Text Selection Handles (Qt 5.8)

March 25, 2017 — 6 Comments

Qt 5.8 brings some more support of Text Selection Handles, but there are still also some problems. Text Selection Handles are important to make it easy on touch devices to insert text, copy text, replace text or cut text. With 5.7 single taps to get a handle to move the insert position around already works.

Select words by double tap

Qt 5.8 also supports double tap to select words – but it doesn’t work as expected. This selection mode will only be enabled if you set

selectByMouse: true

on TextField or TextArea. This works fine with TextFields, but having TextArea inside Flickable makes scrolling difficult or impossible. Qt doesn’t know if you want to change the selection or scroll inside the TextField or scroll the Page. Users will be confused and it’s not easy to know where outside the Textfield scrolling works. Hopefully in Qt 5.9 this will befixed and double tap works without setting ‘selectByMouse’.

One of my app contains many TextAreas and users are waiting for word-selection-mode, so I developed some workarounds for 5.8.

To make it easier to distinguish where’s the TextArea I placed the TextArea on top of a Pane. Now you can tell your user to scroll the Page place fingers outside the TextArea:

As soon as TextArea gets active focus, 3 buttons will appear on the right side:

  • clear
  • toggle selection mode
  • done

As soon as the user does a double-tap on a word both text selection handlers become visible and it’s easy to move them around to select more or less.

Also please notice on top a menu to select all, cut, copy and paste.

On iOS this is different: at first do the double tap to select a word – then please do a long press on the selection to get a cut, copy, paste, delete menu just on top of the selection:

Single tap does work with or without setting ‘selectByMouse’:

To insert from clipboard do a long-press: ‘insert’ menu appears on top of cursor position.

Tap on the Toggle Button to set selectByMouse = false to make it easier to scroll also while inside the Textfield.

When you’re ready with text editing tap on the ‘Done’ Button. Done Button gets focus and all Handles disappear. Also Done and Toggle Button disappear.

As long as there’s some text, the clear Button makes it easy to clear the field:

Here’s the workaround. I placed all of this into ‘TextAreaRow.qml’ – then it will be easy to change when 5.9 comes out.

    id: remarksTextRow
    placeholderText: qsTr("Your Remarks (RETURN for new line)")
    text: tourDetail.remark
    onTextChanged: {
        tourDetail.remark = text
    onDone: {
        // do something: set active focus to another field or so
} // remarksTextRow

And here’s the implementation:

RowLayout {
    id: theTextRow
    signal done()
    property alias text: theTextField.text
    property alias placeholderText: theTextField.placeholderText
    property alias textField: theTextField
    property int minHeightTextPane: 140
    property bool doubleTapIsDefault: true
    Pane {
        id: textPane
        anchors.top: parent.top
        Material.elevation: 6
        Layout.fillWidth: true
        Layout.minimumHeight: theTextField.activeFocus? minHeightTextPane : 60
        TextArea {
            id: theTextField
            // Qt 5.8
            // only if set to true we can mark words by double tap
            selectByMouse: doubleTapIsDefault
            // important - otherwise text goes endless without wrapping
            width: parent.width
            text: ""
            wrapMode: TextArea.WordWrap
        } // theTextField
    } // text pane
    Column {
        spacing: 0
        anchors.top: textPane.top
        Layout.minimumWidth: textClearButton.visible || textSelectToggleButton.visible || textDoneButton.visible? 48 : 0
        ButtonIconActive {
            id: textClearButton
            anchors.horizontalCenter: parent.horizontalCenter
            visible: theTextField.activeFocus || theTextField.text.length
            focusPolicy: Qt.ClickFocus
            imageName: "clear.png"
            onClicked: {
                theTextField.text = ""
        } // textClearButton
        ButtonIconActive {
            id: textSelectToggleButton
            anchors.horizontalCenter: parent.horizontalCenter
            visible: theTextField.activeFocus
            focusPolicy: Qt.ClickFocus
            imageName: "code.png"
            onClicked: {
                theTextField.selectByMouse = !theTextField.selectByMouse
                if(theTextField.selectByMouse) {
                    appWindow.showToast(qsTr("Word Selection by Double Tap switched ON"))
                } else {
                    appWindow.showToast(qsTr("Word Selection by Double Tap switched OFF"))
        } // textSelectButton
        ButtonIconActive {
            id: textDoneButton
            anchors.horizontalCenter: parent.horizontalCenter
            visible: theTextField.activeFocus
            focusPolicy: Qt.ClickFocus
            imageName: "done.png"
            onClicked: {
                // we only need the focus
                // emit signal so users can give another field the activeFocus
        } // textDoneButton
} // row w text area

ButtonIconActive is a customized Button showing Icon. You’ll find all of this in my sample apps at Github – I also have updated QtWorldSummit Conference App.

On Android there are two bugs:

Selection handles overlap while scrolling (Android only)

The selection handle(s) can overlap the keyboard or selection menu:

Take a look at BUG 58700

Selection Handle visible when Component invisible

If the Component containing your TextField or TextArea becomes invisible and the TextField still has active focus, the handles will still be visible.

See BUG 58700

Workaround is easy: set focus to another field as soon as TextField becomes invisible.

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6 responses to Text Selection Handles (Qt 5.8)


    Thank you so much


    Still waiting for the promised push notifications in Qt. This is one of the most critical pieces in Qt mobile dev. Please come up with that tutorial.


    Thanks. I had already been through those links, I just haven’t given them a try yet, but I will soon.

      ekkescorner May 5, 2017 at 10:17

      later this year I’ll also add an own example app with push notifications (or add this to the upcoming QtWorldSummit 2017 Conference APP)
      at the moment just have developed Bluetooth LE example app. (blog and public repo will follow soon)


        Can’t wait already! I always go though this blog from time to time just to get up to date with the current developments. Thanks a lot for the effort you have put for the benefit of us all.

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