Safari: Flaw in AutoFill feature

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
August 10th, 2005 • 4:51 pm

It’s one of those small, yet significant details that have been annoying me for years… (Yes, years… Since the very first version of Safari, in fact.)

I frequently type in search requests in a form on a web-based terminology web site that I subscribe to for my translation work.

Since it’s always the same field that I type my requests in, Safari’s AutoFill feature automatically memorizes the requests that I type in, and when I start typing a new request, it automatically displays a list of suggestions for possible matches for my request.

I like this feature that I definitely do not want to turn it off. (I could turn it off by unchecking the “Other forms” option in the “AutoFill” pane in Safari’s preferences, but I don’t want to, in part because I like the feature and in part because this is an application-wide setting that applies to all web sites.)

But it has a significant flaw. Say I type a first word that matches a number of past requests that I have made using the same form. As soon as I type that first word, Safari displays a list of suggestions as a pop-up menu. If I wanted to, I could scroll up and down the list the Up/Down cursor keys to select the appropriate suggestion, and then press Return to enter the one I want and submit the search request.

No suggestion matches what I want, however, so, instead of selecting one of them, I type a space followed by a second word. It narrows down the list of possible matches considerably. In fact, most of the time there aren’t any matches.

If there aren’t any matches, then Safari removes its list of suggestions, and I just have to press Return once after typing the second word to submit the search request and get the web site to look for results.

But this only works if I type at “normal” speed. If, after I type the first word and the list of suggestions pops up, I type the second word very fast and press Return immediately after typing the second word, then it looks like Safari doesn’t have time to hide its list of suggestions before I hit Return.

Because of this, it apparently fails to register my Return keystroke. All it does is hide the list of suggestions after a fraction of a second, but the form is not submitted and I have to press Return a second time to get Safari to submit the form.

It is a significant irritant because I use this search form all the time and, well, I type fast most of the time. As I said, I don’t want to disable the feature, because it is indeed useful. But it would really help if it could work as fast as I type. Surely there could be some kind of “buffer” in Safari’s interface that registers my Return key stroke even during the fraction of a second that it takes Safari to hide the pop-up list because it no longer has any matches for my request.

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