What does Apple have against the English language? (or how to restore a minimized window in Mac OS X with the keyboard)

Recently, hell froze over and I bought a MacBook Air. As you might expect, between then and now, I’ve spent a lot of time learning about Mac OS X (not hard) and retraining my finger-muscle-memory for Mac keyboard shortcuts (very hard). Who decided that Ctrl-F3 is the keystroke to get to the Dock?

Or, who decided that Macs should ship with the F1-F12 keys subordinated to the consumer-oriented functions — like stopping and starting tracks on the non-existent disc drive? Oh well, soon I will have used the Mac enough so that even the obscurity of the shortcut key to restore a minimized window will stop making me homicidal. Yes, I know you can hide windows with Command-H and that they will re-appear in the Command-Tab sequence. But, unlike Windows, hiding a window on Mac OS X is not the same as minimizing it. There is, in fact, a keyboard shortcut to restore minimized windows. But it’s so clumsy that even after I tell you what it is, you won’t be able to do it the first 50 times you try it.

Ready? Here it is. The keyboard shortcut to restore a window minimized with Command-M (or with the mouse) is 1) use Command-Tab to switch to the minimized window, then 2) lift off the Tab key while continuing to hold the Command key, then 3) in a ballet of left-hand coordination hit the Option (Alt) key as you triumphantly release the Command key.

I kid you not. Try it 50 times. Repeat. A pox on on the fingers of the designer of that shortcut.

But what really has me stumped is a simple question: what does Apple have against certain parts of speech of the English language? All Apple fanpeople remember the famous Think Different campaign from the late 90’s. It started Apple’s assault on parts of speech with a full-frontal attack on adverbs.

These days, starting with the iTunes store and now, with the Mac app store, Apple wants us to know that we can get content “on” the store instead of “in” these stores. In short, they’ve decided that English prepositions are the next target.

Take a close look at the official logo above. One has to go “on” the store instead of “in” the store to browse, select and buy. I have an image in mind of being on top of the glass entrance to the Apple store across from the Park Plaza hotel in New York City.

Back to the logo: it confuses me. I think they are saying that you are “on” a place on your iPad or your Mac when you arrive at the store. OK, maybe.

But isn’t the thing I want when I’m “on” that store location on my device actually located in the iTunes or Mac store? Said another way, I am “on” the store on my Mac or iPad — but the thing I want is in the store that I’m on. I guess you just have to think different about it to see it Apple’s way. 🙂

OK, OK, so I’m being fussy about this. And we all know that Chomsky wouldn’t care: maybe a non-native English speaker or modestly grammar-literate designer or marketer at Apple came up with the unique utterance “on the App Store” as the icons were being created — and it probably stuck because of an uncharacteristic lack of branding consistency from Apple.

But Apple is all about branding. And while Think Different was deliberate, I suspect “on the store” is a mistake.

It’ll be interesting to see if we start hearing people use it in everyday speech. At least we’ll know where it came from.

One more reason to fear the marketers at One Infinite Loop.






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