The amazing adventures of Doug Hughes

I recently bought a nice Macbook Pro. (Yes, I drank the kool-aid, at long last.) This post is not about the Mac nor the nearly painless transition. Instead it’s about one of the small annoyances I found. It seems that, by default, OS X does not want you to be able to tab to select menus in forms. Instead, the next form element after the select menu will be given focus.

This drives me insane as a web developer. Imagine trying to build and repeatedly test a form with any number of select menus and, for each select menu, being required to take your hands off the keyboard to drive your mouse to the menu, open it and select the item, before going back to the keyboard.

On Windows I could always just click tab and the next form item would be selected.

It turns out that there is a simple OS setting for this. Simply open System Preferences, Select Keyboard & Mouse, and select Keyboard Shortcuts.


Just click “All controls” towards the bottom and you’re good to go.

Comments on: "Tabbing To Select Menus on a Mac" (5)

  1. I have noticed this for a long time (I am on Windows, but have used Macs). I didn’t know that there was a setting for this, I had just assumed it was something you had to live with…. my BIG question, though, is that for all the UI stuff that Mac does so well, what genius decided to default to NOT tabbing to select boxes?

    Could there possibly be some sort of real thought going into this decision? At first I thought it was that they might consider that a “power user feature” that normal people wouldn’t know what to do with… but after two seconds, I decided that anyone who is tabbing from field to field (vs. using a mouse) probably also knows that they can use the arrow keys to select menu items.

    Anyway, just had to vent since that is such a crazy default property.


  2. Dan Roberts said:

    This definitely drove me crazy when I first got my Mac until I enabled all controls. Doesn’t make any sense to me as to why they would leave that turned off, or why any would want it turned off.


  3. Doug Hughes said:

    I pretty much leave the religious discussions up to the fanatics. It irritated me and I don’t understand the logic, but it wasn’t that big of a deal, really.


  4. Doug Hughes said:

    (Please ignore, this is a test.)


  5. Matt Williams said:

    Just know that the majority of mac users (non developers that is) are not going to make this OS setting change. Yes, they will use the mouse that much. And this is not related to mac users. I’m willing to bet your typical computer user has no idea that the tab button will move between form fields.


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