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MacBook (or -Pro; -Air): Disable the default “fn key” behaviour and enable the normal Function-keys by default

Posted by jpluimers on 2011/10/03

In their infinite wisdom Apple has chosen to cripple the Apple keyboards on the MacBook (and -Pro and -Air) to default the top-row keys to not behave as function keys.

Apparently they expect people to use those keys more often for changing screen brightness, multi media playing, sound volume, than as function keys.

Maybe it is their 1 Infinite Loop address, but out there in the real world, people appreciate the function keys by default to behave, well like they are meant for: Function Keys and not having to press the fn key to use them.

Actually, some people at Apple were smart enough to make this configurable, but it is well hidden behind the phrase “Use F1-F12 keys to control software features” as the MacRumors Forums 2007 post titled “View Single Post – How To F Lock?” points out.

In the mean time however, the Mac OS X System Preferences to reorganized quite a bit, and “Keyboard & Mouse” are now to separate entries. So the steps are now these:

  1. Press Command-Space to start the Spotlight Window
    (yes, the Command Key still is marked as ⌘ for consistency, but for how long?)
  2. Type “Keyboard” (without double quotes ;-)
  3. Choose the “Keyboard” entry under “System Preferences”
  4. Put a checkmark in front of the “Use all F1, F2, etc. jeys as standard function keys”
    When this option is selected, press the Fn key to us ethe special features printed on each key”
    (note that on a MacBook Air, the key is not “Fn”, but “fn”: so far for consistency again)
  5. Done.

There even seem to be some answers on the Apple discussion forums seem to hint on this, but – at the time of writing – they all conveniently show up as “We’ll be back soon” for some time now, thereby redefining the term “shortly” in the same pass:

We will be back soon.

Being in this mode, it would be soooooo nice if actually they marked the option key with the same character as they refer to it from the menus: ⌥.
They used to on older versions of the option key (even on old MacBook Pro machines). Now that would be consistent user experience…

Now people have to find the right Apple documentation on keyboard shortcuts to find out what the symbols mean.

But – though often famed for consistency –  I don’t think it is one of Apple strengths.

–jeroen

via: MacRumors Forums – View Single Post – How To F Lock?.

2 Responses to “MacBook (or -Pro; -Air): Disable the default “fn key” behaviour and enable the normal Function-keys by default”

  1. Michael Rosen said

    Just found your blog when I couldn’t figure out how to get the function keys to work normally. Only problem is, apparently on a Mac, F5 doesn’t actually do what it’s supposed to do in a browser. I am a PC guy so that’s what I’m used to. The menu says command-R reloads the page. What gives?

    • jpluimers said

      Command-R means you should press the Command-Key (which is marked ⌘) and the R-Key at the same time (just like Ctrl-R on windows would mean you press the Ctrl-Key and R-Key at the same time).

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