Word X: Another problem with discontinuous selection

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
August 21st, 2003 • 10:26 pm

Following the observations I recently made about Word X failing to apply macro-operated formatting commands to a discontinuous selection properly, I’ve discovered another, even more obvious problem.

As I have already had the opportunity to explain here before, Word’s drag-and-drop capabilities suffer from a very simple and obvious bug which often causes the drag-and-drop operation to fail altogether the first time you try it. Instead of doing what you asked it to do (i.e. either move or copy a block of text from one location to another), Word simply “snaps” the selection back to its original location. The bug is immensely frustrating, it’s been in Word since version 1998, and there are no signs that Microsoft is even willing to acknowledge its existence. That such an obvious bug can survive for so long is a clear illustration of how out of touch Microsoft is with the needs of its products’ users.

If you make a discontinuous selection in Word using by selecting a first block of continuous text and then holding the command key down while selecting other blocks of text elsewhere, and if you then try to option-drag-and-drop the resulting selection in ORDER to copy it to another location, if the drag-and-drop fails (and it will fail at least half of the time), then Word “snaps” back to the original location and… the selection changes to only the last block of text selected!

In other words, if you had painstakingly selected several distant blocks of text with cmd-select, you have to start all over again. Grrr!

if you do a simple drag-and-drop operation (without the option key) in ORDER to move the text instead of copying it, then of course, as reported before, Word will deselect everything anyway, regardless of whether the selection is continuous or not. So you have to start all over as well. Double grrr!

Finally, it is still worth noting that the fact that the modifier key used for discontinuous selection in Word is not customizable is a major annoyance, in so far as the command key is already used in combination with mouse clicks to SELECT entire lines or paragraphs when clicking on the left margin of a document.

In other words, if your discontinuous selection consists of a series of entire lines or entire paragraphs of text, then you simply cannot use cmd-clicking in the margin to SELECT additional blocks beyond the first one. You have to command-click in the left margin to SELECT the first block, and then drag your cursor manually from the beginning to the end of each and every additional block of text that you want to add to the discontinuous selection.

Totally brain-dead, and typically Microsoft.

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