Keep your hands on the keys

Keep your hands on the keys
Mac Tip #185/02-Mar-2005

Computer users generally have a preference for how they operate their machine:

  • mainly by mouse
  • mainly by keyboard
  • both keyboard and mouse

Some people prefer to use their mouse to point and click at things on screen, choose commands from menus, drag documents to the Trash and so on. This is a perfectly valid choice.

Others, though, prefer to keep their hands on the keyboard and choose menu commands with keystrokes, move documents to the trash with Command Delete, select sections of text by using Shift and the arrow keys, and so on.

Access menu items by keyboard

Recently a client asked me how to access the menu items by keyboard alone. If you have Panther you can access any menu item by keystroke.

First go to the System Preferences (under the blue Apple menu) and visit the Keyboard Shortcuts section of Keyboard and Mouse. Check the box at the bottom of the window to turn on full keyboard access. Then look at the list of ready-made shortcuts. You’ll see there are many things you can do. The item we need is: Focus on Menu.

Note you can also use that section to add your own personal keyboard shortcuts.

To access the menu bar press Control F2 and the Apple menu will open up. Then use the arrow keys to move around or press Escape to get out. After highlighting any particular menu item press Return to activate it.

If you’re using a Powerbook or iBook and Control F2 simply changes screen brightness then try holding down the Function key (bottom left of the keyboard) at the same time.

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