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Menu Master 1.2

Last updated Feb 25, 2005.

For those of you too young (or too new to computing) to recall what things were like back before the Macintosh, users had to memorize all sorts of commands in their heads. Then the Mac's graphical user interface changed everything by allowing users to point and click their way through menus that showed all the available commands. No longer was it necessary to fill your head with obtuse keyboard combinations or dig through dense documentation; you could just open menus and figure out things by exploration.

Menus were a great advancement, but Apple's software engineers recognized that taking your hand off the keyboard to move the mouse to open the menus to make your choices wasn't exactly very efficient. To address this concern, many menu items were given shortcuts, allowing users to issue commands from the keyboard; a boon to touch typists. These keyboard shortcuts are listed in menus to the right of commands (see the following figure), and the most command commands share the same shortcuts across applications (Command-C for Copy, Command-X for Cut, for example).

Figure 78

Figure 78 TextEdit's Edit menu contains many keyboard shortcuts that are common across applications.

Sounds reasonable enough; so what's the problem? Glad I asked. The problem is that not all developers adhere to the "standard" keyboard shortcuts. For example, Microsoft Word doesn't use Command-Shift-S for Save As. If you want to save a document with a new name, in a different location, or in a new file format, you're forced to resort to mousing to the menu.

Even worse than programs failing to implement standard shortcuts are those that use a common shortcut in unexpected ways. In most programs, Command-A is shorthand for Select All, but not in Quicken. Nope. Intuit's popular financial program uses that shortcut to open a list of accounts. Even though I know this, I can't unlearn the behavior that's been drilled into my head over the course of 20 years of using a Mac. Invariably, when I try to select all the text in a checkbook register field, I end up opening an unwanted window.

Fortunately there's a solution for these problems that works like a charm and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Menu Master is a simple little program that allows you to easily add, edit, or delete menu shortcuts in any application. If you take a few minutes to install and learn Menu Master, it will save you tremendous amounts of time in the long run.

Menu Master comes with a non-brainer installer that places two files in the /Library folder. Once done, you're ready to take control of your menus in three easy steps:

  1. Click the menu containing the command you want to change (see the following figure).
  2. Select the menu item to redefine.
  3. Press your desired shortcut (or press Delete to remove a shortcut).
Figure 79

Figure 79 Changing shortcuts with Menu Master is a piece of cake. Just select a command and enter the shortcut. Here I've changed the shortcut in Word to open the Replace dialog whenever I press Command-F.

It really is that simple! The cool thing is that Menu Master actually changes the shortcut as it is displayed in the application itself, so you don't have to remember the modifications you've made. To change things back to normal, you can reassign the original shortcut manually, or you can use the Menu Master preference pane (see the following figure).

Figure 80

Figure 80 Menu Master is so easy to use, chances are you'll never need to open the Preferences pane.

To temporarily disable Menu Master (useful if you're trying to troubleshoot a problem and want to isolate potential conflicts), deselect the "Menu Master Enabled" checkbox.

While I've found Menu Master to be compatible with virtually every application I use, there are some programs with which it won't work, such as Adobe InDesign. To disable Menu Master on a case-by-case basis, open the Exclude List pane, and add individual applications as needed.

As you can see, Menu Master couldn't be easier to use, and once you have enjoyed the benefits of customizing applications to work the way you want, you'll realize that it's a bargain at only $10. If you still don't believe me, see for yourself. Unsanity offers a demo version that's fully functional for 15 days. Try it, you'll love it!