MacMost Now 811: Controlling Your Mac With Your Keyboard

You can use the menu bar and the Dock with your keyboard. Learn the shortcuts to activate the menu bar and Dock, and navigate around to select a command. You can also use various other keyboard shortcuts to get to other key functionality.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 811: Controlling Your Mac With Your Keyboard.

Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's take a look at how to control your Mac using only your keyboard.

So if you prefer using your keyboard as much as possible and your mouse as little as possible well there is a lot you can do with your Mac if you know the proper key combinations.

The first thing you want to do is to go to System Preferences and under system preferences go to Keyboard. Then make sure you have this checked (Use all F1, F2, etc) as standard function keys. If you don't have it checked that means that they will be used for things such as playing on iTunes, volume control, brightness control and things like that. You have to press the fn key to do the opposite. To make things simpler here you want to have that checked so that pressing F1 means pressing F1 not lowering the brightness.

Now once we have that we go over to Keyboard shortcuts. Here is a bunch of different categories. But we are going to look today in the Keyboard and Text Input category. You can see there is lots of cool things here. These are all the defaults. Yours may be different if you changed them. So it is important to check what yours is so you can see before you try some of these out.

So for instance one of the ones here is to Move focus to the Menu Bar. You can see this is "Control" F2 not command key Not the key with the apple on it but Control. So you want to go and hit Control and F2 and you can see now that the Apple Menu got highlighted on the top left hand corner. I can use my arrow keys now to move through the menus and if I want the down arrow to move down in there and hit the space or return to actually activate something.

So for instance we can go under About System Preferences, go down here, I'll hit return and I'll get the About System Preferences box. So that is how you navigate to the Menu Bar with just the keyboard and activate a menu there.

You can do the same thing with the Dock. You can see here we've got Move focus to the Dock with "Control" and F3. This brings up the Dock and I can use the arrows to move left to right and even the up arrow to move up and see what's available there. In this case Recent Documents, all sorts of things, and I can navigate using the arrow keys and actually select something. So if I wanted to open up a document I could.

So you can see here we've got some other ones. "Control" F4 to Move to the next window. So you can move through all the different windows through all the apps using Control F4. Then if you wanted to go and use something in the Toolbar of a window you can use "Control" F5.

For instance let's do Control F4 and move to a next window which is a finder window here. We do Control F5 and we can see that now the Back button at the top there has a highlight and I can actually activate by hitting the spacebar or move down arrow to actually activate what is on that menu.

Now this is less than perfect because if I go to the right I can't. The next item there, the forward button, is inactive and for some reason doesn't let you go forward anymore. If I go back there, now I have both forward and back button, so I can do Control F5 and I can move between those back and forth. So it is just going to allow me to do those. I won't allow me to do the other items here at the top of the screen unfortunately.

You have tons of other keyboard shortcuts that are included in here and the keyboard shortcuts in Menus. So it is important to know those if you are going to control everything. For instance if you go to the Finder here you can use the Go menu and you can see there are tons of keyboard shortcuts here for going quickly to different folders. For instance the Download folder, the Desktop folder. So if you are on all those it is much easier to get around with than to just actually always going to the menu or the Dock.

So one of the things that a lot of people find surprising is to do Control F4 to get all the way to the Safari window here. In Safari, of course, there is a lot of keyboard shortcuts here at the top that you can get to know. But a lot of people don't realize some very simple things. For instance right here without any modification I can choose the up and down arrow keys to actually scroll through this page. It is very easy to scroll through a webpage. Sometimes easier than using the mouse especially since the scroll bar isn't always there. It is only there when you are actually actively scrolling. Sometimes it is hard to grab onto.

One final setting to look at is the setting that is here where you can change how keyboard access works. Either to only go to Text boxes and lists only or to All controls. You can see "Control" F7 will actually let you change that. It is the first item up here.

For instance, let's go to the Finder here and in the Finder I will use Control F5 and I will go back and forth you can see between selecting something in the Finder here and Control F5 will then go up to the search bar. If I go into Control F7 to change how that works I now find that Control F5 goes between the Tool Bar at the top and the items there in the window.

Now the last part is a little tricky. You will find that different apps work differently depending upon whether you have Control F7 turned on or off and what other types of controls you are trying to use. So try it out with your favorite apps.
Try it out with that turned on and that turned off and see exactly how it works. After a while you will get used to having your favorite apps work with these keyboard commands if you decide you want to use them.

Hope you found this useful. This is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 2 Responses to “MacMost Now 811: Controlling Your Mac With Your Keyboard”

    Robert Minot
    6 years ago

    Additional tip: after using F2 to highlight the apple menu, any menu can be accessed directly by typing the first letter or 2 of its name. Pressing return will display the menu. Any item in the menu can be highlighted by typing the first letter or 2 of its name. Want to quickly access an item in the finder’s Recent Folders submenu? Press ctrl F2, then G for the Go menu, then press return, then R for Recent Folders, then the right arrow and select any item typing the first letter or 2 of its name

    Robert Minot
    6 years ago

    Dock items also can be selected by typing the first letter or three of their name.

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