Mac OS X’s Finder: A selection is not what it appears to be

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
December 9th, 2005 • 10:04 am

Take the following situation: You have a folder that contains two picture files, like this:

Folder with 2 files

The folder is open in a Finder window, but neither of the files is selected, as illustrated in the picture above.

Now switch to the Preview application, bring up the “Open File” dialog box with command-O, browse to the folder above in the dialog box, select the second file in the folder and open it in Preview.

Once the picture file is open in Preview, you can command-click on its title bar to bring up a contextual menu with the path to the file:

Command-click in title bar

And if you select the enclosing folder (“Pix” in the screen shot above) in that contextual menu, then Mac OS X will switch to the Finder and open the corresponding folder in a new window (or in your existing window if it’s still open) and automatically select the picture file that you are currently viewing in Preview, like so:

Folder with 2 files - File 2 selected

No problems so far. The problems start now. This looks like a Finder window with a file selected and in focus right now, doesn’t it?

Well, in such a Finder window, I should be able to shift-click on the other file in the file list to add it to the current selection, shouldn’t I?

Yet if I do shift-click on the first file while the second file is still selected, here’s what happens:

Folder with 2 files - After shift-clicking on file 1

Mac OS X deselects the file that was already selected!

In other words, in such a scenario, Mac OS X completely ignores the existing selection when I use shift-click to select another file. It’s as if the existing selection didn’t exist. If I want to select both files, I have to click on the first one first (which deselects the selected file) and then shift-click on the second one to reselect it. What a pain!

It is no doubt due to the fact that this existing selection was created by my command-clicking in the title bar of the document in Preview, and not by actually clicking on the file in the Finder window. But it is still completely wrong. A selection is a selection, and if it looks like a selection, it should behave like a selection.

Yet another one to add to the (very) long list of bugs and flaws in Mac OS X’s Finder…

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