Finder: Wrong focus after drag-and-drop action

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
June 19th, 2005 • 5:55 am

This is a typical example of what’s wrong with Mac OS X’s Finder.

Let’s say you have a file called “MyFile.txt” on your desktop. Open a new Finder window and browse to your “Documents” folder (or any other folder) in that window.

After that, click anywhere on your desktop’s background picture, in order to make sure that the focus is on the desktop itself, and not on the Finder window.

Now take the “MyFile.txt” file on your desktop and option-drag it to the Finder window showing the contents of your “Documents” folder.

This puts a copy of “MyFile.txt” in the “Documents” folder. Please note that, after this action, the focus is still on the desktop. Just because you have copied a file from the desktop to the Finder window, does not mean that you want the focus to switch to the Finder window, right?

Right. Now repeat the exact same drag-and-drop operation with the option key down, as if you wanted to copy the same “MyFile.txt” file to the “Documents” folder again.

This time, the Finder displays a small alert window telling you that “Documents” already contains a file called “MyFile.txt” and asking you whether you want to replace the existing one with the one you are dragging. Click on “Replace” to confirm that you want to replace the existing file.

What does the Finder do? It does replace the existing file with the one you are dragging, and then promptly switches the focus from the desktop to the Finder window displaying the contents of “Documents“.

Why does it switch the focus? For no reason. There is nothing in the second action that is different from the first one, except for that extra step with the alert asking you if you are sure you want to replace the existing file.

It’s just sloppy. It’s Apple not paying enough attention to the details. It’s very unlike the Apple we want to love. Unfortunately, there is still too much of this sloppiness in Mac OS X, and in Mac OS X’s Finder in particular.

And it’s the kind of small detail that introduce inconsistent behaviour and gives the end user the impression that he/she is not in control, that the computer has a mind of its own. This is the kind of thing something with associate with Microsoft crap, not with Apple.

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