Mac OS X’s Finder: File name change not saved if immediately followed by command-W

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
September 10th, 2004 • 12:45 am

Say you have a Finder window in “View as Columns” view mode. You select a file in the right-most column and make its name editable. You type a new name or make a change to the existing file name. Then, without pressing the Enter or Return key, you hit command-W to close the Finder window in question (or click on the red button to close the window).

What does the Finder do? It closes the window without saving the new file name. In other words, your file’s name has not changed and is still what it was before you edited it.

I am afraid it’s a bug — and a pretty bad one at that. Such file name changes should be saved regardless of what the user does next (unless he hits command-Z to cancel the change, that is).

The problem doesn’t occur when the Finder window is in “View as List“. But it also occurs when the window is in “View as Icons” mode.

It’s bad.

6 Responses to “Mac OS X’s Finder: File name change not saved if immediately followed by command-W

  1. George Fowler says:

    My immediate reaction to Pierre’s posting was that he is wrong, and this isn’t a bug. After all, if it takes a return/enter to register the name change, why should it ever be registered without it. But then I went looking for a parallel operation, and this forced me to change my mind. Finder windows are like documents (Command-N opens a new one, like a new document in Word. But closing a Word document (or any application document) without saving it isn’t parallel, because you are given a chance to save your changes before the close command is executed. This doesn’t happen in the Finder. One could argue that the true bug is the incomplete analogy between Finder windows and application documents.

    What I found that changed my mind is iTunes. Suppose you edit a song name in a playlist. Normally you hit return to register this change. Suppose you close the playlist without changing it? Then the track name change gets registered, and there is no Save dialog, the playlist just closes. This strikes me as pretty parallel to the Finder situation. Therefore, if the iTunes behavior is the standard, then the Finder is misbehaving.

    Worth < $0.02.

  2. ssp says:

    This is really funny in a good and a bad way as

    (a) I haven’t noticed this particular bug yet and
    (b) it’s really one of the oldest bugs in the book. Everybody makes this mistake in the first GUI app they program.

  3. Pierre Igot says:

    Indeed. That’s awful. And I am 99% sure that Apple has already received hundreds of reports on this. What they are waiting for to fix these bugs, I don’t know.

  4. brian w says:

    Possibly related (or at least just as annoyingly buggy): changing a filename in Icon view, then hitting Escape (without hitting Enter to “set” the name) will revert the name as one might expect. But in List view, hitting Escape has the same effect as hitting Enter: the new filename is set. Sigh.

    The Finder has been a real bummer for a long time now.

  5. Pierre Igot says:

    George: The one clear indication that it’s a bug is that, when the Finder window is in “View as List” view mode, the change is saved. Clearly if it were a “feature”, it would be the same in all view modes. In any case, there are a number of applications where changes do not require a “Save” command to be saved, including Address Book, iTunes, etc. Usually database-driven applications behave like that, because saving each and every small change would be very tedious.

    Now, the Finder is strictly speaking a database-driven application, although some would probably argue that it should be one. But in essence the reason is the same: having to “save” every small change, if only by pressing the Return or Enter key, would be tedious. The fact that many people feel the need to “validate” their change by pressing the Return or Enter key doesn’t mean that it should be a requirement. People should be allowed to change their mind and revert to the status prior to the latest change, and they can do that with the Escape key or command-Z in the Finder. But that’s the only situation where a change should be undone. Closing the window definitely should not undo the file name change.

  6. George Fowler says:

    Have you tried using Pathfinder instead of the Finder? Some people really swear by it, and it reportedly has far fewer “spinning pizzas of death”. One day, of course, Apple will pinch all its enhancements and build them into the Finder, but for now it is reportedly ahead of the curve. I have tried it, but not recently, and I found I didn’t mind the Finder enough to replace it.

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