Mac OS X’s Preview: Can’t double-click on word to select it

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
March 8th, 2004 • 6:10 am

This is another example of inconsistency in Mac OS X. Over the years, I have developed the habit of using a double-click on a word to select it. This works in pretty much an context where there is text: word processor documents, database entry fields, dialog boxes with input fields, etc.

But there is one place where it doesn’t work at all, and it’s an importance place: when previewing PDF files with the Preview application. If you use the “Text Selection” tool in Preview and try to double-click on a word to select it, nothing happens.

It’s quite frustrating, since I regularly have to cut and paste text from PDF files to other documents. And it’s not because the PDF file in question is locked, because I can click-and-drag to select text in the same PDF without any difficulty.

More generally, the text selection tools in Mac OS X’s Preview and Adobe Reader for Mac OS X are pretty poor. They can easily get confused by multi-column layouts and select text across columns instead of limiting the selection to a given column. And they often include extra spaces between characters in words that come in big letters in headings.

For selecting text in a PDF file, I find myself using Acrobat 6 Professional more and more. It’s far from perfect (for example, you can double-click on a word to select it, but then if you hold the mouse button down and try to expand the selection to the following words, it does work!), but on the whole it works better than Preview or Adobe Reader with multi-column designs.

I suppose that Adobe has little incentive to improve the free Reader when they are trying to sell more copies of Acrobat 6 Pro. But Apple could try and improve Preview a bit further so that people can still have access to a free tool that lets them use PDF files easily.

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