Bad UX Bites #6: Good luck finding mute for iMessage on Mac

Predictably unpredictable

Most people don’t like having their computer incessantly ding at them while they are on a conference call. I certainly don’t. General muting is obviously not an option since the call audio is coming from the same speakers doing the dinging. You would need the ability to mute each individual sound source.

One would assume that iMessage would have the ability to rapidly mute its sounds when necessary. The most logical place for a mute command would be when you right-click the app icon. As you can see below, that is not where it is located.

Maybe it is hidden in the options submenu…


Maybe they stupidly hid mute behind “My Status”.

Not even!

As it turns out, I have to go to the Messages menu to find Preferences.

Even once I get to the Preferences screen, the option to mute is hidden amongst a lot of other options with little white space between them, and the suboptimal microcopy of “Play sound effects” with no use of the word “mute”.

Even with “Play sound effects” deselected, there is no visible indicator that the app is muted, which also means that you might expect the sound to be on and fruitlessly listen for messages.

Apple will happily spend millions on man-hours developing a skinnier phone that nobody asked for but they won’t budget out a lunch break to fix real issues. Does anyone else see shark fins approaching?

Important lessons

  • Put things where people expect to find them.
  • Show system status (this is an old and well-established heuristic!)
  • Word your microcopy to match expectations.

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Bad UX Bites #6: Good luck finding mute for iMessage on Mac was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.