Thoughts and opinions of a technology enthusiast.

Enable Intelligent Tabbing in OS X

466364263_4cdd5f95aa_mI can’t believe that after 14 years Apple still defaults Mac OS X to the most ridiculous tabbing option I’ve ever seen.

By default, OS X only allows you to tab between text box and list fields in forms. This includes applications and web sites. If you tab through a page you will only land on the text boxes. Check boxes, radio buttons, links and any other control in the system will not be hit. This means that you’ll need to pull out your mouse to click on these controls. Insane.

To fix this insanity and make your Mac behave like a normal computer:

  • Open System Preferences
  • Click on Keyboard
  • Click on the Shortcuts tab
  • At the bottom of the dialog, select (with your mouse) All Controls

Keyboard Screen

(It’s worth noting that Apple built a special keyboard shortcut in to fix this setting because they broke it in the first place. Ctrl-F7 will toggle this setting.)

Image Credit: mrwynd on Flickr

Category: Lessons, Tech Tips
  • Allison Sheridan says:

    I actually remember the toggle being the other way for a while, or maybe it was on Windows I’m remembering, but I purposely changed it to txt fields only because I hated it the other way.

    I’m trying to think of a non-text field I’d want to tab to, can you explain why you like it that way?

    April 9, 2014 at 2:05 pm
    • kdmurray says:

      I want every form field to be accessible by the keyboard. When I’m filling in a long form the last thing I want to do is bounce back and forth from keyboard to mouse to keyboard. It slows me down and drives me nuts. Checkboxes, Radio Buttons and buttons can all be toggled with the spacebar, and list items can be reached by typing in the first letter (or first few letters) of the selection you want. Canada, for instance, is virtually always the third C on the list of countries.

      April 12, 2014 at 6:27 am

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