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Jasondm007

Alfred 4 GUI - Issues w. Dark Iconography

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Posted (edited)

I’ve posted this as a bug but, in fairness, it’s a feature of Alfred 4 (and not a bug). Namely, some aspects of Alfred 4’s new GUI are too dark to be legible in some use cases - particularly for those who use dark iconography.  

 

In the workflows section of Alfred’s Preferences, this problem manifests itself where the icons are displayed in the inner sidebar and in the informational portion at the top of the window. In the screenshots below, note how difficult it is to see the black search / magnifying glass icon? For me, it’s more of a functionality problem than an issue of aesthetics, as I rely on the sidebar icons to quickly find the workflow I’m looking for. While the text looks good, unfortunately, the icons are no longer visible in Alfred 4.

 

Workflows - Sidebar

1053087077_searchall1.jpg.39dc8f14a6c2f643325ccc27df021ecd.jpg

 

Workflows - Informational Portion (top of screen)

1851426503_searchall2.jpg.78d86751be308feb6d60808168ba02d6.jpg


The second place where this issue comes up in Alfred’s Preferences is when viewing Snippets. While this problem also involves the use of black iconography - for snippet Collections, specifically - it’s only visible to those who use MacOS in dark mode (but use a light Alfred theme).  In these cases, the background color behind the collections’ windows is dark, making black icons impossible to see (see screenshot below). 

 

Features - Snippets - Collections Window

collections.jpg.caa05a32cc0578bb8c1e565bc22bfa74.jpg

 

 

There are a ton of ways these issues can be fixed, so I thought I'd throw out a few:

  • Easiest fix: use lighter background colors in these cases (e.g., flipping the two purple colors in the sidebar, so the dark is on the outside) (e.g., going with a lighter gray/black in the upper information)
  • Another fix: add another display option with a lighter color, such as those accessed via the gear next to Alfred's workflow filter (screenshot below). However, something else would have to be done about the snippets/collections problem, since it lacks such options.

979765467_displayoptions.jpg.a9f70679db361e5c89799cd23961097c.jpg

 

  • My favorite fix: add a color palette option to Alfred's main preferences. Personally, I like OmniFocus' approach, which provides users with three options for: automatic, light, and dark modes (see screenshot below - they call the "light" version, just plain old OmniFocus). Here, the automatic mode would just follow the MacOS designation, and the others would allow users to manually place Alfred in either mode. Among other things, this would entail creating a light mode - or in keeping with OmniFocus, just a plain old "Alfred" mode - where the issues outlined above are easier to see (in addition to maintaining the lighter toolbar, which Alfred already does when MacOS is not in dark mode). 

 

675747437_OmniFocus-Settings.jpg.06f875d18e3057101fd41ed09529ffda.jpg

 

Thanks for your consideration!

Edited by Jasondm007

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5 hours ago, Jasondm007 said:

While the text looks good, unfortunately, the icons are no longer visible in Alfred 4.

 

I think the icons are more an issue for workflow authors themselves.

 

Loads of people use a dark theme for Alfred's main window, so if a workflow's icons aren't visible against a dark background, the workflow has a problem, anyway.

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Posted (edited)

@deanishe Agreed - it's just a problem in Alfred's preferences, as described above. And, to be clear, it's a relatively minor UX problem in the scheme of things. For the most part, I really like Alfred 4's new look. 

 

While the point about dark themes and usability across light and dark themes is fair, it's odd to rule out the use of dark iconography now in Alfred's preferences. Ignoring Alfred's longstanding use of gray/light backgrounds and black typography, there are a lot of people with vision-related issues that depend on white/gray/light backgrounds and dark text/icons for legibility purposes.

 

Not to mention the fact that Alfred's own icon is hardly visible in the settings described above. Take a look at the screenshots below. Why create visibility constraints that even the app's own icon doesn't work well under?

 

2019744710_AlfredIcon1.jpg.126e528d4e82ee6d89404a95c8482fb9.jpg

 

1366719414_AlfredIcon2.jpg.f913e13c1131c59398174ca25a74894f.jpg

 

350789822_AlfredIcon3.jpg.6f1b3cd43d857be60ce49a2dff1eafea.jpg

Edited by Jasondm007

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4 hours ago, Jasondm007 said:

it's just a problem in Alfred's preferences, as described above

 

Agree. I'm not denying that it's an issue. I suppose what I want to say is that I think there's an upside to the dark UI in Alfred Preferences in that it's makes it very difficult for a workflow author not to notice that their chosen icon doesn't work on a dark background.

 

4 hours ago, Jasondm007 said:

there are a lot of people with vision-related issues that depend on white/gray/light backgrounds and dark text/icons for legibility purposes.

 

This is true. Such people are free to choose a theme that makes Alfred's results legible. It makes sense that a similar option should be available for the Alfred Preferences UI.

 

In that regard, one could argue that Alfred Preferences should base its colours and fonts (including sizes) on the selected theme. Apart from being super-cool, that would allow users to make Alfred as readable or unreadable as they like.

 

As I understand it, the majority of Alfred's own icons are defined in code, not as image files, which should make changing their colour comparatively easy.

 

Other than being a lot of work for Andrew, the main argument against it—as I see it—is that it's potentially another way for users to shoot themselves in the foot, which invariably means more support requests from people complaining about "small, low-contrast fonts" that they chose themselves.

 

But that's enough of my idea.

 

I like your suggestion to follow OmniFocus's behaviour.

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