43 Folders

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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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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?

Sami Tikka's picture

I always set web browsers...

I always set web browsers to start with an empty window. I hate it when they open some lame start page by default. When I open a new browser window, it is because I want to open a certain web page, not wait a few seconds for the lame start page to load and render.

Sure, with some browsers you can move focus to address field and start typing even when it is loading and rendering, but sometimes the browser is sluggish or might even hang for a few seconds.

What really drives me up the wall is when I start typing the URL I want to go to and in the middle of that the browser finishes loading the start page and REPLACES WHAT I HAVE TYPED with the address of the start page!




An Oblique Strategy:
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