What happened to text copy on iPad? June 27, 2022 6:08 PM   Subscribe

Sometime in about the last week, the ability to copy text, say, from a comment or a post, has been lost on my iPad. If I try to copy text, I am confronted with only the choice to copy an image—an image that appears to be the blue background. I am no longer able to select or copy text in either Safari or Chrome on iOS (iPad in my case). I have tested several other sites and this frustrating deficit seems to be limited to metafilter. Have somehow, after years of participation with iPad somehow lost my way?
posted by bz to Bugs at 6:08 PM (22 comments total)

Really curious about this. Is this an older iPad? Can you go to Settings > About and let us know the software version and model name?
posted by michaelh at 9:23 PM on June 27, 2022

This is interesting because I am also having trouble copying text on my new iPad and newish iPhone. No idea if this is related, but when I try to select text, it shoots the page back up to the top and the text is not selected. No idea if this is related. The OS for both is 15.5. My iPhone is an SE (latest version) and my iPad is a 5th gen iPad Pro.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:11 PM on June 27, 2022

I was unable to reproduce this issue, even trying all of the themes, on my iPhone or iPad, both on 15.5. To check:
* have you rebooted your devices?
* what theme are you using? Does it persist if you change it in Preferences?
posted by Pronoiac at 4:18 AM on June 28, 2022

i checked Reddit, of course there's r/ipad, likely to be a useful resource.
posted by theora55 at 11:27 AM on June 28, 2022

Mod note: Hi there! Just chiming in to say that this is something frimble is aware of but hasn't been prioritized due to the recent site outages.
posted by loup (staff) at 1:36 PM on June 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

No idea if this is related, but when I try to select text, it shoots the page back up to the top and the text is not selected.

That’s been going on for quite a while now despite some direct and indirect poking at the Apple Safari engineers.

You can sort of get around it by double tapping on a word but holding down after the second tap and sliding over the entire selection before lifting your finger.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:22 PM on June 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

What do people have in common (hardware, iOS version, Safari extensions) that are having either of these issues (the text copied as image or the scroll up to top?) I can't get them to happen on the modern dark theme on 15.5.
posted by michaelh at 1:22 PM on June 29, 2022

I apologize. I posted this and forgot I had. When I get back home, I will post the iOS version/model info. I do know this: the inability to copy text is new within just the past week or so and there have been no updates made to the (circa 2017) iPad or browser.

I use this iPad for almost all of my metafilter consumption so it is very familiar to me and this is certainly a change in behavior. Text copy has not been affected on any other site, only metafilter.
posted by bz at 1:38 PM on June 29, 2022


Do you have the problem where attempting to select text (in particular expand or contract the selection) at the bottom of long threads causes the thread to scroll to the top?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:27 PM on June 29, 2022

Tell Me No Lies,

No. I just cannot select any text at all any more. Any "click" produces a dialog/hover that only has options to deal with images. It doesn't even recognize that there is text under the cursor. I've not ever seen anything like it before. But only on this site.

I can select metafilter text on my iPhone 12. Yes, I have re-started the iPad. This happens whether using Safari or Chrome on iPad.
posted by bz at 3:27 PM on June 29, 2022

iPad info:
Model: iPad Air 2
Version: 15.3.1

The dialog box that comes up when I try to select text shows that it thinks I am trying to select an image that is hosted on cloudfront.net, specifically a file named:


I am given the option to Save, Copy, Open or "Search Google for this image."
posted by bz at 8:56 AM on June 30, 2022

I also have an iPad Air 2, though my software version is 15.5. I don't have either of these problems in Safari or Chrome. I can select text and copy it and the page stays scrolled to the comment I was reading.
posted by soelo at 1:59 PM on June 30, 2022

On my iPad Mini 4 (running 15.5) I've got a weird behavior where trying to select text first results in a selection with no handles. I can drag the edges where the handles would be, and on about the third drag both handles appear. But this also happened on another site I just tried at random so I think that's more likely an iPadOS/Safari bug than a Metafilter bug.

Do you have any accessibility features enabled?
posted by fedward at 3:02 PM on June 30, 2022

/images/mefi/mefiback091911.png seems to be the CSS body background image in the classic theme:
body {
    color: #fff;
    margin: 0;
    padding: 0;
    font-size: 12px;
    font-family: Verdana, sans-serif;
    background: #069 url(../../images/mefi/mefiback091911.png) repeat-x
Even if I change my theme to classic on my iPad I'm unable to replicate the copy behavior, but I'm wondering if changing to, say, the modern dark theme on yours would rectify it.
posted by fedward at 3:39 PM on June 30, 2022


I don't have the scrolling problem, just the no-select problem.


I have no accessibility features turned on that I know about. I haven't even opened the settings menu for… months (except to check the version this morning). I will double check but this behavior seems to have come out of nowhere. It is a head-scratcher that it is only on metafilter and is on both Safari and Chrome.

I'll try changing themes tonight when I get home (late tonight, alas).
posted by bz at 4:11 PM on June 30, 2022

Weird. I just updated the OS on my iPad mini 5 like a couple minutes ago, and text selection appears to be totally normal.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:34 PM on June 30, 2022

To be specific, you need to be down into a thread (this message is far enough), do a single press and lift to select a single word, and then go to expand that selection by dragging the dot on one side or the other of the selected word.

If you’re experiencing the bug you will immediately scroll to the top of the page when you try to drag the dot.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:39 PM on June 30, 2022

I'm not experiencing the select/scroll thing as I can't get a text selection at all.

No joy on the changing themes approach.
posted by bz at 10:52 PM on June 30, 2022

I have a 3rd gen iPad Pro running 15.5 and can't reproduce this problem. I'm running the Modern Dark theme on MeFi and test selection works as expected.
posted by dg at 1:10 PM on July 1, 2022

I can't get the text selection bug to occur on any length of thread now, but TMNL's instructions helped me remember making it happen on a 6th gen iPad on iPadOS 13 or 14.

No question from me that the Safari engine on iPad contains oddities!
posted by michaelh at 1:55 PM on July 1, 2022

FWIW, I’m on Safari on an iPhone (almost always), and I can’t select text to highlight for linking without the cursor jumping around, or the url inserting itself at the beginning of the comment. This happens even when I try to do it manually. (Frustrating for me and probably the mods who have kindly corrected my comments. My apologies.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:15 AM on July 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

News: Text selection now works on Safari but not Chrome. So weird.
posted by bz at 8:15 PM on July 2, 2022

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