​For all of Apple's usability efforts, one department seems to have missed the company-wide memo sent out 30+ years ago. Under no circumstances should a user be presented with a message like this. If the system knows enough to display an error number, it can certainly cross-reference that into a human-consumable message. (FYI: I was attempting to rename a folder that was being copied.)

Apple error message

On top of all that, what could a negative number in an error message possibly imply? Shouldn't a negative error indicate a good thing?


Keep these coming. Send them to us via Twitter or Facebook using the hastag #wtfUX or email them to: wtfux@uxmag.com with "#wtfUX" in the subject line. Include as much context as you can, so we get a full understanding of what the f%*k went wrong. Image of worm in apple courtesy Shutterstock.

Article No. 1 423 | April 9, 2015
Article No. 1 431 | April 30, 2015
Article No. 1 433 | May 6, 2015


All MacOS error codes were negative.  It gave the API designer the opportunity to return positive values as success-with-additional-information.

And much of that old world still bleeds through into OSX and iOS.

Sadly, Apple never shipped an API that returns the text for a given error code, so it is up to every seperate application to translate number to informative message in all of the possible locales you might support.

Ad Blocker solves for that bad UX...

How about your website where the Ads are on top of half of the article on mobile device Can't even read the article. Pretty bad considering you guys write about UX? :-/

Fair point. We're a free community resource first and a paragon of UX a very distant second (or third). Our limited resources go to content creation, so feedback like this is helpful as we continue fine tuning our new theme.

To clarify, this is what it looks like: http://i60.tinypic.com/25fmukh.png

Nothing some good ol' fashioned mobile-first design would have allowed.

Thanks BD. I can recreate this issue when I shrink my browser window, but the article page looks ok in mobile. Regardless, we're working on fixing this.

I once received an error notification box for an application running on OS X that looked like the prompt shown in the article, except the error message provided was "An unkown error message 'APIEpicFail', was received from the device." I never did figure out what the issue was, but perhaps that's the intention. Be so cryptic about the issue that one can't find any support on it and so they have no choice but to give up.