The Mac Aqua GUI

The Macintosh, commonly known as the Mac, is a range of personal computers developed by Apple Inc. The graphical user interface (GUI) of the Mac operating system version 10.4 is known as Aqua. It is the successor to Platinum which was used in Mac versions 8 and 9. As the names suggest, Aqua GUI is based on the theme of water. It makes use of droplet-like elements and also takes advantage of reflective and translucent effects. In the words of Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc., “One of the design goals (of the Aqua GUI) was when you saw it, you wanted to lick it.”

The water-themed user interface was first introduced at the January 2000 Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco. The debut appearance of the Aqua GUI in a commercial product was during the July 2000 release of iMovie 2. The scroll bar and buttons had the completely new Aqua look of Mac operating systems. Its second appearance was in Mac OS X Public Beta in September of the same year. This was followed by a feature on iTunes in January of the following year. Aqua became the official Mac graphical user interface after the release of Mac OS X. The two basic colors that highlight Aqua’s style are blue and white.

Two of the main features of Aqua GUI are:

  1. The gel-like buttons that control the wind, which come in red, yellow and green colors.
  2. The dock that helps launch and navigate between applications. New York Times tech columnist David Pogue described the scroll bars as “lickable balloons of Crest Berrylicious Toothpaste Gel.”

Brushed metal and standard striped windows are the two basic types of windows that come with Aqua. Both styles appear to have the navigation button embedded in the window, but on Mac versions prior to 10.2, the buttons appear at the top of the striped windows.

As newer versions are released, Aqua GUI has become more and more subtle. For example, pinstripes have been made more subdued. Also, menus and system dialogs have been made more translucent. Even the appearances of buttons and widgets have been smoothed out.

Quartz Composer, which handles the underlying graphics management of the user interface, powers Aqua.

For more Mac information, tips, downloads, and reviews, visit: Macintosh Tools.

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