When I save files to the Desktop, it automatically stacks them in columns. Meaning, each added file is placed underneath the previous until it reaches the bottom. Then it wraps, and starts stacking files in a new column.

When selecting files using the keyboard, files get selected in rows. For example, if you have 5 columns of files, select (single-click) a file in the bottom of the last column, then on the keyboard press Shift+Up, it will highlight not just the file above, but the entire row beneath it.

Since files get added in columns, I expected the selection to follow the columns, meaning Shift+Up in the previous scenario would only add the above file to the selection. I can't imagine why the current way would make sense. I feel like this is bad design.

Is this bad design, or is there a UX principle behind this decision?

Is there somewhere else this behavior can be seen?
(I checked MacOS (Catalina), and using Shift and arrows keys just selects individual files in the direction of the arrow keys you press; it doesn't attempt to select rows nor columns.)

  • I run into this regularly because I've set my browser to download files directly to the Desktop. So imagine downloading 3 files, they are stacked vertically on the Desktop. Then a few days later, you're done with those files, so you select the last file, Shift+Up+Up, Delete, and boom you just deleted potentially 20 files...
    – Partik
    Apr 18, 2021 at 20:43
  • There are a lot of questions about Windows in UXSE but often the only way to get the answer for this is if someone who worked on the design can explain it. But I am curious as to what the community thinks.
    – Michael Lai
    Apr 18, 2021 at 22:57


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