Pages ’09: Changed shortcuts for adding columns or rows

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Pages
January 9th, 2009 • 6:24 pm

In a previous post on this blog, I reported that Apple’s designers made a very unfortunate decision when they chose the keyboard shortcuts for adding columns or rows to tables while editing them.

These keyboard shortcuts (option-shift-Up, option-shift-Down, option-shift-Left and option-shift-Right)) happened to be the exact same ones as the ones used for extending a text selection word by word to the left or to the right, or line by line to the top or to the bottom! So when you are editing text inside a table cell, the two functions of the shortcuts are in direct conflict, with disastrous results.

Later on, I wrote about the issue again, indicating that this was one of the main issues that needed to be fixed in the next version of iWork.

The good news in Pages ’09 is that Apple seems to have noticed the problem and decided to do something about it.

The (very) bad news is that the changes they made result in a possibly even worse situation.

Believe it or not but, in Pages ’09, Apple decided to change the keyboard shortcuts from option-shift-Up, option-shift-Down, option-shift-Left and option-shift-Right) to… option-Up, option-Down, option-Left and option-Right!

Why is it a bad decision? Because the very reason why the original keyboard shortcuts were a bad choice was precisely because they conflicted with the keyboard shortcuts for text selection. And the new ones? They now conflict with the keyboard shortcuts for text navigation, which people who use keyboard shortcuts for text selection are likely to be using just as often in their interaction with the application!

So the situation has not improved at all. It’s different, but it’s just as bad. The only slightly redeeming factor is that they have fixed the other bug that would cause the option-Up and option-Down keyboard shortcuts to completely override the keyboard shortcuts for text selection/navigation even while editing the text inside a cell, even when the cursor was not at the beginning or the end of the cell.

But the fact remains that, both vertically and horizontally, if you are in the process of editing the text inside the cell and you use the keyboard shortcuts for text selection repeatedly and “overshoot” by one iteration of the shortcut when reaching the end or the beginning of the cell, Pages still switches from text editing mode to table editing mode and starts inserting new rows and columns.

This is eminently frustrating. Obviously somebody paid attention to the bug reports, but just as obviously this person did not examine the situation carefully enough and the fix provided is just as bad as the original situation, if not worse.

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