Archive › May, 2009

Making Mac keyboard Bindings Work Like Windows (Even in Firefox)

Leaving Windows

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been making a real transition to a Mac. When I made the transition to working on YNAB full time, I bought a Mac laptop because I knew we’d be working on YNAB 3, which is Mac compatible. Since then, I’ve been putting off actually transitioning to it. But this month I’m in Utah, and over the summer I’ll be in Buenos Aires. So it’s time to really make the transition to a laptop. I run Windows (via Parallels) on one screen, but that Mac interface is where I’m doing a lot of web surfing and Flex development.

A fair assessment of Mac keyboard usability

After about 15 years on Windows, I just can’t deal with the Mac key bindings. A lot of that is my procedural memory I’m sure. It was hard to remember to hit alt-arrow instead of ctrl-arrow to move back and forth by the word, but plenty of it is because the Mac key bindings suck. What is more common: Wanting to go to the beginning/end of an entire document, or wanting to go to the beginning or end of a line? If you answered the latter, you’re right. But according to the default Mac key bindings, home and end should take you to the end of the document. After about the 1000th time I accidentally skipped to the end of an email I was writing, I decided to stop trying to fix my finger memory and start fixing the bindings.

How to fix the bindings

Thanks to a couple of handy references I found, I discovered that it’s easy to bring the Mac keys back in line.

First, go to this lovely article on changing the Mac key bindings and follow the instructions. The file that they have you download, the DefaultKeyBinding.dict file does not include the common Windows keys for cut, copy, paste. To get that behavior, add the following lines to that file:

[code lang="as3"]
"^x" = "cut:";
"^v" = "paste:";
"^c" = "copy:";
[/code]

After the file is installed, you’ll get will fix copy and paste, CTRL-ArrowKeys, home and end, and a few others.
BUT, much to my surprise, this will not not fix the keys in Firefox! To make the home, end, and word forward/backwards keys, you need Keyfixer, which is easily installed as an add-on.

Now I’m happily writing emails, coding, and even making this blog post using my familiar Windows keys. My Mac is usable again.

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