Mac OS X: Command-clicking on windows also works for resize box

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
June 25th, 2007 • 10:52 am

I know I tend to write posts about things that don’t work properly. But from time to time I feel the impulse to write about something that does work great.

Some Mac OS X users know that command-clicking on the title bar of a window that is in the background allows them to move this window around without bringing it to the foreground. It is a useful behaviour when all you want to do is move a background window out the way or bring it into view without disrupting what you are currently doing in the foreground.

What I hadn’t realized until today was that you can actually also command-click on the resize box of a background window (in its bottom-right corner) and drag that resize box to resize the window, again without bringing it to the foreground.

It’s a good thing, because you might want to resize a background window for the same reasons you’d want to move it around—i.e. to make something visible that is currently hidden/occulted.

And there is little risk of accidental command-clicks on background resize boxes, so it’s not a behaviour that is likely to get in the way of anything.

On the other hand, I still do feel that command-clicking on the title of a background window (i.e. the central area of the title bar) should not bring up the pop-up menu with the path to the document, as it does now. Because it means that, when you want to move a background window around, you have to be careful where exactly you click in the title bar of that background window. You have to make sure it’s not in the central area, where the title is. And there is no clear visual demarcation between the title and the rest of the title bar. In addition, I don’t really see what the use is of a pop-up menu popping up in a background window. Surely if I want to access this pop-up menu, I should be expected to bring the window to the foreground first.

Oops. I meant to write a positive post, for once, and… Oh well, I guess I can’t help being a perfectionist!

3 Responses to “Mac OS X: Command-clicking on windows also works for resize box”

  1. Arden says:

    You can command-click on lots of stuff — scrollbars, buttons, checkboxes, even Minimize and Zoom — and it all works great. Okay, not all of it, but most of it. It can be quite useful at times.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Yes, it’s interesting that there are specific command-click behaviours in addition to the standard “click-through” behaviours available throughout Mac OS X. I am not sure they all make sense from a user’s perspective, but I guess the risk of accidentally command-clicking on something is pretty small, so it’s not really a problem that these things are available for those who might actually use them.

    For example, I can type some text in the “search” box on my Betalogue home page, then switch to another Safari window while making sure that the “Search” button remains visible in the background window, and then command-click on the “Search” button in the background window. This submits the search request to Betalogue without switching to the Safari window containing the web page, and also causes the resulting search results page to actually open in a new tab in the current Safari window (no doubt because of my preferences for command-clicking on web links).

    It’s a bit strange and not particularly useful in the real world, since I can’t imagine too many situations where you would type in a search request in a search box and then switch to another window before submitting it. But it’s there as an option, I guess, and it’s not really something that you risk doing accidentally without meaning to do it!

  3. danridley says:

    I think that’s just a side effect of stacking two behaviors — command-clicking in a background window doesn’t bring it to the foreground; and command-clicking on a form submit button submits it in a new tab rather than the current tab.

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