Brushed metal (interface)

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Brushed metal is a discontinued graphical user interface design used in Apple Computer's Mac OS X operating system for Macintosh computers. The first of Apple's applications to sport this look was the QuickTime Player released as part of QuickTime 4.0 in 1999.

Apple's Human Interface Guidelines state that the brushed metal interface should be used for programs that mimic the operation of, or interface with, common devices. Older versions (before 5.0) of iTunes and the Panther and Tiger Calculator both use brushed metal because they mimic real-world devices, while iSync features the theme because it interfaces with PDAs.

Besides the metal appearance, brushed metal has a few functional differences from other types of Aqua. Brushed metal windows can be moved by clicking any part of the window background which is not occupied by a control; Aqua windows can only be moved by clicking within the title bar.

Continuing the growth of Apple-sponsored, non-Aqua themes, Apple also introduced a Pro theme that is used in its high-end video, music and image production and editing software. At the same time, with the release of Mac OS X v10.4 and new iLife applications, Brushed metal was being slowly replaced with a darker Aqua theme, often dubbed Polished Metal. Mac OS X v10.5 fully replaced brushed metal with the new darkened Aqua theme, finally restoring a consistent look and feel to Mac OS X.

Brushed metal was criticised by user interface purists,[1] who pointed out that Apple frequently violates its own rules for the use of the brushed metal look. The most notable of the supposed violations are Safari, Apple's web browser, and the Macintosh Finder itself. With the release of Mac OS X v10.3, Apple further expanded its list of acceptable uses for brushed metal to include windows that navigate lists of information. This expanded definition includes the Finder, but Safari's use of brushed metal remains a mystery. Opponents of the theory point out that even Apple's guidelines for the use of brushed metal are inconsistent, and that the motivation behind the alternative appearance's existence is unclear.[2]


  1. ^ "Interface Hall of Shame: QuickTime 4.0 Player". Interface Hall of Shame. Archived from the original on June 9, 2010.
  2. ^ Gruber, John. "Brushed Metal and the HIG". Daring Fireball. Archived from the original on March 26, 2015.