Safari: Travelling menu items

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
February 5th, 2004 • 5:02 am

Whenever you try to open a new web page in a new window in Safari, Safari adds the window to its “Window” menu, as expected. But what it actually adds to this menu is a reference to the window title for this new window.

The problem is that, due to the way that Safari works, this window title changes over time. While the page is loading, it starts with “Loading…” followed by the title of the page between quotation marks. Once it’s loaded, the window title is the actual title of the page. And if the loading process failed to be completed (for whatever reason), the window title is the title of the page between quotation marks followed by “failed to load.

Since window titles in the “Window” menu are automatically sorted by alphabetical order, this means that the position of the menu item for this particular web page is likely to change. In the beginning, it will be under “L” as in “Loading”. If the page loads successfully, it will be under whatever the initial of the page title is. And if the page fails to load completely, it will be at the very bottom of the menu, because the initial is a quotation mark, which appears after alphabetical letters in alphabetical order.

What’s worse is that these changes in the position of the menu item can actually occur as you are pulling the menu down. In the classic Mac OS, once you had pulled down a menu, its contents could not change. In fact, nothing else could change on your screen until you had released the mouse button. Mac OS X thankfully did away with this “mouse button down freezes everything” behaviour, but this means that menu items can change while the menu is pulled down. It’s not so bad when the menu item title changes without changing positions in the menu. But when it can also change its position in the menu, it’s problematic, because the change in position might happen just as you were about to select the menu item in question.

This happens to me regularly, because I am on a modem connection and my pages take a while to load. While they are loading, they are under “L” in the “Window” menu. Once the downloading is complete, they go to their correct position in alphabetical order. And I am often in the process of selecting the window in the “Window” menu just as its loading process has completed, which means that I often end up selecting the wrong window.

It’s no big deal, since it’s not a destructive thing. I just need to go back to the menu and select the correct menu item again. But it’s not particularly pleasant, from an end-user’s point of view, to have a menu item that changes exactly at the same time as you select it.

Maybe Apple should reconsider its approach to naming window titles and always begin the title with the actual title of the page, followed by a status keyword. For example, we could have: “[Page Title] – Loading…” while the page is loading, then “[Page Title]” when the loading process is complete, or “[Page Title] – Failed” when the loading process failed.

This would avoid the unnecessary reshuffling of menu items in the “Window” menu.

3 Responses to “Safari: Travelling menu items”

  1. macrules says:

    Its much easier if you use “tabbed” browsing. Then you dont need to go to the window-menu……

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Well, I do use tabbed browsing, in addition to having several windows open. Tabbed browsing is not a solution. I still need several windows open at once, and the titles of some of these windows causes these “travelling” menu items.

  3. macrules says:

    Hmmm, I just tried command+n (new window) and then went up on the window-menu right away. Correctly it says Loading “url” . But the page does not finish load before I either select the link from the window menu or click somewhere else. And there is a marker on the page that was last loaded. (In the window menu)

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