Filling out forms in Safari: no Undo when editing text

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
April 24th, 2004 • 3:21 am

As far as I know, many text editing features, such as drag-and-drop editing, are built into Mac OS X and available to all applications with a minimum amount of work.

And indeed, when you are filling out a form in Safari, for example, drag-and-drop text editing works just fine, as long as you hold the mouse button down for half a second before starting to move the cursor to drag the selected text somewhere else.

Why is it, then, that Safari, as a text editor, doesn’t support one of the most essential text editing features, which is the ability to undo the last action? Drag-and-drop text editing works in Safari, but if you make a mistake and drop the text in the wrong place, pressing cmd-Z won’t do a thing. The “Undo” command in the “Edit” menu remains desperately greyed out (disabled).

Why is such a fundamental feature missing? Is it because undoing the last action (or the last few actions) is not built into the basic text editing features that are built into Mac OS X itself, and have to be implemented at the application level for each and every application, and because Apple simply hasn’t bothered to implement this particular feature in Safari yet?

If that’s the case, then Apple missed a good opportunity to ensure a higher level of consistency in text editing across all OS X applications. The end user should be able to undo at least the last text editing action he did (be it typing some text, deleting something or dragging and dropping some portion of the text), and preferrably the last several actions. And he should be able to do so wherever there is text to be typed — be it in Mail, in Address Book, in Safari, in iTunes, etc.

The absence of this basic Undo feature when text editing in Safari is a glaring omission.

4 Responses to “Filling out forms in Safari: no Undo when editing text”

  1. ssp says:

    Be assured that Cocoa’s standard text fields support undo out of the box.

    I.e. you can expect Undo in all Cocoa applications that don’t tweak things too badly. (Note that iTunes would be excluded here of course).

    All the more, it is surprising and disappointing that Undo doesn’t work in Safari. Of course I don’t know how WebKit works internally, but I thought Undo support shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.

    Also note that when there is enough text in a textarea to make it have scroll bars, once it text field is scrolled out of the visible area, its scroll bars will be re-set to the initial position. Another long-standing bug in WebKit (which I reported ages ago) and perhaps a hint that WebKit does some extra trickery behind the scenes which break things.

  2. kodafox says:

    Yeah this is one of the most annoying problems with safari.
    I was just writing an really long email In web based email’s text box in safari and It was almost done. I was going through and doing some editing to some of the things I had said. I went to select some text and my hand Kinda slipped and I ended up selecting the entire message. And In my fumbling i pressed some letters after that. So my entire email that I spent 20 minutes or so composing was wiped out by some random characters. I’m used to my pc so I just though Oh oops i’ll just undo. And that’s when I found out I was SOL. Or what about when you go to copy something and you accidently paste. You can’t undo that either so whatever text you had selected, probably something important since you were copying it, is gone! what a load of crap!

  3. Pierre Igot says:

    I never edit long pieces in Safari itself. I learnt that from the old days of web browsers that would crash all the time. (They still crash, but not so often.) When I have a fairly long piece that I want to submit on a web site, I write it in a text editor (TextEdit or BBEdit) and then cut and paste it into the appropriate field and submit. This also allows me to save the piece as a text file, which is always good to have.

    It’s no excuse for Safari, but even if Apple fixed the text editing problems in the application, I would still use a text editor for longer pieces.

  4. kodafox says:

    That’s a good idea. I agree it’s no excuse for Apple. But maybe I’ll have to get in the habit of doing that too.

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