Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger): Yet more on text selection keyboard shortcuts at the end/beginning of paragraphs

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh, Pages
September 6th, 2005 • 11:34 am

I just wrote a post about further problems with Apple’s new behaviour for text navigation shortcuts in applications such as Pages and TextEdit.

But it gets worse. When the keyboard shortcuts are used with the addition of the Shift key, they can select text. For example, option-shift-Left extends the selection by one word to the left, and option-shift-Right extends the selection by one word to the right.

Now look at what happens here. Say I have a Pages document with this line selected:

Text Selection 1

The line was selected by placing the insertion point at the end of it and pressing option-shift-Left repeatedly.

If I press option-shift-Left once more, the selection is extended by one word to the left and I get this:

Text Selection 2

So far, everything is cool. Mac OS X has extended my selection by one additional word. But look at what happens if I press option-shift-Right now:

Text Selection 3

We have just seen, in the previous post, that when you use the cursor keys with the Option key in applications such as Pages and TextEdit, Mac OS X considers that punctuation marks and paragraph separators do not count as actual “words”… Yet that’s exactly what Mac OS X has done here! It has removed the previous word from the selection, but has left the trailing period and the paragraph mark in the selection, as if these counted as a word separating the last word of the paragraph from the first word of the next one! (This also happens with paragraphs without automatic numbering, by the way. The automatic numbering has nothing to do with the problem.)

This really does not make much sense, I am afraid. While it is true that, if I continue to press option-shift-Right, Mac OS X will further reduce my selection word by word in the second paragraph and the total number of steps will end up being the same (i.e. I will need as many option-shift-Right keystrokes to undo the selection as I needed option-shift-Left keystrokes to do the selection), what happens to word selection with the keyboard in the area between the paragraphs simply doesn’t look right, and is rather non-intuitive.

More important, it makes it look as if the punctuation mark and paragraph separator are actually treated as words when they are not. It is, in other words, very confusing, and I come to the same conclusion as in the previous post, which is that one really has to wonder whether this “new” behaviour introduced by Apple is really worth the confusion it creates.

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