“Hide underlined letters for keyboard navigation until I press the Alt key” does more than just hide underlined letters.


You can find this control on the Display Properties – Appearance Tab – Effects dialog. It not only hides underlined letters, but also it can hide focus at certain times. If you’ve ever wondered why focus appears sometimes and it doesn’t appear at other times, check out these scenarios:

To view this behavior, a little prep work is required. First open My Computer and set the view to details. Select (or click) on one of the drives, so it has focus and selection. Close My Computer. Now you’re ready to begin.

With “Hide underlined letters…” checked the behavior is as follows:

Using the keyboard, open My Computer. Press the windows key on the keyboard (or if you don’t have that key, tab around on the desktop until Start has focus), and navigate to My Computer. Press Enter

Results: Focus is visible

Using the mouse, open My Computer.

Results: Focus in not visible.

With “Hide underlined letters…” unchecked the behavior is as follows:

Using the keyboard, open My Computer. Press the windows key on the keyboard (or if you don’t have that key, tab around on the desktop until Start has focus), and navigate to My Computer. Press Enter

Results: Focus is visible

Using the mouse, open My Computer.

Results: Focus in visible.

The moral of the story: If the “Hide underlined letters…” checkbox is checked, do not expect focus to be visible at all times.

Comments (7)

  1. Kevin Westhead says:

    Is there a reason for this behaviour?

  2. anon says:

    90% of users don’t use alt-X shortcuts, or tab between controls, so hiding focus rect and underlines cleans up the visual appearance with no loss.

  3. AMG says:

    90% of users also don’t read what’s on-screen. Perhaps we should remove the monitor/LCD to clean up desks? 😉

    I’ve always found the XP behavior of hiding what has been a staple of intelligent UI (my computer life-time…which starts @ DOS 2.0…) to be an annoyance….but, it’s not a show stopper. 😉

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  5. Daniil Magdalin says:

    If you’re writing an application and you don’t like this behavior, look up WM_CHANGEUISTATE and specifically the UISF_HIDEFOCUS flag.