A very annoying little thing or bug on Safari

Sometimes software details and animations are delightful, and sometimes they make you want to throw your computer out of the window. The past couple of weeks I’ve encountered one of the most frustrating bug — I’ll call it a bug — of my Mac life.

On Safari, when you right-click an image link to open it in a new tab, the contextual menu sometimes adds a “Copy Subject” menu. It has been doing this since the release of Ventura. And it does this with a slight delay, shifting everything up under your mouse cursor, and making me click on “open in a new window” instead of “in a new tab.”

Here it is in action in this video.

This “bug” or “threat on my well-being” seems to only manifest itself when the link is located on the bottom half of the screen, when there isn’t room for it to appear at the bottom of the menu. Also, it seems to only happens with some image links — not all of them — so it’s rare enough that you manage to forget about it for a while, and then fall into the trap when you least expect to. Suddenly, out of nowhere, you open a new window instead of a tab.

The one site I’ve encountered this the most is France 24, which I check every day. It also happens with the New York Times website. If you right-click the title of an article — usually a link on a homepage — you’re fine, but if you right-click on the image of the same article, and move the mouse cursor to “open in a new tab” you’re in for a surprise. One second later, when the “Copy Subsject” menu is added, the whole contextual menu “moves up” just before you click. This happens mostly on news websites, where article thumbnails double as links. It feels like it knows when to appear: just early enough so you see it, but late enough so you can’t avoid it. Tricky little devil.

Searching for this issue, I’ve found a couple of places with people complaining about it too, including this [discussion board] on Apple website, and this thread on Ars Technica.

I can’t understand how developers at Apple let something like this out in the wild. In the regular MacOS menus from the top menu bar, when a menu item isn’t activated, it’s just greyed out, so all the menu items are always at the same location on the screen. Why isn’t this the same here? I’ve recently wrote about the state of Android apps being inconsistent and weird, and this is — in a way — a very “Android-esque” behaviour for a native MacOS app: we’re talking about Safari here.

Most of the time, I use Command+Click to open a link in a new tab, but sometimes I am holding a cup of coffee in my hand and right-click is how I open links. Everytimes it happens I may express myself loudly using French very bad words, and nobody wants to hear that.

What does “Copy Subject” do anyway? Well it does this neat thing of lifting the main subject of an image from the background, like it does on iOS when you long press a picture. Not sure this needs a dedicated entry on the right-click menu on Safari, and especially not one implemented like this, but here we are.

Definitely sharing this on the Annoying Technology blog.