Stop Stealing Focus

On 2011/04/07, in noise, rant, by a b

Attention, all software designers:


I understand why the ability to steal focus was designed into operating systems, but it’s massively overused. If you write software, please, for the love of all that is sane. Stop. Now. Please.

It seems like every application I use has some event that makes it feel the need to steal focus. Honestly, I can’t think of a single use case where this is actually excusable. If an app was about to suddenly delete data, or shut the computer down, or maybe some kind of attack was taking place, or something is about to cost me money. Otherwise, whatever it is, you can do it in the background, and let me know later. I don’t need to know you’re done loading. I don’t need to know a new version is available. I don’t need to know my download is complete. If you really must notify me, instead of just letting me find out when I come back, then bounce an icon, or use Growl, or something less invasive. But seriously, there is basically nothing I need to know badly enough to be yanked away to a different context. It’s a terrible user experience, makes me hate your software, and it’s really, really annoying.

Stop it. Now.

UPDATE: seems I’m not the only one who sees the evil in this… Coding Horror goes into much more detail on the same subject.

PS: Tool tips are nearly as rage producing. Just stop, already.


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