Word 2004: Doesn’t refresh the scroll bar when ‘Find’ dialog causes document to scroll

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
August 23rd, 2004 • 12:30 am

In most applications with a “Find” dialog box, you can keep the dialog open in the foreground and click repeatedly on the “Find” button to jump from one found occurrence to the next in the document in which the search is taking place, and the application will then refresh the contents of the document window in the background in order to make the newly found occurrence visible along with its context.

This is how it works in InDesign, in TextEdit, in Mail, etc.

In Word 2004, the “Find” dialog also works in the same way. You open the dialog box, type in the text you want to find, and click on the “Find” button. Word finds the next occurrence in the document and causes the document window behind the “Find” dialog box to refresh so that the found occurrence is visible along with its context.

The only trouble is that, unlike other applications, Word fails to do one small, yet important thing: it doesn’t refresh the status of the vertical scroll bar to reflect the relative location of the found occurrence within the document. In other words, say you are located at the beginning of your document and invoke the “Find” dialog box. You type in your search string and hit “Find” repeatedly. Word finds several occurrences of the search string in your document and shows them to you, one by one. Watch the slider in the document window’s scroll bar, though. Even if the found occurrence that you are currently viewing is located somewhere near the end of your document, the scroll bar slider is still in the same place it was when you first invoked the “Find” dialog.

The only way to force Word to refresh the status of the slider in the scroll bar is to exit the “Find” dialog box and bring the focus back on the document window. Of course, you can also avoid the problem altogether by invoking the “Find” dialog box, typing in your search request, click on “Find” once to jump to the first occurrence, and then close the “Find” dialog and browse through the next occurrences using the “Find Next” keyboard shortcut. (You can also add a “Find Previous” keyboard shorcut to your Word interface with this tip.)

This non-refreshing slider might seem like a small detail, but it’s an important one because, in very long documents, if you keep the “Find” dialog open and use its “Find” button to jump from occurrence to occurrence, you can completely lose track of where you are in the document.

This problem is, of course, related to the fact that, when you invoke the “Find” dialog box in Word, your current document window becomes a background window and Microsoft does not use the (new in Panther) key window / main window interface that is used in the other applications mentioned above — which also means that, if you have several document windows open in Word, once you invoke the “Find” dialog, all document windows look the same and there is no way to tell to which document window the “Find” command will apply to.

Given that an application such as Adobe’s InDesign CS, which was released many months before Microsoft Office 2004, does make use of this key window / main window interface for its own “Find” dialog box, it is clear that this is yet another illustration of Microsoft doing its own thing and not putting much effort into adopting Mac-specific interface guidelines.

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