Word 2004: Annoying split bar behaviour still there

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
June 15th, 2004 • 5:16 am

Try the following. You have a fairly long Word document in a single document window. You are currently typing more text at the end of the document. You want to check something you typed higher up in the document, but without losing sight of the place where you are typing now (i.e. the end part of the document).

So you use Word’s split bar tool to divide the window into two panes:

Split bar in Word

Right now, the portion of the document where your cursor currently is is displayed in both panes, but the focus is still on the bottom pane. So you switch the focus to the top pane by clicking somewhere in it or using shift-F6 (the default shortcut for the OtherPane command). You scroll back to the beginning of the document, bring up the Find dialog box, type a keyword you are looking for, and ask Word to find the first occurrence of that keyword in the document.

If the first occurrence is not the one you were looking for, you click on “Find” again or (if you’ve already closed the Find dialog box) you use the RepeatFind command with the cursor in the pane itself. (For more on this RepeatFind command, check out this blog entry.)

Now you’ve finally located the section in your document that you were looking for, and seen what you needed to see. So you take your cursor and click somewhere in the bottom pane again in order to bring the focus back on that bottom pane, which is still displaying the end of your document, where you were typing more text.

And then you double-click on the split bar itself to get rid of it and of the top pane, which you no longer need.

What does Word do? It does indeed remove the split bar and revert to a single pane view, but, instead of staying at the end of the document, where you want to continue typing, it jumps to the section of the document displayed in the top pane!

You’ve specifically indicated where you wanted to be by clicking somewhere in the bottom pane in order to bring the focus back on that pane, yet Word completely ignores that and considers that your last meaningful action was the Find command in the top pane and keeps that one instead.

It is, obviously, a very brain-dead behaviour. And it’s the exact counterpart of the brain-dead behaviour that I’ve already described here. This other behaviour indicates that the problem is not that Word always defaults to the top pane. In fact, in this other behaviour, the exact opposite happens: Word jumps to the location in the bottom pane when you actually indicated that you wanted the location in the top pane.

Basically, it seems that Word has some kind of internal system that keeps track of some actions, but not others. And it’s not just a question of commands that modify text versus commands that don’t modify text. Because the Find command doesn’t modify any text, yet Word still keeps track of it and considers it the last meaningful action in the sequence described above.

What are the commands that this internal system keeps track of and what are the commands that it doesn’t keep track of? Obviously clicking somewhere in a pane is not an action that counts, even though it actually moves the insertion point in the document!

Once again, we have a Microsoft piece of software that seems to obey to internal rules that don’t make any sense and over which the user has no control. Grrr.

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