Should mousing over (but not clicking) audio files on the desktop cause them to play invisibly?

Scott Ritchie scott at
Thu Apr 2 21:59:37 BST 2009

So, by default Gnome has a feature that I've seen confuse at least a few 
users - if you leave the mouse over top an audio file it will 
automatically start playing the file, even if it's already open or you 
have other music playing at the same time.

Upstream, however, seems reluctant to change it:

I'm convinced this goes way against user expectations.  From the bug 

> 1) What value do audio previews serve?  Most users will "test" a file by
> opening it.
> 2) If we do decide to continue with the preview, we need to make it very clear
> that an audio preview is playing and how to stop it (eg with a tooltip)
> 3) There is potential for harm here (playing music without being asked to
> during class/meeting, etc).  This is especially true with audio files on the
> desktop.
> 4) We should never play an audio file with preview if it's already playing
> somewhere else.  A common case of this is when I right click a file, tell it to
> open (or even queue) in my media player but leave my mouse nearby.  The file
> will start playing, and also start previewing, leading to a very confusing
> double-sound.

> I've seen this affect several people now, and I'm quite convinced that the icon
> change is absolutely not enough.  It's a small, hard to notice icon, it doesn't
> appear as soon as the audio starts, and most importantly it's not clear whether
> it means "I will start playing sound in a second" or "click here to play
> sound".  Many users would expect the latter, since they're about to open an
> audio file and clicking is what normally makes it play sound.
> At the very least, we should notify the user with some text somewhere, such as
> by using libnotify.

So, would it be appropriate to disable this in Jaunty?

Scott Ritchie

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