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Application behaviour on last window close

I grew up with Microsoft’s various windowing systems, and learnt the X Windows style of things while at Uni. When I first used a Mac, Apple’s approach of keeping the application alive after its windows are closed felt strange.

Now, having used OS X from early beta stages, I’m more comfortable with the approach and consider it the norm. Unfortunately, Apple is somewhat inconsistent with the behaviour.

It is seemingly on an application by application basis whether or not the application will quit when the main window is closed. System Preferences used to persist but now closes. iTunes stays open, iSync closes and AddressBook stays open!

For my own application, the decision on this has consumed much of my time. The code to make the application quit on window code is quite simple. Add the following two lines to the application delegate:

def applicationShouldTerminateAfterLastWindowClosed_(self, sender):
    return True

The Apple app that is closest to my own is AddressBook, so when in doubt I have emulated the AB behaviour. Partially for the benefit of users and partly for my own sanity.

As I start designing new applications, I end up with the same problem of which behaviour to choose. My default is to persist the application unless I get a large number of user complaints. To choose otherwise? I may as well write Windows programs.