Pages ’09: Can’t cancel Word document ‘opening’ process

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Pages
March 12th, 2010 • 4:27 pm

Question: What process in Pages ’09 can take up to several minutes and is impossible to cancel once it has been started?

Answer: The process of open a relatively complex Microsoft Word document in the Pages application itself.

Here’s the user interface for this:


And here’s what you can do while the process is in progress: Absolutely nothing.

Once you have selected a Word document in order to open it in Pages ’09 and Pages has started “opening” it—which actually means importing it by converting it into a document in Pages format—there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it, short of force-quitting the entire application.

And since there is absolutely no way to predict how long the process will take, and since it can sometimes take up to several minutes, even on a nearly brand new Mac Pro with a dozen GB of RAM, this is, in my view, a highly inappropriate situation that the user can find himself in.

The same document opens in Word 2008—not a speed demon by any stretch of the imagination—in seconds. So how is one supposed to be able to predict that it will take several minutes for Pages to convert it?

And why is there no “Cancel” button in the modal dialog above? And why is the dialog modal to begin with?

Thank God for force-quitting. But I don’t consider that the “Force Quit” command is part of the Pages ’09 user interface! And force-quitting is not an option when you accidentally start the process of converting a Word document while you have other Pages documents still open and unsaved in Pages.

It really is quite shocking that we still have to deal with such a user-hostile modal dialog box in a modern Mac OS X application, especially one that comes from Apple itself. If the conversion process did indeed require all of the machine’s resources and if it only took a few seconds at worst to complete, I would be willing to live with this. But not when the process can take several minutes, and only uses a small fraction of my machine’s power.

The process of converting Word documents should be a background process. And if indeed for whatever reason it is a process that might take a while, then Pages ’09 can have an optional “Activity” window like Mail, Safari, and other applications so that the user can monitor what is going on. I would even be willing to put up with an “Activity” window that is not optional and pops up automatically whenever there is a Word document conversion process in progress, as long as it automatically disappeared once the process is complete and it was not modal.

But not this. Not in a modern computer with plenty of processing power. And not in a modern word processor that is meant to be an iApp “for the rest of us” who are fed up and sickened by the very sight of Microsoft software running on our Macs.

Comments are closed.