- 5.7. Keyboard Control
Mac OS X offers a fantastic feature for anyone who believes that life is too short:
keyboard-controllable menus, dialog boxes, pop-up menus, and even Dock pop-up
menus. You can operate every menu in every program without the mouse or add-on
In fact, you can operate every control in every dialog box from the keyboard, including
pop-up menus and checkboxes. And you can even redefine many of the built-in Mac OS
X keystrokes, like Shift- -3 to capture the screen as a graphic.
In fact, you can even add or change any menu command in any program. If you're a
keyboard-shortcut lover, your cup runneth over.
Here are some of the ways you can control your Mac mouselessly. In the following
descriptions, you'll encounter the factory settings for the keystrokes that do the magic—
but as you'll note in a moment, you can change these key combos to anything you like.
(That's fortunate, since many of them, out of the box, conflict with canned brightness and
volume keystrokes for laptops.)
5.7.1. Control the Menus
When you press Control-F2, the menu is highlighted. At this point, you can "walk"
to another menu by pressing the or keys (or Tab and Shift-Tab).When you reach
the menu you want, open it by pressing , Space, Return, or Enter.
Walk down the commands in the menu by pressing , or , or jump directly to a
command in the menu by typing the first couple letters of its name. Finally, "click" a
menu command by pressing Enter, Return, or the Space bar.
You can also close the menu without making a selection by pressing Esc or -period.
5.7.2. Control the Dock
Once you've pressed Control-F3, you can highlight any icon on the Dock by pressing the
appropriate arrow keys (or, once again, Tab and Shift-Tab).
- Then, once you've highlighted a Dock icon, you "click it" by pressing Enter or the Space
bar. Again, if you change your mind, press Esc or -period.
Tip: Once you've highlighted a disk or folder icon, you can press the , or keys to
make its shortcut menu appear. (If you've positioned the Dock vertically, use the left or
right arrow instead!)
5.7.3. Cycle Through Your Windows
Every time you press Control-F4, you bring the next window forward, eventually cycling
through every window in every open program. Add the Shift key to cycle through them in
the opposite order.
You may remember that Mac OS X offers a different keystroke for cycling through the
different windows in your current program (it's -~, the tilde symbol at the upper-left
of your keyboard). Control-F4, on the other hand, tours all windows in all programs. Both
keystrokes are useful in different situations.
5.7.4. Control the Toolbar
This one is on the unpredictable side, but it more-or-less works in most programs that
display a Mac OS X–style toolbar: the Finder, System Preferences, and so on.
When you press Control-F5, you highlight the first button on that toolbar. Move the
"focus" by pressing the arrow keys or Tab and Shift-Tab. Then tap Enter or the Space bar
to "click" the highlighted button.
5.7.5. Control Tool Palettes
In a few programs that feature floating tool palettes, you can highlight the frontmost
palette by pressing Control-F6.At this point, use the arrow keys to highlight the various
buttons on the palette. You can see the effect when, for example, you're editing text in
TextEdit and you've also opened the Font palette. Pressing Control-F6 highlights the Font
palette, taking the "focus" off your document.
5.7.6. Control Dialog Boxes
You can also navigate and manipulate any dialog box from the keyboard.
- See the dialog box shown in Figure 5-13? If you turn on "All controls" at the bottom,
then pressing the Tab key highlights the next control of any type, whatever it may be—
radio button, pop-up menu, and so on. Press the Space bar to "click" a button or open a
pop-up menu. Once a menu is open, use the arrow keys (or type letter keys) to highlight
commands on it, and the Space bar to "click" your choice.
Tip: Press Control-arrow keys to "click" the different tabs of a dialog box.
Figure 5-13. Turn off any checkboxes for keystrokes that you never use—especially
if they seem to conflict with identical keyboard shortcuts in your programs. In fact,
there's even a keystroke that turns off all of the "full keyboard access" keystrokes
(the ones that let you control menus, Dock, toolbars, palettes, and so on) all at once:
Control-F1. (Don't mean to hurt your brain, but you can actually turn off even that
5.7.7. Changing a Menu Command
Suppose you love iPhoto (and who doesn't?). But one thing drives you crazy: The Revert
to Original command, which discards all the changes you've ever made since taking the
photo, has no keyboard equivalent. You must trek up to the menu bar every time you
need that command.
Or maybe it drives you crazy that the Hide command is -H in most programs, but
not, for some nutty reason, in Photoshop.
This is why Mac OS X lets you add keyboard shortcuts to menu commands that lack
them—or change the command in programs whose key assignments break with
tradition.(It works in any program that uses the standard Mac OS X menu software,
which rules out Microsoft Word and the other Office programs.) Here's the routine:
1. Choose System Preferences. Click Keyboard & Mouse. Click the
Keyboard Shortcuts tab button.
You arrive at the dialog box shown in Figure 5-13.
- 2. Click the + button just beneath the list.
The dialog box shown in Figure 5-14 appears.
Figure 5-14. If you choose All Applications from the top pop-up menu, you
can change the keyboard combo for a certain combo command wherever it
appears. You could, for example, change the keystroke for Page Setup in
every program at once.
3. Indicate which program needs behavior modification.
In this example, you'd choose iPhoto from the Application pop-up menu. (If the
program's name doesn't appear in the pop-up menu, choose Other; navigate to, and
double-click, the program you want.)
4. Carefully type in the name of the menu command whose keyboard shortcut you
want to change or add.
Type it exactly as it appears in the menu, complete with capitalization and the
little ellipsis (…) that may follow it. (You make the ellipsis character by pressing
5. Click in the Keyboard Shortcut box.Press the new or revised key combo you want.
For example, press Control-R for iPhoto's Revert to Original command. You'll see
the Mac's notation of your keystroke appear in the Keyboard Shortcut box—
unless, of course, the combo you selected is already in use within that program. In
that case, you hear only an error sound that means "Try again."
6. Click Add.
The dialog box closes. By scrolling down in your Keyboard Shortcuts list, you'll
see that the keystroke you selected has now been written down for posterity under
the appropriate program's flippy triangle. (To get rid of it, click its name and then
click the – button beneath the list.)
The next time you open the program you edited, you'll see that the new keystroke is in