June 29th, 2006 • 9:49 am
This is an example of the really basic stuff that is utterly broken in Mac OS X’s Finder, with no solid signs of Apple planning to do anything to fix it.
Take the following selection on the Finder’s desktop:
It looks pretty straightforward. A group of three document icons are selected, and because they are selected the icons’ text labels are highlighted in my preferred selection colour, i.e. a dark shade of green.
If you compare the selected text label of the icon in the middle to the selected text labels of the icons at the top and bottom, however, you’ll notice a difference: The highlighted area for the top and bottom icons’ text labels is a rectangle with round corners, whereas the highlighted area for the middle icon’s text label has a shaped that appears to follow the shape of the actual text more closely.
This is obviously due to the fact that, in the middle icon’s text label, the difference in length between the two lines of text that the text label consists of is greater.
My problem here is that, instinctively, I equate “highlighted” with “clickable” and “draggable”. In other words, once these icons are selected, I expect to be able to click-and-hold with my mouse pointer on any spot within the highlighted areas in order to drag the selection to a different location.
Unfortunately, this is not true. If I take my mouse pointer and click on the exact spot indicated in the screen shot above, Mac OS X’s Finder… simply deselects the items and switches the focus to the desktop’s background, obviously thinking that I have clicked in an area outside the current selection—which is patently untrue. The top-left corner of the highlighting rectangle with the round corners for the bottom icon is very clearly, from a visual point of view, part of the selection. To put it simply, I am clicking on a spot that is in my selection colour, therefore I expect my click to be registered as a click on the current selection.
But clearly there is a fundamental flaw in Mac OS X’s Finder which causes the actual selection to be different from what it visually appears to be. If this particular spot is not part of the selection, it should not be highlighted in my selection colour. But it is. Therefore I should be able to click and drag from that particular spot.
What I find particularly irksome about this problem is that it’s so basic. It really feels like Apple no longer pays attention to even the most basic details, such as the equivalence between “highlighted” and “selected.”
And it’s rather sad.