March 23rd, 2004 • 12:44 am
Mac OS X users are supposed to be able to define their preferred colour for highlighted/selected text as a system-wide setting, in System Preferences, under “Appearance”.
This colour is supposed to be used everywhere, by all applications, for highlighting text. Leave to Word X to only comply with this requirement some of the time:
What’s going on here? Well, some of the text in this Word document is highlighted using Word’s built-in highlighting tool — which has nothing to do with selecting text, of course. It’s the word processor’s equivalent of using a yellow pen to highlight certain words or phrases in a printed text that you’re reading.
Obviously, Microsoft’s engineers thought that, since the text was highlighted in a different colour, when the user is actually selecting the text, the highlighting colour for the yellow text should be something other than the default highlighting colour for selected text (in my case, dark orange). So the text that’s already highlighted in yellow in the Word document is highlighted in blue when it is selected.
The trouble is that, obviously, this special behaviour screws up the highlighting for the rest of the line that contains the yellow text. Instead of being highlighted in the normal default colour (dark orange), it’s highlighted in… black. But on the next line the highlighting colour is back to the default dark orange.
So obviously this is a bug in Word, whose mechanism for highlighting selected text fails to use the default colour defined in System Preferences, and uses black instead. And it’s not just a cosmetic issue. If the user is not aware of this bug, he’s likely to be quite confused by the variation in colour! It’s not so bad if the text is highlighted in yellow, as in the example above, but try it with another one of the default colours available in Word’s highlighting tool:
It’s starting to get quite confusing visually, isn’t it? Fundamentally, it’s just another example of sloppy programming. No, it’s not a fundamental issue, but it’s one that clearly contributes to the feeling of unease when using Word as a Mac user. it just doesn’t have the level of care for details that other software has.