4

In Windows, you can double-click the top-left of a window to close it.

But why?

It's not intuitive. At all.

What sort of advantage is there by using this kind of behaviour for closing windows? I even happened to accidentally close windows this way.

  • 1
    Backward compatibility. – kinokijuf Apr 5 '14 at 10:43
12

This is an old element inherited since Windows 3.1 where the interface of the applications didn't have the, now common, "X" to close them.

Before, on the top right there was a menu that you could access with the combination Alt+space and one of the options, the main one, was close. The double click basically activates the main option of that menu.

At some point Microsoft tried to remove it, but people requested it back, so they left if there.

windows_3_1

In a tips document for windows 3.1 published a few years ago, and not modified since 2008 we find the next quote:

Close An Application. Press ALT-F4 or double click on the control box (looks like a space bar). The same actions will close the current document. In Program Manager the same action will close Windows.

In a document about Windows 3.1 published by the University of Strathclyde Computer Centre, we can read the next quote:

The Control Menu Box can also be used to end an application by double clicking the left mouse button with the pointer over the Control Menu Box.

  • The article actually says something different — that they deliberately left it out of early Office 12 betas (it implements its own window frame) to check how many people actually use it. – kinokijuf Apr 5 '14 at 10:48
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It is a shortcut. If your cursor happens to be over on the left side then to close I have less travel to cover to close a window, then to move my hand all the way over the mouse pad to the right side.

Some of it is habit from those of us that are from the Win 3.1 era. And I have been using it ever since. I really HATE not being able to close from both sides!

I am a power user and spoiled by my shortcuts! I really get annoyed in Ubuntu or Linux, where I can't do this. I can set up my own shortcut CTRL + SPACE to close in linux for me.

0

Define "... not intuitive..."

As a user of Windows PCs since the mid-90's, this is entirely intuitive for me. I, and thousands of people like me, intuitively close windows using the top-left-corner double-click without thinking about it.

Why? Because that's how we've done it for decades.

A more interesting question would be

"When was this behaviour established?"

and, more to the point,

"Why is this behaviour no longer intuitive for new users?"

The former is answered well by @PatomaS and the latter is simply this: In most cases, the current Windows window style no longer shows a visual cue for this useful feature, as highlighted below by three examples (showing from the top - Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Windows Explorer). Only the bottom example (Windows Explorer) has an icon in this area.

Showing a few example top-left corners

Incidentally, Universal Windows Platform applications (such as Edge) do not have this feature. Over time, through use of these apps, my behaviour will become more and more negatively reinforced until there comes a day when I no longer go to double-click the top left-hand corner of the window to close it.

... I will probably never know when the last time I go to do this is...

0

The answers above are excellent. It is an old school behavior. It was intuitive at the time. Describing it as un-intuitive is illuminating only regarding your personal behavior.

I personally find the behavior is now contrary to several other ways the UI has expanded. In particular, the window expansion (windows key+ up/left/right), window stacking and cascade improvements, and multi screen behavior winds up making you accidentally click the upper corners of things trying to get to other things.

The UI is becoming faster and faster, with more juggling and screens: mistakes become more common. That the UI is different makes this corner-closing-behavior disadvantageous. ... having the "x" and the double click in those locations makes a slight miss a critical failure ("o god, what did i just close.."). Pretty soon we might be leaving the programs running after hitting the x ... apple had some foresight there if you chase the expansive discussions of it. Windows has already added necessary "escape velocity" behavior options between windows which become necessary for similar reasons.

Perhaps the answer will be to make it a customization/variable... you can always change your shell...

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