Alright, i'm gonna say this and i'm gonna say this ONCE!! And i'm gonna be REALLY LONG-WINDED, and i'm gonna YELL!! A LOT!! So LISTEN UP!! Tftv, ya hear me?? GET OVER HERE!



There is this bizarre idea among a huge part of the windows-using population that this is the only way, or even the expected way, to eject a disk on the macintosh. People bring it up constantly. Someone just mentioned it as a totally irrelevant tossoff at the end of a writeup about deleting windows files. CdmrTaco has mentioned it in slashdot story posts, at totally inappropriate times. Linux/windows users CAN'T GET OVER THIS. I can give you pages of wholly bizarre interface idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies in both windows and every UNIX shell and gui and utility you could care to mention. But these don't seem to be important. No, what's important is that snicker hey! ON A MACINTOSH, YOU DRAG A DISK TO THE TRASH TO EJECT IT!

Except that's incorrect. And it has been for five years.

Before we go any further, perhaps i should give you a nice little guide to ejecting disks on Mac OS 8-9. OK? There are quite a few ways:

OK? You see?? No one is forcing you to drag the disk to the trash! You don't HAVE to! In fact, many mac users don't, which is why you rarely hear a mac user bitching about this! You think dragging a disk to the trash is stupid? Well, great! Just resist the temptation to drag it to the trash and use one of the other seven ways listed above. You have options. Why can you people never stop bringing it up? What are you so upset about? That one option out of eight for performing a common task is non-intuitive?? What do you want, the option taken away??


It is non-intuitive though.

Completely non-intuitive. Taken independently as a design decision, it makes no sense. And while i wouldn't call it harmful, it is definitely an inconsistent use of metaphor and one that jibes quite a bit with the macintosh's design goals. But the option is there for a reason. Why?

I'll tell you.

See, back in "the day", back when the Mac OS was first introduced, there was nothing except disk drives. OK? There were *no* hard drives. Only disks. And so everything had to come off those disks. For example, the Mac OS, the thing you needed to do anything, was on a disk. Your apps were on another. Your documents were on another.

But thus arose a problem: What if you ran out of disk drives? What if you needed two disks active, but only had one slot? There was, of course, the standard method of letting you swap disks in and out and simply requesting disks as they were needed, but..

But, well, therein laid a problem. Having disks there sometimes and sometimes not would be a problem. This wasn't the single-minded single-threaded here's-something-now-here's-something-else DOS way of doing things; this was a somewhat more complex environment. You had a view: these windows, these files, these different sections of your world that were laid out in a certain way, and the metaphors of these physical objects had to hold. This couldn't be a disk, a simple thing that was sometimes there and sometimes not; this had to be a file cabinet, a thing that could be moved or obscured but still was hard and physical.

(Oh, by the way -- this is also why macs demand control over when the disk is in or out instead of simply letting you hit a hardware eject button; because disks are real entities to the mac os, not just inhabitants of a slot. Disks have identity instead of just linearly being "whatever's there right now". I like this way of looking at the issue, but still yet i don't think that having the OS rather than the user eject the disk is a good idea-- for the simple reason that it means mac disk drives have to have motors, those motors are expensive, and it isn't worth the extra price..)
Plus, to make things worse, the drag & drop metaphor that so much was based on broke completely when you brought disks into the picture. How the hell could you drag a file from one disk to the other if you can only have one disk in the machine at a time?


Ghosting was the idea Apple came up with. And it was, in my opinion, the most effective, nearly elegant way of dealing with the problem of moving between disks i have yet to see in any OS. And it was simply this:

Ejecting a disk didn't make it go away; it ghosted it. The disk, and all its files and icons, were grayed over; you could switch between and look at the windows, but anything that required accessing the ghosted disk-- opening a folder, moving something, dragging a file in or out-- would bring up a little box prompting for the disk. You then gave it the disk, or hit command-period until the box gave up and cancelled the action. But until then the ghost was simply left there, all your files and windows open as they had been, until you went and got rid of the ghost.
One of the ways to get rid of the ghost was to drag it to the trash.
You see? It doesn't work like this anymore, but in the beginning, the ejection methods were split up such that command-shift-1 and Eject Disk merely brought out the disk from the machine but left it in the computer; and the ghost left behind was got rid of by using Put Away, or dragging it to the trash. So the dragging to the trash metaphor makes sense; you are destroying a ghost, you are getting rid of a system construct that no longer has any true physical solidarity. This is all maybe not truly consistent in every interaction, especially since you're allowed to skip the ejecting step and just drag a disk to the trash, but the whole thing is, internally, logical.
This is all horribly broken and stupid, of course.

Back in system 7, floppy disk behavior was easily the worst part of the mac os. (It still is, sort of-- part of my theory as to why the imac has no floppy drive is that apple was so embarrassed their OS was so bad with floppies they were trying to cover it up.) It was inconsistent; it was irritating. Ghosting was no longer necessary in this new age of internal hard drives, and ghosting should not have been the default. The purpose and operation of ghosting was not at all made clear, to anyone, least of all newbies. It was confusing, it was inconsistent and wierd and clumsy until you figured out that you had to always use Put Away, it was deserving of every bit of scorn and ridicule you could throw at it.

But that was five years ago.

As of System 7.6, which was released in, like, 1996, "eject disk" and "put away" do the same thing. For a bit, ghosting was only accessible by holding option and opening Special to see "eject disk" become "eject and leave ghost". And in my opinion, this is the way it should be.

And for a minute there, it looked like apple was actually going to mend their ways. Like they were going to rework the ghosting concept, rework all these confusing ejection methods, and fix their floppy behavior.

They didn't.

Wanna know why?

Because all the assholes who spent all those years harping on the trash can ejection method eventually wore down apple to the point where they gave in and removed the entire ghosting concept just to make you all shut up. That's right; we, the mac users, lost a feature, our sole method of copying between disks without ejecting, just because you people are such WHINERS and couldn't put up with the concept that people, somewhere, somehow, had the OPTION, along with the same method windows uses, of unintuitively dragging a disk to the trash to eject it!!!


And YES, you'd have a stick up your ass too if you were a mac user who deals with slashdot readers on a regular basis!!

comin later: my writeup on why the cut and paste metaphor should NOT have been extended to files *snicker*

NSA: And that's a very valid issue, and you have every right to be annoyed by it! But if that's you people's complaint, then WHY DON'T YA JUST SAY IT THAT WAY? WHY must you INSIST on using the fucking TRASH CAN as a SCAPEGOAT? YA COWARDS! Arr!

The wierd GIMMIE-THE-DISK-NOW behavior you experience with the paper clip (or command-shift-1, for that matter) that Roland describes below is a result of the fact that the ghosting system is not really truly gone-- just papered over-- and a few little crufty fragments of it pop up from time to time. If you wanna make the box go away, hit command-period until it eventually gives up about the damn disk. As i said, Apple never really fixed all this.

JayBonci is right and his way of describing all this is better and Put Away == Unmount.

Oh, by the way

Under Mac OS X, by the way, none of this is an issue. Apple has finally fixed things so they make sense.

In Mac OS X, the trash can is an icon that's always in your Dock. If you begin to drag the icon for any disk in any direction, however, the Trash immediately disappears and is replaced with an Eject Disk icon. So, problem fixed, and everyone is happy; you can no longer drag a disk to the trash to eject it on a macintosh. You drag it to the eject icon. Consistency is here once again. (Yay.)

Actually, I don't think I ever had a problem with dragging the diskette icon to the trash to eject it - that's just what you did in Mac OS, and it was easy, and everyone knew how to do it. What I objected to was the inability to manually eject the diskette by means of a button IN THE HARDWARE. I found the fact that I needed to go through software to perform the physical act of removing the diskette from the drive esthetically offensive. That's all there was to it. It sounds like there was a perfectly good reason for this system, but I found it loathsome.

Almost as loathsome as the fact that Win95 on my work machine crashes every single fscking day and I'm too cowardly to reinstall it.

semprini: I didn't say that ejecting the floppy was "hard", I said it was ugly. Your Sparc system is ugly too, if it does it the same way. But in both cases there's a good reason for it being that way.

With all due respect to everyone, there is actually an eighth way to eject a floppy on the mac. See, there's a tiny little hole near the floppy drive that you can poke a paper clip (or something equally as inconvenient) into and voila! out pops the disk. This method is undesirable as it tends to confuse the poor machine into thinking that the floppy is still sticking around somewhere. So the next time you try to access anything, it starts barking at you to put the goddamn thing back in. And if for some reason you've been working with multiple floppies, you'll find yourself popping those bastards back in, one after the next, trying to figure out which fucking one it wants until you just say screw it, go build yourself a PC & sell your mac on e-Bay for $50.

The generic idea is that dragging an item to the trash "un-mounts" it from the system. In plain terms, it removes it from your desktop session. IE: Dragging a floppy disk to the trash ejects it (it also ejects the floppy on bootup when it don't contain system information, or always upon shutdown), and dragging a CD, DVD, or other removable device unlocks the drive, and ejects the media. Intuitively likewise, dragging a volume (shared or local) to the trash removes it from your desktop session. Therefore, you can exclude any drive or partition by draggging it out to the trash. Why would you want to do this? Perhaps you don't want that drive to be indexed, or you don't want a utility to search there. Maybe it is a slow drive. I used to have a "dumb" AppleScript that would clean off a drive of things that weren't labeled. If you didn't want it to find a drive, you would just "eject" it (please don't expect a phsycial drive to drop out of the machine).

People don't find these sorts of over-conceptualizations easy to deal with, but when taken in the right light, and when you think the way the mac was designed to be thought about, it does make sense.

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