Apple Design and Hard Drive Icons

With all the work Apple has done on the design of the Yosemite interface, you’d think they could do something a bit more original with hard drive icons. If I look at the top level of my Mac, I see the following:

hard-disk-icons.png

There are three types of disks connected to my Mac. The first is an SSD, it’s named Yosemite. Yet it shows as a hard drive, not an SSD, and that hard drive icon is just plain ugly. I also would have expected Apple to some sort of witty text on the label; instead, it’s this:

hard-disk.png

The second type of disk is drives connected via Thunderbolt; they have a lightning bolt on them (because thunder = lightning?). However, the two drives named Boot Backup and TM Backup are also partitions on Thunderbolt drives, yet they don’t show the correct icon.

The third type is USB drives. With Mavericks, they showed a USB symbol on the drives; in Yosemite, they don’t. Music Backup is a USB drive.

Finally, the TM Backup drive is a Thunderbolt drive, and it’s a Time Machine disk. So it should show a green icon, as it does in the Time Machine preferences; This disk showed the correct icon under Mavericks.

tm-drive.png

Notwithstanding the fact that several of these disks display incorrect icons – it can be useful to know which disks are connected by Thunderbolt and which by USB – they’re just not attractive. And there’s an incoherence between the Thunderbolt icons, with their white plastic fronts, and the USB discs, which have metallic fronts. And, that bare hard disk icon is just ugly, and doesn’t suggest that it’s an SSD. (And, by default, when you set up a Mac, the boot disk is still named “Macintosh HD.” It hasn’t been a “Macintosh” for years, and if you have an SSD or Fusion drive, it’s not an “HD.”)

It’s not a big deal; I don’t look at my hard drives often. I don’t display disks on the Desktop, and I navigate though the Finder sidebar, or using LaunchBar. It just seems odd that, with all the refinements in design, that Apple has ignored this part of OS X: they’re some of the last bastions of multi-dimensionality in Yosemite.

20 thoughts on “Apple Design and Hard Drive Icons

  1. Doesn’t seem overly odd to me, only in the sense that OS X Yosemite is painfully lacking in attention to detail when it comes to design. It’s a messy, unfinished OS that needs some serious refinement, and the icons throughout are of a very low standard. With the shift to flat design, what’s with all the bevels? It’s like someone at Apple just discovered the effects menu in Photoshop. And as for the colour choices, Mail is vile, and Contacts looks like it was designed by someone who despises the idea of contrast.

  2. Doesn’t seem overly odd to me, only in the sense that OS X Yosemite is painfully lacking in attention to detail when it comes to design. It’s a messy, unfinished OS that needs some serious refinement, and the icons throughout are of a very low standard. With the shift to flat design, what’s with all the bevels? It’s like someone at Apple just discovered the effects menu in Photoshop. And as for the colour choices, Mail is vile, and Contacts looks like it was designed by someone who despises the idea of contrast.

  3. I do display my drives on my desktop. My TM backup disk is FW800, and it does display the expected TM Icon. But my other drives, both FW and USB, display the same plain yellow icon, so I can no longer to see what the connection is by a glance at the icon. And why yellow, anyway? I agree that the internal drive icon is oddly literal in design (assuming a fusion drive looks like that)

  4. I do display my drives on my desktop. My TM backup disk is FW800, and it does display the expected TM Icon. But my other drives, both FW and USB, display the same plain yellow icon, so I can no longer to see what the connection is by a glance at the icon. And why yellow, anyway? I agree that the internal drive icon is oddly literal in design (assuming a fusion drive looks like that)

  5. I display drives on my desktop too and my Time Machine USB external drive shows up with the unlabeled yellow icon like above. But if I right click and “Get Info” I see the old Green icon with the Time Machine circle and clock.

    • Eventually the desktop icon did change to the green standard Time Machine drive icon, I think once TM started a backup cycle. While running I don’t think the menu bar TM icon animates (rotates counter-clockwise) as it used to.

  6. I display drives on my desktop too and my Time Machine USB external drive shows up with the unlabeled yellow icon like above. But if I right click and “Get Info” I see the old Green icon with the Time Machine circle and clock.

    • Eventually the desktop icon did change to the green standard Time Machine drive icon, I think once TM started a backup cycle. While running I don’t think the menu bar TM icon animates (rotates counter-clockwise) as it used to.

  7. A Thunderbolt is another name for a Lightning bolt. Zeus of Greek mythos is frequently depicted in art with a bundle of bolts ready to hurl down upon….. you get the idea.
    Tech Adepts know that icons no longer give a physical representation of the internal components of our machines. I would love to know what non techs think these represent. Apple has to go slow lest they upset the majority.

    • The thunderbolt and lightning thing was a bit of sarcasm, since Apple has both thunderbolt and lightning connectors.

  8. A Thunderbolt is another name for a Lightning bolt. Zeus of Greek mythos is frequently depicted in art with a bundle of bolts ready to hurl down upon….. you get the idea.
    Tech Adepts know that icons no longer give a physical representation of the internal components of our machines. I would love to know what non techs think these represent. Apple has to go slow lest they upset the majority.

    • The thunderbolt and lightning thing was a bit of sarcasm, since Apple has both thunderbolt and lightning connectors.

  9. We were discussing the consistency of the iconography, the degree of skeuomorphism, and the extent and accuracy of information conveyed therein. Tech Adepts know this. Just funnin’ ya, Mr SmartyPants

  10. We were discussing the consistency of the iconography, the degree of skeuomorphism, and the extent and accuracy of information conveyed therein. Tech Adepts know this. Just funnin’ ya, Mr SmartyPants

  11. Just to be sure, I did put my ear up to the fusion drive icon to find out if I could hear it spinning. Guess what?

    • What?

      It would be hard to tell if whatever you hear comes from the drive, or from the fan. The fan is quiet – it runs at 1200 rpm most times – but it still makes a small amount of noise. Inaudible when it’s at low speed, for me, and definitely audible when the CPUs are working hard.

      • I was just having some fun with Jeremy’s “Tech Adept” vs. “non tech” comment. A bit of sarcasm of my own. Sorry.

  12. Just to be sure, I did put my ear up to the fusion drive icon to find out if I could hear it spinning. Guess what?

    • What?

      It would be hard to tell if whatever you hear comes from the drive, or from the fan. The fan is quiet – it runs at 1200 rpm most times – but it still makes a small amount of noise. Inaudible when it’s at low speed, for me, and definitely audible when the CPUs are working hard.

      • I was just having some fun with Jeremy’s “Tech Adept” vs. “non tech” comment. A bit of sarcasm of my own. Sorry.

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