There Is a Way to Restore Wider Alerts in MacOS Big Sur and Monterey

I have my gripes with the current generation of the MacOS visual design language that used to be called Aqua. There are several things I hope to see changed, and many of those things are more evolutionary updates. But if I were in Alan Dye’s shoes, I know the first thing I would change on my first day: I would have alert panels reverted to their previous and far superior presentation.

Happily, that is possible today, thanks to a tip from Léo Natan (via Michael Tsai):

Do you prefer the old style macOS alerts? There is a way to get them globally for AppKit in Big Sur and Monterey:

defaults write -g NSAlertMetricsGatheringEnabled -bool false

I applied this immediately, restarted an app I was using, triggered an alert — and everything is suddenly better. The clouds parted, sun rays danced in my office, my coffee tasted just a little bit sweeter. There is still work to do on things like buttons, which remain a barely-differentiated grey blob resting on the grey background of the dialog, but it is an undeniable upgrade.

Watch this get ripped out of the next major version.

Also, what is up with the name of this preference key? What does it mean that I am disabling alert metrics gathering?

Update: Ben Sargent has a strong theory:

If I had to guess: NSAlert (the dialog) Metrics (size of the dialog) GatheringEnabled (gather the content into a hideous vertical silo)

Makes sense to me.