How to master the keyboard on Mac OS X?

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The most you can accomplish with the keyboard when you first start up a Mac and master the keyboard on Mac OS X is type using the regular characters that make up the English language plus a few keyboard shortcuts that you are accustomed to. However, you can go much beyond by master the keyboard on Mac OS X, in ways that many may not realize, and in this post, we’ll look at the several ways you might achieve that.

Keyboard Preference Panel: Master the keyboard on Mac OS X

The easiest place to start is probably the Keyboard option pane in System Preferences, which most readers are probably already familiar with. However, let me briefly review it for you. To type more quickly, the most apparent thing that professional typists would want to do is raise the key repetition rate and lower the wait until repeat. The highest settings for each are where we’ve found typing to be the most productive, although you might feel more at ease at slower rates.

Additionally, you want to turn on the “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in menu bar” feature. This is a useful feature that we will discuss in more detail later in the post. You may modify the way your modifier keys, such as Caps Lock, Control, Option, and Command, behave by clicking this Modifier Keys button, which will open a sheet. If you don’t find the Caps Lock key very useful, there are two useful applications for it: (a) turning it off; and (b) switching the Command and Option keys around if your keyboard isn’t Mac-optimized.

Personalized Keyboard Shortcuts

The first thing you need to do is change the “Full Keyboard Access” setting to “All controls” in the Keyboard Shortcuts page (you can alternatively accomplish this by using the Ctrl+F7 shortcut). The Cancel button will have a faint blue glow surrounding it the next time you are gazing at a sheet with the options Cancel and Discard, signalling that you can push the button by tapping the spacebar. The Tab key is used to switch between different UI buttons and interactive components.

This page lists several system applications and functions on the left, along with keyboard shortcuts for them on the right.This is an excellent approach to become accustomed to the keyboard shortcuts that you may use in different areas of Mac OS X. Additionally, you have the option to alter any of them to whatever you find more comfortable. Apple provides you with a list of frequently used keyboard shortcuts for Mac OS X, but Dan Rodney, a graphics lecturer and designer, offers a far more extensive and logical list on his website.

Adding your own custom keyboard shortcuts is the true excitement, though. You could become annoyed reaching for the menu bar repeatedly to obtain commands you use regularly, such as the Export option in many programs or the Merge All Windows command in Safari.

To begin creating a new keyboard shortcut, navigate to the Application Shortcuts option and press the Add (+) button. Use the Other option at the bottom of the screen to browse through your Applications folder or select any program from the ones shown in the Application menu. You must input the menu title of the command you wish to make a shortcut for once you’ve chosen an app, like Safari. Enter a keyboard shortcut in the following area after making sure it is precisely how you see it in the app’s menus.

The shortcut you make will work with all of the system’s programs that have the option “All Applications” available in their menus, even if you choose that option in the Applications menu rather than one particular app. A excellent place to start is with the “Export…” command, which, when combined with the Cmd+Shift+S shortcut, may restore the Save As option to a lot of programs that were lost after the upgrade from Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard to 10.7 Lion.

Modifying the Language of the System

To avoid your computer spelling “humour” as “humor” and “organize” as “organize,” open the Language & Text preference pane and choose the Language tab. The Edit List button will then appear. This is especially useful if you use British English outside of the UK. Locate British English in the list of languages by scrolling down, then choose it and click OK. You can see that it has displaced English as the most popular language in the list. Next, choose British English from the Spelling drop-down box by selecting the Text tab. If it isn’t already, you might also wish to enable “Correct spelling automatically.”

Replacement Of Text

Mac OS X has a useful tool that lets you set up text replacement to speed up your typing. To begin, select “Use symbol and text substitution” from the Language & Text Text tab. Then, navigate through the presets in the table below.

Click the Add (+) button to add your own. Then, input the replacement text on the right and the trigger text on the left. For example, to replace “tnw” with “The Next Web,” enter “tnw” on the left and “The Next Web” on the right. Names, usernames, email addresses, addresses, salutations, and other items that you wind up with are good candidates for this list.

Still, you’re not done yet! If you enable the option in System Preferences, Mac OS X, for some inexplicable reason, does not really activate it throughout the system. In order to utilize Text Replacement, you must right-click (or Ctrl+click) within a text box in any program that supports it (such as Mail, Safari, TextEdit, and Twitter) and select Text Replacement from the Substitutions menu. Depending on your preferences, you may also enable the other options there.

Typing in Extra Characters

There are several methods available in Mac OS X for typing special letters and symbols, which is robustly supported. You can bring up appropriate choices by holding down the keyboard keys while inputting accented variants of the English alphabet. For example, if you hold down the letter “E,” a menu will appear with seven different ways to type the letter with accents. To get directly to one of those options, press the corresponding number, or use the arrow keys to go to it. You must open the Keyboard Viewer in order to insert more special characters.

As mentioned above, if you activate the Keyboard preference pane’s “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in menu bar” option, your menu bar will now have an icon that is like the one in the picture on the right. Select Show Keyboard Viewer by clicking on it.

When the virtual keyboard appears, you may switch the characters on it by pressing and holding the Option key. You will see additional characters if you also press the Shift key. This is a list of every special character that can be typed on a keyboard using regular keys. For instance, using Option+Shift+2 is required to input the Euro currency sign (€), however pressing Option+2 alone will yield you the trademark signs.

You may also see five orange-coloured keys on the keyboard when you hit the Option key. If for some reason you don’t like the above technique, you can use these to insert accented characters. Press Option+E to enter the accent (´), and then input a letter (such as ‘a’ or ‘e’) to support it. Consequently, you get “é” when Option+E and a “e” are combined, and “ã” when Option+N and a “a” are combined.

Inputting Symbols

How about typing a beautiful forward-facing arrow (➟) or a degree Celsius (℃) now that you know how to spell “exposé”? For them, the Mac OS X Character Viewer is required. It appears as follows and may be accessed using the same menu that you used to launch the Keyboard Viewer:

After choosing a category from the list on the left, drag a symbol into your document from the selections in the middle area. The list of comparable characters and their variations may be shown, together with the character you are now selecting. To make a character simpler to access, add it to your favourites if you anticipate using it frequently.

To add other symbols, click the gear icon located in the upper-left corner of the window and choose Customize List. You can choose from a variety of global scripts and other symbol categories on the resulting sheet. Everything you might possibly need is available, including technical symbols, Tibetan or Greek letters, phonetic alphabet characters, and more. After selecting the desired categories, click Done, and the Character Viewer will display them.

Entering Text in a Foreign Language

On Mac OS X, navigate to the Language & Text preference pane’s Input Sources tab and choose the language or script you wish to use to type in a different language. You may choose a shortcut for each of the ones you’ve chosen, making it simple to move between them by using the Keyboard Shortcuts button. The second option is to select your newly enabled languages by pressing the menu bar button that you used to display the character and keyboard viewers above.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Today’s keyboards from Apple don’t come pre-installed with a number pad or additional buttons like Home, End, Forward Delete, Page Up, Page Down, etc., which frequently frustrates new Mac users who are unaware of these choices. Though Cmd+Del erases a whole sentence, you presumably already know that Cmd+C copies text, Cmd+V pastes it, and Cmd+A selects it all.

The following are a few of the most popular Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts for text entry:

  • Select+Delete: Eliminates the whole word.
  • To move the cursor one word in either direction, use Option + Left/Right Arrow.
  • Option+Up/Down Arrow: Advances the pointer to the paragraph’s start or finish, accordingly.
  • Delete the entire phrase using Cmd+Delete.
  • Press and hold the Cmd key to move the cursor to the start or end of the sentence, appropriately.
  • To move the pointer to the beginning or end of the document, press Cmd+Up or Down Arrow.
  • Forward delete with Fn+Del.

Additionally, you may pick text while the cursor is moving by combining the above-mentioned cursor movement shortcuts with the Shift key. After you’re accustomed to using these keyboard shortcuts, you’ll discover that going through large papers will go considerably more quickly.

Final Thoughts

In order to wrap up this post, we’d like to provide you with a few pointers that, when combined with some of the previously mentioned features, should make typing a bit less annoying. When you intentionally misspell anything, the system may attempt to fix it if you have enabled automatic spelling correction. Press the Escape key before using the Spacebar to proceed if you want to disregard its correction suggestion. To ensure that the computer never tries to automatically correct a word for you again, it’s a good idea to right-click (or Ctrl+click) on it if you find yourself typing it frequently and choose Learn Spelling.

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