Klicko 1.0: Promising, but needs work

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh, Microsoft, Pages
December 2nd, 2008 • 12:06 pm

I am looking forward to being able to use Rainer Brockerhoff’s new utility called Klicko. It promises to get rid of Mac OS X’s click-through behaviour, which has been, over the years, a source of both convenience and frustration.

Since Klicko can be customized to only apply to some applications, I am thinking that I might like using it very much for certain things.

For example, one perennial source of irritation for me in word processors like Microsoft Word 2008 and Apple’s Pages 3.0 is that clicking on a background document window not only brings that window to the foreground, but also eliminates the current selection and relocates the insertion point to a location that is as close as possible to the location of the mouse click.

I frequently have things selected in my background document windows and I usually want to go back to these windows without losing the selection. Because of this click-through behaviour, the only solution is to avoid the mouse altogether and instead use the “Cycle Through Windows” command (via the “Window” menu or using the universal keyboard shortcut for it, which is command-Ù on my French-Canadian keyboard).

But even that is not an ideal solution, for several reasons:

  • It forces you to switch from the mouse to the keyboard.
  • It assumes that the application is already in the foreground. Otherwise, you have to bring the application to the foreground first, and then use the “Cycle Through Windows” command, so there’s an additional step.
  • The “Cycle Through Windows” command cycles through all currently open windows, in an order that is not always easy to fathom, because windows are layered (and ordered) using schemes that are somewhat beyond the user’s control. So you frequently end up having to use the “Cycle Through Windows” command multiple times, or to backtrack using the same command in the opposite direction (with shift-command-Ù on my French-Canadian keyboard).

Now, I tested Klicko 1.0, and it actually works to eliminate this unwanted click-through behaviour in Pages 3.0 and Word 2008. Unfortunately, I also soon discovered that Klicko is not compatible with Default Folder X, which is an indispensable add-on as far as I am concerned. Even if I add Default Folder X to the list of excluded applications, Klicko still interferes with the usability of various controls in some Open/Save dialog boxes with the mouse. For example, if Klicko is on, I cannot click on the “Save” button on a “Save As…” dialog box in BBEdit. I have to use the Return key instead.

I also noticed that Klicko 1.0 interferes with Web Confidential 3.8, which I still use for managing my passwords and serial numbers, even though the application has not been updated in ages. When Klicko is on, I cannot click on the “Notes” field when adding a new card in Web Confidential. Adding Web Confidential to the list of excluded applications eliminates the problem.

So it looks like there will be a few kinks to work out before Klicko can become part of my work environment, and since it is a very small application that apparently does its thing through the Universal Access architecture, it might not be easy to fix the kinks, because they might be due to flaws in the third-party applications’ support for Universal Access, and not in Klicko itself.

But I still find the promise of eliminating the click-through behaviour when clicking on a background Pages document window very attractive, so I will keep an eye on Klicko’s evolution.

(If you want to compare Pages with a text editor that does not have this annoying click-through behaviour, try Mac OS X’s TextEdit or BBEdit. Both text editors let you click on a background window to bring it to the foreground without deselecting what is currently selected in that window. That, as far as I am concerned, should be the default behaviour in Pages and Word as well.)

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