October 4, 2004
Don't be too quick to dismiss Microsoft's effort to solve the double-click problem. Try it yourself. On any explorer window, select Tools, Options, General:
I believe this feature was introduced with Windows 98; it's an attempt to map everything to the single mouse click, using the web metaphor-- hence the underlining option. Note the subtle selection behavior to accommodate this change; hovering your mouse over an item now selects it.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
I don't think that hovering to select is a good policy. Now files can get selected without the user doing anything! It would be better to have checkboxes next to the items where one could explicitly select them.
The owner of the company I work for is probably one of the most computer illiterate persons I know. He doesn't care to understand the computer, just use it as a tool. If it's broke, he pays people to fix the problem no matter if the problem is his (user error).
Funny thing is, he has this turned on for his computer. He would set Explorer to use single clicks and the underline to select something. I usually thought power users would enjoy this more, but I think it may be easier for those less computer savvy.
It does keep everything a little more uniform but if you're used to double clicking without setting options, you're not going to think about a single click unless you've tweaked your system to use these settings.
Roland, I agree, and that's how a web UI would do it.
Jeremy, I am running with this setting enabled and the learned bad behavior is so strong that it's now hard to break. Plus, there are apps that still require the double-click to open (like VS.NET 2003's project tree) so it's a lose-lose situation; the mental overhead of "gee, do I double-click?" is always looming.
I'm only talking about taking PARTS of the web UI, the effective parts, not proposing that everything should be be a web site.
Namely, single-click, back button-- inductive user interface stuff. Very powerful, like the latest versions of Microsoft Money.
Best of both worlds, just so I'm clear about that. I do *NOT* want everything to be a website; that's a step backwards.
Surely the way forward is going to be making web apps more like rich GUI apps, rather than the other way round? Web apps are inherently poor at delivering a rich UI without a great deal of effort; why try and emulate that?
I've always found that users of most levels don't like the single-click/underlining - they just get confused as the what they should and shouldn't double-click - so normally end up double-clicking everything anyway! (leading to yet more confusion as a document opens twice)
Like it or not - and intuative or not - I think that double-clicking is embedded in computer user's psyche from an early age these days and will be around for some time to come - at least 2 or 3 major Windows [substitute your favourite OS here] releases, anyway.
"I don't think I would ever like files opening after a single click. How would you scroll through a list of 800 songs and randomly select 40 of them and drag those to a playlist? Hover to select?"
Maybe hold down CONTROL to select? You have to balance the infrequent activity (selecting a random list of items) with the frequent one (activating an item). It's nonsensical to weight the former over the latter.*
Shannon, I think we've had this exact discussion before, as I recall ;)
* This is also a hallmark of Homo Logicus :D
I'd also like to point out that the intarweb gets by just fine with a single click for everything. And think of the vast array of applications people have built using HTML.
Clearly the double-click is not necessary, but rather is a poisonous side effect of some other, earlier bad decisions made by influential companies.*
Unfortunately we have to un-learn all this bad learned behavor, and there are tons of apps out there abusing the hell out of it.
* I'm not naming any names, but it's APPLE COMPUTER.
After having it set to single-click on my laptop for the last year, I can certainly say that it works great. :)
Thanks for the tip.
The problem is hover-to-select. It should be (a) drag moves, because you've moved the mouse between MouseDown and MouseUp and (b) Select is the top option in the right-click menu.
Wow, I'm late to this party - but I just wanted to point out Roland Kaufmann's spot-on suggestion - this is now a feature of Vista, and I'm loving it!
I seem to recall some ancient version of the Mac OS had an 'everything is a button, no double clicking needed' mode available. Maybe they just made this very hard to find and turn on, maybe it was just poorly implemented, but I certainly never saw anyone use it without being forced to.
I don't think I would ever like files opening after a single click. How would you scroll through a list of 800 songs and randomly select 40 of them and drag those to a playlist? Hover to select? That's insane, having to constantly keep my mouse movie at some magic speed to keep myself from accidentally selecting something? No thanks. That's broken. Double click works great. It does take a little instruction, maybe, but who uses a computer without instruction? Making things 'intuitive' to the point of removing functionality is not a good idea. Everything you do with almost any machine needed some sort of instruction. From cars (this is the gas pedal, this is the brake) to scissors (don't run with these) to the stove (this is hot). There is no reason to assume that a computer should magically work without the user having to know anything. And it is silly to think that "hover to select, gotta keep that mouse moving, don't accidentally click anything or you'll launch it" is any less confusing than the current system or that it will remove the need for instructions.
If a teacher tells someone how to use a computer and they forget to tell the user which button on the mouse to click, then they failed as a teacher, just as a driver's ed teacher who says "put your foot on the brake" to the student without bothering to tell them which pedal is the brake.
it is nonsensical to think that the one case I pointed out is the only case against "single-click to open".
In KDE 4 in the file manager, every item has an add to selection button