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How to tab through options in OS prompt windows?

In windows if the OS window prompt pops up with options like “Save/Don’t Save/Cancel” or whatever, the tab key switches from one option to the other. What is the equivalent in Mac? So far I have to use the mouse to choose whatever’s not the default highlight. The tab key doesn’t work.

— Dhruv Mookerji

Comments: 3 Responses to “How to tab through options in OS prompt windows?”

    10 years ago

    Go to System Preferences. Keyboard, then Keyboard Shortcuts.
    At the bottom, look for “Full Keyboard Access: In windows and dialogs, press Tab to move keyboard focus between:”
    Switch it to “All controls”
    Now you can tab between buttons in those dialog boxes, and use the spacebar to select one.

      10 years ago

      Thank you so much, Gary. Apologies though…we all really should spend more time familiarising ourselves with all the nitty grittys of System Preferences, then we wouldn’t waste your time with these kinds of problems. Thanks, though!

    Mareo Raft
    8 years ago

    This feature is both a blessing and a curse. It allows you to tab through dialogue boxes, but it also forces you to tab through all the buttons on all of your applications.

    If you used to use tab in iTunes to go from the search to the playlists to the song field, for example, it now tabs through a lot of new fields you don’t want.

    I hope apple will separate this feature into two options. Seems like its everything or nothing right now.

    It seems that with the following keyboard shortcuts, you may be able to get by without the “All controls” option:

    ESC – selects CANCEL
    cmd+”.” – selects CANCEL
    cmd+”d” – selects DON’T SAVE
    cmd+”r” – selects REPLACE
    ENTER – selects the blue highlighted box

    “s” – selects SLEEP in the shutdown dialogue
    “r” – selects RESTART in the shutdown dialogue
    cmd+alt+eject – makes the compute sleep (this is a global shortcut, try it!)

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