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How to adjust selection w/ arrow keys?, etc.

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg114061] How to adjust selection w/ arrow keys?, etc.
  • From: kj <no.email at please.post>
  • Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2010 07:38:42 -0500 (EST)

I like to select text directly from the keyboard (rather than using
the mouse), by pressing the Shift key when the insertion mark is
at the start of the selection, and, while holding the Shift key
down, using the arrow keys to move the insertion mark so as to
extend the selection.  I use a similar technique to select ranges
of notebook cells, using only the keyboard.

Sometimes it happens that while extending the selection using the
arrow keys, I overshoot, and end up with a selection larger than
what I want.  With every other text-editing interface I know of,
I can correct this overshoot by pressing the arrow key of opposite
direction to the one that caused the overshoot.  (E.g., if I
overshoot by pressing the right arrow key too many times, I can
adjust the selection to the desired size by pressing the left arrow
key a few times.)

This behavior is, by an overwhelming margin, the standard one for
text editing interfaces, and has been so for as long as such
interfaces have been around in common use.  In fact, the only
exception I know of is the Mathematica notebook GUI.  With the
Mathematica notebook GUI, pressing the opposite arrow key does not
shrink the selection, but rather it makes it bigger, from the
opposite end!  Is that perverse, or what?  In the example above,
pressing the left arrow key won't shrink the right-hand end of the
selection, but instead it will grow its left-hand end.  Thoughts
of murder naturally ensue.

Is there a way to customize Mathematica so that it behaves in the
standard way? Alternatively, is there any way at all to shrink a
selection using the keyboard?

While on the subject of non-standard selection/keyboard interaction,
Mathematica is also unique in that hitting the backspace key won't
delete the selected text (or notebook cells).  In fact, when there's
a non-empty selection, AFAICT the backspace key does nothing.  Is
there some way to restore the standard behavior?  (I already know
that the delete key will delete the selection, but I'd prefer to
use what I've been using for the past few decades.)

BTW, are these details discussed anywhere in the Mathematica
documentation? If so, please point me to it.

TIA!

~kj


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