OS X El Capitan's "Mouse Shake"

in OS X El Capitan, when you shake the mouse back and forth, the pointer turns huge so you can find it. meanwhile, Windows has a feature where you can press the Control key on the keyboard to make a circle appear around your pointer. this is a seemingly minor detail, but it perfectly shows how Apple and Microsoft approach user experience differently.

think about the Windows approach. first of all, the feature is off by default, so you would only have it turned on if you’ve already been so frustrated that you went to the trouble of turning it on. you wouldn’t even know that the feature existed unless you bothered to dig through the settings and find it. after doing all that, the way you use it works like this:

you move the mouse and you can’t find the pointer. after shaking the mouse for a while, you eventually give up. so you look down from your screen and move your hand over to the Control key. after you press it, you need to immediately look back up at your screen to find the circle on the screen, or else you’ll miss it. now you’ve finally found your pointer, and you can put your hands back to where they were originally, and finally resume working.

now think about the OS X approach. you move your mouse and you can’t find the pointer. after shaking the mouse for a while—... oh, the pointer turned gigantic—there it is!

the Macintosh approach is truly elegant. it’s beautiful for many reasons: it’s much faster because it’s right there the instant you need it, so you can activate it far quicker than you could possibly move your hand to the keyboard and back. it’s also much less disruptive because you don’t need to stop what you’re doing. and most importantly, you don’t need to learn anything new. this design builds on top of what you’re already doing, to provide what you need exactly when you need it. it just happens. it’s natural. it’s simple.

and that is the Macintosh way.