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Howto: Add a keyboard shortcut to any Mac application
Written by Sam Moffatt   
Sunday, 24 December 2006

This was originally posted on Slashdot and I thought it might be useful for those who were as uninformed as they were. If you feel that you are missing things when you tab (e.g. tab seems to only jump to text boxes and lists), read on as well.

So the menu item doesn't have a keyboard shortcut. Its some random XYZ program, but for the purposes we'll use 'Finder' in Mac OS X 10.4.8 so those of us with Macs at home can play along too.

So we find our application (Finder) and we want to easily create a new burn folder because we do that a lot. Finder doesn't offer us an easy way to do it apart from File -> New Burn Folder (unlike a new folder, which is shift apple n, apple n is actually new window like say Internet Explorer, Safari, or a plethora of other things. By the way, whats the key board short cut for a new explorer window? Windows E. Sure that makes sense, and the short cut while you're in explorer? Still Windows E. Control N doesn't quite work the way it should (doesn't even create a new folder either, just sits there)).

So we head off to System Preferences, click Keyboard and Mouse and then Keyboard Shortcuts. This is a new one, so we'll click the the little plus sign thats there. We can add it to all applications, but we don't want that, we're only after Finder. So we select 'Finder' from the Appllication menu and the command we're chasing is "New Burn Folder", so we put that in there as well. Since Shift Apple B for me is already taken by Fugu's "Secure Copy", we'll make it Shift Control Apple B (hey I'm a glutton). I then hit Add. Then when we scroll down the list its there at the bottom. Funky.

I mentioned before something about not being able to tab to controls that aren't text boxes or lists, well while we're here if you select "All controls" at the bottom and you will be able to tab as much as you like. But back to adding shortcuts randomly.

So what we need to do now is restart the application. Because we're using Finder this isn't as obvious as restarting say Safari or Mail, but still rather easy within the GUI. Click on the Apple Menu, Force Quit. It gives us a list of applications and one of those is Finder. Now we can't force quit it because the option changes to 'relaunch'. Ensure you're not doing anything in Finder (like say a massive copy operation) and click the button. Finder will be active and if you click on 'File' you will notice your brand new shortcut there with the keyboard combo.

Last Updated ( Monday, 01 January 2007 )
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