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If you ever wanted to know all my thoughts on the GUI, here you are! This has honestly been brewing in my mind for decades and while this video took way too long to make, it’s an accomplishment for me that I was able to put this into something coherent. I’m really hoping this leads to somebody bestowing GUI enlightenment upon us, though I’m not betting on it.

This post also doubles as a thread for people to post any helpful information regarding my GUI quest at the end of the video. Thanks in advance for anyone who finds some answers!

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On 6/27/2020 at 3:59 AM, Edward said:

if you don't like moving your hand off your mouse for a keyboard shortcut, maybe find a 7+ button mouse and map button and manipulation key combinations (shift, ctrl, alt, win, menu) so that most keycombos can be done from the mouse. No need to stretch for the Function keys or right of H. 😜

Forget 7+ buttons. I found something even better.  How about more than 50! I think it might just be the closest thing to perfect for Ross, but he's a madman when it comes to 🐭 so who knows. 😄

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Ah, missed that. 50 various click combinations... AND the manipulation keys! He could type with that. ;D

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Posted (edited)

Isaiah: More text hiding so as not to spam the chat:




7 hours ago, Isaiah said:

This claim directly contradicts your own video where you actually demonstrated just how fast and reliable moving your cursor to the bottom corner of the screen is. You also already move your cursor there all the time for common shortcuts and even admitted that you move your cursor to the dock to open the context menu when there is no exposed desktop anyway. Making this complaint even less valid.

You're comparing apples to oranges.  I was claiming my corner option was faster than Windows default methods of launching a program, not the best end-all method.  Look at it this way:



navigating to a tiny target and clicking on it (shortcut default)


navigating to an easier to hit target and clicking on it (my current Litestep method)


Launching what you want immediately from wherever you are on the screen (simple mouse gesture / button combo / whatever's fastest)


This isn't a contradiction, because while it's better than Windows default, it's NOT as good as it could be.  If I say building a house of wood is great compared to straw, but then say it sucks compared to brick, I'm not contradicting myself.  However I AM saying it both sucks and is great, depending on the context.  If you have no context, it looks like a contradiction.


You keep saying contractions, it reminds me of a famous fable about this how a satyr saw a man blowing on his hands in the cold and asked why he was doing that, he said "to warm them up"  Later, the satyr saw him blowing on his soup and asked why "to cool it off."  The satyr was amazed and couldn't comprehend this.




2. I have to click twice as opposed to once


Not if everything is in the main folder and I don't see how an extra click is less efficient but that's more a personal issue/preference in any case.

You lost me what this is in reference to, but I'd say it all depends on total time / effort.  For some situations 2 clicks can be more efficient than 1, it depends on the situation.




3. Even when clicking once, I have a higher travel time to the folder in ADDITION to the travel time to the start menu


Again, the extra travel time complaint contradicts everything I pointed out with claim #1 above. You can also use the scroll wheel to rapidly scroll through the start menu without moving the mouse and I'm not sure you can even do that with your own context menu method.

Again, it's only a contradiction with no context.  It's about total speed, effort, and concentration.  We want whatever is the minimum.  If I can just click anywhere and bring up the menu, then navigate to my target, that's faster than going to the bottom left, clicking a button, THEN navigating to my target.  In case I'm not being clear:

Clicking a button = faster than navigating to the corner of the screen


As for the scroll wheel, I personally find that awful and imprecise and takes more effort on my part.  If I need to scroll to something 10 clicks away, I need maximum speed with the wheel to hit it in the minimum amount of time, but then I'll probably overshoot, which means I need to back up again.  If someone is very skilled, they could bring the time down, but I find the effort / concentration level required for this to be poor.



4. I can't fit as many programs in the same amount of space


This directly contradicts your claim in the video about small elements being inefficient. You can't have it both ways because making elements bigger so they're easier to click will naturally make them take up more space and require more "travel time", but it also means you can move through them faster since it requires less accuracy, which I thought was the whole point?

If that's what I said, I made a mistake with my wording, my bad.  Taken literally, you are correct.  If we're talking about the Start menu v. Litestep menu (if we're not, you lost me again, sorry), what I SHOULD have said was "I have less programs visible and it takes more time / effort to see them all".  Again, doesn't m


Compare the methods:


1. Using the Start menu via the GUI:

-I move to the bottom left, click on the Start menu, I navigate to my programs, but I'm only shown a small handful of them.  If my program isn't there, I have to keep scrolling and scrolling to get to the one I want.  That means it's kind of a "hidden" travel distance, even though it takes up less of the screen. This also takes time and concentration, not good.

-It DOES have a full screen option, which is good, but then I have to do an ADDITIONAL click (with more travel time) to list all programs, and even then, it doesn't use the full width of the screen).  So some good ideas there, but poor execution


2. Using Litestep popup menu:

-I click anywhere I want, then bring up a menu, which can be scaled to any size I choose (the one in the video is leftovers from me making this years ago). 

-I move the mouse to the menu I want.  I still have travel distance, which as you correctly pointed out, scales with how large I want the targets but I see more of the programs available BECAUSE my method will utilize the full verticality of the screen.  The default Windows method does NOT do this.  this is what I meant to say earlier, but worded poorly.  If it's only using 80% of the vertical screen, that's 20% less programs I get see REGARDLESS of what size the user chooses for them.  Now before you say "contradiction", yes, that DOES mean more travel time, however that means LESS effort (and maybe less total travel time), then having to manually scroll through everything.  So it APPEARS to have more travel time, but when you factor in I have less times I need to scroll, it can come out ahead over the Windows default.


3. Theoretical better method:

-I press a button anywhere to bring up the start menu. 

-It's arranged in a way that makes sense, maybe cascading menus in broader sections around the cursor, depending on how close to the edge it was launched?  It can be scaled and show as many programs at whatever size you want before scrolling is required and scrolling could be as simple as just moving the mouse.  It could also utilize the full screen vertically AND horizontally and always be arranged in such a way as to minimize your travel time depending on where your cursor is.




Increases travel distance compared to what? It's a context menu so you just right-click anywhere on the desktop and "boom, boom, boom" there the menu is! This complaint is not only contradictory to the start menu complaints but also nonsensical. And on top of all this, you only have to toggle this option ONCE when you install Windows and never touch it it again. Making all these complaints just silly.

I think we had a total communication meltdown here.  Here's what I meant, tell me if this doesn't make sense:


-I was not referring to the PROCEDURE for turning off desktop icons.  Assume anything you have to do ONCE on your OS and ONLY ONCE is irrelevant as far as this conversation goes.  If I can do something once, then not do it again for 5 years, it just doesn't even count to me as far as efficiency goes.  I'm looking at day-to-day frequent + infrequent tasks for a variety of situations.  If this is what I was referring to, then you'd be right, I would be acting ridiculous.


-I was referring for how to rapidly access desktop shortcuts AFTER turning them off.  I checked on Windows 7, maybe it's faster on 10:


Win 7 default:

-You have to click on a TINY icon by the system tray in order to bring up an also-small menu to select (even smaller than my Litestep menu).  These are tiny targets all-around, it's awful.


Litestep default:

-Click anywhere you want to bring up a menu of whatever size you want to display all desktops.  Now it ONLY shows them vertically, which is a shortcoming, but that's a lot better than the Windows 7 default of accessing your shortcuts when you have the shortcuts removed from the visible area.





Now I'm sure you will dispute all these points and that's fine. I'm really not trying to convenience you here that my criticisms are valid because I realize now that's a waste of time. I really just wanted to try and better explain why I feel this way since you seem to think I'm just making up accusations.

Well you don't have to agree with me either, but it seems clear to me you were missing my logic on some of these points.




Nope. I find this to be just another contradiction - flooding screen with more info about tasks overwhelming and bad, but flooding screen with more info about many, many more files even better? Okay.

This part is more subjective, but I'll explain the reasoning:  I rarely have more than a dozen active programs going at a time, maybe 20 max, sometimes only 2-5.  I'm expecting a smaller number, so I want to hone in on what is the relevant one more rapidly.


Contrast that with file browsing, where I could be browsing through THOUSANDS of files.  I simply have way more information to flow through in that scenario, so I don't always have expectations of being able to do it rapidly, in which case, I may want more information on the screen total to process as much as I can.  I actually have some ideas on this for the followup, which I hope to show.




The bottom line, which may explain many of the perceived contradictions I have is that the GUI is not a one-size-fits all situation.  An operation that's efficient for one task may be awful for another.  Again, it all comes down to time and effort, wanting to minimize both of those across a variety of situations.  Also, this is actually helpful for the followup, I can explain the general logic in the followup video which should help clear up confusion for anyone else who thought I wasn't making sense.



Edited by Ross Scott (see edit history)

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On 6/13/2020 at 11:56 PM, emscape said:

Also, I like the multiple desktop configurations idea macOs and Linux have been implementing, but with one major addition to make it work. You'll have multiple desktops with different program subsets for different kinds of workload.

That sounds like you are describing Activities in KDE Plasma. From what I understand, they are similar to desktops but you can have a separate wallpaper, widgets and programs in the dock. (I use Activities but never really tried out Desktops.)


For example, I have my usual desktop with Firefox, Thunderbird, etc., and then a separate Activity for downloading and editing YouTube videos. In the Video editing Activity, I have Avidemux on my Dock, Dolphin (a file explorer) open to Videos, and Terminal open ready to run a script to modify the date on the Videos. All that is ready at push of a hotkey but completely out of my Desktop when not using it.

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On 6/23/2020 at 2:29 AM, pro1ton said:

Also I stumbled upon this app which is a solid replacement for a "custom shell". The important thing is that it works for windows 10 and is packed with features.

So if you're not a fan of radial menus, this is the go-to option.


I got around to looking at this, best I can tell, there's no way to replicate the functionality of the start menu here (in other words a dropdown menu showing all the programs you have installed dynamically).  Am I missing something in the options?  It looks more like a customizable shortcut launcher.  I did see a dropdown menu option, but I couldn't figure how to get it to display the start menu programs.  Compound that with the fact that the Start menu is really composed of at least 2 folders.  For example, on my computer, the start menu programs are split among the following folders:


C:\Users\GIZMONIC\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs


So you would need a dropdown folder that could merge the contents of both those.  I'm not sure if either of those are possible.

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On 6/11/2020 at 7:13 AM, meandmy10 said:

@Ross Scott I will legitimately help you get going with Plasma if you wanted, as fair as I'm concerned your more likely then I to convert people to Linux then I am, and I want the Linux market share to be as large as possible.

@meandmy10, I think Ross would benefit from using KDE Plasma as well since he is looking for a way to customize the OS as much as possible. It would be a bit of effort to switch from Windows to Linux but it's either go from Windows 7 to Windows 10 or some distro of Linux.


The question is, what would be the best way (for Ross in particular) to get KDE Plasma? I am thinking that Arch Linux is the best choice but there are so many options. Here are my opinions:

  • Arch Linux:
    • Pros:
      • Rolling release always up to date drivers, kernel, software, etc.
      • Stable enough (in my opinion). LTS Kernel is an option.
      • Should be good for gaming.
    • Cons:
      • Command line install - but you learn a bit and once it's done, it's all GUI. Some option don't have defaults so you have to make some decisions.
      • Frequent updates (which Ross may not like). Downgrades are possible and not difficult but have to be done manually.
  • Manjaro:
    • Pros:
      • Easier install than Arch (GUI installer).
      • Kernel selection is very nice (but I don't see that be all that useful). Arch has the regular kernel and the LTS kernel which is usually enough.
    • Cons:
      • Might as well as install Arch since you end up with a similar system after install.
      • Default Green theme is ugly. (I'd rather have a pure KDE install to start with.)
      • Manjaro repos a bit behind Arch. (Which may be a Pro.)
  • KDE Neon:
    • Pros:
      • KDE's official distro
    • Cons:
      • Based on Ubuntu LTS. Right now, it is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (will probably switch to Ubuntu 20.04.1 sometime after it is released in August). The Ubuntu LTS is slow to upgrade so some things like Xorg is out of date and has issues with programs like easystroke.
      • Distro designed for the most recent KDE software by the KDE Plasma team but that's about it. (Distro has been called a "test distro" or "KDE demo distro" by some but I see it as a pretty solid stable KDE distro.)
  • Debian:
    • Pros:
      • Super Stable. (Less updating, a plus for Ross.) Less having to deal with KDE changes when a new version comes out.
    • Cons:
      • Slow to update. Might make gaming hard. Also, getting some newer packages might be difficult. Has anyone tried Debian unstable?
      • Major Upgrades are a pain and bit of a manual process
  • OpenSuse (haven't used this distro much myself):
    • Pros:
      • Rolling release, up to date.
    • Cons:
      • How is it for gaming?
      • Installing packages? Not sure about installing things like easystroke without having to build from source.
  • Ubuntu:
    • Pros:
      • Popular distro
      • Lots of available software
    • Cons:
      • gnome based instead of KDE based unless using something like Kubuntu
      • 6 month upgrades are huge
      • LTS versions can get out of date

Plenty of other options too. But, Linux isn't for everyone. I would hate to recommend it to Ross and just end up frustrating him. It takes work and dedication but hopefully the openness and freedom is what Ross is looking for. A lot people replying to this thread got to Ross's point of frustration at one time in their lives and made the switch to Linux and are happy with it. Maybe it is what he needs to do too.


I do like the idea of someone working with Ross to get setup. He could have a livestream for the install and/or another begathon to get Ross new hardware. A second video card for GPU passthrough using virtualization like QEMU would be great for gaming.


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On 6/20/2020 at 7:27 PM, Collapsar77 said:

I'd mentioned before the idea of bringing up a phone-password style grid to formalize the gestures. I think you could maybe combine that with the weapon-wheel concept to make something like is pictured below.
I never asked, Ross-- you mentioned that you often find yourself trying to locate a program but not knowing the name. I'd sort of toyed with date-ranges as a possible filter for getting at that kind of information, but I never explicitly asked-- what kind of info DO you usually know about programs you can't recall the names of?

I think the constellation style still has smaller targets than would be optimal for maximum efficiency, but the hex-style movements could have potential, especially if the user could scale the size to what they wanted.  It certainly seems to have enough going for it to consider it as another option. 


To answer your question for what I do know about programs I can't recall the name of, it's like this:

-Programs I definitely know what they are

-Programs I maybe recognize if I see their names

-Programs I can't remember what they are


This is why my "Core" folder had significance.  I wanted to separate as many common workhorse programs from the pack as I could to minimize what I'm sifting through.  I remember programs I use frequently for years, I don't necessarily remember one I only need every 6 months or couple years or so.


On 7/1/2020 at 8:21 PM, POINTS: said:

@meandmy10, I think Ross would benefit from using KDE Plasma as well since he is looking for a way to customize the OS as much as possible. It would be a bit of effort to switch from Windows to Linux but it's either go from Windows 7 to Windows 10 or some distro of Linux.

I think you're looking at this in reverse.  I want to see what the best looking GUI Linux has in terms of functionality and appearance.  That can be shown via screenshots or videos, installing the OS isn't necessary for me to get a sense of that.  If I'm not impressed by either, that makes me feel like I'm in no man's land with Linux and isn't going to make me want to switch.  Now those are both highly subjective, but if 98% of what I'm being shown is terminals + flat themes, that's not what's going to win me over.  This why I was hoping for more variety of looks.  If I'm convinced Linux has a great solution, I'll pursue it then worry about the distro then.  In other words, I want my goal laid out for me, THEN figure out how to get there.


As for gaming, that's a separate animal from the GUI.  Go to this thread if you want to talk about that.  I plan to look into Linux gaming more thoroughly in the future, specifically for legacy 3D accelerate games looking the best they can (forced AA, etc.).


Edited by Ross Scott (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)

I think this old twitter thread has some substance to add to this discussion


It's not just the one tweet, it's a long thread of tweets. More readable version:



I'll also post it below in this spoiler


almost everything on computers is perceptually slower than it was in 1983

amber-screen library computer in 1998: type in two words and hit F3. search results appear instantly.

now: type in two words, wait for an AJAX popup. get a throbber for five seconds. oops you pressed a key, your results are erased

one of the things that makes me steaming mad is how the entire field of web apps ignores 100% of learned lessons from desktop apps

data in webpages in 2017 is distressingly fragile. go to google maps and try and find an action that *doesn't* erase what you're doing

drag the map even a pixel? it erases all your results and closes the infobox you were looking at.

you have a list of interesting locations on the screen but you want to figure out how far they are from the center of town? you can't.

you can open a new tab, do the search there, then flip back and forth manually in the browser. there's no other way.

that is to say, once the data's up on the screen, you *can't add to it*. which is one of the core functions of computers, generally.

one of the primary reasons computers were *created* was to cross reference data. that is nearly impossible in most software now.

maps are a particularly hot item for this. christ, what about looking at a map ISN'T about cross ref'ing data? it's the WHOLE POINT

you have a start and a finish and need to integrate that with geography and roads. and gmaps, bing, etc. are all the worst choice for this.

you are, literally, better off taking a screenshot of the map, dropping it in ms paint and manually plotting there.

gmaps wildly thrashes the map around every time you do anything. Any time you search, almost any time you click on anything

it's a bewildering whirl of colors and shapes that has gotten worse every six months for 15 years

and in doing so it has made humans worse and worse and worse at doing things that computers were created to replace and improve

in 1998 if you were planning a trip you might have gotten out a paper road map and put marks on it for interesting locations along the way

with online maps you CAN do that, but the entire process is built assuming you already know everywhere you're going

It APPEARS to be what you want - you can keep putting in locations and it'll keep plotting them - but in truth it's not at all

The process you WANT: pick your start and end. now start searching for places in between. Your start and end are saved.

When you find someplace interesting, add it to your list. Keep doing that, keep searching and adding.

Search far and wide. Search for cities and then click around inside them. Read reviews. Do street view.

When you're all done, you go back to your plotted trip and start laying out the chosen locations and optimizing your path.

You can do this with a paper map. You can't do this with gmaps. So you just don't do it.

You do something halfass and unsatisfying instead, using multiple tabs or a text file you save addresses in or some shit

You don't even realize why the process is frustrating because it's just The Way It Is.

And everything on computers is like this. It's just How It Is now. You can't fail quickly and iterate.

On the library computer in 1998 I could retry searches over and over and over until I found what I was looking for because it was quick

Now I have to wait for a huge page to load, wait while the page elements shift all over, GOD FORBID i click on anything while its loading

how many times have i typed in a search box, seen what i wanted pop up as i was typing, go to click on it, then have it disappear

I make no secret of hating the mouse. I think it's a crime. I think it's stifling humanitys progress, a gimmick we can't get over.

The mouse is the CueCat except it didn't get ridiculed and reviled as it should have been. It's inappropriate for almost everything we do.

There's no reason for Twitter to use a mouse. There's nothing mousey about this website, not a damn thing

Mice are for rapidly navigating through a complex and unstructured set of objects, like an app with dozens of options and input types

twitter: i need to navigate through a linear list and perform one of four actions on discrete items, almost all text-based



When computers used interfaces like these they were lightning fast, universally. I've used a lot of them.

The library computers, the homebrew POS at my first job, even the machines at Fry's Electronics use an interface like this.

If you ever go to Fry's, watch the employees use this style of UI. Blinding speed. They ricochet around like pros, even the new people.

And I have to say that it's solely because the mouse is not being used. Mice are bad. Mice are absolutely terrible.

The reason mice are terrible is a matter of basic facts about human brains, hands, eyes and muscles. Hell, I think Jef Raskin covered it.

Keyboards present fewer possible discrete options. Mice present a continuum. One can be operated blind; the other requires feedback.

You cannot use a mouse without using your eyes to confirm everything. At my first job I rang people up without looking at the screen

POS software is designed VERY pragmatically. Typically there is no concept of "input focus"; all text goes to one field.

In this UI, most likely at any given moment keyboard entry will ONLY go to the "Stock Number" field.


When you walk up to this computer, you can rest assured of the following:
a) your input will go there
b) if not, pressing escape will fix it

If you don't know the stock number, press F1 to be transported AWAY FROM THIS INTERFACE to look it up. this is critical.

i posit that nobody wants autocomplete-style live DB lookups. They don't fit the mold that autocomplete fits in.

When you're unsure of even what search term you want, you are already context switching. That means changing interfaces is okay.

If you DON'T do that, you're trying to cram a side-mission - figure out what search term I'm looking for - into a UI not designed for it.

Anyway. Once you find the stock number you want, the price shows up. Hit F3 to edit it. * to change quantity. Enter to add to invoice.

In practice this is incredibly fast. You can't even see it happening, because there's no reason to except to verify after the fact.

The operator doesn't have to stop for every action and figure out what they're doing time and time again. It's all muscle memory.

The cashiers hands are just a blur on the keys. They're looking at the products, not the screen. And they get it right.

Part of the reason for this is that the entire keyboard gets used, including the function keys. INCREDIBLY powerful, those.

God. God! What a tragedy, that we left them in the past. What a heinous crime that we forgot their value.

Look at that UI up there. Look how many functions you can access AT ANY TIME. You can RELY on them. They will ALWAYS be there.

In these systems, the screen was always dominated by a specific form that you could identify from across the room.

Invoice form
Stock lookup form
Customer lookup form
Payment form

And the F-keys were *always* bound to that form.

This allowed your /human brain/, a flawed but powerful tool, to use the computer INTUITIVELY

As you approach e.g. the cash register, you take one look at the screen and instantly your synapses wire themselves up for the F-key layout

If the register is on the stock lookup screen, your hands fall on the keyboard and automatically do what's needed

Escape-escape to get to the login screen, fingers on the numpad hammer in your employee ID, F2 to cancel retail customer lookup

And now you're ready to start keying in items. No "getting your bearings." You don't even stop talking to the customer. 1/10th of a second.

To be clear, the web as I envision it does not look like what we have. Not one bit. It's completely different.

And it's worth noting that HYPERTEXT, specifically, is best with a mouse in a lot of cases. Wikipedia would suck on keyboard.

This is a FANTASTIC example of a mouse-optimal document. Any keyboard approach would be mediocre at best.,



Your brain is GREAT at identifying points of interest here. From this array of 20+ unstructured links I can grab the ones I want.

Like a grocery store shelf, you can double-fist it if things are organized appropriately. I've grabbed beans and rice simultaneously before

Your brain highlights the points of interest like a T-1000 and bam bam bam you grab everything you need. New tab new tab new tab.

Twitter, however, is deeply linear, as is Google, eBay, Dropbox, bug trackers, IM clients

I could continue to talk for hours about this but I think I covered the bases. RT as desired.

A comment - although I appreciate all of you that are recommending apps better than gmaps and keyboard browser plugins and the like...

I want to clarify that I am literally talking about the future of the human race and I am deadly serious about this. It's not about me.

I do OK. I'm an extremely experienced user, I can overcome everything this garbage industry throws at me, albeit bitterly.

I am mad that commodity software that people don't even RECOGNIZE as software, like gmaps, is so far through the looking glass.

It makes me mad that Joe Q Middleage, Safeway manager in New Jersey, can't use the computer better bc it sucks so bad.

Joe is using the computer to emulate labor-intensive manual work on paper and he doesn't even know he's being shafted

Joe should be offered incredible power by software that encourages him to use it with purpose-built interfaces optimized for him.

I am upset by the way that computers disenfranchise non-nerds. I wish it was better for me; I wish it WORKED AT ALL for everyone else.

another thing you should know about me - and this is where i think a lot of people will start disagreeing - I don't believe in "intuitive"

I think it's a crock of shit. Hogwash. Absolutely false. The belief that GUIs are more intuitive is marketing for GUIs.

GUIs are in no way more intuitive than keyboard interfaces using function keys such as the POS I posted earlier. Nor do they need to be.

GUIs require you to learn how to use a mouse, how input focus works, how multiple windows work, how modal dialogs work.

I believe well designed keyboard interfaces and well designed GUI interfaces have exactly the same learning curve.

The problem is you can't prove that now because we spent the last 25 years teaching people ONLY GUI and mouse.

Nobody will agree with me, citing anecdotes and examples that are meaningless in the current zeitgeist.

All UIs require a common language. The common language of quality keyboard interfaces was no different than GUIs.

People get upset by OPAQUE keyboard interfaces, which I don't disagree with. The POS software I posted earlier is not opaque.

Once you understand the basic language of keyb UI, those textmode interfaces are completely intuitive by the same standards.

The other thing I think maybe some people don't get - I'm not advocating textmode. Why would I do that? Graphics and keyboard work fine.

Character cell graphics offer some benefits that aren't worth discussing; they are not an option for plenty of reasons now.

The cash register software I used at my last job was graphical AND keyboard based. Worked fine. Used function keys.

If I could do this thread over again, I'd just alter 1983 to 1987, I think. '83 might have been too aggressive. But it wasn't literal anyway

If this thread positively affected you, can I ask you to throw me a couple bucks? ko-fi.com/gravis I recently had a water main burst and the plumbing cost a fortune.


Check out my YouTube channel where I look at old software, and should be posting some videos on 80s utilities soon https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXnNibvR_YIdyPs8PZIBoEw


Edited by Quenz (see edit history)

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9 hours ago, Ross Scott said:

I think you're looking at this in reverse.  I want to see what the best looking GUI Linux has in terms of functionality and appearance.  That can be shown via screenshots or videos, installing the OS isn't necessary for me to get a sense of that.  If I'm not impressed by either, that makes me feel like I'm in no man's land with Linux and isn't going to make me want to switch.  Now those are both highly subjective, but if 98% of what I'm being shown is terminals + flat themes, that's not what's going to win me over.  This why I was hoping for more variety of looks.

I think that's a fair point. I'll try to explain and hopefully I'm still not too off base.


Terminals: I believe what you might be seeing is a trend in "Tiling Window Managers." I haven't used them myself and I don't really see the appeal. I think they are for people who are using the keyboard primarily and prefer to avoid switching to the mouse.


Also, I think they may be more for people with 4K monitors (or just one monitor). They can afford to have 4, 6, or 8 windows tiled on one screen. I prefer to run applications full screen on several monitors and switch between them.


Flat Theme: I think this is a fad that is dying out. It might have been popular 2-4 years ago but lost it's appeal. I always felt it had a MAC feel to it (simple looking but not practical). There still might be a lot of screenshots on the web due to it being popular for a time.


Default Theme: I feel that the default theme should at least look good if not be impressive. Here's an example of the KDE Plasma dark theme which I think is simple (hopefully not too flat for you taste) and not too crazy.


I noticed that when I search the web for Linux themes I see a lot of wacky results out there. I would recommend checking out default screenshots of KDE Plasma (not gnome). The light theme is bit too gray/XP looking for my liking but it's hard to find screenshots of the default dark theme out there.


I know you said that you didn't want to try a distro but if you did, there is a live test on the internet: https://distrotest.net/. It's a bit laggy but you could get a feel for the theme and even change it to the dark theme and feel that out. (I think looking at this way or on a video would give you a feel for the "flatness".)



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❤️ ❤️ ❤️ 

to answer your question directly and without inhibition, you will find the "GUI masters" either dead, enslaved, broke, or presently working in one of the secret deep underground military bases (DUMBs) for the dark cabal, to make sure that the dumbed down population remains ignorant that they are being controlled (and being stifled/kept away from abundance) by a handful of evil cavers, by the use of super advanced technologies aided by various forms of AI that do most of the work for the cavers (dark cabal), as the AI serves as a complete replacement of keyboard, mouse and VR gear altogether

you don't need a GUI if you have an AI to interface with the computer for you -- this is merely about what is the most efficient exchange of information between human and machine, where you can customize the level of precision and influence in the exchange process

i have been a developer of GUIs (and related) since i was very young (started around 1987), and have discovered that the technology to serve humanity better (including GUIs) has been out there long before i was even born!

to answer the question what a GUI utopia would look like is very similar to how the people interact with computers as shown in series such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, except that they didn't show that telepathic communication would be the optimum speed (and has even practical/proven/successful examples currently used by the Russian army)

you can find more information about all of this by researching key words such as Nikola Tesla, Viktor Schauberger, Secret Space Program, Project Camelot, DUMBs, NORAD/DARPA/HAARP, LHC/CERN, Brookhaven RHIC, COBRA Resistance Movement/2012portal

there are also many movies and shows that show much of these truths as the truth is hidden in plain sight
i'm happy to answer any questions if you would like to dive deeper, in case you are feeling courageous ;)

Edited by TheChange (see edit history)

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On 7/2/2020 at 4:30 PM, Quenz said:

almost everything on computers is perceptually slower than it was in 1983


You bring up a lot of points here.  The short version is I both agree and disagree with you.  I'm going to focus on some parts I think you may not have thought out as thoroughly, so it might seem like I'm being overly negative, but just assume the stuff I'm NOT bringing up I more or less agree with you:




And I have to say that it's solely because the mouse is not being used. Mice are bad. Mice are absolutely terrible.

The reason mice are terrible is a matter of basic facts about human brains, hands, eyes and muscles. Hell, I think Jef Raskin covered it.

Keyboards present fewer possible discrete options. Mice present a continuum. One can be operated blind; the other requires feedback.

You cannot use a mouse without using your eyes to confirm everything.


I think we actually both agree that mouse TARGETS are awful.  One line I left out of the video is that ideally, if you knew what you were doing, you should be able to navigate a GUI blind.  You're claiming this isn't possible on the mouse.  Under NORMAL circumstances, you're correct.  This is why I was so excited about mouse gestures.  You CAN use those blind!  I would postulate it's not the mouse itself that's the problem, so much as how we've designed the GUI to use it.  If "using the mouse" only meant a series of rapid swipes that you could literally do blindfolded, I think we would have far closer parity to the keyboard.  I'm probably not changing your mind, but I wanted to try to plant the seed that the way mouse is used now doesn't have to be the end-all.  I think simply as a pure peripheral, it has more potential than you've giving it credit for, even though I'm in agreement most of what we have now is awful.



To be clear, the web as I envision it does not look like what we have. Not one bit. It's completely different.

And it's worth noting that HYPERTEXT, specifically, is best with a mouse in a lot of cases. Wikipedia would suck on keyboard.

This is a FANTASTIC example of a mouse-optimal document. Any keyboard approach would be mediocre at best.,

See, that might show the difference in philosophy in our approaches.  I think we both recognize there's a problem, but I see changing what the web looks like as a lost cause, I look at that as ceded ground; I'm not going to win that battle.  So the best I can do is find the most efficient options to adapt to the world we have before us.  That world means that if you're having a mouse, SOME tasks will be faster, even though I'm completely with you that even the ones as that are faster may not be as fast as they theoretically COULD be, however if that ONLY works and theory and can't adapt to the real world, then that's something I write off.  Sometime like a random website is something I'll never have control over, so I need to find tools on MY end to interact with it faster.


A final point I think you're missing:


Even in your perfect world where you had full control over the development software, I think there would STILL be functions that would be faster via a mouse.  This comes to visual manipulation in particular.  I work a lot with multimedia.  Say I need to resize an image, but I don't know exactly what the dimensions should be, I need to see it in front of me to know what's just right.  Say I need to scan a video and find the exact point, but I don't know where on the timeline it is, I need to scan until I find the exact point.  Sure, with a keyboard, I can press arrow keys one at a time, or skip by 10% or 10 frames, etc, but it's going to be a tedious process and depending on how close I am, I'm probably tapping the keys 20 times or more to get the image or video position JUST right.  Unless there's something I haven't though of, the keyboard is ill-suited to these types of tasks regardless of how the software is designed.


You said it yourself: the mouse is a continuum.  It hits every single point in its path and be can used similarly to an analog device, which a lot of multimedia simply has a need for.


So for me personally, because I can never escape this AND we live in a mouse oriented world, going full-keyboard just isn't the answer for maximum efficiency, because my workload is too diverse.  If it's a more limited situation like what you were describing, yes, keyboard only + a full redesign could be the fastest option.  Anyway, I'll talk about this in the followup video.





Edited by Ross Scott (see edit history)

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@Ross Scott He also has a YouTube channel that seems neat.



Would love to watch you two have a figh.. I mean debate on the topic of mouse vs keyboard.  😜

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One thing I notice with a lot of Linux/terminal devotees (believe me I tried to get into Linux), they're usually not doing media. I can't imagine the mouse being dropped for use in video editing or DAWs.


With the Windows 7 to Windows 10 extortion, ExplainingComputers did a good video. If it's affordable, you could leave your Windows 7 offline, and build a separate Windows 10 computer dedicated to VR and online.

What Linux is great for (for Windows users) is the internet/text/e-mail department which I really enjoyed. But yeah, shame about not getting audio interfaces to work and none of my much needed music/video software and hardware working. 'Cause my lastest build is Ryzen, I've moved to Windows 10 LTSC. Still god-awful, with its double Control Panel/Settings etc.

Speaking of media/audio, you can tag BWF files with descriptions and everything, so you can search for a sound/sample without knowing the exact file name. If you could do the same with applications, you wouldn't have to worry about knowing the exact program name, and customise the tags to your particular way of defining that program.

Edited by callybug (see edit history)

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On 7/4/2020 at 6:07 AM, Ross Scott said:

Whoops, oh well.

Yeah, it's just a twitter thread I stumbled upon that day and I instantly thought of your video. The thread was actually written in 2017. Sorry for not making that clearer, but I hope it was constructive to read and think about in any case.

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@Ross Scott Just wanted to let you know that Notepad++ has a built-in option to disable close buttons on tabs and I discovered you can increase tab size slightly, which I like much better. Can also change tabs from horizontal to vertical and there is also a doc switcher panel. Plus a document map panel and even taskbar style thumbnail previews for tabs but these are actually displayed instantly.




And this is all without any plugins. I did however add the "Customize Toolbar" plugin which allows you to remove toolbar icons you don't use.




The program also automatically backups your documents every 7 seconds by default and has a cloud syncing feature. Which makes it superior to standard Notepad when it comes to data protection. It can also save and restore your current session automatically, even if you have unsaved docs as I've pointed out before.

Edited by Isaiah (see edit history)

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On 7/1/2020 at 2:12 PM, Ross Scott said:

I got around to looking at this, best I can tell, there's no way to replicate the functionality of the start menu here (in other words a dropdown menu showing all the programs you have installed dynamically).  Am I missing something in the options?  It looks more like a customizable shortcut launcher.  I did see a dropdown menu option, but I couldn't figure how to get it to display the start menu programs.  Compound that with the fact that the Start menu is really composed of at least 2 folders.  For example, on my computer, the start menu programs are split among the following folders:


C:\Users\GIZMONIC\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs


So you would need a dropdown folder that could merge the contents of both those.  I'm not sure if either of those are possible.

Hmm, from what I'd seen in the feature previews I was sure it is possible to do this. Hold on to that thought, I'll check it out and will get back to you.

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I've been meaning to reply to this thread for weeks. Hopefully, it's not too late!


I like the idea that the setup should be like a video game. We should have most of our actions in an easy to find location. Fair warning: All of this is basically my opinion.


History of Linux:

Skip this section if you don’t care about the history of Linux. I’ve been using Linux primary since about 2011. One of the reasons I switched is because the built-in file explorer had dual pane setup. I couldn’t believe that Windows still had a single pane setup when so often we need to move/copy files from one location to another. I tried 3rd-party programs like Ross uses but I didn’t find one that I liked. I also felt that this should be a feature of the OS.


Back then, I used Ubuntu which was using Gnome 2 for the GUI. This worked well and many people were happy with but it was starting to look dated. Gnome 3 was starting to come up but Canonical, the company that makes Ubuntu, decided with good reason that the new Gnome was oversimplified and not the direction that users want to go in. For example, they removed the dual pane feature of the file program! Canonical made their own user interface called Unity.


Unity had a decent setup although it couldn’t be customized very well. Unity was part of Ubuntu in 2012 and in 2016ish they announced it would be going away and they would be switching to Gnome 3. In 2016ish, I switched to the KDE desktop which I could customize close to a Unity layout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSBMn6eGH88.


As for my desktop layout, I started using the taskbar on the left side of the screen back when I was using XP. This was also the default setup for Unity. The idea was it was easier to get to the side then all the way at the bottom of the screen (reduced travel distance). I also started getting used to having the Close, Minimize, and Maximize buttons on the left side to reduce travel time. Additionally, having the task bar on the left gives you more vertical space since that is a scarcer resource on wide-screen monitors.


Later on, I moved the taskbar/dock to the top of the screen and changed it to auto hide. This way, I have the full screen to run my applications and I can get to the dock by moving the top of the screen to get it to appear.


Ubuntu Touch (now developed by Ubports), uses Pie Menus. You can “flick” up from the bottom of the screen (on a Tablet) to bring it up. The radial menu works well on a touch screen and I think it would work well with a Desktop machine. (Although, rather than flicking up from the bottom, opening the menu would be different.) Remarkably, this menu would work on both Touch screens and Desktop machines (unlike some other systems like whatever Windows 8 was trying to do). Ideally, I would like to find a pie dock similar to what Ross showed. Something that can be opened with a hotkey or gesture that opens around the cursor. That would mean no travel time and the dock would be available wherever the mouse is.


Going back to games, I didn’t like the Pie Menus in Crysis. I don’t think it works well in a game to “flick the mouse” to the selection that you want to use, especially if you have the option to use a hotkey. Maybe it works better with a controller with limited buttons. Crysis kind of turned me off to Pie Menus but with Ubuntu Touch, Ross’ videos, and trying it on my OS, I can see the use now. Counter point to Crysis, Pie Menus worked pretty well in Secret of Mana. I think the animation slowed down navigation a bit but looking back on it, it was nicer and faster than full-screen menus of other games.


Pie menus would be great for applications as well. Some programs are doing this like others have mentioned. Unfortunately, because this is a per application basis, there isn’t a wide spread system for doing Pie Menus in an OS. (Since we are going for hypothetical optimal though, we can say that this is something that we need/want.)


As an aside, Alt-Tab is not useful. I don’t use it and I tried to figure out why. One of the reasons that I think I don’t use it is that on KDE, the Alt-Tab only shows on the current screen rather than all screens. However, I think the real reason is that it is system that requires you to remember the order that you last used an application. I used to use it to switch back and forth between two applications but now that I have more than one screen, I can just put each window on a separate screen. If I need to switch applications now, I just go to the top of my screen to my taskbar/dock and select the program there. (I can also use the Window+Number hotkey but I have that it is quicker to move the mouse than to try to stretch to Win+Number. I have thought about finding better hotkeys but have been sticking to using the default.)


One thing that Ross didn’t touch on that much was being able to search for the program that you need to run. He’s right in that if you don’t know the name, it is hard to search for. But if you do know the name, it shouldn’t be difficult to pull up. The OS should have a search option to find whatever program you are looking for. (Categories are nice too.) KDE’s full-screen Application Launcher works okay for this in my opinion.


Also for searching, there should be a way to search the menus of an application. Ubuntu’s Unity had this feature and it is sorely missed. If we are going for an ideal system, there should be a way to find options in our menus by going through the menus and by searching. I couldn’t find a video on it but the way it would work would be to press “Alt”. Then a search bar would come up and and you search for something like “Save”. It would list what it found and show you how to get to it, such as “File → Save”. Not only is the search great on its own but it is also useful for helping with training.


As far as training and learning where hotkeys, menu items, or what mouse gestures do what, there is a learning curve to everything. Saying that gestures aren’t useful because you have to learn something isn’t wrong but no matter what you do to use your system, you have to do some amount of learning. Worst case, you fumble around Alt menus (or use a search function if you are lucky) looking for your frequently used command. You may even learn the hotkey for an action that you repeat often. Since you have to learn hotkeys, you could also learn mouse gestures. Although, I agree the learning of gestures isn’t the same since you don’t have the option to search a menu as a backup.


There were some complaints about Ross’ setup not looking good (i.e. ugly). Something that is ugly but works is better than something that looks nice but is hard to use and slow. Ross’ description for Macs is the perfect example. One button mice and simple non-busy GUIs look nice but it’s that much harder to do anything. Another example is Latte Dock for KDE. I used it for over a month. It looked better than the default Dock and had pretty animations. I found it slow and even later sped up the animations to the maximum but in the end, I went back to the default Dock. The default dock doesn’t look as pretty but it is much faster and easier to use. (Lighter on the memory usage too.)


Below are some ideas for a setup.


Ideal setup:

  • OS: Arch Linux. Arch has good online support (wiki and forums) and the frequent updates keep your system up to date.
  • Window Manager: KDE (or Gnome). KDE offers more customization. However, there seems to be more Pie Menus available for Gnome.
  • Dock: Launcher at the top of the screen that auto hides (ideally, only a pie launcher would be needed). In my opinion, dock placemen goes from least to most ideal in this order:
  • Bottom -> Left -> Top (auto hide) -> Pie/Radial Dock
  • Menu: radial menu (like some applications have) and searchable
  • Radial/Pie Dock:
    • Gnome Pie – in Ross’s video (works okay but not that great for KDE)
    • Pie Dock – another option (used to work with KDE but seems to be a bit outdated)
  • Mouse Gestures: These work well for actions that need to be done quickly and only once. Maximize, Minimize, Close are good examples. Cut, Copy, and Paste are good ones too (although the hotkeys are close to the home row in QWERTY, it says you a trip to the control key). I also use a 3-screen setup so a Move one Screen to the Left/Right are useful too. Doing a gesture often takes less time then hitting a hotkey especially if the hotkey requires moving hands off of the mouse and/or home row.
  • Hotkeys: Great for repeated actions that would be too slow with gesture. These are arrow up/down, page up/down, next/previous tab in a browser, etc. Ideally, the most common hotkeys would be on the home row or close to it.
  • Search Menus: Unity had a feature where you could search the menu of an application.


Things that don’t work or could be better:

  • Hot corners: I disagree with Ross on the hot corners. My main reason is that with a multi-monitor setup, hot corners are harder to get to if at all. I use a three monitor setup and the hot corners on the left and right monitors are way to far to get to. Hot corners on the center screen aren’t hot corners at all since the mouse cursor just moves to the next screen.
  • Cording keyboards: After I saw the video, I pulled out my “Frogpad” that I bought years ago. The idea is that you can use one hand to type. You have to use multiple keys to type a letter. This might be useful for type short things but I found it was faster to move my hand to the keyboard to type. Also, it wasn’t great with Control, Alt, and Windows key combos.
  • Hotkeys: Hotkeys themselves are useful but there is a fundamental flaw with them and that is “Discovery”. Take Starcraft/Warcraft as an example. There is a 3-4 grid for doing actions such as build farm or have a unit perform an action such as patrol. You would think as a gaming company you would say, “oh this is easy, I will just make my grid align to QWER, ASDF, ZXCV”. However, they went the route with having the keys match words, sometimes. Build farm might be “B” then “F” but build factory would be “B” then “A” since “F” was already used. This comes down to how drop-down menus have been designed (think Alt-F, S to save). The better approach would be to have things aligned to a grid (for the gaming example). For regular GUIs, I’m not sure what the best solution would be. Maybe a pie menu with hotkeys aligned to each sector. The current system is pain. It ends up being, let me hunt for the thing I am looking for. (With Unity, there was a very nice feature where you could press Alt and it would bring up a search for the menus of the application. Without Unity, I ended up just search the web to find a menu option for bigger programs.) Once you find it, if the option is something that you use frequently, you may try to remember the hotkey(s) to get to it. However, remembering to do Alt B, C to something just is slow and requires moving your hand off of the mouse half the time.


Things to try/investigate:

  • Hardware: What is the best mouse? A Vertical mouse to avoid wrist pain? A large number of buttons on the mouse? What is the best keyboard? Ergonomic, split, or some kind of custom non-standard?
  • Custom one-handed keyboard or gaming pad for the left hand. Pros: If the keyboard had common hotkeys and commonly used keys (arrows, page up/down), it could minimize having to move to the keyboard. Cons: We would have to move our left hand to keyboard in addition to the right hand. If this one-handed keyboard worked well enough, it could be strictly for typing.
  • Toggle typing mode: Using AutoHotkey, we could remap the keyboard to have arrow keys and pgup/pgdn for the left hand on the home row. Then, we could press some key to bring it back to “typing” mode. I used this scheme for games. In the Warcraft/Starcraft example, I arrow keys on the home row (similar to WASD). I would press Enter to bring up chat and that would also play a sound and switch back to “typing” mode. Pressing Enter again to send the message would go back to “game” mode. (I can’t think of a good simple way to toggle this outside of a game.)


On 6/11/2020 at 10:49 PM, Ross Scott said:

I'm too busy for that kind of fun, but I could maybe make the jump if the end result was worth it.  I have a similar attitude on GUIs actually.  I don't want to fiddle with this stuff forever, I want to put in the work to get it right, then forget about it for 10 years or more and bask in how much nicer the experience is.  As for keyboards, care to weigh in on which method you think is best?

I use the Dvorak layout myself. I found that it feels more comfortable since my hands can stay on the home row rather than move around for the most common keys. It is a bit of work to learn but since you don’t have a home row, I would recommend either learning Dvorak or learn QWERTY using the home row. I do feel faster typing this way but the comfort thing I found most appealing. There was a free online typing course that I worked through to learn Dvorak. They basically start you off a couple letters at a time (‘u’ and ‘h’, the pointer fingers for each hand in Dvoark, and moving up to the entire home row, then the rest of the keyboard). It took me a couple of weeks to get comfortable with it. (I had a print out next to my computer of the Dvorak layout that I could look at while typing.)


The downsides: if you work in office/lab where you have to use shared computers, in can be a problem. I knew a guy who learned Dvorak and then went back to QWERTY because our computer lab at the time had shared computers. (Not really the case today. This was back 10 years ago.) This probably doesn’t apply to you so if it’s just you on the computer, you don’t have this concern. The other downside is that some OSes and programs make their hotkeys around QWERTY. Control X/C/V is big one that I miss out on. At the end of the day, I still feel like we are stuck with this outdated typewriter model of input. Even though Dvorak is a good software solution, I think there must be a better setup.


Note taking App:

I started using “Zim” a couple of months ago for my note taking app. It’s mostly text but also lets you do “wiki markup” like bold, strike through, underline, as well as checkboxes and bullets. I feel it’s a better way to take notes than text or using Word Processor. You can also organize a hierarchy of wiki pages. (I don’t know how it compares to OneNote or other programs like that because I haven’t used those.)



There is still a lot of investigating that needs to be done. (Looking forward to the follow up video.) The video game analogy works. We need hotkeys on our left hand (maybe even arrows and pgup/pgdn) and an easy enough way to switch from navigation to typing. Gestures are great for simplifying common actions and Radial/Pie Menus reduce traveling and make it easier to select our program. A complete solution doesn’t exist; either KDE’s customization or Gnome’s support for Pie Menus are good candidates. Maybe someone could setup a VM to do a lot of what you showed in the videos.


Hardware solutions exist as well. A multi-button mouse may help. A custom keyboard (or a modified keyboard with AutoHotkey) could reduce dependency on arrow keys and pgup/pgdn.


Thanks for making the video Ross! I started using the Mouse Gesture program that you showed and it has been useful. I started using Gnome Pie as well but haven’t found a Pie menu to replace my dock yet.

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Posted (edited)

  @Ross Scott FYI: Posting response here regarding alt-tab display, since I think others may also find this helpful.

On 8/10/2020 at 3:56 AM, Ross Scott said:

Also, we may disagree on this, but I actually WOULDN'T want a screenshot preview of the applications.  I like big, dumb, icons with the names.

That's actually how Mac displays them.




In fact, that's how Windows XP displayed them. Windows Vista changed it to thumbnails but there is actually an easy registry hack to bring back the XP style on Windows 10. However, this does have it's trade offs because it removes the close buttons but that's because you can't use the mouse to select them! But I do kind of find this faster if you don't mind cycling through them with tab.




There are also various tools like Alt+Tab Tuner to tweak different aspects of the default alt-tab thumbnail and your best option will likely be a compete replacement like the Alt-Tab Terminator.


As for icons vs thumbnails overall, this is partly a personal preference thing but which is objectively faster for visual identification alone depends on the content. If for example, you have many files of the same type open at once (like multiple text files in notepads) then application icons are useless by themselves because you can't tell which is which with just an icon. But if you only have one of each type of application open than just showing the icons will let you identify each program more quickly. So icons are best for program identification and thumbnails for the actual content within a program. When excluding labels of course.

Edited by Isaiah (see edit history)

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