How to replace the broken period key with a shortcut
March 9, 2009 6:19 PM   Subscribe

I've lost two keys, one of which is the period button. So far, for four months, I've simply been copying that are lying around, and pasting them into web browsers, word documents etc etc. The thought just struck me; is there a global shortcut for entering a period? Like, say, ctrl+opt+command+p ? And if not, can someone tell me how to do it in Firefox, excel, and word? Thanks!
posted by omnigut to Computers & Internet (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Sorry. Got a little lost while typing. I meant, "can someone tell me how to create a shortcut that will enter a period in any application, and if not, in Firefox, Excel, and Word?"
posted by omnigut at 6:20 PM on March 9, 2009

This is not an answer to your question... but If this is a desktop computer, keyboards are cheap.. and if it is a laptop, post on craig's list for a dead computer... or post the make here, I'm willing to bet someone here in mefi land would mail you one...
posted by HuronBob at 6:23 PM on March 9, 2009

If you have a normal US keyboard, you have a 10-key number pad way over on the right. That has a decimal point you can use as long as num lock is on.

Is this some kind of a joke?
posted by dilettante at 6:26 PM on March 9, 2009

Are you using Windows? Try holding Alt and pressing 0 then 4 then 6, then releasing Alt. Of course, this only works if you have a numeric keypad, and if you had one of those, you'd probably already be using the Del key on the keypad, which doubles as a period. But anyway, there should be a way to enter Alt codes using a laptop keyboard as well. You can use Character Map in Windows to figure out the Alt codes for various characters.
posted by oulipian at 6:27 PM on March 9, 2009

Response by poster: damn it, thought I'd written everything I'd need to. Forgot to mention I'm on a macbook
posted by omnigut at 6:30 PM on March 9, 2009

Ah, sorry. Are you using a laptop (and therefore going without the number pad and an easy to replace keyboard)?
posted by dilettante at 6:31 PM on March 9, 2009

I use a macbook too, and my question mark slash button has stopped working. I do the cut & paste thing too. Grr.

Do you mean you lose the keys themselves, or that they just stopped working?
posted by torticat at 6:33 PM on March 9, 2009

why can't you just press the space where the key used to be? i've lost keys on my mac laptops before and there's still a little nub to push.
posted by timory at 6:34 PM on March 9, 2009

This is a different solution to your problem: there may be various programs/addons that add extra clipboards (the official term for copy/paste). If you could find one, put '.' in your secondary, and you don't have to go hunting for one every time you need, nor lose whatever else you might have copied.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:34 PM on March 9, 2009

The international menu has unicode hex input option (how to install here). Select that and you can type the hex code for a period: 002E while holding down the alt key to get a period, like this.

There's probably ways to set up a macro function key to insert a period, hopefully somebody will help you out that way.
posted by troy at 6:39 PM on March 9, 2009

Response by poster: I"m thinking option+0+0+2+E might be a little cumbersome to make me happy with that as a solution. But a macro function, whatever that is, sounds like a good idea. Anyone?
posted by omnigut at 6:43 PM on March 9, 2009

Best answer: According to this page, a decimal is Shift+Option+9

Sorry, I don't have Mac OS to test it out.
posted by nikkorizz at 6:44 PM on March 9, 2009

I tend to fix macs with the Open Apple + Hammer combination... (I kid).

Found this older MeFi thread that might help... could you remap your period to a key that's less important to you?

Specifically, look to the third response, by neustile...

I know two ways of doing this:

I had to do something like this once when a key stopped working -- I mapped it to the (useless to me) "little enter" key on the right bottom of the keyboard. I did it using OS9 and Resedit, saving the keyboard resource file as "US 2" and put it in the right place so that it shows up with the flags on the menubar. It was a pain but I did it. This way assumes you have OS9 and resedit and know what you're doing, but it has the advantage of being able to turn it on and off. More or less you are making a new international keymap.

I have since also switched the F9 expose key with that same little Enter key (on a different computer.) This time I did it by changing some .plist file in a text editor. Here's the notes I found:

"As root, edit /System/Library/Extensions/AppleADBKeyboard.kext/Contents/Info.plist. Find the key ADBVirtualKeys - its value is the array of keycodes returned by each key on the keyboard. Find the value 0x34 (the keycode for Enter), and replace it with 0x65 (the keycode for F9). Run 'touch /System/Library/Extensions' (not sure what this accomplishes, but it was in the original hint and should be harmless) and reboot. From now on the Enter key will act as another F9."

Be careful with this-- you might screw something up and I take no responsibility. You'll have to find the keycodes for the two keys you want to swap. I am pretty sure you can get them from Resedit or another OSX-friendly keymap program.

posted by frwagon at 6:45 PM on March 9, 2009

Get creative - there are plenty of other characters that look like a period°





Or type an O and make the font size really really really smallo ←That's an o
posted by oulipian at 6:45 PM on March 9, 2009


Yes, Shift Option 9 does give a decimal point on my iBook.
posted by cabingirl at 6:46 PM on March 9, 2009

You can get a replacement key for not too much money on ebay.
posted by willnot at 6:48 PM on March 9, 2009

You can download mouse keyboards or hotkey software or related helpers.
posted by Brian B. at 6:50 PM on March 9, 2009

Best answer: Email yourself a string of periods like this ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ then when you need to write something, paste that string in and start each sentence after a period. Delete the extras as not needed. This way you only need to copy and paste once. I have some extra ones too so you can have these ....................................................................................................................................................................................................
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:50 PM on March 9, 2009 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, shift option 9 works! Period heaven!················································ Wait, that's not it, is it· · · damn! Too high!
posted by omnigut at 6:58 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

One time when I was small the dial broke off of my Atari controller and my dad fixed it with the dial from the thermostat. COMFORT ZONE!

Think about it. A scrabble tile keyboard would be awesome.
posted by oulipian at 7:02 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Plug in a USB keyboard, and you'll be on your merry way. Not so slick if you have to take it anywhere, but this is the cheapest route to full functionality I can think of.
posted by aquafortis at 7:16 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Pry off a seldom-used key like ] and stick it where the period key was?
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:36 PM on March 9, 2009

Best answer: In Word, you could probably also save a period in autotext, and then come up with whatever code you like to trigger it. That particular workaround wouldn't help with Excel or Firefox, though.
posted by dilettante at 7:38 PM on March 9, 2009

To everyone responding with helpful ways of physically replacing the key: It looks like the buttons just aren't working.
posted by lizzicide at 7:57 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh shit, sorry, yeah. Thanks Lizzicide. However, I've now got a good idea for a scrabble keyboard... and thanks, dilettante, I'm going to try the Word autotext thing. Thanks everyone!
posted by omnigut at 8:44 PM on March 9, 2009

(psst... oulipian: Here ya go!)
posted by bink at 8:47 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Find an install a hot-keys program. I use Active-Keys. Then you can map damn near anything you want to an actual period.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:51 PM on March 9, 2009

oulipian writes "Or type an O and make the font size really really really smallo ←That's an o"

FYI that looks like a small o in IE because it limits how small something can be.
posted by Mitheral at 6:12 AM on March 10, 2009

I am surprised that no-one has mentioned Ukelele, the best keyboard remapper for a Mac.
posted by TheRaven at 6:26 AM on March 10, 2009

I had the shift key I naturally use (wohooo Mavis Beacon!) fall off my iBook. I was actually able to use sticky tack to put it back on, and then just pressed really hard.

I got an estimate for a keyboard repair, which, IIRC, was $40. Not bad. I needed a new computer anyway, so I didn't do it, but they assured me that it would be a quick repair.
posted by charmcityblues at 9:26 AM on March 10, 2009

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