Question about window focus and clicking..

Discussion in 'macOS' started by ohcrap, Oct 4, 2005.

  1. ohcrap macrumors 6502a

    Aug 12, 2005
    Not really sure how to describe what I want to do (hence the title) but being a recent switcher, I am used to something the way it works in Windows and want to know if I can change OS X at all to work this way:

    ex. In Windows, regardless of what window is frontmost (focused on), I can click something on another window and at the same time that window is brought forward, the action of the button I clicked on that window takes place. Does that make sense?

    In OS X, I have to click once to bring a window into focus, then again to click on, say the 'Back' button in Firefox..

    Hope that makes sense to someone... :)
  2. emw macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    I understand the question, but I don't think there is anything you can do to resolve it. In some senses I can see where it would be annoying, but in others it's nice, since you don't accidentally, say, send an e-mail that wasn't finished just because you selected a different app.

    Then again, it could be that I'm just used to the OS X way. :p
  3. Heb1228 macrumors 68020


    Feb 3, 2004
    Virginia Beach, VA
    You're right, this has been one of the biggest everyday usage adjustments since I switched 2 years ago. I'm pretty much used to it now, but once in a while I still only click a button once and I really needed to click it twice (first to select that app, second to actually click the button).

    I think the other biggest adjustment was not being able to use the keyboard to toggle options in dialogue boxes. That still annoys me sometimes. But its one of very few complaints I have with OS X, and its a pretty minor issue.
  4. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    I don't think you can change OS X's behaviour. Having said that, there are parts of OS X that do allow you to perform actions on windows without focus. You can use the close/minimise buttons on another application behind the one you are currently in.

    Personally, I'd like to change Windows. I have to use IE at work which means I end up opening lots of IE windows (non-full screen), trying to get back to my main window and clicking back in on an edge often means hitting an ad and being whisked off to some annoying site. Argh!
  5. ebow macrumors 6502a


    Apr 30, 2001
    Trapped in a world before later on
    I just tried this out by clicking between several applications, and it seems to vary by app. For example, Safari and Systems Preferences will pass the click through to the button you happen to click over, but the Finder and iTunes will not. I don't have time to look for a pattern, but there may be one.

    It's just another example of the small inconsistencies that unfortuantely pervade OS X.
  6. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    You can't toggle but most of them respond to keyboard shortcuts. If you hit Command . (period) then it will cancel, Command D will 'Don't Save'
  7. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    The HIG (Human Interface Guidelines) have quite a lot to say about when to support clickthrough (i.e. accept clicks on things when the window is not the windows with focus).

    In particular:

    Don’t provide click-through for an item or action that:

    Is potentially harmful and does not allow the user to cancel it (for example, the Delete button in Mail)

    Is difficult or impossible to cancel (such as the Send button in Mail)

    Dismisses a dialog without telling the user what action was taken (for example, the Save button in a Save dialog that overwrites an existing file and automatically dismisses the dialog)

    Removes the user from the current context (for example, selecting a new item in a Finder column can change the target of the Finder window)

    That said not every app follows the guidelines (Apple apps included).
  8. KD7IWP macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2004
    American living in Canada
    If you have Pages open in the background and click on it, the blinking cursor will go to the line where you clicked. By that I mean that it will not simply take you back to focus on Pages and be where you left off. Apple intentionally has set guidelines for how "Click-through" actions should work. For some programs you can do it. Safari for example, if I have a different program in focus and I click the refresh button in Safari that is sitting off in the back, it will refresh.
  9. ohcrap thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 12, 2005
    Nothing in most of the programs I use seems to "click-through".
  10. johnnyjibbs macrumors 68030


    Sep 18, 2003
    London, UK
    This is one of those inconsistencies in OS X. It is a legacy of Mac OS 9.

    There are two types of program in OS X: Cocoa and Carbon. To the end user, it doesn't matter which program is of which type as they generally function the same. Some examples of Cocoa apps are Safari, Mail, iChat, iPhoto, Pages, QuickTime Player 7. Some examples of Carbon apps are the Finder, iTunes, and any complex third party application basically (e.g. Microsoft Word and Photoshop). To find out if an app is Cocoa or Carbon, drag its window to the bottom of the screen as far as it goes, under the dock (if it is in the horizontal position). If it is a Cocoa program, it will pop back up to above the dock, while Carbon programs aren't automatically aware of the dock.

    The other main difference is the one mentioned in this thread. Cocoa programs perform functions immediately when clicked off-focues, while Carbon programs have to be brought into focus first. You'll find that certain other features of OS X only work with Cocoa apps too. This accounts for the inconsistency.

    The reason for the discrepancy is simple. Carbon programs are old programs that have been designed for OS 9 and OS X (i.e. Microsoft Word and Photoshop were ported and upgraded without too much headache from OS 9) while Cocoa programs use the new OS X object-orientated system and fully make use of OS X's features. In an ideal world, all apps would be Cocoa but it's a question of hassle. MS Word is a huge program - Microsoft can't be bothered to rewrite it from scratch. Don't scoff too much though - Apple can't either. I've been waiting for a Cocoa Finder from day one. Please make it a priority for Lion Apple, please!

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