Re: [OT] Word select in Microsoft products?

From: Mark Davis (
Date: Tue Oct 03 2000 - 11:28:21 EDT

Just noticed -- this doesn't work is if one of the words is at the start or end of the text. In that case, you *can* select between all the letters of the word, except right after the first letter of the text, or right before the last letter.

However, this is only *some* of the time. For example, when editing a message in Outlook Express, it works ok. For example, I can select at the very start of this message the "ust notice". However, when selecting in a message that was *sent* to me, in the view window, it doesn't work.

It appears to be just a bug that this doesn't work for the first or last word in the view mode. Is there any way to file bugs at Microsoft online, as you can for Java bugs with Sun?

The normal selection algorithm [and this is back on topic for Unicode, since word and character selection is relevant to internationalization!] seems to be:

- in whichever direction the mouse is going:
- when you pass the start of a word, use word selection. If this is the first time you have gone out of the first word you clicked in, then extend the selection in that word to its word boundaries too.
- when you start backing up, return to character selection for the position nearest the mouse. Don't change the selection of the first word.
- character selection means picking the offset nearest the mouse position. That means that crossing the middle of the character changes the selection.
- word selection means selecting to both bounds of the word if the character selection would be within the word.

The double-click selection is different. On the Mac, once you double-click on a word and drag, you were guaranteed that the word you double-clicked on would be in the selection, and that the bounds of the whole selection would be on word bounds. The Microsoft AWS programs (or at least some of them -- haven't tried them all) don't fulfill these constraints: and the behavior differs significantly whether you go from left to right with the mouse or the reverse, and whether you are backing up or going forward.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Mark Davis
  To: Unicode List
  Sent: Tuesday, October 03, 2000 07:30
  Subject: Re: [OT] Word select in Microsoft products?

  Thanks for the detailed message. I tried it out, and if I have a sentence like

  quick ..... fox

  I can select from between the "qu" to between the "fo" by waving the mouse past the ends of both words, then backing up. I never would have guessed the behavior, but it seems to work. Thanks!

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Chris Pratley
    To: 'Mark Davis' ; Unicode List
    Sent: Monday, October 02, 2000 13:12
    Subject: RE: [OT] Word select in Microsoft products?

    There are two edit controls in the apps you mention which do AWS, and the calling application is responsible for turning this behaviour on/off (I am assuming it can be turned on/off programmatically). They are mshtml.dll (OE, IE, and HTML messages in Outlook) and riched20.dll (plain text and RTF messages in Outlook, and WordPad).


    For WordPad, the switch to control riched20.dll is in View/Options/Options/Automatic Word selection.


    In mshtml at least, in your example, you can start selecting from the middle of “Only”, select across “the”, then back up to include just the “t”. So the selection *can* be made with a mouse, but I agree it is a pain.


    Word has a similar but more refined correction algorithm when AWS is on (actually mshtml.dll behaviour is cloning older Word behaviour). To select parts of words, just backup slightly, and the AWS is turned off for the right side or left side, depending on which way you backed up. So if you really need to select the second half of a word AB and the first half of a word CD, you click between A and B, drag-select to the right until AB is completely selected by AWS, back up slightly to undo the AWS for AB then forward select to C. Sounds complicated, but the real-world common case is that people want to casually select word-blocks of text, and only occasionally want to use the mouse to do intra-word surgery. (this is backed up by user data). The goal for this feature then is to make it relatively easy to cancel out of AWS when necessary without having to disable it permanently. In past versions of the AWS feature, there were certain selections that could not be made with a mouse at all, and that was bad J


    Everyone has their preference though, which is why you can turn this off (at least in Word). Personally I find in your example below it is more efficient to use AWS to delete both words (so I can be sloppy with the mouse) and then when my hands are back on the keyboard, type “The”. For me, typing the extra “he” is faster than carefully positioning the selection in the middle of “the”, even with AWS off. Word handles the spacing between words so I just type.


    Sorry I can’t help you with the other products Mark. Maybe someone else knows…


    Chris Pratley

    Group Program Manager

    Microsoft Word


    Sent with office10 2125


    -----Original Message-----
    From: Mark Davis []
    Sent: October 2, 2000 10:00 AM
    To: Unicode List
    Subject: [OT] Word select in Microsoft products?


    [Off topic -- just looking for information from a broad audience.]


    Anyone know how to turn off the extremely annoying automatic word select (AWS) in Microsoft products? This is the "feature" that causes dragging outside of a word to behave like double-click. I often want to select part of a word, such when editing at the start of a sentence. For example, in the sentence


        Only the finest products...


    to remove the word "Only" I would click after the first "t", then drag back to include "Only t", then type a T. I have been doing this for years; to select words you just double-click.


    In Word and PowerPoint, I can turn off AWS with Tools > Options > Edit > "When selecting, automatically select entire word".


    Excel, FrontPage, Access, Notepad, the desktop (e.g. in filenames), and the vast majority of non-Microsoft products do the right thing WITHOUT setting an option.


    What I can't do is figure out how to turn off AWS in Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Outlook, or WordPad. These products are also -- of course -- very inconsistent. When selecting characters in the main window, IE does do AWS. But not in the Address bar, dialog boxes, file selection, etc. Anyone have an idea?

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