Looks like we’re getting a new downloads UI in Safari. In the latest OS X Lion build there’s a popover revealing current and finished downloads, activated with a button just right of the search engine field in the toolbar. I like it.
All major browsers implements some kind of download manager: either a separate window (Safari, Firefox) or a separate tab (Chrome, Opera). I’m not a huge fan of either of them:
- The separate window model makes me want to close the window after the download finishes. It’s just clutter anyway. I want it out of my way. This was automatically done for me in Firefox, but not in Safari until quite late. However, I don’t like having a completely separate window layer for downloads – if you ask me, their level of importance can’t justify a new window.
- A new tab for downloads? No, no, no. You don’t think I’ve got tons of tabs open already? I don’t want to lose another one … This is too far away in the opposite direction of the point above – downloads are more important than regular web pages, but less important than a new browser window.
This download UI is a great start: it’s unobstrusive, doesn’t get in my way, and it’s always accessible. I won’t have to navigate to a specific tab, or find this special window.
As Alexander Limi of the Firefox UX team writes (http://limi.net/articles/safari-downloads/), he and the rest of the team proposed this kind of behavior some time ago, exploring the concept in an in-depth article (I really recommend it – great usability and problem solving discussion).
I truly hope this UI widget will make it to the final version of Lion.