Mail 3.0: Can’t use shift key to select more than one attachment icon

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Mail
February 6th, 2008 • 3:03 pm

When an e-mail received in Mail contains more than one attachment, the attachments enclosed in the message are listed in two different locations: in the attachments section in the message header, and then again in the body of the message, typically at the bottom of the message.

Each attachment that is not a picture file or a single-page PDF has a file icon with a (usual truncated) text label. When the message contains more than one attachment, the attachment icons appear side by side.

When it comes to saving the attachments on your local hard drive, you have several options. You can either use the capabilities of the “Save” button that appears in the attachments section of the message header (although this button comes with its own set of idiosyncrasies) or you can simply drag-and-drop the attachment icons appearing in the body of the message.

If you want to save a single attachment file, you can just select its icon in the body of the message and drag it and drop it onto your destination of choice. But what if you want to do this for more than one attachment?

One normal way to select more than one file icon anywhere in Mac OS X is to first click on the first one to select it and then use shift-click to add to the selection. Here’s what things look like with one icon selected:

Selected attachment in Mail message

Sadly, if your default selection colour is a bit dark, like mine in the screen shot above, the text label, which is in blue and underlined, becomes barely legible—but I suppose this is a mostly cosmetic issue, and one that Apple is unlikely to address since they assume that most Mac OS X users use for their selection colour the pale shade of blue that is defined by default in the “Appearance” preference pane.

My main issue with the situation above, however is what happens when I try to extend the selection by shift-clicking on the second one. If things worked as expected, Mail should add the second file icon to my current selection.

Unfortunately, it does not. Apparently, shift-clicking is not supported as a shortcut to add to the selection here—even though it works perfectly fine for adding to a selection of text in the body of the message.

And that’s where the solution to this particular problem lies. Instead of trying to select the attachment file icons themselves, what you are supposed to do is pretend that you want to select a section of the body of the message that happens to include the file icons. In other words, if I click somewhere to the right of the second icon in the picture above and then hold the mouse button and drag my mouse pointer to the left, I can create a selection that includes both file icons:

Selected attachment in Mail message

So it’s not like there is no way to solve this particular problem. But the fact remains that shift-clicking should also work. And it does not.

Yet another sign that Mail needs some more polishing if it is to become a truly well-designed Mac OS X application.

One Response to “Mail 3.0: Can’t use shift key to select more than one attachment icon”

  1. ssp says:

    Even this situation is an improvement, however.

    In X.4 dragging a selected file rather than the file itself gave a text clipping…

    Also, it seems that dragging multiple files from Mail in the way you describe drops both of them on exactly the same spot on your Desktop. My first impression was that I only got one of them because the other one was hiding beneath it.

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