Mac OS X’s Finder: Fails to register quick keystrokes when renaming file

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
August 11th, 2005 • 3:53 pm

Mac OS X’s Finder has this somewhat annoying alert that pops up every time you rename a file and change the suffix of that file. (As far as I know, there’s no way to turn this alert off.) The alert reads:

Are you sure you want to change the extension from “.xxx” to “.yyy”?

If you make this change, your document may open in a different application.

The dialog box has two buttons, “Keep .xxx” and “Use .yyy.” (As a side note, this means that the question in the alert is poorly phrased, since technically, neither button actually answers it. Neither button says, “Yes, I am quite sure.” But I suppose that’s nit-picking…)

The important thing here is that, in that alert box, the default button is the “Keep .xxx” one. This means that most users will have to grab their mouse to click on the “Use .yyy” one, if that’s what they want. As far as I can tell, there’s no keyboard shortcut for the “Use .yyy” button. (Neither command-U nor U works.) It’s rather annoying, because when you rename a file, your hands are on the keyboard, typing the new name.

Now, if you are using Full Keyboard Access, you can actually use the keyboard to select the “Use .yyy” button. All you have to do is press the Tab key once, which moves the focus from the default button to the “Use .yyy” button, and then press the Space key to select the button.

In other words, with Full Keyboard Access on, you don’t actually have to lift your hands off the keyboard when you are in the process of renaming a file and that renaming process includes changing the file extension.

This means that, if you are a fast typist, you can do everything with the keyboard pretty quickly: type the new name with the new extension, press Return, press Tab to switch the focus to the “Use .yyy” button, and press Space to select the button and effect the change of extension.

The problem is that Mac OS X punishes you for being a fast typist. If you do this sequence of keystrokes too fast, Mac OS X actually ignores the Tab keystroke. But it doesn’t ignore the Space keystroke that follows! This means that, instead of registering the selection of the “Use .yyy” button, it actually thinks that you have selected the “Keep .xxx” button, and therefore renames the file without changing the file extension!

Rather irritating, I must say. If Mac OS X is too slow to keep up with my typing, I would expect it to ignore the final Space keystroke as well. But no, it only selectively ignores the Tab keystroke. How convenient!

One Response to “Mac OS X’s Finder: Fails to register quick keystrokes when renaming file”

  1. ssp says:

    My most hated dialogue box… can this be turned off?

    Even more so because it comes up when renaming a file from ‘a.jpg’ to ‘meaningfulfilename.jpeg’. The stupid Finder doesn’t see that both of these endings of the file name will be associated to the same UTI anyway… grrr

    Perhaps I should file a bug report on that. But on the other hand the Finder is so hopeless that it might be a waste of time.

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