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Using the Keyboard to Shortcut Dialog Box Selection

I was really frustrated with Mac OS X yesterday. It seemed like the Mac OS X GUI standard specify shortcut keys for some cases but not others. That made it easy to perform some tasks from the keyboard, but very difficult to perform some other tasks in the same manner.

For example, I was using TextEdit yesterday. I made temporary notes that I did not want to save. When I quit TextEdit, it popped up a dialog box that asks me to selection one: 1) Don't Save; 2) Cancel; and 3) Save.... (See screenshot below.) The third option was the default. I could push the enter/space key to select that default option.

But that's not what I wanted. I wanted to select "Don't Save". But there was no way to select that button without finding the mouse pointer, move the mouse pointer to that button, and then click the button.

In Windows, you can easily select that option by using the arrow keys to move left or right. Or use the tab/shift-tab key to scroll through the button. The ability to do that speeds up the process many folds. But how do you do that on Mac OS X? Is it even possible to do that on Mac OS X?

Attached Image:

Dialog Box.png

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 17 Jul 2009 17:02:23 +0000

Yes, but you need to enable "all controls" under keyboard shortcuts in system preferences. Then you can press enter for save, space for don't save (will have a blue outline around the button) and escape for cancel.

Tue, 02 Nov 2010 06:03:07 +0000

Thanks for the tip, Josh. I just turned it on and looking forward to speeding up my saving and closing performance. :-)

Chieh Cheng
Tue, 02 Nov 2010 21:01:31 +0000

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