OS X 10.9’s Finder: Wrong text colour in selection highlighting in list view

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
February 15th, 2014 • 3:02 pm

Ever since I installed Mavericks last fall, I’ve been trying to find a way to reproduce a problem that I was seeing with the Finder using the wrong text colour for the highlighted item in a Finder window in list view:


The dark green is my custom selection colour (instead of the lighter sky blue that OS X uses by default). But the text colour itself is definitely wrong. Normally, the text colour for a selected item should not be black, but white:


So clearly something is wrong here. But how does it happen?

Well, I have now come up with at least one scenario that enables me to reproduce this bug on my system reliably:

  1. Open a Finder window in list view and select one item in the list, so that its background colour is the selection highlighting colour and its text colour is white. Make sure the Tab Bar is visible.
  2. Open a new Finder window. Make sure the Tab Bar is visible.
  3. Drag the tab from the new window onto the Tab Bar of the window that contains the list view, and drop it. This will add the new window as a second tab in that same window.
  4. Now click on the small “x” button in the new tab to close it.

The result? Mavericks’s Finder reverts to show the window with a single tab containing the list view. But now the text colour for the selected item is black!

There might be other ways to reproduce this problem, but this definitely works for me. And this particular problem illustrates a long-standing issue in OS X, which is that list view tends to be treated as a second-class citizen. I’ve written about this in the past, referring to various bugs in OS X’s Finder that are list-view-specific.

Just last month, I wrote about an inconsistent and nonsensical selection behaviour when deleting files — and guess what? It affects Finder windows in list view.

This also illustrates Apple’s increasingly poor record when it comes to paying attention to details. The Tab Bar is a new feature in Mavericks, so of course, like any new feature, it was bound to introduce new bugs. But this particular one is pretty obvious if you use the Tab Bar in combination with list view windows. I myself noticed the problem in the first few days after I installed Mavericks. What took me time is to find a 100% reproducible scenario, so that I could submit it as a bug report to Apple.

What I would have expected from Apple is that their own engineers would use the new Tab Bar in Mavericks on a regular basis, including with Finder windows in list view. Then surely they would notice the inconsistent text colour and wonder what was going on. Apple shouldn’t rely on end users to figure out what the scenario is that triggers the problem.

Yet as far as I can tell, it’s exactly what’s going on. Either that, or they are aware of the bug and its cause and just think that there are other, more important things to fix first. But Mavericks has been out for a while now. Surely someone can devote a few man-hours to fixing this now.

Bug report filed.

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