Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard): Should the Path Bar in a background window respond to mouse-over?

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
December 11th, 2007 • 3:17 pm

Consider the following situation:

Path Bar in background

I am in Mail (the bottom of the foreground window in the top half of the picture above), with my desktop visible in the background below the foreground window and above the Dock, which is, of course, at the bottom of the screen.

In the background, there is a Finder window with its Path Bar visible.

My question is simple: In such a situation, with the focus currently on an application other than the Finder, should the simple fact of hovering over the Path Bar of the background Finder window with the mouse cause the Path Bar to respond like it does when the Finder window is in the foreground?

In other words, should Mac OS X animate the Path Bar in order to reveal the full name of the folder that my mouse pointer is currently hovering over?

The answer would seem to be “no,” since the Path Bar is not relevant to the current foreground application and there is no “click-through” behaviour where a click (or rather a double-click in this particular case) on a folder in a Path Bar in the background would cause Mac OS X to both switch that window to the foreground and process the mouse action as if the window were already in the foreground.

And most of the time, Mac OS X 10.5 seems to agree with me and does nothing when I hover over a folder in the Path Bar of a background Finder window.

Yet in this particular case, if I hover over the Dock first and then over the Path Bar in the background Finder window, for some reason sometimes Mac OS X does animate the Path Bar and reveal the full name of the folder that I am hovering over. It does not do it all the time, but it does it quite often when I try to repeat the action deliberately (hover over the Dock first, and then over the Path Bar).

This seems wrong to me, not least because Mac OS X only does it some of the time. If it did it all the time, one would be left to assume that this was a deliberate choice on the part of Apple’s engineers. But since it only does it some of the time, one is left to assume… that Leopard is very much an unfinished product, and there will still be a number of incremental 10.5.x updates required before we get an operating system that really operates reliably and consistently.

2 Responses to “Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard): Should the Path Bar in a background window respond to mouse-over?”

  1. Derek says:

    That’s strange, considering Finder windows in the background don’t respond when they should. When the Command key is held, background windows respond to clicks without coming to the front… but not in Finder or iTunes.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    The Finder and iTunes do respond to the basic command-clicking to move/resize windows. But for other things, there does seem to be a certain level of inconsistency.

    For what it’s worth, though, if I command-click on a link in a background Safari window from another Safari window, Safari fails to keep the window in the background. It brings it to the fore. So the inconsistency is not limited to the Finder and iTunes.

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