Energy Saver Control Panel

As a consultant to Apple Computer, Lisa served as the UI design lead for this project. The text and screenshots below were excerpted from the 35-page "Human Interface Specification" she wrote for this product. The slider design I developed for this project received a U.S. Patent (assigned to Apple) in 1997.

Core Features

The Energy Saver control panel allows users to configure the energy-management features of desktop and portable Macintosh computers. These features may include:

Idle Energy Savings
  • Shutdown
  • System sleep
  • Display sleep
  • Hard disk sleep
Scheduled Energy Savings
  • Scheduled startup (includes bookmarking)
  • Scheduled shutdown (includes document auto-save)
  • Scheduled wakeup
  • Scheduled sleep

UI Strategy

The ultimate UI goal of Energy Saver is to make understanding, adjusting, and using the Mac’s energy management features as easy as possible. At present, these features vary greatly between desktop and portable models. Moreover, they are scattered across several different control panels. To achieve the project goal, the team has targeted the following objectives:

  • Allow users to configure all the energy management features within a single control panel.
  • Provide users with a clear conceptual model of their computers’ energy management features.
  • Avoid burdening the user with highly technical features by automating as many of them as possible.
  • Create a user experience that is as consistent as possible across desktop and portable computers.
  • Create an interface whose content can scale up or down according to the capabilities of the machine and the needs of its intended users.
  • Design a look-and-feel that is appropriate not only for the current Macintosh UI but also for the changes anticipated in future OS releases.
  • Implement and present the energy-management features (especially shutdown auto-save) so that they are clearly safe and convenient to use.
  • Allow users adequate leeway to customize the interface so that it provides adequate notification without becoming annoying.
  • Design an interface that is extendible and localizable.
  • Satisfy the EPA’s requirements for Energy Star compliance.

Desktop vs. Portable Computers

Energy Saver is designed to run on both desktop and portable computers; however, desktops and portables have slightly different technical and user requirements. For this reason, two versions of the Energy Saver user interface have been specified. This document uses the desktop version as the primary vehicle for discussion. The portable version is shown in full in the appendix; differences between it and the desktop version are explained there.

Above: The sleep setup pane of the main window - minimal view.

This window opens when the user launches the application. The user is presented with very simple controls for managing the energy-saving features of his or her Macintosh. Clicking “Show Details” causes additional settings to become visible.

Above: The sleep setup pane of the main window - expanded view.

The expanded view allows the user to control various aspects of the energy-saving features independently. When the “Separate timing...” boxes are unchecked (as above), then all parts of the system are controlled by the top slider. Checking these boxes enables the sliders and allows the users to set different timing for putting the display and hard disk to sleep.

The three sliders have interdependencies that aren’t apparent from the screenshot. Lisa designed a system for making those interdependencies visible to the user, a system for which Apple received a utility patent. (Illustrating this slider design would require at least five additional screenshots.)

Above: The scheduled startup and sleep pane - minimal view.

This pane allows the user to schedule regular startup and shutdown times for their Macintosh. Clicking “Show Details” would expand the pane to allow the user to specify different startup and shutdown times for each day of the week.