Automatic Termination makes its way to OS X Lion & Mountain Lion

Automatic Termination makes its way to OS X Lion & Mountain Lion

Summary: Apps in iOS support Automatic Termination, or quitting the program out from under the user. Now that dubious "feature" is a part of OS X.

SHARE:

Matt Neuburg at TidBITS and Keith Harrison at the Use Your Loaf blog recently discussed the history and working of Automatic Termination. The Apple brain-trust decided to migrate this feature of iOS to OS X Lion and now Mountain Lion. Neuburg says that Lion is "a quitter."

What is happening is that the system (on the Mac this is the Finder) decides when an application needs to run and will terminate it on the fly and reclaim its resources.

Harrison writes that Xcode has decided to opt-in Automatic Termination for OS X apps.

This is a familiar situation for an iOS application. Apple has always made it clear that inactive iOS applications can expect to be terminated and should be designed with that in mind. The iOS task switcher also does a good job of hiding which applications are actually running so in theory a user may never know when switching between applications. In practise it is not always totally invisible to the user but it seems to be a reasonable compromise on an iOS device.

Automatic termination of applications on a desktop class machine seems to be a much less reasonable compromise. OS X has access to much greater resources and it seems unnecessary to start terminating applications without user intervention. Even worse is the fact that the application disappears from both the dock (unless you opted to keep it there permanently) and from the application switcher forcing you to relaunch it.

As both Neuburg and Harrison suggest, Automatic Termination is a very bad feature on OS X applications, even for machines with limited RAM and a SSD that might be running low on capacity. There's no good reason for this behavior.

Both posts have a terminal command to turn off the feature. Neuburg points out that TinkerTool 4.9 (released on July 25) has a checkbox for this setting.

Topics: Apple, iOS, Laptops, Operating Systems, Software Development

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

42 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • The supplied links are a good tool to modify this current OS X feature

    Personally, I never had an issue with this behavior but it is nice to know how to modify this feature. Thanks.
    kenosha77a
    • our way or the highway

      Autokill is a standard feature in any modern OS. Having seen the propensity of users leaving a billion apps open when they don't need them, it might be a necessary evil. Then again, having this feature perpetuates the problem as users become even more lazy and simply rely on this feature instead of closing apps themselves. It's fostering bad user habits.
      It isn't so bad as long as the user can easily change the default timeout, say in the apps menu. To make it a feature that is difficult to control for the average user is just telling users "our way or the highway" and that seems the way Apple does things.
      warboat
      • Once again

        .. you comment on an OS you know nothing about. First, there is no "apps menu". That you would suggest this as useful place in the UI to put a user interface item to modify timeout parameters makes this abundantly clear. Second, claiming that this feature is "difficult to control" when you don't even know how to control it yourself is silly. Third, the idea that the average user would know or even care about this feature is ridiculous.
        .DeusExMachina.
  • The supplied links are a good tool to modify this current OS X feature

    Personally, I never had an issue with this behavior but it is nice to know how to modify this feature. Thanks.
    kenosha77a
  • But Apple Gear "Just Works"

    No tinkering or farting around needed, right?
    ldo17
    • Oooohhhh Yeeessssssss

      LMAO!!!
      It works for crap on iOS and they added it to ML?
      whoa.......
      rhonin
      • Um what?

        In what way does it "work for crap" on iOS. In fact, it works just fine, as made perfectly clear in the article.
        .DeusExMachina.
    • Can't agree

      An OS is one thing but it also depends on apps, and how well those are written...

      Just like how people blindly blame Flash - it may or may not be perfect, but bad coding habits will render it worse.

      But then, who goes to college to learn good programming skills? ;-)
      HypnoToad72
  • 1,000 cuts

    It appears this is the approach Apple is taking to unify iOS and OSx, with iOS being the priority. By implementing change in small steps.
    Emacho
    • Boiling the frog

      Every time the water goes up 1 degree, the frogs don't feel it and so they defend Apple's move. "It isn't painful at all. Just go into settings or implement this work around, or just accept that JKB (Jobs knows best)."

      Then the frog dies.
      toddbottom3
      • Not bad......

        That is a good analogy.....
        rhonin
        • Yes, a perfect analogy

          BECAUSE IT IS 100% NOT TRUE.

          Good job of believing the myth with no critical thought, though.
          .DeusExMachina.
          • Ha!

            While I cant say I agree with the whole frog dying analogy, I really have to say; in your rush to jump to Apples defence you actually made such a silly post I had to laugh out loud.

            It makes sense! Ha! At all!

            Its a perfect analogy because its not true!?!?!? Ha!

            It may be a horrible analogy because it what hes saying is not true, but I dont think any sane person would consider a horrible analogy is perfect in any way.

            You have to be able to do better than that.

            I guess I kind of agree with you...I think, but its the way you are trying to say what you mean that makes no sense man.
            Cayble
          • It's called sarcasm

            .DeusExMachina.
      • Not bad......

        That is a good analogy.....
        rhonin
      • Your describe your own experience

        .. with Windows :)
        danbi
        • Man. That was about as weak as it gets.

          If your going to try and insult Windows, try not to make it sound like you dont like Windows because you have a mental desease.

          At least make some attempt to explain how you can actually hate Windows but still somehow have a functional brain. Make some effort guy.
          Cayble
      • Not sure how that applies to an autokill for misbehaving apps,

        but I think I can infer the big picture and on that, depending on what that actually is, I can't disagree with you...
        HypnoToad72
  • Sheesh. Lion's automatic termination is NOT sudo killall

    people. It only applies to Apps that support it, the apps clean up after themselves, create a snapshot of their state and can auto-resume in about the same time it would take to swap them out of paging. The end user doesn't even KNOW the app has quit.
    baggins_z
    • Did you read the article?

      From the article, "Even worse is the fact that the application disappears from both the dock (unless you opted to keep it there permanently) and from the application switcher forcing you to relaunch it." So.... the end user doesn't know the app has quit?
      other *