Word 2004: Change in default behaviour for cmd-arrow keyboard shortcuts

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
June 3rd, 2004 • 4:37 am

In Word 2004, Microsoft has introduced a change in the behaviour for the cmd-Left and cmd-Right keyboard shortcuts, which brings the software in line with other Mac OS X software.

In other Mac OS X applications, such as Mail or Bare Bones Software’s BBEdit, cmd-Left makes the cursor jump to the beginning of the current line, and cmd-Right makes it jump to the end of the current line. In order to jump to the previous word or the next word, you use the Option key, i.e. opt-Left and opt-Right.

The opt-Left and opt-Right shortcuts already worked as expected in Word X (i.e. jumped from word to word). But the cmd-Left and cmd-Right shortcuts didn’t. Instead of jumping to the beginning or the end of the line, they would do the same as the opt-Left and opt-Right shortcuts, i.e. jump from word to word.

In Word 2004, cmd-Left now jumps to the beginning of the current line, and cmd-Right to the end. Finally :).

Unfortunately, Microsoft didn’t bring the same consistency to the cmd-Up and cmd-Down shortcuts. In BBEdit and Mail, cmd-Up jumps to the beginning of the document, and cmd-Down jumps to the end. In Word 2004 — as in Word X — cmd-Up jumps to the previous paragraph, and cmd-Down to the next paragraph.

To Microsoft’s defence, things are not as clearly established for the Up and Down arrow keys as they are for the Left and Right keys. In Mail, for example, opt-Up jumps to the previous paragraph and opt-Down to the next. In BBEdit, however, opt-Up jumps to the first line in the visible part of the document (i.e. the first line in the window or “screen”) and opt-Down to the last line.

I am not sure why BBEdit does this. I find it rather annoying, as I often want to use the Up and Down arrow keys in combination with the Command and Shift modifier to select a paragraph. As far as I can tell, there is no way to select a paragraph using the keyboard in BBEdit.

One day, maybe, we will finally have consistency across all Mac OS X applications… Until then, at least Word 2004’s improvements are a step in the right direction.

I cannot help but note, however, than, unfortunately, the Word 2004 improvements do next extend to the macro editor window, where option-Left and option-Right don’t work at all and you are obliged to use cmd-Left and cmd-Right instead (which work the way that they used to do in Word X, as described above).

One step at a time, I guess. :-/

4 Responses to “Word 2004: Change in default behaviour for cmd-arrow keyboard shortcuts”

  1. ssp says:

    Sorry, if I’m making fun of you but you should really make your own ‘MSOffice’ category, so it’s easier to ridicule said product. If I need to know about a bug in it your site is a great resource. (And I don’t even need to get my hands dirty and track down a copy of the programs!)

    500+ pages on your site containing the words ‘Word’ and ‘bug’ according to Google. Only a few million to go.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    :-) No offence!

    My idea would rather to create a sub-category for Word within my “Macintosh” category, because that’s where it belongs. (Although I am sure most of the bugs I am reporting on occur in the Windows versions of the product as well, I am not interested in verifying it for each and every bug.)

    The trouble is that my current blogging software (pMachine) doesn’t support sub-categories. If I ever move to blogging software that does, then I’ll definitely make the change. (It doesn’t look like pMachine will ever be updated to include such a feature, unfortunately.)

    Right now, though, it’s fairly easy to find Word-specific blog entries by searching for “Word 2004:” or “Word X:” in the title field using the search form.

  3. John Gruber says:

    BBEdit has a Select Paragraph command (in the Edit menu). The default shortcut is Cmd-Opt-L, I think. It’s a variant of the Select Line command, Cmd-L.

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    Thanks for the tip. I wasn’t aware of this command.

    Still, it doesn’t really address my problem. It’s only a command for selecting the current paragraph. You cannot extend the selection to more paragraphs below or above it, one by one.

    I frequently have to select a range of paragraphs that is a subsection of the entire document. As it stands, there is no way to do this with the keyboard in BBEdit. You need to use the mouse.

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