Common Human Interface Guideline

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This page is meant to help direct the defaults given in PC-BSD® for all of the available desktops whether "supported" or "unsupported" so that the initial configuration is more intuitive, reasonable, usable, and non-jarring. The defaults defined here may also influence function/effect(s) within PC-BSD® specific applications or modules. Another potential outcome could be a similar consistency in the default options chosen for the desktops in regard to the FreeBSD ports themselves.

NOTE: This is a reasonable starting point and may be incomplete in some areas. Further recommendations accepted- though please follow the intent of this project to stay within the primary purpose mentioned above.

How defaults might be determined

The intent is not to emulate Mac or Windows, however, some things may be accepted widely enough to consider as default behavior. Not all desktops contain all options as listed, but should conform to the guideline where ever possible. Where a default may be of less consequence, the most common feature among those with a choice should default to the static feature of any others.



Screen Edges

left-top, center-top, right-top- each may be set to different effects.
These and other edge-effects would be considered jarring and unexpected, and therefore should be unset/disabled.
maximize window
when mouse grab-cursor crosses top edge
maximize window 50% width - tiled
when mouse grab cursor crosses left or right edge


The most common method of workspace switching is via pager module or widget, or a menu item. Switching by way of a mouse scroll-wheel would be considered jarring and should not be enabled.

Edge resistance



Very easily the concept of more than two mouse buttons can get forgotten. It had been common to have each of three buttons set with dedicated functions such as middle for paste. These can be defined though defaults tend to favor expected action of two button mice, and should remain so, with the third or further buttons defined uniformally.


click to focus/focus follows mouse
These are the two common options but it is fairly obvious which is selected as default, so either would be ok.
Some window managers also include focus under mouse and levels of focus stealing prevention.

Click to open or execute

Both Windows and MacOS have preferred double-click. In addition to these being assumed defaults to those migrating from them, it ought to be a known either-or possibility of double versus single click. When you expect double-click and use it in a place that single-click is default, the results are unexpected and jarring. If single click is used in a place where double-click is default, nothing happens but there is also not two instances started/opened of whatever was clicked upon.

Window raising

auto-raise after receiving focus/click to raise
The auto-raise usually also has a delay setting while click to raise is immediate by instant choice.


Title bar

open, close, title centered.
Open, close, stick(y), minimize, maximize, title centered.


Initial position

Under mouse/centered/smart
Centering newly appearing windows is one way to increase the likelihood that the entire window will be visible.

Handles, frames, and resizers


perhaps in relation to screen resolution


  • minimum size
  • position and ordering


Since transparency and auto-hide can be configured after install to suit the user's preferences, these should not be enabled as default.

Size & position

Some desktops default to top, others default to bottom. Some have multiple taskbar or taskbar-like objects.

Services and Eye Candy

Extra services (those not common to desktops in general) and frills provided by the desktop where those do not specifically define the personality of the desktop should not be enabled by default.

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