Mystery behaviors in Mac OS X

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
August 21st, 2003 • 10:09 pm

There are a couple of mysterious behaviors in Mac OS X that I have been unable to pinpoint and EXPLAIN yet, probably due to a lack of time for comprehensive testing procedures. Yet these behaviors keep occurring again and again, and I can’t help but wonder whether they are due to “mistakes” that I make or improper settings that I could change.

One of them is what I would call the “single click, double impact” effect. Quite frequently, when I am browsing the contents of a window and I want to scroll up or down the window, if I click once in the empty space in the scroll bar, Mac OS X actually registers my single click as two consecutive clicks. Since double-clicking does not mean anything in this particular area of the user interface, the two clicks are actually interpreted as two occurrences of the single click, and Mac OS X scrolls up or down two screens instead of one. Sometimes, it also happens with the return key on my keyboard. I am sure I only pressed the key once, but Mac OS X has obviously registered two keystrokes and inserted two paragraph breaks instead of one. The keyboard version of this problem actually only started after I upgraded from a MacAlly USB keyboard to Apple’s Pro Keyboard, so I would tend to suspect that it is a problem that is at least partly related to the hardware. (I also vaguely remember reading about such a problem with false double keystrokes with the Apple Pro Keyboard a long time ago.)

The other recurring problem that I have in Mac OS X is that I SELECT some text in one application and hit cmd-C to copy it to the Clipboard, then go to another application, do whatever I want to do, and then press cmd-V to paste the contents of the Clipboard, and Mac OS X inserts… a single space character. It’s as if Mac OS X had “forgotten” the contents of the Clipboard, and I have to go back to the source and copy the selection again, and then paste it in its destination (which works). The strangest part is that it replaces the contents of the Clipboard with a single space character. You’d expect the Clipboard to actually be empty, or to still contain the last thing I copied before I copied the one that was “forgotten”.

In both cases, I am unable to identify the exact sequence of events or user actions that causes the behavior to occur. The problem with the Clipboard is definitely not related to any hardware device. It’s not related to a specific application. It can happen when I go from Safari to BBEdit or from Mail to Word or vice versa. And it’s not a matter of Mac OS X not registering my cmd-C shortcut. Otherwise, the Clipboard would simply contain whatever was in it before I hit cmd-C. The fact that it contains a single space character instead seems to indicate a bug.


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