Mac OS X’s Mail: Cannot Forward Delete in front of quoted text

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Mail
March 5th, 2007 • 9:59 am

When it comes to basic text editing features, Tiger’s Mail developers really have a lot of explaining to do. Behind the scenes, Tiger’s version of the e-mail client, Mail 2.0, introduced a “brand new” architecture for composing e-mail messages, and with it came a whole slew of new bugs that didn’t exist in Mail 1.x. Two years later, we’re still living with some of these bugs.

I have already had the opportunity to describe one pretty basic flaw introduced in Mail 2.0. Here is another one.

Take the following situation:

Cursor before quoted text in Mail

There is nothing unusual about this situation—quite the contrary. This is an e-mail message that I am composing that contains several levels of quoted text, and here my insertion point (the I-beam cursor) is before a section of quoted text that begins with a empty line at Quote Level 1, and then a paragraph of text at Quote Level 2.

For some reason, when editing e-mail messages that contain quoted text in Mail, this kind of situation happens all the time.

Being the naturally finicky person that I am, I don’t like this empty line at Quote Level 1. It serves absolutely no purpose. It just takes up room. And so does the empty line where my insertion point currently is. So I want to delete these two empty lines.

Based on the current location of my insertion point, the most logical thing to do is to press the Forward Delete key.

The only problem is that… it doesn’t work. No matter how hard I press my Forward Delete key, in the situation described with the screen shot above, nothing happens. Mail refuses to delete the empty line and move the rest of the text that follows up one line.

Why is that? I have absolutely no idea. Obviously there is a bug somewhere in Mail’s composing engine, and Apple’s developers cannot be bothered to fix it. Yet it’s a pretty basic one, isn’t it?

In this particular case, the solution is to first move the insertion point down one line, to the beginning of the empty line at Quote Level 1, and then press Forward Delete there. This erases the empty line at Quote Level 1, as expected, and moves up the rest of the text that follows:

Quote Level 1 line deleted

Now all that’s left to do is to press the regular Delete key once to delete the empty line above the quoted text:

Empty line deleted

There. What’s so hard about that? Nothing… It’s just that it forces me to do things in an order that’s different from what was the most logical approach with the original position of the insertion point. Why shouldn’t I be able to use the Forward Delete key when my insertion point is in the empty line above the quoted text?

It’s the kind of problem that is impossible to get used to. No matter how many times I have encountered this situation (and there have been many), I still fail to remember to do things the way Apple wants me to do them, instead of the way that I would spontaneously want to do them.

Why is that? Well, simply because in all other text editors that I use, the Forward Delete key works just fine, all the time.

This is the kind of bug that can be, at the most, tolerated in a .0 product. But Mail 2.0 was released nearly two years ago, and has gone through several revisions. (It’s now at 2.1.1.) What boggles the mind is that, obviously, in this particular situation, not a single Mail developer at Apple ever uses the Forward Delete key. Otherwise, surely they would have noticed the problem, and surely they would have fixed it by now.


One Response to “Mac OS X’s Mail: Cannot Forward Delete in front of quoted text”

  1. ssp says:

    Uh yes. This one has been around for such a long time that working around it is ingrained in my editing behaviours already :(

    Really annoying.

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