Keyboard shortcuts for dialog boxes in Mac OS X

Keyboard shortcuts for dialog boxes in Mac OS X

Since I switched to Mac OS X from Windows over a year ago there have been a few little things that have been bugging me with the UI and keyboard. For example, in Xcode keyword completion was done with the escape key, and I had been used to using CTRL+SPACE with Visual Studio. Apple have now resolved this in Xcode 4, and you can use either keyboard shortcut.

Similarly, in Windows, if you had a dialog box appear you could easily use the keyboard to select your preferred option. With Mac OS X I found I had to use the mouse. I hadn’t realised you can use the keyboard, and you just need to enable the feature.

To enable the keyboard in dialog boxes you just need to follow these simple steps:

  • Go to System Preferences and select Keyboard.
  • Select the Keyboard Shortcuts tab.
  • Change the radio button for Full Keyboard Access to All controls.

Now when you have a dialog box appear you can tab to get the focus where you want it, and use the cursor keys to select the button you want. Note that you have to press SPACE rather than RETURN. If you press RETURN the default button will be activated.

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