Should Apple Fix Cocoa's Text Selection Behavior?

Should Apple Fix Cocoa's Text Selection Behavior

  • No: Cocoa apps should behave like windows apps

  • Yes: Apple is insane not to fix this

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Puny Member
Cocoa's text selection behavior mimics Windows. It's driving me NUTS! I have to select right-to-left in Cocoa apps and left-to-right in Carbon/Classic/Swing apps.

My brain is turning into a pretzel!


Do not read this sign.
Apparently I haven't run into this: what's the problem?

And why do people think that a text selection rule should dictate the worth of an entire operating system? Am I misunderstanding?



Puny Member
The problem isn't the rule, the problem is there are several rules and thus several interfaces. MacOS has a unified interface, OS X does not.

When selecting text we (mac users) tend to select left-down not right-up. I'm not sure how OPENSTEP users typically select text, but the only way to get the same behavior with Cocoa applications is to select right-up. The specific behavior difference deals with the carriage returns at the end of lines. When selecting from right to left without moving down to the next line, Classic, Carbon, and Swing will not select the CR at the end of that line. There are various reasons why this behavior is ideal. I'll list each separately with the consequence of the specific situation:

1) Nearly every time I select text I do not want the CR. I'm often pasting into text fields or a command line. Even when editing a document like this one I don't want to select the CR. In the rare case that I do I add it after pasting.

For this reason selecting without the CR ought to be easier even if deleting the CR is equally easy (which it isn't).

2) Adding the CR is always possible, removing unwanted CRs isn't (a CR will sometimes 'enter' text).

For this reason selecting without the CR ought to be the default.

3) CRs are paragraph delimiters. The general HI guideline is when selecting a 'word' then removing it and double word delimiters are to be avoided, the first one is deleted not the last one (whether in Eudora, BBEdit, or Selecting the first paragraph delimiter would be consistent, Cocoa clearly isn't consistent with itself by selecting the last.

For this reason selecting the first CR should be easy: by dragging down from the previous line on the right margin will select the first CR with the line thus making document editing easy. This drag action in Cocoa selects both CRs and is a pain.

4) Every other human interface uses a right-down drag motion like hierarchical menus (not to mention typing words is right-down), the only exception is Cocoa's text selection. Again, where is the consistency?

For this reason the desired selection ought to be possible using a right-down drag.

5) Just to avoid a schizophrenic interface where one uses a right-down drag motion in all apps except Cocoa where the motion is left-up.

For this reason the selection behavior ought to be uniform for all applications.

For the above reasons and more, I'm inclined to believe the mac selection behavior is far better than Cocoa's. Apple has already altered Cocoa's text handling behavior to comply with previously implicit (made explicit in Apple's HI revision) mac conventions. For example the down arrow moves the cursor to the end of a line in a text field (being logically consistent with dragging down) and pgup/pgdown/home/end keys scroll instead of move the cursor. Clearly Apple isn't blind to those differences however have failed to change the selection behavior. Either they aren't aware of this, or there is a NeXT clique in Apple resistant to change.


Do not read this sign.
Okay. Now I understand the complaint. Inconsistency is annoying.

Is TextEdit Cocoa? When I select a paragraph in TextEdit by starting at character 1 and dragging to the last period, I can <em>either</em> select the carriage return by extending the mouse past the last character <em>or not select the carriage return</em> by stopping my drag motion at the last character. If the carriage return is selected, I'm given immediate feedback because the whole line all the way out to the scroll bar is hilited.



Yes TextEdit is a cocoa application. I have to say that rharder is right. I have had no problem selecting text and not selecting the carriage return in Omniweb, Mail, TextEdit, etc.


Dis Member
obviously Apple should fix it to be consistent, but I can't say it bothers me too much; I usually select right-up anyway


Puny Member
It's devilishly difficult to AVOID the CR when selecting left to right, especially if the last character is small.

Try using small fonts and with the last character being an i or l or period. It's a pain in the ass