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Keyboard shortcuts to various System Preferences Laptop Macs
Using my MacBook Air (first gen), I mistakenly hit option-F11 (instead of fn-F11 to disperse all windows), and found I got taken to the Sound System Preferences panel. I tried this for the other Fn-keys and sure enough, I can access Displays, Expos & Spaces, and Keyboard System Preferences by just adding the Option key to the Fn key.

It's easier than right-clicking on the desktop to then access Change Desktop Background, which is not much faster than mousing to the Apple menu.

[robg adds: We've covered some of these shortcuts before, at least in passing, for older OS releases and older keyboards, but I don't think we've covered this particular implementation ... my apologies if this is a duplicate, however.]
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Keyboard shortcuts to various System Preferences
Authored by: poenn on Apr 20, '09 08:16:37AM

This is not quite correct. You only need to use ALT + special key (i.e. one of the brightness or volume keys or the Expos key).
The fn key is NOT needed unless you're on a portable Mac and have configured your function keys different.

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Keyboard shortcuts to various System Preferences
Authored by: jiclark on Apr 20, '09 09:19:38AM

I think you misread the hint. That's what they said: Opt- [Alt-] modifier key... They mentioned the fn key in reference to how they accessed Expose.

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Keyboard shortcuts to various System Preferences
Authored by: jiclark on Apr 20, '09 09:21:43AM

Aha! I see where you got confused:

"adding the Option key to the Fn key." It definitely should read "F-key" there, not "Fn key"...


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Keyboard shortcuts to various System Preferences
Authored by: u2mr2os2 on Apr 20, '09 07:34:33PM

Yes, let's make this clear: the keys are Function keys when you press "Fn" or when the key has no special function or if you've flipped the preference for the "F" keys to be function by default unless you press "Fn" to make them do the special function like volume, etc.

With Apple unifying the keyboard layout, the keys are generally the same for everyone, and so "F11" is on the same key as the "volume down" special function. The confusion comes when people say to press "F11", when really they mean "Volume down" because to get F11, most people add the Fn key, and you then don't get "volume down" anymore.

The same thing happens when people describe the shortcut key for switching to the next open window in an app. They say "command tilde", but it's really "command `" (back tick or grave accent), so they call the key by it's shifted character, tilde. This is potentially more confusing since "command+shift `" cycles in the reverse direction, and you can really say that it is actually "command tilde".

Anyhow, it seems obvious that what's going on in this hint is just what's been around for some time now, that pressing option plus a special key opens the related preference pane.

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Keyboard shortcuts to various System Preferences
Authored by: palahala on Apr 21, '09 12:31:27AM

...and then Apple makes things slightly more confusing by stating, for example, that Safari Zoom is mapped to Cmd + while also accepting Cmd = :-)

I still wonder why Apple replaced the  symbol for "cmd" on the new keyboards, but did not print "opt" next to the ⌥ on the option key as well -- now people who are using "alt" to refer to that key can no longer be blamed ;-) Of course, as the ⌥ is listed in the menus, it cannot be replaced by "opt" on the keyboard (in fact, usage in the menus is apparently why the symbol ⌘ for command is used, as Jobs did not like all the apple symbols in the menus). But then: why don't the keyboards show ⌃ for the control key as well...?

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Keyboard Viewer
Authored by: gshenaut on Apr 21, '09 07:38:16AM

There is a very useful "Keyboard Viewer" available through the International menu. It shows what characters will be transmitted by each combination of keys -- for example, on my keyboard, option-q produces œ. But when you press the command key, you don't get to see what the current shortcuts are for each key. This seems rather limited to me, and even inaccurate, in the sense that if you type, for example, 'C' while holding down the command key, the Keyboard Viewer suggests that a 'c' will be transmitted, but of course this is not the case--nothing is transmitted because cmd-C invokes the "copy to paste buffer" function.

So, I'm just complaining about what amounts to a bug, or at least a lost opportunity, for Keyboard Viewer to provide a solution to the problem of see quickly what keyboard shortcuts are currently active.

Greg Shenaut

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