That whole shutdown debate

There’s been a lot of noise about the right and wrong way to provide shut down / sleep options on computers since Joel wrote his “Choices = Headaches” piece a few weeks back. In his latest post on the subject, “Shutdown on OSX“, he says there’s no need for a software command for sleep, linking to Arno Gourdol who says there should be no Restart, Shut Down and Sleep in the Apple menu.

Now, I’m a great fan of simplicity, and yes, I think having a simply mechanical, physical interaction of closing the laptop’s lid is perfectly fine in most scenarios. But we should be aware of the dangers of oversimplifying: I have a very straightforward use-case for why I need Sleep in the Apple menu, one that hits me every day.

Menu Options

In the office, I have an external LCD monitor and keyboard. When I arrive each morning, I plug in the monitor and the external keyboard, hit a key on the external keyboard, and my Mac wakes up, without opening the lid.

At the end of the day, I select “Sleep” from the menu, then unplug the monitor and the keyboard, and then drop the laptop into my bag. So I’ve used it all day without that simple mechanical, physical interaction.

I suppose the next argument is “unplugging the monitor/keyboard is the mechanical interaction that should trigger sleep”, but then you get in to all sorts of edge cases – what happens if I unplugged the monitor to plug in the projector? What happens if I have a wireless keyboard and the connection was momentarily lost? What if …

As you can see, it quickly goes from a simple use-case to a complex one, and sometimes the right thing to do is just put that choice right back up on the menu. So thank you, Apple, for that little bit of complexity that makes my daily life a little easier.

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2 Responses to That whole shutdown debate

  1. Brett Porter says:

    I agree. My macbook regularly gets into a state where shutting the lid won’t sleep, so I need to use the menu option too. It would be incredibly frustrating if there was no option to do so.

  2. Tom says:

    I find it good to have the sleep menu option too, but thats because the reed switch that detects when i close the lid is broken…