Usability of keyboard commmand shortcuts/ modifier keys

Discussion in 'macOS' started by madmaxmedia, Dec 15, 2005.

  1. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

    Dec 17, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Hi all,

    I have a general question about the various keyboard commands used by Mac OS and Mac applications.

    It seems to me that had they been better planned from the beginning, we would have more consistent modifier keys. For example, command-B and command-I are the generic commands for bold and italic, but other formatting commands typically involve 1 or 2 modifer keys in addition to the command key. It's not a big deal, but it can be hard to remember different commands for different apps ('wait, was it shift-command-D, or option-command-D?', etc.)

    I think a more consistent scheme would be to reserve all unmodified command shortcuts for OS functions, then say option-command shortcuts or application-specific commands, and shift-command shortcuts for formatting.

    Of course, I'm not expecting Apple to do this, since it would end up causing more harm than good due to clashing with user expectations and habits. But I just wanted to throw it out there as a hypothetical question, and see what people thought. I think if such a system had been implemented from the beginning, it would be easier to use than the current system (which is not really a system at all, although at least Mac keyboard commands are relatively consistent unlike Windows.)

    I say this as a frequent user of keyboard shortcuts, once you start to use them they increase your speed tremendously.

    Thanks, Steve
  2. Lacero macrumors 604


    Jan 20, 2005
    Hmm... I think the modifier keys Apple has now is fairly consistent. It's third party apps I have reservations about, most notable Adobe's stable of products.

    Here's to the Crazy Ones [​IMG]
  3. After G macrumors 68000

    After G

    Aug 27, 2003
    Interesting. I only use modifier keys when using the mouse is too slow.
  4. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    I understand where you're coming from, but OS shortcuts aren't the ones I use most frequently. I'm not sure they are for most people either. So I would constantly be using multiple-modifier-key shortcuts, whereas now I use mostly single modifier key ones....

    I'm happy with the sort of descriptive logic, where most of them use a key that makes sense based on what they are (Apple-V, Apple-C, etc), as long as third party apps, as Lacero said, get more consistent with more traditionally Mac apps.

    That plus customization from System Preferences seems most ... parsimonious... to me. :)
  5. madmaxmedia thread starter macrumors 68030

    Dec 17, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I think the main ones are very consistent, I just don't like it when some formatting commands are command-key, others are shift-command-key, and others are option-command-key.

    Many apps I use have different commands to bring up inspector windows and the like. It gets confusing sometimes because different developers assign different 'priorities' to the commands in their apps (which are unmodified, which are shift or option or both.) It's all arbitrary anyway, so perhaps Apple could suggest in their guidelines a general way to assign keyboard commands.

    But overall it's really not a big deal, more just a theoretical question. It's more the obscurer commands that become hard to remember, since those are most likely to significantly differ between apps.

    I do agree, Adobe is particularly bad! Almost all apps use command H to hide, for whatever reason PS uses something else (I invariably just do it with the mouse instead.)
  6. madmaxmedia thread starter macrumors 68030

    Dec 17, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    That's a good point.

    Overall, the descriptive logic is good. Better customization options would help, although I guess there are 3rd-party programs for that too. I haven't tried them out yet, because I'm not that dissatisfied, and am hesitant to install such utilities unless I really want/need them.

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