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Enable true laptop function keys with 10.3.3 System
This is a nice detail for PowerBook users. One persistant annoyance with OS X on PowerBooks for programmers has been the way it forces you to hold down the "fn" key to use the function keys as normal function keys. If you don't hold it down then you get, for example, the brightness or volume controls. This is really annoying to programmers, who typically have macros bound to function keys and need them infinitely more often than the brightness controls. There have been a variety of hacks, including a feature in uControl, to enable "real" function keys.

With the 10.3.3 update, there's a new checkbox in the keyboard preferences pane labeled "Use the F1-F12 keys for custom actions." If you check it, then you get "real" function keys, while holding down fn gives you the brightness, sound, etc controls. Kudos to Apple for this -- it's always nice to be able to drop a hack in favor of an official feature!

[robg adds: I can attest it's not just programmers who value those 12 keys! I use them to hot-launch certain apps or tasks. Also, we don't generally run "look at this dialog box option" hints, but since Apple chose to sneak this one into the 10.3.3 update, I felt it was worth a mention.]
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Enable true laptop function keys with 10.3.3 | 15 comments | Create New Account
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Enable true PowerBook function keys with 10.3.3
Authored by: gospodin_david on Mar 22, '04 11:38:05AM

Thank God! This was one thing that OS 9 had right. It is all the more appreciated with the advent of Expose.



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Enable true PowerBook function keys with 10.3.3
Authored by: rattler14 on Mar 22, '04 12:40:19PM

YES! Oh man, I've been waiting for this for quite some time. I didn't even think to look after I updated to 10.3.3. Thanks a bunch for sending this along, as it was causing me endless amounts of frustration.



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Enable true PowerBook function keys with 10.3.3
Authored by: totallyGreg on Mar 22, '04 03:28:45PM

It's about $@%#'ing time. Thank you so much for running this hint!! uControl doesn't work under 10.3.3 and it probably would have taken me months to figure out apple had finally restored more functionality to OS X.



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Enable true PowerBook function keys with 10.3.3
Authored by: blalor on Mar 22, '04 03:55:10PM

I'm using uControl 1.4.1 (hacked by yours truly to work with 10.3.2) and it continues to work fine with 10.3.3. I've also heard that uControl 1.4.2 works fine with 10.3.3. I find the trackpad scrolling feature of uControl to be absolutely essential, but I'm going to give the built-in function key swapper a whirl.



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Enable true PowerBook function keys with 10.3.3
Authored by: joemaller on Mar 22, '04 03:29:24PM

Funny thing is, after a couple of years without them I'm finding it difficult to switch back. I almost wish it was application specific.



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Enable true PowerBook function keys with 10.3.3
Authored by: MattHaffner on Mar 22, '04 04:31:45PM

I'm using 1.4.1 with 10.3.3 right now too (Ti PB G4). No problems at all.



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Doesn't last through sleep!
Authored by: scaryfish on Mar 22, '04 04:39:14PM

Aargh! If I put my iBook to sleep, when it wakes up they've reverted back to the default behaviour - I have to go to the control panel and uncheck and then re-check the box to get it back to "normal".

Ah well, back to uControl for me.

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Doesn't last through sleep!
Authored by: Anonymous on Mar 22, '04 09:43:23PM

I'm not experiencing this problem, and I'm on an iBook.



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Doesn't last through sleep!
Authored by: n8gray on Mar 23, '04 03:22:09AM
Bloody hell, you're right.

Well, I'm off to file my third bug of the night...

Which reminds me -- if you find a problem PLEASE REPORT IT TO APPLE! They can't fix what they don't know about!

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Doesn't last through sleep!
Authored by: scaryfish on Mar 23, '04 04:25:42AM
Ok, got it fixed. Some kind person emailled me and said that this problem was actually caused by uControl.

I've disabled uControl, rebooted, and the problem has indeed gone away. Which is good, as this was pretty much the only reason I was using uControl anyway.

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Doesn't last through sleep!
Authored by: rodl2 on Mar 23, '04 12:03:36PM

when sticky keys is turned on in the accessibly options, the setting doesn't stay, no matter what, it reverts back to having to hold down fn+fkey to get the regular fkeys

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"He who limps still walks." -Stanislaw Lec

"If it moves and it shouldn't, use duct tape. If it doesn't move and it should, use WD-40." --CC



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Enable true PowerBook function keys with 10.3.3
Authored by: nwfrg on Mar 22, '04 04:42:42PM
Wow is this overdue!! For a while I was booting into 9 and changing it there and booting back into OSX (as mentioned in this hint) but somewhere along that quit working too. Now I'm downloading the 10.3.3 update just so I can get my function keys back! I was considering gettting an external keyboard just so I could have the function keys easily. More thanks for posting this hint.

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Enable true laptop function keys with 10.3.3
Authored by: Anonymous on Mar 23, '04 02:51:42AM

I have no idea if anyone has already discovered this, but those computers that are still able to boot into OS 9 can disable the "special" function keys in the OS 9 keyboard control panel. While this does require a reboot, i have never had it reset or anything like that.



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Enable true laptop function keys with 10.3.3
Authored by: laurion on Mar 23, '04 03:15:17PM

Anyone know how to do this on a desktop? I'd love to be able to get rid of f14 and f15 as contrast keys, so I can remap them to iTunes control keys...



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Enable true laptop function keys with 10.3.3
Authored by: asan102 on Mar 23, '04 07:07:05PM

I second that. Us desktop users are privileged to already have our regular F1-F12 (or F13 on the new keyboards) keys, but F14-F20 (with the strange exception of F16) are reserved. F14, 15 and 16 would be perfect for iTunes Play/Pause, Forward, and Reverse controls as they are on their own separate island above the arrow keys, but F14 and F15 are used for brightness and contrast. I rarely need them, so it would be nice to have the ability to re-assign them.

I wonder, if you changed this preference with the terminal (if it's accessible that way) would it work on desktops too?



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