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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Vox Pop: What default settings would you change?

As I am wont to do, I was thinking out loud on Twitter this morning.

Twitter message: 'I wonder how different the world might look if the default 'new meeting' time in calendar programs were 10 minutes instead of 1 hour'

I'm convinced that, for better or worse, a lot of computer-related habits come straight out of using the default settings. For example a stock Mail.app install checks your email every 5 minutes (I reset mine to 'Manual') and, without interdiction, Apple's mail program will also create all your new messages as "Rich Text" (Nuh uh. Mine? 'Plain Text').

And then, in some cases, even if you want to do things differently, you have to swim upstream to do so. In the case above, I can't set iCal or gCal's default to anything but 1 hour (any more than I can autoset multiple alarms1). God only knows what poor John Gruber would give to have Mail.app more easily let people quit top-posting.

The Question to You:

What default settings would you love to change in popular applications? Taken a step further, what excellent habits could be taught to users by looking at defaults as something beyond familiarity and day one ease-of-use? Could the aggressive use of smart or personalized defaults create a generation of short-meeting-makers and intersperse-responders?

Rob F's picture

One of the first things...

One of the first things I do with a new Outlook setup is to remove the "Reply to All" button from the main screen. If I want to reply to all, I simply open the relevant email, where the "Reply to All" button remains.

This avoids the perennial problem of replying to all by mistake, plus it makes me ask myself each time "do I really need to reply to everybody, or just the sender?"

And personally I remove the envelope icon and minimise to tray. I have icons on my desktop for new mail, new calendar item, new note, etc. So I can do a lot of things in Outlook without being distracted by incoming mail - until I choose to see it.




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