Mac OS X and Word X: A Windowing Mess

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
April 10th, 2003 • 5:20 pm

Try the following:

  1. open a document in Word X
  2. open the Spell Checker window in Word X using the “Spelling…” command in the “Tools” menu
  3. switch to another program, such as Safari, and open a window in that other program
  4. click on the Word document window in the background to switch back to Word

The result? Mac OS X does switch back to Word and the document window is active — but if the window you opened in the other application happens to cover that document window, that other application’s window stays in front, even though it’s inactive and theoretically “behind” the Word document window.

The only reason this happens is because Word X’s Spell Checker dialog window is open. Tellingly, that “window” does not appear in the list of windows in Word X’s “Window” menu. The only way to bring things back to normal is to SELECT the “Bring All to Front” command in Word’s “Window” menu — even though the Spell Checker window does not appear in the list. Selecting the command does bring it back to the front.

The conclusion is that, in typical fashion, Word X uses “windows” that are not real windows, that don’t appear in the application’s “Window” menu, and that can cause annoying display problems such as the one described here when they are open.

Interestingly, the same problem does not occur with Word’s Find/Replace window, which is another Word window that doesn’t appear in the list of windows in Word’s “Window” menu. So even within that paradigm of windows that are not real windows, Microsoft has managed to create inconsistency.

[This item was submitted to Microsoft through the Mac Product Feedback page.]

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