Word 2004: Command-W closes all windows containing the current document

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
September 3rd, 2004 • 12:23 am

This is another behaviour in Word that doesn’t quite make sense. In Word, you can open several windows displaying the same document at the same time. It’s convenient, because it lets you easily view two different sections of the same document in two separate windows at the same time. Quite handy when you are working on long documents and need to refer to a previous section, etc.

The trouble is that, if you have more than one document window open in Word, when you press command-W to close one of the windows, all the windows displaying the contents of the document close at the same time!

I don’t think that’s right. Command-W and clicking on the red button in the top-left corner are strictly equivalent in the Mac OS X interface. Which means that command-W should only close the currently active window. That’s it.

The end result is that, when I work on a document with multiple windows open, if my document is in a saved state (and it is most of the time, because I am a compulsive command-S user), I use command-W to close one of the windows and Word closes all windows, forcing me to reopen the document and recreate my window arrangement. Grr.

14 Responses to “Word 2004: Command-W closes all windows containing the current document”

  1. Michel Ricart says:

    More precisely, it will work as expected (only close the frontmost window) if the document is not saved. Excel has the same behaviour.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Grief. That’s even worse :-/.

  3. George Fowler says:

    In my opinionn, this isn’t any kind of a bug. One could certain argue, however, that it is poor design. When you open an additional window into the document, it isn’t a window in the normal Mac OS sense, it’s something like a frame. It doesn’t have a separate set of traffic light buttons, for example; there is just one for the entire window. So, actually, Command-W is doing what you say it should do: closing the window that it pertains to, which the entire document. This also applies to things like View Footnotes (looks just like a second portal into the document), or View Header and Footer (this has a unique Close button from MS, suggesting that it is a different type of window altogether; portal is not a bad term for this, I think).

    BTW, if it seems that I only post to quibble with you, that’s more or less true! If I agree, I don’t post to say “that’s right.” But I deeply appreciate the concern you have about the details, and I certainly hope some MS people are paying attention to your blog. Often you mention something that may have happened to me (such as the business about CRs before tables), but I didn’t stop to think about it, I just figured out to do what I wanted to do another way. You stop and write up a critique, and I’m pleased to read it because it quantifies what I feel in many cases.

  4. George Fowler says:

    P.S. I bet this is behavior inherited from Windows, where it would be pretty normal. In Windows the window is a more important unit, and to get more than one “window” visible at once, as we routinely do on the Mac, you have to use something other than a window in the technical sense. That’s why there is so much damn gray padding in Windows windows! Anyway, they could have rethought this for the Mac, but I’m not sure they are wrong. There are similar things in other apps. For example, in Dreamweaver MX, which I use regularly, you can view both “design” (a WYSISYG view of the web page) and “code” (html code). They appear in separate portals that look a lot like Word’s multiple views of the document. But there is only one traffic light array, and Command-W doesn’t close the last one opened, or the one where the cursor is currently located, but the whole document.

  5. Pierre Igot says:

    It’s quite possible that this particular behaviour is inherited from Windows. The problem is that (1) it’s not a natural behaviour in the Mac environment at all; (2) it’s new in Word 2004; in Word X and previous versions, in such a situation, Word would only close the current window. Does this change make Word 2004 more consistent with the rest of the Mac OS X interface? I don’t think so.

    I also don’t agree that, when viewing the same document in multiple windows, these windows are not “windows in the normal Mac OS sense”. Take the Mac OS X Finder, for example. You can open two separate windows that look into the same folder. These two windows are real windows, and each behaves like a normal Mac window.

    The fact of the matter is, for all UI intents and purposes, these are real windows, and they should behave like individual windows. They all have their own “traffic light” buttons, and command-W is the equivalent of clicking on the red button in the current window, period. Windows that look exactly like windows but are not really windows? I don’t think so :).

    PS: Not to worry about “quibbles”. I am a perfectionist, so I enjoy constructive feedback, even on minor points. Instead of editing the original post to clarify any points, I’d rather have a constructive discussion in the comments, and leave the discussion as it is, so that other people can see the various points of view and make up their own minds. It’s part of the fun of having a blog!

  6. George Fowler says:

    In what sense do they have theor own “traffic light” buttons? I open a doc in Word 2004, I divide the screen into two view using the widget (or whatever it’s called) at the upper right-hand corner of the main window, and I have an upper pane and a lower pane. Each has its own ruler, for example, but only the super-window containing both panes has a set of colored buttons.

  7. Pierre Igot says:

    I am not referring to the situation where you split a given document window into 2 panes. I am referring to the situation where you use the “New Window” command in the Window menu to create a new window containing the same document as the current window. When you do that, you get two separate full-blow Mac OS X windows displaying the same document, with the same window title and “:1” and “:2” appended to it. (You can also have three windows for the same document, or even more.)

    These are two very different things :).

  8. George Fowler says:

    Ah, now I understand. You’re right, those are two different things and Word is misbehaving. I doubt even WinWord has this problem!

  9. Michel Ricart says:


    Just for your information, I think “it?s new in Word 2004; in Word X and previous versions, in such a situation, Word would only close the current window” is not right. I have WordX and I can see the same behaviour.

    And I really think it’s an incorrect behaviour: imagine your work on a document, then open a new window just for checking the Table Of Content, then hit Cmd-W. Then, depending whether you saved or not the document before opening the second window, you get different behaviour (close both or only the second window).

  10. Pierre Igot says:

    Michel: I am testing it on Word X right now and command-W does not close all the windows, only the current one.

  11. Michel Ricart says:

    OK, Pierre, I trust you ;-) but I really *do* have this bad behaviour here in WordX (Service Release 1), and also in Excel, as I mentionned earlier. Anyway, it would just be another weird thing with Word to have different behaviour on different systems ;-)

  12. Pierre Igot says:

    That’s rather strange, because it definitely does not occur for me in Word X (I’ve kept it on my machine for testing purposes, precisely)… Are you using Jaguar or Panther?

  13. Michel Ricart says:

    Panther (10.3.5), up-to-date, on a bi-G5.
    I can also tell you that this behaviour is not new to me; it has been there for a long time, so I always think twice before closing a window for a document having several.

    BTW, I can give new a new reason to rant against Microsoft ;-) In Excel, option-click on a cell performs a cell insertion. Now, if you’re working in another application, and you option-click in a Excel window, in order to switch to Excel and automatically hide the first application, then Excel will not just become active, but it will perform the cell insertion as well. This is again a bad click-through handling (as per <https://www.betalogue.com/index.php?p=1215&gt;.

  14. Pierre Igot says:

    Strange that the Word X behaviour would be different on your machine.

    Re: the Excel click-through — Eeek :-/. You’re right. Didn’t notice it because I never really use option-Click to switch-and-hide — but it’s a bad one indeed. I am sure it’s driving you nuts.

    There are so many of these “little” flaws in Office applications, it’s depressing.

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