Monday, March 20, 2006

YAROCT - Mac/Firefox Tab Key Nav

Yet Another Really Obscure Computer Thing

So, I was ranting to KK about the "broken" Tab key behavior in Firefox on the Mac, in that the Tab key doesn't let me navigate around a given Web page when I'm surfing on my Mac, the way it does when I'm surfing on my PC. Most commonly, this annoyance presents when logging into a site that has text boxes for username and password, and then a button or link that needs to be clicked to actually complete the login.

On the PC, I can almost always tab to this button/link and hit the space bar, and never have to grope the rodent.

So, I go on for like nine pages about this to KK, and having shoved the cart thus, I calm down enough to check on the horse.

It turns out, as a search on the Mozilla forums will show, that this annoyance has been plaguing the developers of Firefox since pre-1.0 days. And by "annoyance" I mean, the gurus are annoyed at stupid users like me ranting about this.

The way to enable Tab key navigation in Firefox on a Mac is not through Firefox > Preferences, but through Mac > System Preferences. That is, click on the apple icon in the menu bar, click on "System Preferences ...," click on "Keyboard and Mouse," click on "Keyboard Shortcuts," and check the radio button labeled "All controls" under the heading "Full keyboard access." Close the preferences window. Restart Firefox. Boom.

Now that I've cleared that up, world peace ought to be a snap.

20 comments:

Brendan said...

Sorry. I should have said that this works on OS X Tiger (aka v10.4).

It's likely similar on earlier versions of OS X, but I'm so new to Macs that I still wonder why they bother having "Home" and "End" keys on their keyboards.

Not to start on another rant, but these keys never seem to work. In fact, they don't seem to do anything.

Yeah, yeah. Command-Left Arrow and Command-Right Arrow, respectively, does what I want.

I know that, but my fingers don't.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

lloyd said...

Found this hint on Google. Thanks for the hint!

I was going to start whining about the non-standard key bindings, mostly because I'm on a MBP that doesn't have separate Home, End, PgUp, PgDn keys, but that can be for another time.

Brendan said...

You're welcome, Lloyd. Glad I could help.

I assume you mean MPB (Mac PowerBook)? Whine away, in any case. That's what blogs are for!

Russ Troester said...

Man, I've been vexed by this problem since switching to Mac almost 2 years ago! I like Firefox as a browser but was always annoyed that it wouldn't tab to dropdown lists and the like. Thanks for posting this on your blog!

deepstructure said...

ditto. ditto. omg has annoyed the hell out of me for so long and i just assumed it was a mac-deficiency. i finally got around to doing a google search today and voila - first hit! thank you!!

deepstructure said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brendan said...

russ, deepstructure:

You're welcome. Glad you found it.

Out of curiosity (okay, and ego), do you remember what your search string was on Google that led you here?

deepstructure said...

my search string was "firefox tab movement mac." you were the first hit.

here's the url:

http://www.google.com/search?QU5&q=firefox+tab+movement+mac

minus all the reference data.

Brendan said...

Thanks for letting me know, deep, and bonus karma points for courteously supplying a handy URL.

Paul said...

Thanks also from another newbie [heretofore frustrated] Mac user! I used the string "mac firefox tab to drop-down lists" and your post came up first. Kudos!

I also agree about the Home and End thing - do they actually do anything useful on a Mac? Frustrates the living daylights out of me!!

But thanks again for the post.

Brendan said...

Thanks for noting your search string, Paul. Glad you found my post helpful.

Anonymous said...

YEA!
Many thanks mate!

Matthew said...

I could have sworn I had already done that... apparently not!

artipomme said...

Thank you so much :)

Max said...

I was ready to abandon Macs for this feature missing! Seems it was easy to fix. Thanks a heap!

Brendan said...

anon, matthew, artipomme, and max:

Thanks for checking in. I appreciate it.

josh said...

Thanks. Didn't quite work for what I need (ScribeFire doesn't want to consume the tab as an indent when in a list.)

I searched for firefox+mac+tab+key, I think.

Brendan said...

Sorry to hear it didn't work for you, Josh, but thanks for taking the time to give the info that you did.

Jasper_MacbookPro said...

HERO! This was my biggest problem after switching to Mac. You made my day :-)

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