If you’re young enough that your first computer was a Mac or a Windows PC, you probably can’t fathom just how big a deal Cut/Copy/Paste were when they were introduced as standard features of all applicationsPre-Macintosh, it was generally quite tricky to copy something from one program into another.1

C / C / P改变了这一点There were three great things about C/C/P, right from the get-go:

  1. 它是非常有用的Again, though, if you’re too young to remember computing before ubiquitous C/C/P, you probably can’t help but take it for grantedIt’s my generation trying to appreciate color television.

  2. It’s incredibly simple and obvious what it is and how it works. Everyone “gets” C/C/P.

  3. The three commands have perfect keyboard shortcuts (at least on QWERTY keyboards.) Copy is the only one of the three that uses the obvious mnemonic shortcut (⌘C on the Mac, Ctrl-C on Windows and on open source Windows rip-offs)⌘X for Cut feels right, though — there’s something that feelsX-y about “cutting” something; plus, the X key is conveniently located right next door to C.

    So those two shortcuts were fairly obvious; the genius decision was using ⌘V for Paste绝对没有V-y about “pasting”But the reason it works so well as a shortcut is that the action of pasting is so strongly related to the actions of cutting and copying that the shortcut seems to demand an adjacent position on the keyboardApple even reinforced this relationship with the commands’ order in the Edit menu: Cut, Copy, Paste; X, C, V.

    [更新:Over a dozen readers have already emailed me to suggest that there的东西V-y about pasting: that the shape of the letter V suggests the upside-down caret editing mark used to indicate a place of insertionThat had never occurred to me, but it’s a reasonable mnemonic.]

    和其他杰出的”you goddamn kids probably can’t believe we ever got along without it” standard Edit menu command, Undo, fits right into this orderIt’s the Z key’s location on the keyboard that makes ⌘Z feel so natural for “undo”.2

C/C/P has evolved a bit over the years, but in large part remains the same as it was on the original MacThese three commands really are self-explanatory他们正是你希望他们这样做。


A few weeks ago I noticed that most NSTextView-based apps now use a rather annoying “smart” C/C/P implementation.3. NSTextViewis the standard built-in text-editing control in Cocoa, so this applies to most — but not all — Cocoa applications that allow you to edit textThe app I noticed it in isMarsEdit, but it’s also present in TextEdit, so feel free to use TextEdit if you want to play along at home.



< b > < / b > foo


The first bit of “smartness” here is that the trailing space after the “</b>” is removed along with the word “foo”, even though it wasn’t part of the selection.

现在将插入点放在“<b>”和“</ b>”之间糊。


<B> FOO </ b>的


< b > foo < / b >



< b > < / b > foo

and select “foo” by clicking and dragging across the three letters comprising the word, then you don’t get any of this “smart” C/C/P behaviorThe trailing space after the “</b>” isn’t removed when you cut, and when you paste, it doesn’t add any unwanted spaces before or after the pasted text.

触发'智能'C / C / P的词选技术的技术插值

我用的是自定义DefaultKeyBinding.dictfile that allows me to add and adjust the default editing shortcuts for NSTextView and NSTextView-derived editing fieldsOne of my entries in that file binds Ctrl-L to theselectWord:选择:

“^ l”=“selectWord:”;

This means that when I type Ctrl-L, it selects the current word, where “current word” means whatever word the insertion point is adjacent to or within — pretty much exactly as though I’d double-clicked the mouse cursor on the exact spot where the insertion point is.4

If I use this keyboard shortcut to select a word, I also get the “smart” C/C/P behavior when I cut the selection and when pasting it subsequentlyIf I use regular keyboard text-selection keystrokes, such as Shift-Arrow or Shift-Option-Arrow, then I get the regular old-fashioned “just cut the selection and don’t do anything fancy regarding surrounding spaces” C/C/P behavior.


So the point here is that you get very different C/C/P behavior depending upon如何你做出选择Double-clicking with your mouse (or using a shortcut based on NSTextView’sselectWord:selector) puts you into a word-wise selection mode, and selections made in this mode are treated differently than normal selections.

Is word-wise selection a shortcut, or is it an entirely different action than regular click-and-drag selection? I say it’s a shortcut, and I think that’s certainly how most users — especially the vast non-technical majority — think.

But this Cocoa “smart” C/C/P behavior forces you, the user, to think of them as different actions, and to think that, you have to understand what’s going onAnd because most users clearly have no idea that “word-wise” selection is a different mode than normal selection, the result is that from most users’ perspective, this “smart” C/C/P behavior seemingly kicks in at random.

即the worst part about this isn’t the “smart” C/C/P behavior itself, which I find irritating but which let’s concede for the moment might conceivably be deemed useful by some(Obviously, someone at Apple thinks it’s useful.) The worst part is that unless you understand that word-wise selection puts you into a special mode, the “smart” C/C/P behavior似乎随意踢了一下. Sometimes spaces are removed and added automatically, sometimes they aren’t.


In this case, Apple has taken a very simple, completely obvious feature — a feature that almost every user completely understood — and turned it into something governed by a complicated and undocumented set of rules that most users don’t even know exist. They’ve exchanged the elegant simplicity of traditional C/C/P for the very marginal benefit of sometimes having word-bordering spaces taken care of for you automatically.

“Smart” editing features are often more trouble than they’re worth. Many of the common complaints about Microsoft Word, for example, revolve around the on-by-default features where it gets too smart for its own good(还记得大眼夹the “I see you’re trying to write a business letter” animated paperclip from Office 97? Or just try to enter a URL in Word without having it automatically turned into a blue underlined hyperlink.)

Once software starts down this path of guessing what it is the user is trying to do, and then doing something special based on that guess, it must guess correctly nearly every time, because the times when it guesses wrong are so annoying that they far outweigh the extra convenience of the times when it guesses right.

Software that eschews the clever for the obvious — in this case, using good old-fashioned “what you see selected is what you get” C/C/P behavior — will always do exactly what the user expects. That’s what people mean when they talk about直观的software design.

  1. 你的书呆子,Unix命令行管道算作“棘手”。↩︎

  2. 这也释放了⌘P用于打印,⌘U用于下划线。↩︎

  3. 我最近才注意到这种“聪明”的C / C / P行为,但据我所知,它已存在多年,甚至可追溯到NextStep如果它已经存在了一段时间,我怀疑我直到现在才注意到它的原因是,我做我的大多数文本编辑BBEdit和Mailsmith不是基于NSTextView,甚至当我使用NSTextView-based文本编辑应用程序,像Xcode SubEthaEdit抑制这一特性↩︎

  4. 前阵子我发表了”选择“AppleScript BBEdit,TextWrangler,Mailsmith为这些应用程序实现此功能。↩︎