A global menu


Fitts law worked nicely back then on 640x480 displays and mouses.

But in these days of 1080p and trackpads, reaching for borders/corners of the screen has become a lot more costly.


I do tend to turn up my mouse speed these days. Unless I’m using a trackball with a nice glide…


[…] Let’s start with the menubar at the top of the OS X screen. It worked well on the original Mac with its small screen and lack of multitasking, but on today’s 21.5’’ or 27” displays and the many applications they contain, the menubar is bad ergonomics and leads to confusion. Novice and experienced users alike are often misled: If you unintentionally click outside the app window, the menubar at the top of the screen becomes associated with another app, or with the Finder: On apps such as Pages, it gets worse: You have to deal with two menubars, the one inside the app window, and the one at the top of the screen. Why does Apple cling to this antiquity? […]

from “Apple’s Grand User Experience Unification”


As a fan of the Mac’s design, the Menubar is not that bad. In fact, it’s really great I can access another app’s functions without being inside it just by clicking out. But I can see where that can be frustrating.

As for resolution or repetitive returns to the Menubar, with full keyboard access on (toggle with ^F1), a person can simply shift focus to the menus with ^F2 whenever there’s no time to get the mouse pointer up to the top. Otherwise, I usually just use the command key to get stuff done when I’m using Mac OS. Whatever paradigm someone likes best, I guess…

Now, the app launcher ‘wheel’ design Logitech had or the detachable menus of Rhapsody — those were cool.

(Edit: Can’t believe I forgot! I also use Cmd+Shift+? a lot to use the menu search feature to summon a command, like pulling up an Inspector or Duplicate, for example. That’s also really cool; something I actually thought was really cool about Unity’s HUD).


I remember a piece of University research a few years ago, but can’t find the link…

It was around a popup menu that wasn’t a top to bottom list, but rather a circular wheel. Obvious commands were immediately around the cursor, but then you also had the option of seeing all the apps menus within it. Starting from the centre and appearing as you moused outwards, this was a pretty good UI idea.

It had minimal mouse movements, consistent location of ‘popup’ items and ‘global’ items in the popup circle so you could have muscle memory for where different commands were, and it was more visual than text IIRC.

Shame I can’t find a picture of it anywhere…


They are called “radial menus” useful in theory but they are terrible in real life. I try to use them with constellation, a lost cause…


Yep, Pie or Radial menus.

Reference (long read, warning) might be:


Yeah I think it was Coral Menus I was thinking of. Except with images and not text.


Good day,

As @janus2 pointed out, the global menu came out back in 1984 with the first Macintosh, with the 9 inch 4:3 screen. At that time, it made sense. Running single apps in full screen on such small screen is acceptable. Even, on my first mac, IIsi with the 12 inch Greyscale Apple (crApple for some) Display, with 640x480 resolution, it also made sense. It stop making sense with the other macs I had before I woke up and jumped out of that wagon.

Design wise, a global menu only makes sense if user plans to run apps in full screen, and I know many users do. When using 16;9, 21:9 or wider aspect ratio displays, or multiple display setups, and having multiple desktops, does not make much sense at all, as not all apps need to run full screen. I can’t imagine running an FTP client full screen on an Ultrawide display, even a word processor. Even when I ran Matlab on the iMac G3 graphite, all windows were Matlab windows (command line, file editor, graph viewer), therefore the global menu could make sense, then again, it was a 15 inch 1024x768 4:3. But reaching out to the top bar is not an optimal situation when you have good small apps that have no need to expand to take the whole screen space in order to be fully functional, unless you put them all at the top of the screen. It is a not so good design, even ergonomically speaking.

The global menu is some sort of 1984 inheritance that only macos still keeps. Ubuntu’s Unity tried it but afaik, it failed. I did not like Ubuntu’s approach on that matter.

Anyway, I’m not a macos evangelist, and I think that a global menu is not a must on any device, and should not take any development time. But then again, different users have their differents ways, so if any user wants a global menu, that user could develop it. Some people already did for some linux distros with different success rates.

I don’t see a global menu fit with the HIG of Haiku. In fact, I rather see a better use of the stack and tile throughout the system, which is one of the Haiku unique features that has yet to achieve its potential, among other things.

Just imho.


Again, there is a place for the Menubar (global menus). I think it fits well with the Mac — (and again, there are built-in ‘full keyboard access’ hotkeys to focus on it if it’s too far for a user to click and the Cmd+Shift+? feature.)

But I do think on Be/Haiku, such an approach would be out of place because of the way the Deskbar is designed and works. As a floating palette or an add-on (which is my thinking) it wouldn’t be so bad, but the Deskbar would be overcrowded with it. A Rhapsody approach of an Application Palette (or the Deskbar in our case) and Menubar might work, but then again, it shouldn’t be a default. It should be a user choice at best. And again, I do plan to put such an option in every app on the finished release of Couplet.

There’s examples to kind of show why it wouldn’t be good to copy it without building it in. KDE 3 tried it (if selected), but it wasn’t consistent. And much as I liked the HUD, which had the same search feature 10.5+ Mac menus do, Unity kind of failed at this too for the same reason as KDE 3 did. Gnome 3 does better with app menus like WebOS.

Anyway, that’s my full thoughts on Haiku + a Menubar…


Good day @apgreimann,

I think it is clear that I don’t like the global menu bar :grin:
Don’t get me wrong. The fact that I don’t like it and that I think it is more important to improve the Haiku “experience”, checking Haiku’s SWOT analysis I think developing Haiku’s strengths, overcoming it’s weakness to exploit the oportunities while diluting its threats, than getting a global menu bar.

That said, which is a persnonal opinion, also, my personal opinion is that if you and others want to develop a global menu, that would be great. And, had I the time and knowledge, I would be glad to help, as I presume is a nice project to get into the “inner organs” of Haiku programming. I would not use it myself, though I understand that others like it. Same as I understand that personalization (icon themes, interface themes…) are also important in order to allow the user to have his “own” system. As I always say, different users have different ways, no matter the user level. In fact, first thing I do when I do a fresh install of a linux distro is arrange it to my liking (icons, DE theme, panel location, blah, blah, blah…, not just the background image).

And, the fact that I would not use it myself does not mean that I would not care for the development had I been involved in it. The fact that I would not use it does not mean that I don’t understand others who want to use it, their needs and/or their likings.



I also remember that global menu is incompatible with s"ocus follows mouse. As soon as you leave a window to reach out for the menu, you will in the process focus the desktop, so only Tracker menus would be reachable. Oops.


Short reply, blows ^^^ discussion in one shot… lol