Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Activate some dialog boxes via first-letter key presses Apps
Everyone knows that you can execute the default (highlighted) action in a dialog (Cancel or OK) by pressing the Enter or Return keys. But did you know you can hit the first letter of a non-highlighted button in many programs to activate that option?

For example, in iTunes if you Command-Delete a song to delete it, you'll be presented with a dialog box confirming that you want to delete the song. The box has three buttons: Cancel, Keep Files, and Move to Trash. The Keep Files option is highlighted, but if you hit the M key, it will move the selection to the trash. It doesn't work in all apps, but it does for many.

[robg adds: This is different than a prior hint, which noted that there are command-key shortcuts for some unhighlighted selections -- Command-D for Don't Save, etc. Beyond iTunes, I'm not sure where else this works. I tested Safari and TextEdit and Mail...]
    •    
  • Currently 1.00 / 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  (1 vote cast)
 
[4,885 views]  

Activate some dialog boxes via first-letter key presses | 12 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'Activate some dialog boxes via first-letter key presses' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Activate some dialog boxes via first-letter key presses
Authored by: NB on Jun 26, '06 08:15:05AM

You can do it on the power-management dialog box displayed when hitting the power button on the keyboard (for those that have one) or hitting Ctrl-eject.

Then you can hit "s" to suspend activity or "r" to reboot.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Activate some dialog boxes via first-letter key presses
Authored by: osxpounder on Jun 26, '06 04:00:12PM

Wow, thanks for mentioning Ctrl-Eject. Didn't know that one.

---
--
What clown designed the iPod calendar reminder, which won't show you the Location field? Guess they always meet in the same room at Apple?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Activate some dialog boxes via first-letter key presses
Authored by: hineault on Jun 26, '06 07:33:56PM

Office 2004 does this too for its three options, save, don't save, and cancel.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Activate some dialog boxes via first-letter key presses
Authored by: JimAkin on Jun 26, '06 08:16:59AM

Most Windows dialog boxes operate as described, so maybe this is a byproduct of iTunes's cross-platform pedigree. It's one of very few Windows behaviors I wish for when working in OS X; I for one would love to see it elevated to a UI standard.

Cheers,

Jim

---
Jim



[ Reply to This | # ]
Activate some dialog boxes via first-letter key presses
Authored by: kkL on Jun 26, '06 08:29:33AM

It works like that in Photoshop too (hmm, another portable app...)

Too bad it doesn't work in all applications. I really like this behavior. OTOH I always have to think twice before deciding wheather hit space or return...



[ Reply to This | # ]
Activate some dialog boxes via first-letter key presses
Authored by: osxpounder on Jun 26, '06 04:04:04PM

If it's so stinkin' portable, why hasn't Adobe ported it to Intel Mac yet?
:)

Sorry, couldn't resist a pun. Anyway, that's an interesting thing they both have in common. Are you thinking that portable apps are more likely to do this first-letter dialog trick than others? Hmm.

I just wish the OSX interface were completely consistent, so that this trick always worked [or maybe the CMD-firstletter trick, but this is better because it's less typing].

---
--
What clown designed the iPod calendar reminder, which won't show you the Location field? Guess they always meet in the same room at Apple?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Activate some dialog boxes via first-letter key presses
Authored by: gizmo on Jun 26, '06 09:18:23AM

Usually when a dialog window pops up I will tab through the buttons until a blue ring appears around the one I want. Then I just hit spacebar. In fact any time a button (default or not) that has the blue ring around it, hitting spacebar will press it.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Activate some dialog boxes via first-letter key presses
Authored by: wuf810 on Jun 26, '06 10:02:49AM

Been like this for years or at least it has been with the Sleep, Shutdown, restart, cancel box when pressing the power button...



[ Reply to This | # ]
tab and spacebar method
Authored by: bitwise on Jun 26, '06 11:59:44AM

For the tab and spacebar method to work, full keyboard access must be set to all controls under keyboard shortcuts in the keyboard and mouse preferences.



[ Reply to This | # ]
tab and spacebar method
Authored by: osxpounder on Jun 26, '06 04:06:49PM

Sadly, even with "Full Keyboard Access" enabled, the interface is horribly inconsistent from app to app -- even some OSX dialog boxes and "sheets" sometimes fail to respond to tabbing. Again, I sure wish OSX was internally consistent, at least.

---
--
What clown designed the iPod calendar reminder, which won't show you the Location field? Guess they always meet in the same room at Apple?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Classic OS convention
Authored by: j0nathan on Jun 26, '06 04:45:03PM

This is a convention that actually pre-dates OS X and I used to find reliable, though I've noticed is sporadically implemented in OS X. I'm not a developer though would hazard a guess that X Code doesn't implement this by default where the older development environments may have



[ Reply to This | # ]
doesn't work in localizations
Authored by: moritzh on Jun 28, '06 01:31:36AM

I've just tried this out with the restart/shutdown dialog box. My language is set to German, however, so the options are "Neu starten" (=Restart), "Ruhezustand" (=Sleep), "Abbrechen" (=Cancel) and "Ausschalten" (Shut down). Pressing R for "_R_uhezustand" _r_estarted my machine to my surprise, however.

Indeed, as I found out afterwards the key shortcuts seem to be hardwired to the English original strings. Now, also considering that often enough several options start with the same letter (such as "Abbrechen" and "Ausschalten") and that the shortcuts are undocumented anyway, this seems like a much too risky `feature' to rely on, both in languages other than English and in English itself.

I will thus certainly stick with the old method using tab/return/space bar and avoid ever running into situations where something like "don't save" is executed when I mean to have my data saved just because of this feature.



[ Reply to This | # ]