AMITIAE - Sunday 3 November 2013
System Preferences in OS X 10.9, Mavericks: Keyboard
By Graham K. Rogers
KeyboardThe top of the Keyboard panel displays two sliding scales: "Key Repeat" and "Delay Until Repeat". The first shows a scale from Slow - Fast, with Off at the left. This adjusts the length of time between a character being repeated as a key is held down.
Since the 10.8 update, key repeating has not been available on my MacBook Pro for characters or numbers. Punctuation and other marks do repeat: for example 2 does not, while @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ does. This is the same for Thai characters. On the same 2 key, when Thai is active, the / key repeats, while the Thai character for 1 does not. Other keys (punctuation, character/numeric) are likewise affected. The delete key does repeat.
The Delay Until Repeat slider adjusts the time before the first repeat begins. The delay may be adjusted between short and long.
On notebook computers, which have a limited-width keyboard, below the sliders is a check-box to turn on or off the use of F keys as standard function keys. When active the Fn key must be pressed to use the function key for its additional purpose. This then allows the F-key to have a second use (some may already be allocated), which can be allocated in the Keyboard Shortcuts section.
An example might be the F12 key which is marked with the speaker symbol and increases sound volume. When the checkbox is used, pressing the F12 key reveals Dashboard. When the Fn key is pressed with F12, the volume is increased. If the box in the Keyboard panel is not checked, F12 adjusts volume; used with Fn it opens Dashboard.
Care should be taken when selecting this. Users should make sure they are aware of what pressing a Function key will do.
There is a final checkbox (below the slider): Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in menu bar. This uses the same menubar item as for selecting different language keyboards (see Input Sources, below).
At the bottom of the panel, in the center, is a button marked, Set Up Bluetooth Keyboard. When pressed, a panel appears. If Bluetooth is off, a button offers the option to turn it on. The system searches for a Bluetooth keyboard and initiates pairing if one is found.
Great care should be exercised if such changes are considered.
TextThe panel marked Text helps users when typing. This was previously found in the Language & Text preferences panel (Now see Language & Region). The main section some shortcut methods but seems to be much simplified compared with before.
The panel to the left contains shortcuts for typing. Previously, for example, the copyright symbol was included in a text when the user typed (c). There are no such symbols included in my installation and the checkbox for activating the feature is no longer available.
With shortcuts I can avoid much tedious and repetitive typing, while avoiding mistakes. Such a feature from Apple is all very well, but in a perfect world users do not work all day long in Apple-developed applications. None of these shortcuts will work in some of the 3rd party software I use: these commands will only work with applications written in Objective C. I use the utility yType from Plum Amazing to do this. It does work in all the writing applications I use.
The button that had allowed word break options has been removed.
Like line-breaks, different languages have their own ways to use quotations. A checkbox activates the two buttons available to select the user's preference: with double ("") and single ('') speech marks.
ShortcutsThis section was in the Keyboard Preferences previously where it was called Keyboard Shortcuts. Now the shorter title is used.
Longtime Mac users are aware that using the keyboard is much faster than using a mouse or trackpad. I have written on this a number of times for example in a three-part article: (1) Outline and Applications; (2) Startup keys and Some Suggestions for Their Use; and (3) More Startup keys and Suggestions for Use.
The panel for Shortcuts is in two parts: on the left, the area or group that is being controlled. On the right, the commands themselves.
When one of these sections is highlighted, the panel on the right lists all commands for that specific area. Some have fewer than others. For example, Launchpad & Dock has only two listed like the new Input Sources; Screen Shots has only four. Services has many more. It is only possible to add commands to the App Shortcuts section (also see Services, below).
Each key command has a checkbox to its left (active/inactive) and any assigned key command. If the checkbox to the left is not checked, the key combination is greyed out.
To change a shortcut, we may double-click over the key command shown (when it is active). This reveals a small box in which the new key combination can be typed. If there is a conflict (the combination is already being used), yellow warning triangles appear: beside the command, under the panel, beside the current section and beside the section which is using the keys.
The Services menu has a large list of commands that may be used, particularly for some of the installed 3rd party applications. Any Services are listed in an application's menu (some way below the Preferences item). They are only displayed when a specific task may be available. In Safari, for example, opening the menu item shows, No Services Apply. However, if a section of text is highlighted (or a URL) some services are listed.
When viewed in the Keyboard Shortcuts panel, most Services commands do not have a key combination allocated. By highlighting the command, a small button marked "add shortcut" appears. Clicking on that opens a text box in which a key combination can be entered. This will be useful for those who have a specific task that is repeated often.
However, when I entered a key command which I knew would conflict, the yellow triangles did not appear. I was able to do this more than once in the Services section.
The same applies as above: Great care should be exercised if such changes are considered.
I selected iTunes and typed in the menu title (the words for the command) as it appears in a menu then allocate a key combination. I specified Command Shift and = for this. The key command now appear in the iTunes, Window menu. New menu commands cannot be added this way. A new Services item -- perhaps created with AppleScript or in Automator -- might get round this.
Controls at the bottom of the panel refer to the focus of the keyboard within applications. This is unchanged from before Mountain Lion. By pressing the Tab key a different part of a panel or window is highlighted. With "Text boxes and lists only" the focus is only where we may enter text (such as Search boxes or address fields in Safari). "With All controls" the focus cycles round text windows and other controls like buttons, sliders (and bookmark entries in Safari). Text beneath reads, "Press Control + F7 to change this setting."
Input SourcesAn OS X installation on a Mac allows a number of keyboard options. They may be selected in this panel. In past versions of OS X this was in the Language & Text Preferences panel (See Language & Region). Not only has it been moved, but has had a complete redesign.
The default selection is the localised language or US English for computers in many areas. When only the default is selected there is no icon in the menu bar. We may add this by using the checkbox at the bottom of this panel. The current keyboard language may be changed using this. We may also use a keyboard shortcut. A new checkbox here is marked, "Automatically switch to a document's input source." Below is the comment, "The input source is used until the document is closed."
Highlighting one of the languages reveals in a panel (right, top) any keyboards that are available for the language. For example, Inuktitut has Inuktitut - Nunavut, Inuktitut - Nutaaq, Inuktitut - QWERTY and Inuktitut - Nunavik. Selecting one of these options, shows a representation of the specified keyboard in a panel (right, lower).
There is a search box at the bottom of the panel to speed things up. A keyboard already selected and in use is greyed out in the input source panel. Currently, "Others" only displays a keyboard marked Unicode Hex Input.
An input source is included to the list of those in use by pressing the Add button.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.
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