Mac OS X to the Max: Inputting More Better and Faster

No matter what you do, you will be inputting information constantly. Use the information in this section to do that better and faster.

Getting the Most from Keyboard Shortcuts

Using keyboard shortcuts is a great way to work both faster and smarter. Mac OS X includes support for many keyboard shortcuts by default. As you have seen throughout this book, many areas of the OS and within applications provide keyboard shortcuts you can use.

Using Keyboard Navigation

One of the least used, but most useful, aspects of using keyboard shortcuts is keyboard navigation. You can use the keyboard to access almost any area on your Mac in any application, including the Finder. For example, you can open any menu item by using only keys even if that item does not have a keyboard shortcut assigned to it.

First, configure keyboard navigation:

  1. Open the Keyboard Shortcuts tab of the Keyboard & Mouse pane of the System Preferences application.

  2. Make sure the "Turn on full keyboard access" check box is checked.

  3. Review the list of Keyboard Navigation and Dock shortcuts to make sure the ones you want to use are enabled (see Table 22.1 for the details).

  4. If you want to use a keyboard shortcut that is different from the default, double-click the default and change it to a new combination.

  5. Quit the System Preferences application.

Table 22.1. Keyboard Navigation and Dock Keyboard Shortcuts


What It Does

Default Keyboard Shortcut

Turn keyboard access on or off

Enables or disables the use of certain keys, such as the Tab key, to navigate.


Focus on Menu

Opens the first menu on the current menu bar; use the Tab or arrow keys to move to other menu items.


Focus on Dock

Makes the Dock active; use the Tab or arrow keys to move to icons on the Dock.


Focus on Window (active) or new window

Moves into the currently active window or takes you to the next window if you are already in a window.


Focus on Toolbar

If you are using an application with a toolbar, such as the System Preferences application, this makes the toolbar active. Use the Tab or arrow keys to select a button on the toolbar.


Focus on Utility window (palette)

Moves you into the first tool palette, and then each palette in order.


Rotate Windows

Moves you among the open windows in any application, such as he Finder, Word, and so on.


Toggle focus for any control within windows

Moves you to the next control within a window, such as to a pop-up menu, text box, and so on.


Automatically hide and show the Dock.

Hides or shows the Dock

graphics/mac.gif -Option-D

Using the shortcuts in Table 22.1, you can move to and select just about anything you can see. For example, to select a menu command, press the Focus on Menu shortcut (Control-F2 by default) and use the right-arrow or Tab key to move to the menu on which the command is located. As you do, that menu opens. Use the down-arrow key to move to the command you want to select and press Return to activate the command.

As another example, when you are working with an application that has a toolbar, press the shortcut for the Focus on Toolbar command, use the Tab key to select the tool you want to use, and press Return to use it.


Some applications don't support all aspects of keyboard navigation. For example, in Microsoft Word, you can't select radio button options using the arrow keys, which is too bad.

Adding Keyboard Shortcuts for Application Commands


You can add keyboard shortcuts to commands within Mac OS X applications using the following steps:

  1. Open the Keyboard Shortcuts tab of the Keyboard & Mouse pane of the System Preferences application.

  2. Click the Add Shortcut button (+) at the bottom of the window. The Add Application sheet appears.

  3. Select the application for which you want to create a shortcut on the Application pop-up menu. If the application isn't listed, select Other and use the Open Application dialog box to choose the application. To set a shortcut for all applications, select All Applications.

  4. In the Menu Title box, type the exact command name for which you want to create a shortcut. If the command contains an ellipsis, you need to include that as well.


    To type an ellipsis, use the Character palette.

  5. In the Keyboard Shortcut field, enter the shortcut for the command.

  6. Click Add. When you return to the Keyboard Shortcuts tab, the shortcut you added is listed under the related application under the Application Keyboard Shortcuts section.


At the time this book went to press, this feature was still not working properly in the final release of OS X Panther, but this is how it should work. Hopefully, this will be fixed in a point release soon!

Get Serious

If you want to make keyboard shortcuts work even better, consider adding a macro application to your Mac. My favorite is QuicKeys. Using this application, you can create macros to perform almost any series of steps and then activate the macro with a keyboard shortcut or by clicking a button on a toolbar.

Using QuicKeys you can easily create a keyboard shortcut for any action or series of actions you want to perform. For example, you can record a series of steps and perform those steps by pressing the keyboard shortcut you assign to the macro you create. If you want to take your personal and your Mac's productivity to the next level, get a copy of QuicKeys as soon as you can.



To learn more about QuicKeys, visit

    Part I: Mac OS X: Exploring the Core
    Part III: Mac OS X: Living the Digital Life