Adium – “Don’t Change” vs. “Change All”

Before I pick on Adium, I have to first issue this disclaimer: I like it. I use it. It’s good software and mostly does all the things that I want.

But here’s my nit. Today Adium informed me that a newer version was available. No prob. Let’s upgrade. It downloads the new stuff, does its magic incantations, then hits me with the following dialog box:


Adium has been updated.


Do you want to allow the new version to access the same keychain items (such as passwords) as the previous version?


This change is permanent and affects all keychain items used by Adium.

I realize that the ensuing click of my button will have sweeping implications and CANNOT be undone. But I’m OK, because I DO want to allow the new version to access the same keychain items as the previous version. My answer is, “Yes”.

“Don’t Change” “Change All”

Huh?! Wait. My answer was “Yes,” not “Change” or “Don’t Change”! What’s change got to do with it?!

Lemme think… Must remain calm… If I keep the same keychain items, that sounds like “Don’t Change” doesn’t it? I want them to stay the same. But the warning says, “This change is permanent,” suggesting maybe that “Change All” will do something to the newly upgraded software to bring all the old keychain items with me. But change what? The new empty keychain list to the old keychain list?

All I want is for all my old configuration stuff to follow me over here. I want to “Allow” or “Don’t Allow” or even “Yes” or “No” will do.

It’s a small nit, I suppose. But it’s really bad interface design. Don’t ask the user a Yes/No question and then provide two buttons that have meaning primarily to the programmer.

I click “Change All” because I believe that sounds more like “Yes” than “Don’t Change.”


All of my online friends are still with me. I think that means that my new version has access to the same keychain items as the old version. Whew! “Change All” made everything appear the same to me.

Now if I just knew what a keychain item was…

7 thoughts on “Adium – “Don’t Change” vs. “Change All”

  1. I agree that many dialog boxes ask a question and then provide options that do not answer the question asked. This keychain dialog box is an OS X dialog though and not a part of Adium. I believe keychain is the password manager in OS X and is basically asking if you want the new executable to have access to the passwords saved in the keychain by the previous executable…

  2. I’m still an OS X novice, and I have since learned that this is, indeed, an OS X issue. Adium apparently has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the generation of this dialog box — either the text up top, or the labels on the buttons. You’ll find the same behavior in other applications that use the keychain.

    Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that this is really pitiful design. I did a bit more searching and found another dozen or so postings on various blogs, relating to various applicationsgames?.

    My favorite posting is from a linguist:
    I encourage you to check that one out.

  3. Thanks for this item — it resolved the issue for me. The message and ambiguous options appeared for me today on upgrading Safari. I rang Apple Care and was answsered after 27 minutes. The guy answering didn’t know the answer and put me on hold while I listened to music. After 45 minutes the music stopped and after 50 minutes the continuous tone told me my call had been terminated!

    However, having read that Change All worked for you, I now know which to click . . .unless you were releasing your frustration on others by misleading people reading your account, but I’m sure you wouldn’t do such a thing!



  4. I saw the best vent on this very argument the day I myself was presented with the very ambiguous question of “Don’t Change” of “Change All”. That this even happens just shows that you may be able to put the component together but if you lack effective communication skills to your target market things can go south very quickly, that was in essence the venters plight and I concur 100%

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