explorer.exe process and if the utility crashes, it takes down the entire shell with it (and makes it look like explorer.exe is the faulting process.)

Which is exactly as it should be; there’s no need for a superfluous “Nothing went wrong, Boss!” response. Assuming that the command was processed correctly is efficient; only if there’s a problem does the app interrupt you.

I’ll just have to call that “a matter of opinion”, because it seems backwards to me. Virtually every physical action you take in the “real world” provides some level of immediate feedback, and that feedback is almost always, at the most basic level, “the thing I expected to happen, did happen”. It’s when you perform an action and nothing happens that you think “something went wrong”.

As far as saving a file via CTRL+S, the absence of feedback could mean, “assume the file was saved”, but it could just as easily mean, “my keyboard’s ‘S’ key has stopped working”. Though to be fair, I certainly realize that I’d discover any “file didn’t save” problem as soon as I tried to close the document and Windows popped up a warning about unsaved changes.

If it reassures you any, I’ve been using Windows casually since W95 and I’ve never had a command just not work. Programs have crashed, hard drives have failed, files have become corrupted, but I’ve never saved a file or moved a file or the like and have it just not happen.

Also, FTR word does have a feedback for saving files. If there are any actual changes, a little bar at the bottom right appears. If there’s little saving, it basically flashes into existence and disappears, but if you’ve changed the title or there’s a lot, it hangs out for a few seconds maybe and has some text about saving the document.