ALT plus...F this!
February 2, 2012 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Please hope me, a PC user now working on a Mac: I find I cannot live without ALT+n, where n="f" key for file menu, "e" key for edit menu, etc.

Forced to use a Mac at work after 15+ years of steady PC use. I relied on the ALT+"some character" keyboard shortcut and miss it terribly. For example, hit ALT+"f" and the "File" dropdown appears, then you use arrow keys to select the item you want, hit RETURN to activate it, and you're golden. On the Mac, there doesn't seem to be any equivalent, and I have scoured many a blog post. Yes, I can work on memorizing specific shortcuts for specific commands. But there are many of the commands don't have shortcuts. I know I can assign shortcuts for any command, but I don't want that labor, especially because many commands are seldom used. I just want to be able to open any dropdown so I can examine what's there and make my choice--without using the mouse.
posted by dust of the stars to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
I don't think you can actually open the dropdown menus on a mac without the mouse. The command+n shortcuts (and the self-assigned ones for commands that you happen to use a lot) are probably as good as you're going to get.

When I switched to Macs I found the lack of these keyboard shortcuts to be a huge shortcoming, but in pretty short order I stopped missing them. You get used to it, and honestly I feel like there are so many other advantages to the platform that I don't miss it and I don't feel like it really slows me down.

If it's a real problem, you can try parallels or bootcamp.
posted by gauche at 8:46 AM on February 2, 2012

If you go open the Keyboard prefpane in System Preferences, then go to Keyboard Shortcuts, there's a shortcut for "Move focus to the menu bar". That will highlight the Apple menu and you can use arrow keys to navigate. Not sure if you'll get closer.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 8:51 AM on February 2, 2012

I'm on a PC right now so I can't test it, but I found this by Googling:

"First: going to System Preferences / keyboard & Mouse / Keyboard / click on Use all F1, F2 keys as standard function keys - to select this option.

Now, by clicking Control F2 in any application will highlight the apple... then letter F and "file" menu button will be in focus. Then, up / down errors will open the menu and the final selection can be made with the first letter of the menu option or up / down scroll and enter.

Obviously, this is useless for options that have direct shortcuts, such as "undo" cntr z. But it is still useful for those of us who hate clicking.. for all commands with no direct shortcuts."

from this forum post

Hope this helps!
posted by brackish.line at 8:53 AM on February 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

For the record, the above didn't have any effect, perhaps because of OS version or nonstandard keyboard. But it led me to the "Keyboard shortcuts" dialog, which I hadn't seen before, and there I was able to define my own shortcut for "Change focus to menu bar." ALT(option)+F1 it is!
posted by dust of the stars at 6:01 PM on February 2, 2012

I'm going to attempt to do you one better because I assume that what you really want is a menu item, not a menu followed by seventeen arrow keys and then return.

OS X has a built-in menu search function that works like Spotlight, but is confined only to the running application's menus.

In Keyboard preferences, there is a built-in Application Shortcut bound to command / (I believe it is disabled by default and needs to be checked) that brings this search field into focus.

Enabling this will allow you to just hit command /, type the name of the menu item (regardless of what menu it's in) and hit return.

I use this so heavily, I actually can't tell you which menu some of my frequently-used menu items live in in apps I use every day.
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 6:42 AM on February 3, 2012

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