Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger): More on text navigation keyboard shortcuts at the end/beginning of paragraphs

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh, Pages
September 6th, 2005 • 11:14 am

A while ago, I wrote about the problem with the inconsistent behaviour of the option-Right and option-Left keyboard shortcuts for text navigation when the insertion point is located near the end or beginning of a paragraph.

As indicated in the initial post, Apple seems to have decided to try and enforce a new behaviour where option-Right and option-Left makes the insertion point jump from word to word even across paragraphs, without counting the separation between the paragraphs as a “word.”

This is an interesting approach in theory, but in practice it creates all kinds of rather non-intuitive behaviours. Take the following situation in Pages:

Cursor at end of paragraph

In Pages, if your insertion point is in the location indicated in this screen shot, and you press option-Right just once, here’s where your insertion point ends up:

Cursor at beginning of next paragraph

Rather surprising, isn’t it? Of course, the “2.” in the screen shot is not an actual word, because an automatic list number that wasn’t typed by me and I cannot edit it directly. So I do expect Pages to skip it when moving the insertion point.

What I do not expect is for Pages to skip the opening parenthesis at the end of the first paragraph as well! Clearly, here, I am in the process of editing a document, and I’ve already typed the opening parenthesis, but, for some reason, I had to move the insertion point elsewhere to edit something else before coming back to this location to complete the line of text after the opening parenthesis.

But Pages behaves as if the parenthesis did not exist! Because it’s a punctuation sign, Pages ignores it and it doesn’t count as a word. Again, as I said, in theory, this makes sense (a punctuation sign is not a word), but in practice, in this particular situation, it produces an unexpected and unwanted behaviour, which is that I cannot use option-Right and option-Left to move my insertion point to the intended location!

Instead, I am forced to use the Left and Right by themselves in order to move the insertion point from character to character. It’s annoying, because I expect to be able to use option-Right and option-Left to allow me to get anywhere in my document’s paragraphs, including to the very end of a still incomplete paragraph.

Needless to say, this strange behaviour doesn’t affect word processors and text editors such as Microsoft Word and BBEdit, which have their own schemes for handling option-Right and option-Left.

I really wish that Apple had been more careful here and thought about the disruption that this new behaviour would introduce for users accustomed to the “traditional” behaviour of option-Right and option-Left in applications such as Microsoft Word and BBEdit.

One Response to “Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger): More on text navigation keyboard shortcuts at the end/beginning of paragraphs”

  1. chtito says:

    Ha!! How I agree with you! This behaviour has been bothering me for ages. Notice that it is specific to cocoa applications. The Finder and iTunes have the “right” behaviour.

    If i had to put this bug in one word, i would say that it is an “asymmetric” behaviour. That is a user expects in general that using [modifiers]+left and then [same modifiers]+right will bring you to the original place. That is what happens in Finder and iTunes but not in Cocoa apps. How frustrating!

    These criticisms of Mac OS X are really nice. I hope that apple engineers will check out these pages, one of these days…

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