Any chance of my Mac/PC keyboard shortcuts coexisting peacefully?
May 17, 2011 9:38 AM   Subscribe

Can I change the way my mac uses modifier keys to navigate through text?

I am using a PC and a mac simultaneously, and having trouble navigating through text on both. On the mac, I use "option-left arrow" (aka "alt-left arrow") to move my cursor one word to the right. On my PC, "Ctrl-left arrow" accomplishes the same behavior. Trouble is, after a few hours of mac, my muscle memory doesn't switch as fast as the KVM. Composing an email in Firefox on the PC, I reflexively hit "option-aka-alt-left arrow" to jump back a word and whammo! Back to the previous webpage. Disorienting!

I know remapping keys through the sys prefs (ie assigning the "option" modifier to the key labeled "ctrl") is one option, but smaller scale tweaks are my first choice. Moving through text is the one currently driving me nuts, but I am interested in any tricks for juggling both. So,

a) what are some options to reassign this specific behavior so the two platforms behave more consistently? If I could make "ctrl-left arrow" on the mac do what "ctrl-left arrow" does on the PC (w/o remapping modifiers), it'd be a big start.

b) there is lots and lots of info on transitioning from a pc to a mac, but I'm having trouble finding good info on simultaneous PC/Mac use. Can anyone recommend good resources or search terms?

Note: Please, no stereotypical mac "Your desire to think as a PC lies at the root of all suffering" answers. If I were ditching my PC completely the Kool-Aid would look mouthwatering. Alas, I need to find a middle ground between the two systems. Also, re: my example, I am aware firefox also exists on the mac.
posted by BleachBypass to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This document seems to be a well-written guide to remapping specific key bindings for Cocoa text environments at least – I'm not exactly sure if Firefox falls under that category, but it could be worth a shot. Also, the phrase "key bindings" may help a bit in your Google adventures.

I'm downloading KeyBindingsEditor right now to see if it will achieve what you're looking for. I'll let you know what I find out.
posted by Rickalicioso at 10:03 AM on May 17, 2011

Unfortunately Firefox isn't a Cocoa application (I should have figured), but KeyBindingsEditor does work for Cocoa applications like Safari and TextEdit. It probably doesn't help much if Firefox is your browser of choice, but in case you're interested, this is what I did to remap cmd+left or right to jump back or forward one word: When you open KeyBindingsEditor, just go to File > Open > User Key Bindings, and add those two bindings.
posted by Rickalicioso at 10:36 AM on May 17, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks Rickalicioso! Already googling mac "key bindings" has yielded some promising stuff!

Unfortunately, I don't really use any Cocoa environments (save VLC?), so I'll have to be looking toward the most kernal level* type fixes available.

*okay, so I have no idea what that really means, but it sounds techy-neat. What I mean to say is "universal" or perhaps "works in Final Cut Pro." ;)
posted by BleachBypass at 12:50 PM on May 17, 2011

Response by poster: I was here and found the following para:

For even finer control over the keyboard, it is possible to create customized keyboard layouts. These allow any unicode glyphs to be mapped to the keys on the keyboard, so alternate language scripts can be entered, etc. This will work across the OS, not just in Cocoa text editors, but is also a much lower-level change, which means that messing it up could be much worse. I haven’t actually ever used any layouts other than U.S. on my PowerBook, so I don’t know how easy this is. There is a pretty nice GUI editor for this from SIL called Ukelele. It has great documentation, and should be all that is needed to make custom keyboard layouts.

It goes on to discuss how "to go even lower-level," with the disclaimer that it is "for the truly adventurous."

I'm excited to mess around with this when I get a chance!
posted by BleachBypass at 2:47 PM on May 17, 2011

Response by poster: Okay, so Ukelele isn't really for what I need. But there are two programs that accomplished what I did need: keyremap4macbook and pckeyboardhack. Mostly, the first one was the right one. But because my external logitech keyboard was acting weird on me, I needed to also use the second one.
posted by BleachBypass at 11:25 AM on May 18, 2011

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